Syria after IS

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This article is featured in the ORIENT IV 2017

The so-called Islamic State in Syria (IS) appears in terminal decline, assaulted by the US sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on one side and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, backed by his allies Russia and Iran, on the other. What does IS’ decline mean for the Syria conflict? This article explores the conflicting goals and priorities of the two main Syrian forces and their antagonistic external backers, as well as the remnants of IS, arguing that though the ‘Caliphate’ may have been defeated, new conflicts and instability may yet emerge from the fallout.

Christopher Phillips is Reader in International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa programme. He recently co-curated an exhibition, ‘Syria: A Conflict Explored’ at London’s Imperial War Museum, and is author of The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East (London: Yale University Press, 2016).

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