Syria

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    Blog

    Five Views on U.S. Military Action in Syria

    Sep 9, 2013

    RAND experts offer insights into the potential scope of U.S. action in Syria and the ramifications it could have for Iran, Israel, al Qaeda, and the Assad regime.

Explore Syria

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter throws a Molotov cocktail in West Aleppo December 2013

    Report

    Getting to Negotiations in Syria

    It appears that there is almost no prospect for a negotiated solution to the civil war in Syria in the near term. This is because the Syrian factions believe — perhaps rightly — that they have more to gain by carrying on the fight than by negotiating toward peace.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • Members of Shi'ite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq carry coffins of fighters killed in clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), July 7, 2014

    Blog

    The United States Must Remain Cautious About Intervening in Iraq

    It is difficult to see how the United States can favorably affect the situation in Iraq without making a costly and risky investment. But that does not mean doing nothing. An immediate objective is to contain the conflict.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama announcing an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, November 23, 2013

    Blog

    How the United States Can Use Its Non-Military Power

    Because the United States has relied so heavily on force, we tend to equate it with power. Some results can only be achieved through force, but coercion can be an effective substitute. A superpower, by definition, has many options to have its way without always needing to send troops into battle—a smart superpower will use those options.

    Jul 10, 2014

  • Members of Iran's Basij militia march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war, September 22, 2010

    Blog

    The Fallacy of Iranian Leverage

    Rather than helping Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Iran's battle against the ISIS could actually hurt it. The broader strategic dynamics were already working against Iran, and the situation in Iraq has only made that more true.

    Jun 27, 2014

  • Volunteers, who have joined Iraqi security forces to fight against militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), gather in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    Blog

    Iraq Observations

    Will the Obama administration be blamed for losing Iraq if it does not order military intervention? Or will history judge the president wise for keeping U.S. forces out of war? As Americans debate assisting Iraq, including the possibility of military intervention, here are 10 things to keep in mind.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014

    Blog

    With More Opportunities for Recruitment, the ISIS Threat Could Grow

    As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rolls through northern Iraq, taking two cities, Mosul and Tikrit, in as many days last week, experts are concerned not only about territory and resources seized by the militants, but also about growing opportunities for ISIS to bolster its ranks.

    Jun 18, 2014

  • Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in Mosul, Iraq, June 11, 2014

    Blog

    Obama's Iraq Dilemma

    On the surface, President Obama faces a classic foreign policy dilemma: The Iraqis are asking for U.S. military assistance to halt ISIS's dangerous offensive, but Obama has long promised the American people that he would withdraw the U.S. military from involvement in Iraq.

    Jun 17, 2014

  • Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in a parade in eastern Baghdad, June 15, 2014

    Blog

    Key to Iraq May Rest with Syria

    The answer to the fighting and instability may lie in a settlement which includes negotiating with Syrian President Assad, perhaps brokered through the Russians and Iranians. As unpalatable as it may be to the West, such a settlement would acknowledge the political and geographical realities on the ground.

    Jun 16, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

    Blog

    Facing Syrian Realities

    President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah offers an opportunity to engage in a much needed dialogue about the future of the conflict in Syria and to hear what a strong ally and friend has to say about stability in the region.

    Feb 28, 2014

  • Members of the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are holed up in Fallujah along with Sunni fighters angry at Prime Minister Maliki over what they say are policies which discriminate against Iraq's Sunni minority

    Blog

    Discord Among Terrorists

    Overall, divisions in Al Qaeda's ranks are good news for the United States. While the split will not end the jihadists' terrorist campaigns, it will preoccupy Al Qaeda's leaders and create uncertainty in its ranks.

    Feb 25, 2014

  • Masked Sunni Muslim gunmen take up positions with their weapons during a patrol in the city of Falluja

    Blog

    Iraq Picture May Not Be as Bleak as It Seems

    Over the past month, al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made a concerted effort to seize the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The attacks have received a lot of attention, but ISIS does not represent a majority of Iraqi Sunni in Anbar. Many Sunni Anbari leaders continue to reject al Qaeda.

    Jan 31, 2014

  • A man sits atop a lamp post waving pictures of Bashar Al Assad

    Report

    The Dynamics of Syria's Civil War

    As the Syrian conflict enters its third year, uncertainty persists regarding the circumstances on the ground, potential outcomes, and long-term consequences.

    Jan 17, 2014

  • Syrian residents flee their homes following clashes between opposition fighters and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad

    Blog

    Syria's Bloody Stalemate

    With little chance of a negotiated end to the fighting, the war in Syria is likely to drag on. And even if somehow the bloodshed were to end relatively soon, the war will leave a legacy of odium and thousands of fighters that will threaten the region and beyond far into the future.

    Jan 17, 2014

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    Report

    Denying Flight: Strategic Options for Employing No-Fly Zones

    To what extent are no-fly zones (NFZs) a policy option for external military intervention in local conflicts? A new report examines the forms they might take, their potential utility, and their probable limitations.

    Dec 27, 2013

  • Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo's Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood

    Blog

    Should the United States End Assistance to Syria's Rebels?

    The American investment in Syria thus far can be accurately described as timid and minimal. The United States can do more to assist the rebels without directly using American military power or sliding into a strategy of escalation.

    Dec 23, 2013

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter inspects a resident's identification papers at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing

    Testimony

    The Role of Terrorism and Terror in Syria's Civil War

    The growing role of jihadist elements, with their numbers increasing through the recruitment of foreign fighters and defections from other rebel groups, has divided the Syrian rebel movement and discouraged anti-Assad governments in the West from providing significant military support.

    Nov 20, 2013

  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare homemade bombs in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine September 30, 2013

    Blog

    Syria As We Know It Is Gone

    Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • U.N. chemical weapons experts investigating a gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in the suburbs of Damascus

    Blog

    The Hidden Conclusions in the U.N.'s Syria Gas Report

    The lethality of the munitions used in Syria point directly to an actor with significant capacities and long experience using chemical weaponry and artillery, writes James T. Quinlivan. And that fingers the notoriously abusive Assad regime, not the outmatched, outgunned and frantically improvising rebels.

    Sep 25, 2013

  • Blog

    A Smarter Way to Stop Syria WMD Attacks

    President Obama made a strong case that the U.S. should take the lead in punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons and actively enforce the near-global ban on these weapons. Now, the possibility of a diplomatic solution to this problem offers an opportunity to improve the request for the authorization of force currently before Congress.

    Sep 19, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013.

    Blog

    Examining the Diplomatic Option in Syria

    The United States' options in Syria are all miserable, but the Russian proposal appears to be the least miserable of the lot, says Bruce Bennett.

    Sep 12, 2013