May 10, 2016

From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support to Syria’s Armed Opposition

By Nicholas Heras

As negotiations continue to uphold a teetering ceasefire in Syria, Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Middle East Security Program researcher Nicholas Heras has written a new report arguing that the primary U.S. effort in Syria should be a bottom-up strategy to build cohesive, moderate, armed opposition institutions with a regional focus. The report, “From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support to Syria’s Armed Opposition,” examines in-depth the current state of U.S. support for opposition groups in each region and makes a case for scaling up that support.

With the current state of the Syrian civil war, the conditions are not ripe for de-escalation in the conflict. If the United States is seeking a transition from the Assad regime that does not lead to the enduring rule of ideological extremist organizations throughout Syria, it will need to become the decisive influence that shifts the military balance on the ground in rebel-ruled areas in favor of the politically moderate armed opposition. Therefore, the primary U.S. effort should be on a bottom-up strategy for building cohesive, moderate armed opposition institutions with a regional focus that is tailored for each individual region within Syria. This line of effort depends on providing incentives for the already U.S.-vetted moderate armed opposition groups to join together into larger regional coalitions with genuinely unified command.

 

To read the full report, visit the Small War Journal website. 

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