Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Bob Bowker

Bob Bowker is a former Australian ambassador to Jordan, Egypt and Syria. He was an Adjunct Professor at the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Articles by Bob Bowker (20)

  • Syria, a year from now (part 2): The diplomatic dimension

    The balance of diplomatic advantage between the foreign powers involved in the Syria conflict will inevitably reflect the momentum of the military situation. In that sense, as discussed in part 1 of this series, the Russians and Assad are in a far stronger position than their opponents. Images of human suffering and refugee movements will continue to drive demand for diplomatic efforts to end the war.
  • Syria, a year from now (part 1): The military dimension

    It takes reckless courage to make predictions about Syria. But compared to a year ago, when the survival of the Assad regime looked increasingly problematic, the factors shaping the military and diplomatic outlook in 2016 are somewhat clearer. The Assad regime looks set to remain in place.
  • Is Russia's growing intervention in Syria a game changer?

    The latest analysis of the Syrian conflict from the Institute for the Study of War provides a detailed examination of what it describes (correctly) as a game changer. Assuming its analysis of the military calculus is sound, the questions that remain unanswered relate to the extent to which the Russians see their role extending beyond securing their interests along the Syrian coast.  Would they see it as a strategic necessity to secure Damascus, or prevent the interdiction of the highway linking
  • Iran nuclear deal opens door for Syria diplomacy

    The US and Russia are reportedly promoting a concert-of-powers approach to new negotiations over Syria. Although any movement toward a political solution will be limited by the unwillingness of ISIS and other Islamists to engage in such a process, recent intelligence contact between the Syrians and the Saudis, visits to Oman by senior Syrian officials and exchanges between Riyadh and Moscow suggest that a more pragmatic stance may be developing among the regional powers.
  • Syria: World dithers as new refugee crisis looms

    It remains too early to predict the collapse of the Assad regime, or the way in which it might end, although the possibility of 'catastrophic success' on the part of the jihadist opposition is weighing on minds in Washington.  What is clear, however, are grounds for serious concern about the potential mass flight of Alawites and other minorities from Syria should the Assad regime lose its hold on the Alawite heartland along the Mediterranean coast.
  • Is Egypt falling into an Islamist insurrection?

    Islamist insurrection has returned to Egypt. There has been a significant growth in the sophistication of the targeting, conduct and lethality of terrorist acts, a crisis of political legitimacy for the Egyptian Government, and the virtual abandonment of any separation of executive and judicial authority on matters deemed security-related. A new stage has been reached in the contest for the future of the country.
  • Syria: The world must prepare for a new humanitarian crisis

    With the Assad regime now more vulnerable in its fight against rebel groups, there is a strong case for the preparation of contingency plans to deal with a new and even greater humanitarian disaster that may unfold in and around Syria. The potential for a genocide of the Alawites cannot be discounted. But the more likely impending threat is that of a sudden and massive population movement, especially from the western seaboard of the country into Lebanon.