Since 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an increasingly violent conflict that has produced the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century. In less than five years, more than half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes, killed, or imprisoned, severely rupturing the social fabric of society. In this presentation, Samer Abboud provides an analysis of Syria’s descent into this catastrophe by highlighting, first, the background of the uprising and its early stages, and, second, the militarization of the uprising and the fragmentation of the country into competing areas controlled by various armed groups. In doing so, he will try and unravel the complex and multi-layered causes of the conflict that have produced the current political and military stalemate, including why the political and militarized opposition remains fragmented, how competing centers of power have emerged throughout the country, what the role of international actors has been, and how the Syrian regime has managed to survive the conflict. The presentation concludes by looking to the future and asks how the conflict may be de-escalated and a political transition process adopted amidst the current stalemate.

Bio: Samer Abboud is Associate Professor of International Studies at Arcadia University and a Senior non-resident Fellow at the Center for Syrians Studies at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland. In 2013, Samer was a Fellow at the Institute of International and Security Affairs in Berlin and a Visiting Scholar at Carnegie’s Middle East Center in Beirut. Samer is the author of the recently published book on the Syrian conflict entitled Syria (Polity, 2015) and has published extensively in academic and popular venues on contemporary Syria and the conflict. He is also the co-author (with Benjamin J. Muller) of Rethinking Hizballah: Authority, Legitimacy, Violence.