What are the stakeholder agendas in the Syrian conflict? Comparing US and Russian involvement.

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The research to be conducted is to support the development of a research paper. The question to research is What are the stakeholder agendas in the Syrian conflict? Comparing the United States (US) and Russia.
The research will follow a stakeholder analysis model. Stakeholder analysis is an analysis tool used in identifying those who have a role to play in, or who are impacted by, the various factors defining a situation. The World Bank defines the term stakeholders as processes by accounting for and often incorporating the needs of those who have a stake or an interest in a situation (World Bank, 2017). For the purposes of this research, a stakeholder is defined as a group that positively or negatively affects the conflict in Syria.
As Claxton and Marticorena highlighted in their article for the Strategist, The US is a weary titan, that has been forced to pivot simultaneously meeting a rising Russian in the Middle East threats while projecting strength to face a rising China in the Indo-pacific (Claxton and Marticorena, 2014). This research will not look at Chinas rise however, this research will acknowledge that with the US having been in war, or some form of conflict in the Middle East over the last 16 years and now stretched across the globe, the options for the US in Syria will diminish.
As Quilium (2015) argues, since the 1970s, Syria has undergone significant political, military and religious upheaval, highlighting the number of coups and counter-coups. This research aims to investigate how Syrias geopolitical landscape has altered from the Assad familys initial assumption of power in the 1970s, and how this evolved into an oppressive and seemingly stable regime that has lead to, and affected, the current conflict.
The US has developed great influence and alliances in many recourse rich Middle Eastern countries. In doing so, Dueck (2015) argued that the US has gained lucrative trading partners in the natural recourse rich Middle Eastern countries. An article by The National (2012) suggests that, to counter this, Russias strategy has been to curry favour with competing Middle Eastern countries that have a grievance against neighbouring states allied with the US. Further, this research will aim to explore Syrias relationship with Russia, and how it has evolved over the past 40 years. Russia has over this time, actively supported the Assad government, as well as Syrias sectarian landscape.
This research will then explore the intent, agenda and effectiveness of the US and Russias intervention in the Syrian conflict, and how the intent of Russian and US intervention has been partly aimed at a humanitarian intervention, and partly a geopolitical intervention.
With the complexity and number of stakeholders in the Syrian conflict, the main body of research and the following discussion paper will focus on the US and Russia, however research into this region and conflict cannot be complete without at least outlining the other stakeholders involved in this conflict, and their ultimate underlying agendas. As Gilsinan summarises, the conflict stating that The Syrian war looks different depending on which protagonist you focus on (Gilsinan 2015).
Furthermore, and with this in mind, an investigation will be made into trans-national stakeholders intent on removing or disrupting the Assad government, their motivations, and the various groups that have been supported either directly, or indirectly. Then, this research will aim to briefly investigate how the instability created by the current crisis has been a catalyst for the rise of domestic and international Islamic Jihad from groups in both Syria and Iraq.
A large focus of similar research has been focused on ISIS/Daesh, and the groups similarities to, and differences from, whom and what it evolved from. ISIS/Daeshs religious motivation and ability to organise on a large scale has allowed it to seize and hold great swathes of territory. And through the proliferation of social media, it has exported its ideology to many other countries around the globe. The net result is that there is no longer a neat divide between international terrorism and domestic terrorism. This research will not look at the rise of ISIS/Daesh, or the groups ideology. This research instead aims to analyse how under the branded common banner and premise of defeating ISIS/Daesh and terrorism in general, the US and Russia have competing agendas.
An interesting topic this research will look to explore by way of comparison is the message and propaganda that both the US and Russia are using for their domestic audiences. In times of war, governments must persuade their armies to fight and its people to support the cause (i.e. support the troops. The rhetoric of both leaders is an important topic to research as propaganda depends on the effective use of rhetorical language, as Smith writes in his chapter on the nature of political war; The basic skill needed to conduct propaganda is the classic art of rhetoric (Smith 1989).
An important final note for this research is that the Syrian conflict is ongoing and evolving. The Syrian conflict is incredibly polarising, encompassing numerous political and religious stakeholders with competing and conflicting agendas. These agendas are subjective, and this research will aim to consider these competing agendas by researching as many differing, peer reviewed and reputable sources as possible, containing the least bias possible. However the views of these sources may be subject to conscious and/or unconscious bias, and subject to political ideologies and religious motivations.
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