Nikolaos van Dam’s book is the work of a trenchant scholar and diplomat with a clear understanding of Syrian dynamics: the author is a decade-long Syria watcher who laments the country’s multiple plights. His book is an austere distillation of wrong choices, oversights and stubborn obsessions. It’s also a linear history of the Syrian conflict: van Dam shows how once the revolt broke out, war was inevitable. As the Dutch Special Envoy for Syria, van Dam is well-positioned to inquire into the 21st century’s most toxic conflict. His analysis is level-headed and intellectually coherent, quite possibly the best one so far in the form of a single volume.
Dawn Chatty’s book is a remarkable achievement in that it intertwines deep historical knolwedge with the impressions of the ever-curious traveller. The author has spent many years working in and on Syria. The book is not written from the perspective of the political sciencist, but that of the historian and anthropologist. In this sense, the reader should be familiar not only with modern Syrian politics but also with broader historical and geopolitical processes of the last two centuries around the area of ‘Greater Syria’. It is a history of broader human movements within a circle of continuous conflict and displacement. A light unto the nations, Syria has always been welcoming towards strangers.
Frédéric Pichon’s diminutive book is more of a scathing indictment of what Western nations, France in particular, have done wrong in Syria. It is by no means a history of Syria’s war, which the reader ought to be familiar with before reading. French scholarship on Mediterranean affairs has been in no shortage. By virtue of its former regional status as a great power and an ever-sophisticated academia, France counts many knowledgeable pundits. Yet, an overwhelming preponderance of Anglophone international relations literature and the more introverted nature of the French academia has meant that francophone publications have made less noise.
Lebanon’s size has always been inversely proportional to the magnitude of its turbulence. More of a mirror of the region’s intricacies than a catalyst, the country offers a unique regional case; although in ever-simmering tension, it manages to escape the contours of a country-wide flare-up. This is more often than not attributed to the country’s bitter memories of the civil war (1975-1990). For others, it is the product of an ill-thought out, yet relatively balanced consociational mechanism of power-sharing.
‘The Battle for Syria’ is an ambitious endeavor penned by a scholar well-versed in the region’s sociopolitical intricacies. An original and timely contribution, it situates the Syrian conflict within a rapidly-changing Middle East. Indeed, the subtitle rather serves as an involuntary warning and an index of its remit, focusing mainly on the behavior of external actors. Those seeking an immersion into Syria’s domestic political dynamics would be well-advised to look elsewhere. Phillips takes the approach of the international relations’ scholar, which at times makes the book feel informationally overloaded. The book’s leitmotif is that the Syrian theatre has been a reflection of the power projection of 6 main players, namely the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Turkey). It is the external behavior of those countries that has invariably had a heavy impact on the ravaged country’s state of affairs.
Το Κέντρο Μεσογειακών,Μεσανατολικών και Ισλαμικών Σπουδών φιλοξενεί πληθώρα διαφορετικών απόψεων στα πλαίσια του ελεύθερου ακαδημαϊκού διαλόγου. Οι απόψεις αυτές δεν αντανακλούν υποχρεωτικά τις απόψεις του Κέντρου. Η χρήση και αναπαραγωγή οπτικοακουστικού υλικού για τις ανάγκες της ιστοσελίδας του ΚΕΜΜΙΣ γίνεται για ενημερωτικούς, ακαδημαϊκούς και μη κερδοσκοπικούς σκοπούς κατά τα προβλεπόμενα του Νόμου 2121/1993 (ΦΕΚ Α' 25/4-3-1993) περί της προστασίας της πνευματικής ιδιοκτησίας, καθώς και του άρ.8 του Νόμου 2557/1997 (ΦΕΚ Α' 271/1997).