Concluding material interests that reasonably give account for

Concluding the key aspects, the dual-natured Syrian conflict is both a civil war between Assad and the Syrian rebel forces, and an international war fought though proxies by external states supporting one or another of these sides.

Realism can be used to explain the war’s international dimension as it highlights the material interests that reasonably give account for the intervention of external actors such as the United States of America, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Constructivism focuses more on the effects of identity and ideology on behaviour, as well as how the protests turned into a civil war with religious and ethnic divides and how the war morphed into an international struggle. In short, the theory of constructivism provides a highly nuanced analysis of the Syrian conflict. This detailed account can be argued to be stronger than the realism approach due to its emphasis on social factors and the significance of ideas, allowing the explanation of factors which are beyond the scope of realism. Despite this, realism is still the theory of choice in terms of explaining international conflict, with a large backing of historical evidence in its favor.

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However, Michael Barnett takes an opposing stance and states that realism falls short in explaining the numerous vital factors which have played a part in the region, including the absence of large scale military build-up and arms races, the prominence of symbolism over frank military force, and the widespread regional instability (Barnett, 1998).


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