Syria

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Syria's civil war and the rise of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State has contributed to an unprecedented global refugee crisis, with millions of Syrians displaced internally or seeking refuge elsewhere. RAND's work has analyzed military options for the United States in Syria, strategies for defeating the Islamic State, and pathways to restoring peace.

  • Syrian refugees walk towards a crossing point at Greece's border with Macedonia, September 8, 2015, photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syrian Refugees: All You Need to Know

    Sep 17, 2015

    The world can only absorb so many millions of refugees. The civil war in Syria demands a political solution facilitated by international leadership that will bring stability and enable refugees to return to home.

  • Iraqi volunteers fix weapons for the Hashid Shaabi militia at a shop on the outskirts of Basra, June 16, 2015, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Report

    The United States Faces a Gap Between Objectives and Reality in Syria and Iraq

    Sep 24, 2015

    There is a large gap between U.S. objectives and a realistic appreciation of the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Frank appraisals of the situation in the region must inform U.S. objectives, even if such assessments defy Americans' sense of progress.

Explore Syria

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin greets spectators at the World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk

    Commentary

    The Tide Is Going Out on Putin

    Russia is losing ground in domestic politics, economics, and foreign policy. It could take steps to strengthen its position, such as withdrawing from Ukraine, privatizing inefficient state enterprises, and improving the investment climate.

    Jan 25, 2016

  • Syrian refugee children who crossed into Jordanian territory with their families, January 14, 2016

    Commentary

    Battered by War, Syrian Refugee Kids Need to Be Taught

    More than 700,000 Syrian refugee children are not receiving formal education. Host countries are struggling to create enough spaces to accommodate them in schools, and there are no formal programs to teach children who have missed years of instruction.

    Jan 15, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, January 12, 2016

    Blog

    State of the Union 2016: Insights on Obama's Last Address

    RAND research, analysis, and expertise provide context for many of the issues discussed in President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address, including the threat of ISIS, global climate change, and bringing peace to Syria.

    Jan 13, 2016

  • 152-mm howitzer 2A65 Msta-B in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum

    Commentary

    Artillery Returns to the Battlefield in the War Against ISIL

    Together with increased air attacks, the Syrians and their Russian advisors seek to revitalize combined arms forces, and artillery is critical to their vision of such forces.

    Jan 11, 2016

  • A Kurdish refugee woman from Syria walks with her children at a refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey, November 17, 2014

    Report

    Lessening the Risk of Refugee Radicalization: Lessons from the Past

    Radicalization among refugee populations, such as the millions currently fleeing Syria, is not inevitable. Rather, comprehensive policies that go beyond immediate life-saving needs can mitigate the risk. But such policies were rare in past crises and even today can be difficult to put in place and sustain.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov before a meeting of Foreign Ministers about Syria in New York, December 18, 2015

    Commentary

    A Realistic Peace Plan for Syria Needs to Begin with an Immediate Cease-Fire

    To reach peace in Syria, the International Syria Support Group should concentrate on securing an immediate cease-fire and arranging for its enforcement, followed by further negotiations on the shape of a reconstituted Syrian state.

    Dec 18, 2015

  • News Release

    Immediate Ceasefire and 'Safe Zones' Best Option for Syrian Peace

    The best chance for peace in Syria is for external parties to persuade stakeholders to accept a ceasefire, with further negotiations on a political settlement to follow later. The alternative is the indefinite continuation or even escalation of a devastating war.

    Dec 17, 2015

  • Boys help members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent unload parcels of medical and humanitarian aid in Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2015

    Report

    A Peace Plan for Syria

    The best chance for peace in Syria is for external parties to persuade stakeholders to accept a ceasefire, with further negotiations on a political settlement to follow later. The alternative is the indefinite continuation or even escalation of a devastating war.

