Syria, Iraq, and ISIS

Military conflict, political unrest, and all-out civil war have plagued both Iraq and Syria, contributing to the rise of the Islamic State. RAND experts work to better understand the forces behind the turmoil in these countries, provide recommendations for political reconciliation and economic development, and seek to understand—and address—the presence of ISIS in the region.

Our Work

  • Commentary

    The Islamic State May Be Failing, but Its Strategic Communications Legacy Is Here to Stay

    Aug 17, 2017

    Clarke , et al.

    The Islamic State's caliphate is collapsing but its legacy will live on virtually because of its information operations. The scale of the menace presented by the group today pales in comparison to other global challenges, yet it manages to dominate and terrorize the public mind.

  • Commentary

    Assad's Attacks Should Not Be Repeated, Forgotten, or Excused

    Aug 15, 2017


    Despite signing the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty in October 2013, Assad has continued chemical attacks on the Syrian opposition. To counter Assad and others who might turn to the use of chemical weapons, the U.S. could collaborate with other major powers to bolster the international ban on them.

  • Commentary

    Dealing with Global Hot Spots in Times of Domestic Upheaval

    Aug 14, 2017


    The United States faces growing dangers of war in three parts of the globe: North Korea, Syria, and the South China Sea. How will it manage any—let alone all—of them, especially with political turmoil at the highest levels at home?

  • Commentary

    Islamic State 2.0

    Aug 10, 2017


    Many of Iraq's Sunnis are frustrated with the slow pace of reconstruction and a Baghdad government they consider too friendly to Iran. The U.S. needs to shift from supporting military operations in cities such as Mosul to helping the Iraqi government better address political grievances. Failure risks sowing the seeds of ISIS's resurgence.

  • Blog

    RAND's Summer Reading List for Congress

    Aug 4, 2017

    Hill staffers can make the most of the Congressional recess with this list of must-read research and commentary on the policy issues they will be addressing this fall.

  • Commentary

    ISIS Is So Desperate It's Turning to the Drug Trade

    Jul 25, 2017


    As the Islamic State loses territory, it is forced to seek new revenue streams to exploit, including drug trafficking. Proceeds garnered from peddling narcotics affords jihadis in Europe the financial flexibility to travel to Syria, to fund attacks, and to pay for their return trips home.

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