Complex emergencies in drawn out conflicts, as is the case in Syria, are just that: complex. When dealing with multiple power players, armed groups, demolished infrastructure, refugees and the internally displaced, and an overall humanitarian disaster, the variables can paralyze the steeliest of policy makers. It becomes that much more important to focus in on the local dynamics that shape the broader picture to begin to develop a logical startegy to end the mass suffering and eventually reach a political solution. 

Faysal Itani, resident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and Nathanil Rosenblatt, senior analyst with Caerus Associates, do just that in their latest issue brief, titled, “Zooming in on Syria: Adapting US Policy to Local Realities.” The brief traces the evolution of the Syrian conflict from nonviolence to all-out civil war by examining case studies that highlight mistakes and inflection points at the local level. Drawing a realistic picture from these cases, the authors conclude that the single-minded focus on negotiations may actually do more harm and exacerbate the conflict. The only logical solution available to the United States involves a long-term investment in targetted support to moderate groups that could over time build the legitmacy needed to form a cohesive, commanding, and meaningful opposition.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)