The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approached the civil war in Syria with caution. The authorities governing the Iraqi autonomous region, based inErbil, 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.
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.
Asked by Firdavs Rohila, from Eastern Mediterranean University
Today, even though Israel and Turkey have common interests and even if they fully mend their ties, it is likely too politically sensitive—particularly in Ankara—for them to cooperate openly on Syria and Iran.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus Author: Robert 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.
Speakers: Jeffrey Crisp and Rochelle Davis Presider: Andrew Parasiliti
Jeffrey Crisp, senior director for policy and advocacy at Refugees International, and Rochelle Davis, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Georgetown University, join Andrew Parasiliti, director of the Center for Global Risk and Security at the RAND Corporation, to discuss the long-term welfare of Syrian refugees and the burden on host countries.
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.
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.
Edward P. Djerejian leads a conversation on the international peace negotiations in Geneva and the challenges and possible outcomes that lie ahead for Syria, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.
Elliott Abrams and Ed Husain, CFR senior fellows for Middle Eastern studies, lead a conversation on the current situation in Syria and discuss challenges that lie ahead, both for the country and the international community.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »