Co-adaptation in Context with Iranian, Russian and Turkish Policies on Syrian Complexity: The Emergence of the Astana Process

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Çoban M. İ.

in: Chaos, Complexity and Leadership 2020 Application of Nonlinear Dynamics from Interdisciplinary Perspective, Emir Vajzovi´c,Sefika Sule Erçetin,Suay Nilhan Açıkalın, Editor, Springer, London/Berlin , Zug, pp.291-315, 2021

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Publisher: Springer, London/Berlin 
  • City: Zug
  • Page Numbers: pp.291-315
  • Editors: Emir Vajzovi´c,Sefika Sule Erçetin,Suay Nilhan Açıkalın, Editor
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This research is based on explaining the dynamics that led the Iran, Russia

and Turkey to initiate Astana Process within the framework of the Syrian CivilWar’s

changing dynamics. The article intends to combine power politicswith the “complexity”

paradigm. Linear ontology is problematic in explaining the changing dynamics.

On the other hand, the complexity paradigm explains non-linear processes derived

from its ontological foundation. Especially the variety and diversity of actors, their

interconnection, interdependence, and co-adaptation to the situation can be a solution

against the reductionism of this phenomenon. Actors in the Syrian crisis are very

diverse, and it can be observed that actors like ISIS can profoundly affect the policies

in this process, and the Syrian issue can affect varied actors’ security and foreign policies

that are also based on power competition. Complexity paradigm assumes system

as complex, more dynamic and living that many actors (which are not exogenous as

closed units) interact with many feedback loops; thus the outcome of the events may

not be predicted. IR is also impacted by many various parameters and variables which

are interconnected and interdependent, indeed, also the main actors in the system

cannot be limited by only states which are socializing and affected by the structure

in their interactions considering the critical impact of the substate factors, transnational

terrorist groups, and many other variable causes as well as their interactions in

the international changing and co-evolutionary dynamics. Russia, Turkey, and Iran

(the guarantors of the Astana Process) have followed different policies and demonstrated

divergent outlooks regarding the crisis. Indeed the priorities and set agendas

differed from one another as well as objectives to pursue in the disorder occurred

by fragmented and diversified dynamics in Syria. However “unpredictable” events

of changing dynamics resulted in diversification of states’ agendas. The prolongation

of the civil war led to the introduction of new actors along with it, and especially

the states sharing the border with Syria were also exposed to new threats. It

can be seen that with the emergence of ISIS and Russian activism in the Syrian

complexity, especially her intervention in Syria as well as other actors’ policies on

this complexity, the regional and global powers have also co-adapted their policieson the changing dynamics. This co-adaptation also derives from the intertwined

causalities in the complexity which is between the order and disorder. The Astana

process is also an expression of this co-adaptation in Iranian, Russian and Turkish

policies in Syrian Complexity. The complexity paradigm offers an alternative framework

in order to understand the process-oriented interconnected power struggle in

disorder. The characteristics of the “processes” in the Syrian disorder symbolizes the

fracturing component in the power struggle that brings non-linear orientation. The

power struggle shaped by the non-linear dynamics by the time and processes in the

changing dynamics brings about flexibility in the behaviors of the actors in order to

maintain their initial priorities in their foreign policies or their main objectives in

the changing dynamics. That results in the co-evolutionary dynamics in the interactions

between the relative power distributed actors restrained or allowed activism in

structure, and between the actors and structure that co-shaped each other in the area.