March 30, 2017

Can Trump End the War in Syria?

By Colin H. Kahl, Ilan Goldenberg and Nicholas Heras

With the near-doubling of U.S. forces in northern Syria, and perhaps more on the way, President Donald Trump is moving aggressively on his pledge to “demolish and destroy” what remains of the Islamic State. American troops, backing a coalition of Kurds and Arabs known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), now have Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic States’s self-described caliphate, in their sights. Meanwhile, the Trump administration seems to be ramping up the intensity of the U.S. bombing campaign against al Qaeda’s deadly Syrian affiliate. But the lasting defeat of the Islamic State and al Qaeda will take more than American firepower — it will require a clear strategy to end the Syrian civil war. As long as the conflict rages, it will be impossible to address the underlying drivers of extremism and reorient combatants to truly eliminate the terrorist threat.

Six years of grinding war has left Syria a deeply fractured land. Yet this very fragmentation provides an opportunity for the Trump administration to work with Russia and key regional states to de-escalate the conflict and reach an enduring political settlement. Doing so will require close coordination with regional allies. But, more than anything else, it will also require the Trump administration to do three things it has to date not been keen to do: play hardball with Moscow, provide foreign aid to Syria, and engage Iran.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.

  • Podcast
    • January 17, 2020
    Stories from the Backchannel: Season Two Trailer

    Now more than ever, Americans are interested in the people working behind the scenes on consequential national security decisions. In Season Two of Stories from the Backchanne...

    By Ilan Goldenberg, Richard Fontaine, Susanna V. Blume, Kayla M. Williams, Price B. Floyd, Kurt Campbell & Kara Frederick

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • January 17, 2020
    Sending Troops Back to the Middle East Won’t Stop Iran

    The Trump administration’s decision to kill Qassam Soleimani is the latest in an escalatory “maximum pressure” Iran strategy that is shifting American foreign policy attention...

    By Chris Dougherty & Kaleigh Thomas

  • Podcast
    • January 17, 2020
    US Targeted Killing of Qassem Soleimani: Strategic Implications

    Brian Katulis and Kaleigh Thomas discuss the political and strategic fallout from the US targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Listen to the full conversation...

    By Kaleigh Thomas

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • January 14, 2020
    Trump Has Made Sanctions a Path to Strikes

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s political and military influence in the Middle East, and the Irani...

    By Elizabeth Rosenberg & ​Neil Bhatiya

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia