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Realism is a way to study and practice international politics. It emphasizes the role of the national state and gives a broad assumption that all citizens are motivated by national interests. At its most basic level, the national interest is easy to define: all states try to maintain their political independence and their regional integrity. However, once these two interests have been secured, national interests can take different forms. Some states may be interested in securing more resources or land. Other states may wish to extend their own political or economic systems to other areas. Some states may only want to be alone.In 2011, the Middle East became the theater of one of the most remarkable political developments in this beginning century: the Arab Spring. During the summer 2011, violence continued to escalate throughout the country, and since then the complexity of the war has continually intensified, with more players – Syrian, regional and international – entering the battlefield on one side or the other, making the Syrian conflict both a civil war and an international war. Now entering its fifth year, the Syrian war is the worst humanitarian crisis the world has witnessed since 1945, with more than 300,000 deaths and over 4 million refugees.  To understand the causes of Russia’s behavior in the Syrian war, it is to be considered that  Assad’s Syria (The president of Syria) is the only country in the Middle East on which Russia can directly influence. The region, in fact, that during the Cold War was the battlefield of a  struggle for power between the two blocks, since 1989 has been increasingly shifted under the influence of the United States. Assad’s second ally, Iran, since the beginning of the war, has given the Syrian government financial, technical and military support by sending its Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Such participation in Iran can be explained through considerations of balance of power. Isolated and surrounded by enemies since 1979, Iran has in Assad’s Syria its only regional ally. However,  losing its precious ally, it would also lose the “bridge” of direct connection with Hezbollah that Syria has always been thanks to its geographical position and, above all, to Assad’s foreign policy. In September 2014, the United States took the lead in an international alliance to carry out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, where one of the biggest problems is to avoid any activities that could benefit Assad by hitting his enemies. The logic behind such a strategy can be explained by realism. As seen in a realistic perspective, national interests the major drivers of a state’s action and US intervention in Syria does not make an exception. The support Washington gives to anti-Assad forces aims to exploit the room for action and the power vacuum created by the war in Syria to expand the American influence and strengthen the position of America’s regional allies. In the light of the considerations made, it is possible to conclude that Realism is an easy-to-use theory to explain the involvement of external states in the Syrian scenario, due to the assumption that states in the international arena act in accordance with their own interests they wish to fulfill and thanks to the  theory of balance of power. Nevertheless, it is the author’s opinion that Realism cannot effectively explain all aspects of the Syrian conflict. It is true that Assad and those close to him struggle to survive and maintain power and that the opposition groups struggle to achieve as much control as possible by the state, which a realistic lecture should retain. However, this logic of the battle for power seems too limited to explain in a complete way why and how in the civil conflict. As argued in the introduction to the present work, the Syrian conflict has a dual character, as it is both a civil war that was fought between Assad and the Syrian opposition and an international war fought by the external states that have intervened supporting one side or another . In the light of the analysis in the first part, it is the your own opinion that realism can be used to explain the international dimension of the war, as it emphasizes those material interests that reasonably give account of the intervention of actors such as United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Conversely, the civil dimension of the war represents a series of challenges to Realism, because its exclusive focus on material factors is not enough to explain how the civil war broke out and why it has become increasingly sectarian. In conclusion, it is possible to argue that the Syrian conflict is too complex to be fully explained by a single theory. Realism and constructivism often usually try to explain both civilian and international dimensions of the war by relying on the “struggle for power” assumption and the “centrality of identity” one.  However, each theory has certain limits in its explanatory capacity. Both are therefore required to have a deeper understanding of the different dimensions and dynamics of the Syrian war, and it is discipline’s responsibility to further encourage the analytical effort to help politicians understand one of our harshest wars of our time.

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