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This Perspective is the second in a series in which the authors argue for practical steps aimed at reducing the fighting in Syria to provide more time for a national transition process. The ultimate goal of that process is an inclusive, unified, democratic Syria. As the international community continues to search for ways to resolve Syria's civil war, this Perspective argues that decentralization of governance could be part of the solution. Syria has a history of highly centralized state control that has stunted the country's development and contributed to the exclusion of significant parts of society. Devolution of power to localities can assist the transition process by lowering the stakes of the conflict, providing security to Syrians who have lost trust in the state, and deferring some of the fundamental issues that will require a drawn out negotiation between Syria's various factions. Some form of decentralization may also figure in any final political settlement in the event that Syrians prove unable to agree on a unitary state and the composition of a central government.

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This report is part of the RAND Corporation perspective series. RAND perspectives present informed perspective on a timely topic that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND perspectives undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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