Crisis Diplomacy from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea: Approaches to the Syrian Crisis and the Iranian Question

Event Date: 
Friday, September 7, 2012 to Saturday, September 8, 2012
Location: 
Princeton University

As the crisis and bloodshed in Syria continues to escalate with spill-over effects for Syria's neighbors, the geopolitical consequences of the situation become more unpredictable and complicated by the hour. The implementation of a partial no-fly zone over Syria by the United States and its allies in the region is no longer a distant possibility. The seriousness of the situation is further compounded by a network of complex geopolitical linkages ranging from the Levant in the West, to the Gulf, and the Hindu Kush in the East, the Caucasus in the North, and the greater Arabian Peninsula in the South. The Syrian crisis and the increasing tensions between Israel and Iran are at the core of this diverse and energy rich macro-region and have potentially negative ramifications for pressing challenges and broader tensions in the region, including, but not limited to, Sunni-Shia tensions, Israeli-Iranian tensions, the 2014 withdrawal of ISAF from Afghanistan, Kurdish radicalization and nationalism, and a broader geopolitical "freeze" from the Sinai to the Caspian, encompassing pressure points including Lebanon, Sinai, Nagorno-Karabakh, and pre-election Georgia. The division and rivalry of Great Power interests in the region have been highlighted as well as the shortcomings of UN crisis management as the civil war in Syria intensifies and the crisis with Iran escalates.  The longer the conflict festers, the higher the casualties, the more precarious the situation.

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination held a panel on Friday, September 7 at 4:30 p.m. in Bowl 1, Robertson Hall focusing on Syria and Iran. The panel included crisis simulations focusing on the intensification of combat and the possible establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria, and on simulations related to the possible regional ramifications of military strikes against targets in Iran. The panel's crisis simulations will be led by Col. Sam Gardiner, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), with comment from Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, director of LISD.

The public panel was a public plenary session of a private, by invitation only workshop that analyzed Syria, Iran, and related developments in the macro-region and model potential outcomes on regional, international, and strategic levels, with the intent to develop solutions alternative to military operations. The private sessions on Saturday, September 8 focused on discussions of various matters emerging from the intensification of hostilities in and around Syria, the intensification of the crisis for Lebanon, and possible Western intervention in Syria; the possibility of an Israeli strike against targets in Iran; the potential ramifications of emerging events for Central Asia and Afghanistan.