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.

  • Workers repair the damage in front of Aleppo's historic citadel, as posters depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are erected in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, January 31, 2017

    Report

    Exchange Reconstruction Assistance for Bottom-Up Reform in Syria

    Nov 30, 2017

    Syrian peace talks are not working. What leverage the United States and its allies have derives largely from their ability to offer or withhold reconstruction aid. Offering reconstruction on a community-by-community basis could provide a way forward in Syria.

  • A U.S. Military Transition Team leader speaks with his Iraqi counterpart during a mission to find weapons caches in the western desert near Bayji, Iraq

    Commentary

    Stabilization Is Essential to Accomplishing the Mission

    Apr 24, 2018

    There's good reason to hope that the forthcoming policy on stabilization in places like Iraq will get the United States to the right middle road. But this new effort will fall short if Congress doesn't maintain the necessary funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Explore Syria

  • News Release

    Syrian Refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon Can Add Value to Local Economies

    Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon could better contribute to local economies if they were trained for middle-skill jobs and were able to relocate to areas with manufacturing firms that need trained workers.

    Dec 13, 2018

  • Workers in a textile factory in Igdir, Turkey, May 20, 2017

    Research Brief

    Win-Win Solutions for Syrian Refugees—and Their Hosts

    Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have generously received the majority of Syrian refugees. Many are working, but their sheer numbers have strained local labor markets, public services, and social harmony. Which policies might help create new economic opportunities for both the refugees and host-nation workers?

    Dec 13, 2018

  • Two workers in a factory in Jordan, October 2018

    Report

    Syrian Refugees Can Add Value to Middle Eastern Labor Markets

    Over 5 million Syrian refugees entered Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan due to the civil war. This has placed a severe strain on the host countries' labor markets, public services, and social cohesion. The future prosperity and stability of the region rests on creating mutually beneficial economic opportunities for Syrian refugees and host-country workers.

    Dec 13, 2018

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, April 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Is Major Realignment Taking Place in the Middle East?

    The shifting alignments in the Middle East have intensified since the murder of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul. Turkey has drifted away from NATO and toward Iran and Russia. Like Tehran and Moscow, Ankara is now more anti-Western than at any point in recent memory. What does this mean for the United States?

    Oct 31, 2018

  • Mourners carry the coffin of Amin Karimi, a member of Iranian Revolutionary Guards who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in Tehran, October 28, 2015

    Commentary

    America's Indefinite Endgame in Syria

    The Trump administration's position on the Syrian civil war has shifted from countering ISIS to containing Iran. America will remain in Syria as long as Iran does. But an unending timetable for the withdrawal of troops is far more problematic for Washington than it is for Tehran.

    Oct 16, 2018

  • A destroyed building with a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, is seen in the town of al-Alam, Iraq, March 10, 2015

    Commentary

    ISIS's New Plans to Get Rich and Wreak Havoc

    Although the Islamic State has lost nearly 98 percent of the territory it once controlled, it is ripe for a comeback in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq and Syria. The group has proven that it is capable of making money even without controlling large population centers.

    Oct 10, 2018

  • A student walks along a damaged street in the town of Kafr Batna, in eastern Ghouta, Syria, September 5, 2018

    Commentary

    Why We Should Measure the Economic Impact of Terrorism in the Middle East

    Though physical impacts of terrorism in the Middle East should be the main focus of counterterrorism efforts, financial impacts should not be ignored. Officials could help mitigate devastating economic effects by identifying and protecting essential regional revenue streams like tourism and oil.

    Sep 24, 2018

  • Brochure

    Eye on the Mediterranean

    This article from the RAND Review highlights the scope of the humanitarian and security crisis in the Mediterranean region.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • Multimedia

    An Overview of Current Trends in Terrorism and Illicit Finance

    An overview of testimony by Colin P. Clarke presented before the House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance on September 7, 2018.

    Sep 7, 2018

  • French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech at an international conference to discuss ways of cutting funding to terrorist groups, at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France, April 26, 2018

    Testimony

    Current Trends in Terrorist Financing

    How do terrorists generate income? And how might ISIS, the wealthiest group in history, seek to use its funds to make a comeback? Terrorist financing has evolved, making it difficult to counter. But these efforts must continue to keep ISIS isolated from external patrons and state sponsors.

    Sep 7, 2018

  • Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims attend prayers during Eid al-Fitr as they mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at the site of a suicide car bomb attack over the weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, July 6, 2016

    Report

    Blaming Sunni-Shi'a Split for Middle East Unrest Is Too Simplistic

    Policy decisions are being made based on the assumption that the Middle East is riven by a purely dualistic sectarian war between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. While sectarianism is relevant, geopolitical competition, local disputes, and political rivalries are the core drivers of conflict in countries like Iraq and Syria.

    Aug 30, 2018

  • Israeli armored vehicles take part in a drill in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, August 7, 2018 August 7, 2018

    Commentary

    The Growing Risk of a New Middle East War

    Escalating clashes between Israeli and Iranian forces in Syria have demonstrably increased the risk of a new, large-scale regional conflict that would likely involve the U.S. military. Tehran's continued provocations and violations of Israel's stated red lines are fueling escalation with the potential to rapidly spin out of control.

    Aug 21, 2018

  • A Russian soldier near the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Deraa, Syria, July 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Russia's Wars and Trump

    At the July 16 summit in Helsinki, President Trump might stress that the West will persist in imposing costs on Russia for current and any future malign interventions. At the same time, he could offer to work with Putin in the search for peace in Syria and Ukraine if Moscow were to decide to withdraw its forces.

    Jul 11, 2018

  • Syrian and Russian soldiers at a checkpoint near Wafideen camp in Damascus, Syria, March 2, 2018

    Commentary

    Time to Make a Deal on Syria

    U.S. leverage is much diminished by the Assad regime's recent gains but there are still opportunities for Washington and Russia to achieve a settlement that preserves some U.S. interests. These include maintaining the gains made against the Islamic State and constraining Iranian influence in Syria.

    Jul 10, 2018

  • Turkish and Israeli flags fly atop the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 26, 2016

    Report

    Israeli-Turkish Ties Face Formidable Challenges

    Israel and Turkey have mutual economic interests, such as trade, tourism, and energy. The two countries have usually been able to separate these interests from their political differences, but current relations remain contentious. Israel and Turkey differ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Syria.

    Jun 27, 2018

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 14, 2018

    Commentary

    What Does Mission Accomplished in Syria Really Mean?

    The use of chemicals cannot be allowed to become an acceptable form of warfare either in Syria or anywhere else. Mission accomplishment in Syria, just like in chemical weapon nonproliferation, will require far more than missile strikes alone.

    Apr 30, 2018

  • Syrian-born mayor of the local Andravida-Kyllini municipality Nampil-iosif Morant meets Syrian refugees near the town of Myrsini southwest of Athens, Greece, August 13, 2016

    Commentary

    Europe's Great Challenge: Integrating Syrian Refugees

    Since March, 2011, close to 1 million Syrian refugees have requested asylum in European countries, with Germany being the primary destination. Social and economic policies to deal with the refugee crisis will require collaborative planning, monitoring, and assessment efforts to be successful.

    Apr 20, 2018

  • A police notice is attached to screening surrounding a restaurant which was visited by former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were found on a park bench after being poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 19, 2018

    Commentary

    Arms Control Hostage to Skripal and Syria Attacks

    Two prominent poisoning assassination attempts and Kremlin denials of gas attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raise doubts about Moscow's commitment to the purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Never has the future of negotiated arms control involving Russia been at greater risk.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018