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Call for Proposals- Research paper on GCC states’ influence and role in the normalization with Syria

Submission no later than June 6, 2023.

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Research Context:

In May 2023, Arab states agreed to readmit Syria into the Arab League. While for the past 12 years Bashar al-Assad had been isolated from the Arab world due to his brutal crackdown on opponents during the country’s civil war, the regional calculus of some Arab states now seems to be shifting. Here, especially Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states appear to play a shaping role in determining the direction and pace of the ongoing normalization efforts. While an early sign of swaying stances showed when the United Arabic Emirates normalized relations with Damascus in 2018, the warming of regional ties did not gain much traction until the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) threw its political weight and clout behind rapprochement efforts in recent months. Particularly in view of the Chinese-brokered reestablishment of ties between the KSA and Iran, which had backed opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, the Saudi’s approach towards Syria appears to have shifted, leading the two countries to reopen their embassies and reviving diplomatic relations.

On the other hand, among the most steadfast opponents to normalization is another GCC state, namely Qatar. Together with Kuwait it is among several Arab states that have opposed Syria’s readmission into the Arab League, emphasizing that the circumstances that led to Syria’s expulsion in 2011 have remained unchanged. Apart from making normative claims and calls for accountability over the Assad’s regime committed war crimes, opponents have furthermore argued that concessions regarding crucial issues - the return of Syrian refugees and illicit drug smuggling, amongst others - need to be made by Assad and a roadmap to resolve the manifold Syrian crises laid out before Damascus should be welcomed back into the Arab fold. 

Project Objective:

Against the backdrop of the recent and ongoing developments towards normalization, the objective of the research is to explore the relations between Syria and the GCC states (with focus on the most important players among them but, where needed, making references to other Arab and non-Arab states as well) and to shed light on relevant issues including but not limited to:

  • GCC states’ (stated and underlying) interests in Syria and, by extension, the region.
  • GCC states’ stance towards normalization with Syria in alignment or in conflict with other regional and international actors.
  • The leverage GCC states may or may not hold when it comes to influencing other states’ behavior towards Syria.
  • The leverage and the political will they may or may not hold when it comes to resolving the manifold Syrian crises within and outside of Syria’s borders.
  • The effects a full-fledged normalization (beyond a mere diplomatic level) would have for Syrians and the role GCC states may play in aiding Syria’s economic reconstruction.
  • Future outlook and prospects

Deliverables & Scope:

The selected candidate will be expected to deliver a research paper with approximately 10,000 – 12,000 words on the above-mentioned topic, by August 31, 2023. The methodology should consist of an in-depth review of primary and secondary literature and ideally utilize the author’s own network as a primary source to obtain novel information and/or conduct interviews with experts, policy makers and other relevant actors.


Interested candidates should send:

  1. A two-page research abstract with a clearly formulated research structure including methodology
  2. An up-to-date curriculum vitae showing their experience as a researcher, expertise on the mentioned topic as well as any other relevant information
  3. Budget proposed


The application should be submitted by email to latest by 6th of June 2023.


We look forward to receiving your proposals and encourage you to address the research objectives outlined in this call. The selected candidate will have the chance to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the research topic. Their work will be published and shared with a wider audience.

For any inquiries or clarifications, please contact Anne Bauer at

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Anne-Sophie Bauer

Anne-Sophie Bauer

Research Associate +961 1 388 061/62

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