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.

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • November 7, 2019
    Trump Needs to Reestablish Deterrence with Iran

    The attack attributed to Iran on Saudi Aramco oil facilities is the latest in a series of Iranian escalations—the May 14 and June 13 tanker attacks, the June 20 downing of a U...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Elisa Catalano Ewers

  • Video
    • October 27, 2019
    Nicholas Heras on Killing of ISIS Leader in U.S. Military Raid

    The Center for a New American Security’s Nicholas Heras talked about the killing of ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. military raid in Syria. Listen to th...

    By Nicholas Heras

  • Podcast
    • October 18, 2019
    Discussing Turkey’s Offensive Against the Kurds in Syria with Nick Heras

    The United States’ withdrawal and the Turkish military’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled northeast have completely changed the balance of power in Syria. Without America...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Nicholas Heras

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • October 15, 2019
    The Nonintervention Delusion

    Richard Fontaine addresses the most frequently expressed concerns about U.S. military interventions and concludes that the use of military force will remain a key component of...

    By Richard Fontaine

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia