An element missing from the given scenarios is Washington’s influence on developments in Syria. It could of course be argued that support from Russia and Iran assists the al-Asad regime not to “hurt too much”, while the sponsors of the moderate opposition, Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, France, USA and UK, provide a similar lifeline to the opposition forces. However, the perception that Washington is not committed to end the conflict has not received scrutiny. Even if the USA is constrained in its policy on Syria, the perception by the parties to the conflict that the USA does not have an interest in bringing the conflict to an immediate end will influence their respective actions. It will also eliminate any chance of success for a Geneva III, notwithstanding the efforts of the UN Special Representative. In this context scenario 2 appears most likely where regional actors increase their intervention and a political solution is postponed until such a time as the UNSC can reach consensus on Syria.
Hanlie Booysen is enrolled as a PhD candidate at Victoria University in Wellington (NZ). Her research is on the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s policy on governance, with a specific focus on the Brotherhood’s commitment to a civil, democratic state in the wake of the Syrian uprising.