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Dr. Jang
Ji-Hyang, “The Syrian Crisis and South Korea’s Middle Power Strategy”

Op-ed in the
Jeju Peace Institute’s JPI PeaceNet

Date: May 24,


On Friday, May 24, 2013, Dr.
Jang Ji-Hyang, Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Center at
the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, published an article for the Jeju Peace
Institute’s JPI PeaceNet Newsletter titled, “The Syrian Crisis and South Korea’s Middle Power Strategy.”


Dr. Jang discusses the ongoing
Syrian civil war and its implications for South Korea’s emergence as a global
middle power. She writes that two key factors explain the protracted nature of
Syria’s civil war.


1. First, the security establishment and the urban
elite have been slow to abandon the regime out of fear that the ensuing chaos
will be even worse than the status quo.
For the ruling elites there are no
alternative candidates or parties with which to align and so have stayed with
the incumbent regime.


2. Second, while Iran, Russia, and China have
continued to steadfastly support the regime, the international anti-Assad
coalition’s competing goals have led to sporadic and incoherent support for the
Outside powers have failed to coordinate their methods and
channels of assistance in a systematic way.


Dr. Jang argues that as a
member of the United Nations Security Council and an emerging global actor in
its own right, South Korea should draw
insights from other middle powers such as Australia or Turkey
that are
playing an active role in the Syrian crisis.


§ For instance, when it held the presidency of the
Security Council in February 2013, Korea convened a meeting to discuss the
protection of civilians in armed conflict
(S/PV 6917), a debate in which
Syria figured prominently. Korea should expand these discussions of the
humanitarian crisis.


§ There is also significant scope for increasing its aid
contribution. Korea’s aid commitment to Syria thus far has totaled
approximately $5 million:
$1 million in January 2012, $600,000 in September
2012, and $3 million at the international donor’s conference in Kuwait in
January 2013.


*This article is in Korean

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