Books

The Battle for Syria

International Rivalry in the New Middle East

By Christopher Phillips


Book cover
Available NOW from Yale University Press (2016) – ORDER HERE.

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.

‘Syria’s horrific civil war has been profoundly shaped by the competitive interventions and proxy wars by external powers. The Battle for Syria offers a brilliant, essential account of the international dimension of Syria’s descent from uprising into insurgency and brutal state violence. This sober and judicious book will become a standard text for those seeking to understand Syria’s tragedy.’ – Marc Lynch, author ofThe New Arab Wars: Anarchy and Uprising in the Middle East

‘This is the best work to date that focuses on the regional and international dimensions of the Syrian conflict. Christopher Phillips’ research is meticulous, with both depth and breadth in large part gleaned from his interviews with top officials and representatives from most of the stakeholder states and groups in the war. A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the multidimensional complexities of the conflict.’ – David Lesch, author of Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad

‘Christopher Phillips’s brilliant analysis of the factors fueling the Syria war is a refreshing contrast to works by most ostensible experts, who are partis pris, ill-informed, or both. Phillips joins a short list of writers… who have made original contributions to understanding the Syria war’s causes and consequences.’ – Charles Glass, author of Syria Burning

‘The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East by Christopher Phillips, is one of the best informed and non-partisan accounts of the Syrian tragedy yet published. He judiciously weighs the evidence for rival explanations for what happened and why. He understands the degree to which the agenda and pace events in Syria were determined externally by the intervention of foreign powers pursuing their own interests.’ – Patrick Cockburn, author of The Age of Jihad

Click here for William Armstrong’s review in Hurriyet, 22 September 2016

Click here for Ian Black’s review in LSE Middle East Centre, 11 October 2016

Click here for James Denselow’s review in New York Journal of Books, 24 October 2016

Click here for Charles Glass’ review in the Intercept, 29 October 2016

Click here for Patrick Cockburn’s comments in The Independent, 2 December 2016

Everyday Arab Identity

The Daily Reproduction of the Arab World

By Christopher Phillips

Available NOW from Routledge (2012) – ORDER HERE.

Whether through government propaganda or popular transnational satellite television channels, Arab citizens encounter a discourse that reinforces a sense of belonging to their own state and a broader Arab world on a daily basis. Looking through the lens of nationalism theory, this book examines how and why Arab identity continues to be reproduced in today’s Middle East, and how that Arab identity interacts with strengthening ties to religion and the state.

Drawing on case studies of two ideologically different Arab regimes, Syria and Jordan, Christopher Phillips explores both the implications this everyday Arab identity will have on western policy towards the Middle East and its real life impact on international relations.

Offering an original perspective on this topical issue, this book will be of interest to academics and practitioners working on the Arab world and political affairs, as well as students of International Relations, Political Science and the Middle East, notably Syria and Jordan, and policymakers in the region

Click here for Alan George’s review in International Affairs, January 2013

Click here for Nir Bom’s review in Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, January 2013 

Click here for Morten Valbjorn’s review in Middle East Journal, Spring 2013

Click here for Moinuddin Ahmad’s review in The Statesman, April 2013

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