    Dec 17, 2015

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    Multimedia

    A Peace Plan for Syria

    Experts discuss, “A Peace Plan for Syria," a new RAND paper suggesting that the best chance for peace in Syria is for external parties to persuade stakeholders to accept a ceasefire, with further negotiations on a political settlement to follow later.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp passes the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS James E. Williams on its way to the pier in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Commentary

    Climate Change Is a National Security Issue, but Not for the Reasons You Think

    All U.S. policy decisions can and should be guided by clear evidence. Climate change policy is no exception. The United States should focus on addressing the clearest vulnerabilities, such as securing coastal defense infrastructure.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • Soldiers from 7th Special Forces Group Airborne are suspended by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a training event Eglin Air Force Base, February 5, 2013

    Commentary

    ISIS vs Special Ops

    However critical to the fight against ISIS, using special operations forces for raids represents only half of the needed military adjustment. The other half is the effort to build indigenous forces capable of taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria.

    Dec 8, 2015

  • Marines scan the area for insurgent activity during a general support flight over Helmand province, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    To Defeat ISIS, Focus on Its Real Sources of Strength

    The threat ISIS poses today is graver than ever for two reasons: its war chest and its ability to attract foreign recruits are both at their peak. Redoubling international efforts to cut off ISIS from these two pillars of its war machine is necessary to sap the group's strength.

    Dec 4, 2015

  • A Syrian refugee carries his son through a rainstorm at the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni, November 27, 2015

    Commentary

    To Undermine ISIS, We Should Welcome Syrian Refugees

    Demonstrating American goodwill to Syrian refugees is the best way to help defeat ISIS and rehabilitate America's image in the chaotic Middle East.

    Dec 3, 2015

  • Civilians walk past a damaged building in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, October 28, 2015

    Commentary

    Will Syria's Civil War Turn Out Like Spain's Did?

    The similarities between the Syrian and Spanish civil wars, including foreign involvement and the level of brutality against civilians and captives, suggest that the Syrian war, like the Spanish one before it, could potentially foreshadow future conflicts.

    Dec 2, 2015

  • Syrian refugees at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, November 1, 2015

    Report

    How the Syrian Refugee Crisis Can Improve Jordan's Outlook

    Syrian refugees might benefit the Jordanian economy by stimulating growth. Donors and lenders have increased their support to Jordan, in turn offering the government an opportunity to improve the lives of both refugees and Jordanian citizens.

    Nov 30, 2015

  • News Release

    Urgent Attention Is Needed to Improve Education for Refugee Children from Syria

    Only half of Syrian refugee children have access to education, with nearly 700,000 not attending any formal education in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Classes are overcrowded and teachers are inexperienced in handling classroom conditions that include traumatized students, some of whom have missed years of school.

    Nov 23, 2015

  • Syrian refugee children draw inside a makeshift school, supported by UNICEF and in cooperation with the Beyond Association, in Zahle, Lebanon, October 22, 2014

    Report

    Urgent Attention Is Needed to Improve Education for Syrian Refugee Children

    Only half of Syrian refugee children have access to education, with nearly 700,000 not receiving any formal instruction in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Classes are overcrowded and teachers are inexperienced in handling classroom conditions that include traumatized students, some of whom have missed years of school.

    Nov 23, 2015

  • A passerby pauses near a makeshift memorial with U.S. and French flags outside the French embassy in Washington, November 16, 2015

    Testimony

    What the Paris Attacks Mean for U.S. Strategy in Syria and Homeland Security

    Events in the Middle East and Europe have direct implications for U.S. homeland security. And the attacks in Paris have increased pressure to step up the fight in Syria and Iraq. But Americans should consider the threat in context, and adjustments to U.S. strategy in Syria should only be a matter of degrees.

    Nov 19, 2015

  • Migrants walk toward the Austrian border town of Spielfeld, in Sentilj, Slovenia, November 18, 2015

    Testimony

    The Syrian Refugee Crisis and U.S. National Security

    America has a long tradition of offering protection to refugees, and the threat from refugees has historically been relatively low. However, the government should continue to reassess its refugee program and ensure that it safeguards national security.

    Nov 19, 2015

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    Multimedia

    The Paris Terror Attacks and Confronting ISIS

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins offers insights on ISIS's latest strategy and capabilities, how the West can fight it, and what the tragedy in Paris could mean for the Syrian refugee crisis.

    Nov 18, 2015