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  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Some Middle Eastern states have recently shown signs of opening up to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Acting on their own and not under orders from their governments, ministerial delegations, MPs and representatives of trade unions visited Damascus. Moreover, political parties and grassroots groups called for a restoration of relations with the Syrian regime.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: March 8 parties – particularly Hezbollah – in support of the Iranian axis have sought rapprochement with Bashar al-Assad’s regime and they are trying to push the Lebanese state to establish direct political and economic relations with it. March 14 parties, particularly the Lebanese Forces which opposes Syria, objected because Hezbollah’s attempts aim to help the Syrian regime exit its regional and international isolation, to make it present again in Lebanon and enhance economic cooperation as a path to establish more comprehensive strategic relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Chafic Choucair
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The battle of Arsal occurred in the context of a gradual easing of the Syrian conflict after its unprecedented exacerbation, and the party’s efforts to confront regional and international developments that target it. However, it also revealed the party’s multiple hegemonies over Lebanese authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Arron Stein
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This report is based on a series of interviews with US officials and details two efforts to achieve US objectives to take back territory from ISIS in Syria—with elements trained in Turkey, as part of the Train and Equip program, and through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the dominant local force in northeastern Syria.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Jennifer Cafarella, Genevieve Casagrande
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: International negotiations to reach a political settlement in Syria have resumed, although serious challenges remain to reaching a political settlement. The talks follow two weeks of a “cessation of hostilities” in which the Russian air campaign in Syria decreased notably, though it did not entirely cease. Putin announced that he would withdraw some airframes from Syria on March 15, incentivizing both Assad and the opposition to engage in Geneva. Major opposition demands such as the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad from office have not been met, however, and Syrian regime officials have not conceded that there should be an immediate release of political prisoners. Reaching a political deal in Geneva under these conditions will therefore be difficult. The conditions in which the Geneva negotiations are taking place still strongly favor the regime, indicating that a transitional government, if formed, likely will fail to reconcile most Sunni armed actors with the government. The result could actually increase the jihadist threat while miring the U.S. and regional states in political turmoil in Damascus.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Harleen Gambhir, Katherine Zimmerman, Jennifer Cafarella
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-week planning exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. ISW and CTP are publishing the findings of this exercise in multiple reports in a series titled U.S Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis McFate
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Some have claimed that ISIS is on the defensive inside Iraq and Syria. A defensive strategy, however, is not a sign of organizational weakness, but rather a sign that ISIS intends to preserve its holdings in Iraq and Syria and keep its claim to a caliphate. ISIS’s defensive strategies include expanding elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, while also maximizing combat power and future opportunities to launch offensives inside Iraq and Syria. Iraq and Syria are the physical foundation for ISIS’s expanding caliphate.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Chris Kozak
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: U.S. policymakers in April 2015 appear to be returning to the position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad represents the “least worst option in Syria” for American strategic interests. Assad is often compared to the Islamic State (ISIS) with the implication that Assad is the lesser of two evils. Senior administration officials including Secretary of State John Kerry signaled support for diplomatic negotiations with the regime in March 2015, rather than developing a committed strategy to remove Assad from power. American leaders’ ambivalence reflects the limitations of U.S. policy which attempts to treat Syria as the backdrop for a narrow counterterrorism problem rather than a comprehensive national security issue. This outlook is dangerously flawed.
  • Topic: International Security, War Crimes
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Over 12,000 fighters from at least 81 countries have joined the civil war in Syria, and the numbers continue to grow. Around 2,500 are from Western countries, including most members of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are also several hundred from Russia. But the great majority are from the Arab World. Most are fighting with rebel groups, and increasingly with the most extreme among them; but many are also fighting with the Government, or with ethnic or faith communities that are trying to protect themselves from both sides. A lot are young, often teenagers, and a fair percentage of those arriving from non-Muslim majority countries are converts to Islam. These and others who share their faith commonly express their motivation as a religious obligation to protect fellow Muslims from attack. This sense of duty is captured by their loose use of the word ‘jihad’.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria