Spillover from the Conflict in Syria

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

William Young
David Stebbins
Bryan A. Frederick
Omar Al-Shahery
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    Spillover from the Conflict in Syria
    Book Description:

    Aid flowing into Syria is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between rebel factions and Damascus. Instead, it could perpetuate the civil war and ignite larger regional hostilities that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to neighboring states.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8792-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Summary
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Prologue
    (pp. 1-2)

    Since the completion of this study in early fall 2013, the political and humanitarian fallout from the Syrian conflict has begun to dramatically change the landscape of the Middle East: The violence from fighting in Syria has spread wider and more deeply into the region, threatening each of the surrounding countries, and it has grown into a larger sectarian battle between Sunnis and Shia that is radicalizing the youth and otherwise secular populations in the region. These trends were forecast in 2013 in the following pages, which we have updated to reflect the gradual yet inevitable rise of the Islamic...

  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors such as Iran, Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab Gulf states is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the Bashar Al-Assad regime.¹ Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war within the country and ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. In many ways, this...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature Concerning Conflict Spillover
    (pp. 7-14)

    A review of academic literature on armed conflict and its spread into neighboring countries shows that the following factors are most likely to contribute to the spillover of violence.

    External Support/Military. One of the most significant contributors to conflict spillover is external support or international intervention. Not only does the act of external support (either to nation state or opposition) increase the probability of a conflict spreading, but it may also increase the duration of the conflict.¹ Once a third party enters into the conflict on either side, the opposing side will regard it as an additional enemy that seeks...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Spillover of the Syrian Conflict into Turkey
    (pp. 15-24)

    Turkey has been and will continue to be significantly affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria. The enormous number of Syrian refugees alone will impose many financial and governance challenges. However, the prospects for the spillover of significant armed conflict into Turkey remain more limited. Turkey is a large, highly capable state with effective governing institutions and security services. The destabilization of the Turkish state itself due to the conflict that rages on its southern border is highly unlikely given current trends. For this reason, this case study will not include detailed discussions of the issues of fragility, perceived...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Spillover of the Syrian Conflict into Lebanon
    (pp. 25-34)

    Conflict spillover from Syria into Lebanon is not a recent phenomenon. The civil war that began in 2011 in neighboring Syria has only exacerbated preexisting ideological, political, economic, and geographic issues that have plagued Lebanon for decades. Lebanon’s particularly high risk of conflict spillover stems from its crippled government, division among its internal security forces, and continued external/Iranian support to Hizbollah. Lebanon remains the largest recipient of refugees from Syria yet has no official camps to host them. The influx of refugees has started to tip the sectarian balance within Lebanon, which has ignited historical hatreds between Sunni and Shia...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Spillover of the Syrian Conflict into Iraq
    (pp. 35-46)

    Several large Sunni Arab tribes inhabit both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. Trade, familial relations, and the smuggling of goods and people continued unabated during the greater part of the 20th century, even during times of political antagonism between the two leading branches of the Ba’ath Party, which was the leading political establishment in both countries. Even though a rift between Iraq and Syria from 1979 to the late 1990s prevented legal travel and trade between the two countries, the border region remained busy and accessible from both sides. Covert external intervention and the influx of foreign fighters continued to...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Spillover of the Syrian Conflict into Jordan
    (pp. 47-56)

    The conflict in Syria between Assad’s forces and the rebel opposition is already wearing on the delicate political, economic, and social fabric of Jordan. The potential for violence from the civil war in Syria spreading inside Jordan is high despite the capabilities of its security services. The growing refugee population along the border puts excessive pressure on already scarce water supplies and a civilian and security infrastructure that cannot bear the weight.¹ The radicalization of Syrian youth in Jordanian refugee camps and the breadth of reach these extremist ideas can have on the more radical elements of the Jordanian population...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 57-60)

    All of the factors leading to the spread of violent conflict from civil war and insurgency are present in the Levant. There is a high probability that the fighting in Syria, if left unchecked, will spill over into Turkey and Jordan, where both countries are engaged in providing external aid to the rebels and where both are serving as hosts to serious numbers of refugees with ethnic ties to their own populations.¹ Jordan is especially vulnerable because of its fragile economic condition and the potential political impact of demographic changes within its society. Violence has already spread into Lebanon because...

  15. References
    (pp. 61-72)