The guiding principle of China’s national policy is state sovereignty, holding an almost sacred status. The People’s Republic of China is strongly opposed to any unnecessary intrusion from foreign powers. In terms of the Syrian conflict, China has utilized its veto power to impede any proposals suggesting foreign intervention, with a particular interest in blocking intervention led by the USA as well as the other Western countries. Although China does not have direct vested interests in the economic or humanitarian state of Syria, it has highlighted its concern that foreign states are using the prospect of intervention to further their own national interests by propping up regimes that are favourable to them. As such, it can be concluded that the interests of China lie in preventing “the establishment of legal or procedural precedents for military interventions by the international community against sovereign states, except under extremely rare and narrow circumstances” (Swaine, 2012: 9). This formal and explicit statement is also mean that the Chinese regime desires to stop the attempt to interfere in China by the Western states, including the USA.
In contrast to Russian and Chinese stances on the Syrian conflict, the USA actively supports the anti-Assad forces. Its aims centre around exploiting the power vacuum created as a result of the Syrian Civil War in order to further establish its influence and position in the region, in addition to that of their regional allies. Moreover, the presence of political rivals in the form of Moscow and Teheran requires American policy to focus on curtailing any power plays in the region from such forces (Abdo, 2011). American action in the region is also driven by the fact it views that the Syrian regime as a sponsor of terrorism, as an evidenced by its support of the Hezbollah and Palestinian groups in the preceding years. Additionally, fears surrounding the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian and Iranian regimes form another key aspect of the American stance on Syria, due to the possible catastrophic effects on the regional security (Sharp and Blanchard, 2013).
Syrian has also become a focal point of attempts to gain power and influence between two bitter enemies in the region: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudi rulers view that the overthrow of the Assad regime as a key step to weakening Iran’s grip on the region; the subsequent balance of power would undoubtedly favour Saudi Arabia and establish the superiority of the Saudi monarchy vis-à-vis Iran (Cockburn, 2016).
The realist lens also provides insight into the Turkish role in the Syrian conflict. With the Turkish armed forces conducting interventions in the form of purportedly anti-ISIS airstrikes on July 2015, it is clear that Turkey has vested interests in the conflict (Yeginsu, 2015). In fact, these interests heavily revolve around opposing any projections of power by Iran and Russia at its borders or even in the Middle East. Furthermore, a key driver to Turkish action in the region is to counter the growing power of the Syrian Kurds, which lends itself to the possibility of the resurgence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); a revival that would be against Turkish national interest and a direct threat to the AK Party’s stability and popularity (?idi?, 2017). In addition, replacing the current Syrian Alawite regime with a government allied to the Sunni Islamist movement would align with Ankara’s interests; helping the Justice and Development Party government strengthen its influence in the region whilst hampering Tehran’s efforts of ideological and political expansion in the Middle East (Barkey, 2012).