The Battle for Syria – International Rivalry in the Middle East’, published by Yale University Press.

Dr Christopher Phillips, author of the acclaimed book ‘The Battle for Syria – International Rivalry in the Middle East’ visits Exeter

The Centre for Advanced International Studies (CAIS) recently hosted a talk by Dr Christopher Phillips, author of the acclaimed book ‘The Battle for Syria – International Rivalry in the Middle East’, published by Yale University Press.

Described by The Independent critic Patrick Cockburn as ‘One of the best-informed and non-partisan accounts of the Syrian tragedy yet published’.

It is described by Yale University Press as an unprecedented analysis of the crucial but underexplored roles the United States and other nations have played in shaping Syria's ongoing civil war Most accounts of Syria's brutal, long-lasting civil war focus on a domestic contest that began in 2011 and only later drew foreign nations into the escalating violence. Christopher Phillips argues instead that the international dimension was never secondary but that Syria's war was, from the very start, profoundly influenced by regional factors, particularly the vacuum created by a perceived decline of U.S. power in the Middle East. This precipitated a new regional order in which six external protagonists-the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar-have violently competed for influence, with Syria a key battleground. Drawing on a plethora of original interviews, Phillips constructs a new narrative of Syria's war. Without absolving the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime, the author untangles the key external factors which explain the acceleration and endurance of the conflict, including the West's strategy against ISIS. He concludes with some insights on Syria and the region's future.

The talk was followed by a lively discussion between the author and faculty and students.

Date: 23 April 2018