Conclusion

The current dynamic of the conflict in Syria suggests that in the mid and long term the government supported by Iran and Russia will continue gaining ground at the expenses of the Arab-armed opposition groups, along the route axis Dar‘a-Aleppo and in particular in Dar‘a, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Aleppo regions. While in the Kurdish-held areas, local media outlets will continue to develop their tools and structures, the ongoing trend should definitely narrow the already tiny physical room for independent and politically biased media outlets based in opposition-held areas. These media entities will likely be forced to move their premises and local staff abroad: With all probability in neighbouring Turkey (the Lebanese, the Iraqi and the Jordanian contexts do not offer a comfortable working environment for opposition-driven media) or in Europe and North America.

On the one hand, in an increasingly high militarised context overwhelmed by the rhetoric of the ‘external threat’, this trend would increase the use of polarised narratives in producing media contents and deepen the gap of perceptions between the editorial desks outside the country and the audiences remained in war-torn Syria under the newly-imposed pro-Iranian and pro-Russian local authorities. On the other hand, the relatively independent media activism atmosphere emerged in 2011 should continue to blow in the wind in expanded government-held areas. This could serve as a stimulus for the entire Syrian media landscape, which since the beginning of the uprising has been exposed to an unprecedented wave of requests for opening and updating. Nowadays and even under institutional control, local media in government-held areas are in any case compelled to behave in a more dynamic and competitive environment. This is characterised by the mushrooming of local and foreign sources reverberated through a continuous social media flow of information, in which the borderline between facts and opinion often blurs.

In this context local, national and regional political entities would continue to exert enormous pressure on emerging independent Syrian media inside and outside the country and this trend will hinder development and professionalisation of the media field. Regional powers and well-connected local tycoons will likely keep pouring huge funds in the sector in order to empower their respective political-biased media entities. While independent media - based abroad and with scarce turnover activity in their managerial and editorial structures - will probably receive less and less financial support by European and American donors. Nevertheless, in the long run one of the main objectives of Syrian media operators could be to boost their individual and corporate capacities in improving standards in terms of independence and transparency. Towards a plural but shared common Syrian identity.