Nearly thirteen years into the war in Syria, the crisis continues to bleed across borders, impacting countries in the region and beyond. The political process is stalemated and accountability is an increasingly distant prospect. Even though frontlines have been static for three years, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis now exists. With attention dwindling and international funds diminishing, Syria’s future is darkening and instability threatens to escalate once again.

Crafting a sustainable multilateral approach

Despite a series of significant crises and challenges around the world, accepting the current status quo in Syria is both dangerous and unsustainable. Together with European and regional partners, the US can improve the situation in Syria and protect US and European interests through the application of a bipartisan, practical, and coherent approach. Little work has been done so far to identify areas of shared priority issues that could be leveraged as pillars of a meaningful and realistic multilateral approach to resolving Syria’s crisis. 

To fill this vacuum, the Atlantic Council (AC), Middle East Institute (MEI), European Institute of Peace (EIP), and Syrian Civil Society Network (Madaniya) are launching the Syria Strategy Project. For the next 12 months, MEI, AC, and EIP will coordinate an intensive process of engagement with subject matter experts and policymakers in the US, Europe, and the Middle East to develop a holistic strategy to sustainably resolve Syria’s crisis. This process held almost entirely behind closed doors, will incorporate Syrian experts, Syrian civil society, and Syrian stakeholders at every step.

To help shape and channel the project’s efforts, MEI, AC, and EIP will mobilize a strategic advisory group comprising highly experienced former officials who will be consulted throughout the engagement process, to ensure policy recommendations remain focused and realistic. Those recommendations will emerge and be shaped through six distinct working groups that will be engaged over the year to deliberate on policy issues within their respective areas:

Throughout the process, MEI, AC, and EIP will work with Madaniya to ensure a broad Syrian engagement and to identify Syrian scholars to author a series of strategic briefs relevant to key policy topics. The project will provide a policy-oriented analysis of all issues related to Syria laying out a comprehensive multilateral approach to deal with Syria’s crisis, and will provide a forum for experts across the political spectrum, and with varying functional expertise, to discuss, debate, and to provide concrete strategic options for policymakers.

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Orwa Ajjoub
PhD Candidate and Political Analyst
Malmö University

Reza Afshar OBE
Executive Director
Independent Diplomat

Assaad Al Achi
Executive Director

Bassam Alahmad
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ)

Wael Alalwani
Co-Founder and Director
Observatory of Political and Economic Networks (OPEN)

Zahra Al Barzai
Research Director
Syrian Legal Development Programme

Muhsen AlMustafa
Researcher on Civil-Military Relations
Omran Center for Strategic Studies

Labib al-Nahhas De La Ossa
Programme Director 
Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity

Jon Alterman
Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Wa’el Alzayat
Senior Fellow
Middle East Institute

Sareta Ashraph
Senior Legal Consultant
Strategic Litigation Project, Atlantic Council

Senior Legal Consultant
Center for Justice and Accountability

Senior Legal Consultant
US Holocaust Memorial Museum Center for the Prevention of Genocide

Joseph Bahout
Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut

Elise Baker
Senior Staff Lawyer
Strategic Litigation Project, Atlantic Council

Joel R. Charney
Retired international humanitarian leader

Charles Lister
Syria Program and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program, Middle East Institute

Steven Cook
Senior Fellow
Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Mazen Darwish
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression

Fadi Dayoub
Board Member
Madaniya Civil Society Network

Michel Duclos

Special Advisor and Resident Fellow
Institut Montaigne

Haian Dukhan
Lecturer in Politics and IR
Centre for Syrian Studies, Teesside University/University of St. Andrews

Agnes Favier
Project Director
The Syria Initiative

Jeffrey Feltman
Visiting Fellow in International Diplomacy
Brookings Institute

Ambassador Robert S. Ford
Senior Fellow
Middle East Institute

Marie Forestier
Senior Advisor
European Institute of Peace (EIP)

