About the Project
Of all the conflicts in the Middle East, none has been more consequential than the war in Syria. Over the past six years, it has killed up to a half a million Syrians, displaced more than ten million, destabilized Syria’s neighbors, created a massive refugee crisis in Europe, radicalized many Muslims in the region and beyond, and even contributed to the coarsening of American politics. Given the tremendous costs and consequences of the conflict, I continue to focus on and put forward ideas for how the United States and others can try to bring it to an end—recognizing that there are no perfect solutions in Syria. In 2015 and 2016 I wrote a number of reports, articles, op-eds, and Congressional testimonies arguing for an agreement to de-escalate the conflict by deferring the unreachable goal of ousting the Assad regime, concluding a national ceasefire based largely on current battle lines, and decentralizing the country with outside powers helping ensure security in zones not controlled by the regime. As the situation on the ground changes (making this plan both more necessary and achievable), I continue to advance such proposals. I am currently working on a report with James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini of the RAND Corporation—the third in a series we have written—spelling out how such a plan might work and why it is the best among poor policy alternatives.