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

For Release

December 17, 2015

A new RAND paper asserts 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.

The authors, Ambassador James Dobbins of RAND, Philip Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations and Jeffrey Martini of RAND, propose that three mutually agreed “safe zones” be established in Syria — taking into account ethno-sectarian divisions and current battle lines — controlled respectively by the current regime, the Kurds, and the moderate Sunni opposition, as well as one “free-fire zone” in which all parties would be free to wage war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Though there would be opposition by certain stakeholders to this proposed peace plan, they write, it is a more realistic goal for now, and its achievement would be hugely preferable to its main alternative — the indefinite continuation or even escalation of a devastating war.

The paper, “A Peace Plan for Syria,” is part of RAND's Perspective series, where experts offer insights on a timely policy issue.

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