November 06, 2014

CNAS Policy Brief on "How This Ends: A Blueprint for De-Escalation in Syria"

Washington, November 6 – Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Deputy Director of Studies and Leon E. Panetta Fellow Dr. Dafna Rand and Middle East Security Program Research Associate Nicholas A. Heras have written a new policy brief, How This Ends: A Blueprint for De-Escalation in Syria. 

The brief argues for the importance of focusing on a political framework for de-escalating the civil conflict in Syria. It offers a number of principles and practical steps that would build on U.S. train and assist efforts with the moderate Syrian opposition fighters, in an effort to integrate a political strategy for Syria’s future into current U.S. and Coalition military efforts.

The full policy brief is available here:

This brief is part of a series of CNAS publications addressing the difficult policy issues posed by the Syrian crisis. The first report in the series, The Tourniquet: A Strategy for Defeating the Islamic State and Defeating Iraq and Syria, is available here:

Please find a brief summary of How This Ends: A Blueprint for De-Escalation in Syria below:

The current U.S. military strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) must be integrated with a comprehensive political strategy for Syria. This strategy should involve a slow, gradual freeze of fighting between the regime and the opposition in Syria,  local level truces, and the implementation of transitional governance frameworks based on power-sharing arrangements. The United States and its allies must take advantage of the current moment, when international actors can exert maximal influence on the Syrian revolutionaries,  to encourage the growth of a new and improved civil-military Syrian opposition coalition.

In order to achieve a freeze in the conflict and a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war, the Syrian armed opposition will have to develop and accept a political platform, one that is synchronized with the ideas espoused by existing political opposition groups. Syrian rebels organized under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) must view themselves as the nucleus of a new national army that will uphold and protect an inclusive and pluralistic Syria after Asad. In the short term, a negotiated transition process can begin even as Asad continues to rule parts of Syria.
Dr. Rand and Mr. Heras are available for interviews on the policy brief and the crisis in Syria. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at or call 202-457-9409.