Syria

Article

The Syrian Crackdown

Author: Mohamad Bazzi
The Nation

Mohamad Bazzi argues, "Washington's diplomatic engagement with Damascus should not come at the expense of democracy and human rights activists."

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How have Iraqi Kurdish authorities responded to the Syrian civil war?

Asked by Martin Lafon, from Sciences-Po Bordeaux

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approached the civil war in Syria with caution. The authorities governing the Iraqi autonomous region, based in Erbil, have quietly played an important role in the humanitarian response to the crisis with 197,000 (according to the UN refugee agency) Syrian refugees on KRG territory, spread across three refugee camps in the main cities of Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaimaniyah.

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See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare; Politics and Strategy

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What is the worst-case scenario outcome in Syria, and how will it affect the rest of the Middle East?

Asked by David Karapetyan

Syria has been mired in deadly strife since March 2011 and the outlook for resolving what is now a full blown civil war looks increasingly dire. The worst case outcome for Syria is one whereby the country fragments and becomes a failed state in which the Damascus government no longer controls its own territory. Under such a scenario, the glue holding the country together comes unstuck.

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What is preventing international action in Syria?

Asked by Jake C., from University of Texas at Tyler

A number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Qatar, have been providing support to the opposition in various forms, ranging from humanitarian aid to military supplies, such as weapons, armor, and communication devices. However, these efforts have not been enough to turn the tide, and after three years of fighting, a diplomatic solution still seems unlikely.

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See more in Syria; Humanitarian Intervention

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What will be the effect of the UN Arms Trade Treaty on the Syrian conflict?

Asked by Gabriel

The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was passed on March 28, 2013, and seeks to regulate and limit trade in arms in circumstances of human rights violations. Unfortunately, it will have minimal effect on the Syrian conflict. Syria's own vote against the treaty, along with Iran's and North Korea's, sounded the death knell for a universally applicable treaty to limit small arms, ammunition, and conventional weapons technology.

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See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Syria; International Law; Global Governance

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How does Russia challenge U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East?

Asked by Elias El Mrabet, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Russia today may have less influence in the Middle East than previously, but it continues to have a stake in the region's stability and sees it as an area in which it has important national interests, often at variance with U.S. goals and objectives.

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See more in Middle East and North Africa; Syria; Russian Federation; Diplomacy and Statecraft

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Does the presence of radical Islamic groups in the Syrian opposition affect Iran?

Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus

Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.

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What effect would the fall of the Assad regime have on U.S. policy towards Syria?

Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus
Author: Robert M. Danin

The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.

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See more in Syria; United States; Regime Changes

Audio

Media Conference Call on the Threat of Foreign Fighters (Audio)

Speakers: Jytte Klausen and Jeremy Shapiro
Presider: Gideon Rose

Listen to Foreign Affairs contributors Jeremy Shapiro, former member of the U.S. State Department's policy planning staff and current fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Jytte Klausen, founder of the Western Jihadism Project, discuss the threat that foreign fighters returning from Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere pose to their home countries.

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Audio

What To Do About Syria

Speakers: Ryan Crocker, Charles W. Dunne, and Paul Pillar
Presider: Richard N. Haass

More than three years after the start of the Syrian civil war, debates continue about what role, if any, the United States should play in the conflict. Ryan Crocker of Texas A&M, Freedom House's Charles Dunne, and Paul Pillar of Georgetown University join CFR President Richard N. Haass to outline the courses of action available to the United States and debate whether U.S. intervention would be desirable or effective.

See more in Syria; Conflict Assessment