Mohammed Alaa Ghanem
Policy Chief
American Coalition for Syria and Syrian American Council

Mazen Gharibah
Research Associate
Conflict Research Program, London School of Economics

Dr. Haid Haid
Consulting Research Fellow
Chatham House

Bahjat Hajjar
Executive Director
Local Administration Councils Unit (LACU)

Natasha Hall
Senior Fellow
Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Eyad Hamid
Senior Researcher
Human Rights and Business Unit, Syrian Legal Development Program

Sinan Hatahet
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East programs, Atlantic Council 

Dr. Steven Heydemann
Ketcham Chair in Middle East Studies
Smith College

Nonresident Senior Fellow
Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution

Ambassador Frederic C. Hof
Diplomat in Residence
Bard College

Abir Haj Ibrahim
Co-Founder and Executive Manager

Hozan Ibrahim
Co-Founder and Executive Director
IMPACT Research

Qutaiba Idlbi
Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council

Ambassador James Jeffrey
Chair of the Middle East Program 
Wilson Center

Hind Aboud Kabawat

Ammar Kahf
Executive Director 
Syrian Forum 

Co-Founder and Executive Director 
Omran Center

Mariana Karkoutly
Senior Fellow 
Humanity in Action

Dr. Mohamad Katoub
Project Manager 

Brian Katulis
Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Senior Advisor to the President 
Middle East Institute

Hani Khabbaz
Director General 
Syrian Recovery Trust Fund

Dareen Khalifa
Senior Advisor for Dialogue Promotion
International Crisis Group

Lina Khatib
Associate Fellow 
Chatham House

Amneh Khoulani
Executive Director 

Jeremy Konyndyck
Refugees International

Hardin Lang
Vice President for Programs and Policy
Refugees International

Ian Larson
Chief Syria Analyst
Center for Operational Analysis and Research (COAR)

Felix Legrand
Research Fellow
Noria Research

Jesse Marks
Senior Advocate for Middle East
Refugees International

John McLaughlin
Professor of Practice
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Hanny Megally
Deputy Director and Senior Fellow
Center on International Cooperation (CIC)

Michael Mulroy
Non-Resident Senior Fellow 
Middle East Institute

Dr. Yasmine Nahlawi
Legal Consultant Investigations Team 
Syrian British Consortium

Vali Nasr
Professor of Middle East Studies and International Affairs 
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Elena Naughton
Senior Program Expert 
International Center for Transitional Justice

Eric Oehlerich
Lobo Institute

Ibrahim Olabi
Guernica 37

Munqeth Othman Agha 
PhD Researcher 
University of Trento

Richard Outzen
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council in Turkey, Atlantic Council

Ömer Özkizilcik
Nonresident Senior Fellow 
Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, Atlantic Council

Amany Qaddour
Executive Director
Syria Relief & Development 
Associate Faculty, Department of International Health
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Oula Ramadan
Founder and Director 

Stephen Rapp
Commission for International Justice and Accountability

Hazem Rihawi
Senior Program Manager 
American Relief Coalition for Syria

David Rothkopf
Chief Executive Officer
The Rothkopf Group

Caroline Rose
Strategic Blind Spots Portfolio, New Lines Institute

Navvar Saban
Research Unit Expert
Omran Center for Strategic Studies

Joumana Seif
Research Fellow 
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

Dr. Karam Shaar
Observatory of Political and Economic Networks (OPEN)

Salman Shaikh
Founder and Chief Executive Officer 
The Shaikh Group

Gareth Sweeney
UN Director 
Crisis Action

Mutasem Syoufi
Executive Director 
The Day After (TDA)

Rim Turkmani
Syria Conflict Research Program, London School of Economics

Tom Warrick
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, Atlantic Council

Gregory Waters
Nonresident Scholar
Middle East Institute

Maha Yahya
Malcom H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Matthew Zais
Nonresident Senior Fellow 
Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, Atlantic Council