Syria

Since the start of the Syrian uprising, USIP’s efforts have focused on facilitating the efforts of the Syrian opposition to plan for and prepare for the transition to a post-Assad Syria. The Institute supported the work of some 45-50 Syrian opposition leaders to develop a comprehensive transition strategy, The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria. As Syria’s peaceful protest movement has changed into a large-scale conflict, USIP has supported efforts to build effective local governance in areas of Syria no longer under regime control, and to strengthen the capacity of opposition actors and Syrian democratic forces to respond to the challenges of protracted conflict and put in place the foundations for rule of law, security, justice, and economic stabilization. Its principal partner in this work is a Syrian-led NGO based in Istanbul, The Day After association. In addition to partnerships with TDA, USIP serves as a convener, bringing together relevant stakeholders to discuss pressing issues such as sectarianism and violence.

Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis and the International Response

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 10:00
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 12:00

On March 12, 2014, the U.S. Institute of Peace and Oxfam America will co-hosted the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and two civil society activists to address the humanitarian and political challenges of the Syrian conflict.

António Guterres, Keynote and Q&A
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Panel:

Ray Offenheiser, Moderator
President, Oxfam America

Rajaa Altalli
Co-founder and Co-director, Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS)

Dr. Rim Turkmani
President and Founder, Madani

With more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, the sheer scope of the crisis has hampered efforts to curtail the humanitarian emergency and drive forward peace talks. The third anniversary of the war marks an opportunity to explore avenues for progress that have thus far not been a part of the prevailing narratives.

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Inaugural PeaceGame 2013

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 08:00
Mon, 12/09/2013 - 17:30
Subtitle: 
Chart the Best Possible Peace for Syria

Governments around the world regularly devote enormous resources to conducting “war games.” On December 9, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and The FP Group (FP) conducted the inaugural PeaceGame, focusing on “the best possible peace for Syria.” With one game in the U.S. and another in the Middle East, the semi-annual PeaceGames will bring together the leading minds in national security policy, international affairs, academia, business, and media to “game” out how we can achieve peace in Syria. USIP and FP intend for the game to redefine how leaders think about conflict resolution and the possibility of peace.

DAY 1: December 9th

8:00 am-8:45 am Arrival/Registration/Continental Breakfast

8:45 am-9:15 am Welcome and Brief Overview

  • Jim Marshall, President, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor, The FP Group
  • Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates

9:15am-10:30 am   “Establishing a Baseline: What Would a Lasting Peace in Syria Look Like?”

  • Steven Heydemann, Vice President of the Center for Applied Research on Conflict, U.S. Institute of Peace

10:30am-10:45 am   BREAK

10:45 am -12:30 pm “Phase I: Achieving a Near-Term Political Solution”

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch Break

1:30 pm-3:15 pm “Phase II: Establishing the Peace”

3:15 pm-5:00 pm “Phase III: Challenges to Peace Emerge”

5:00 pm-5:15 pm Brief Wrap Up and Close for the Day

DAY 2: December 10

8:00 am-8:45 am Continental Breakfast

8:45 am-9:15 am Review of Day 1 and Goals for Day 2

9:15 am-11:00 am “Establishing a Sustainable Peace”

11:00 am- 11:15 am Break

11:15 am-12:30 pm Wrap Up and Conclusion

During the PeaceGame, participants will assume the roles of various actors party to the war in Syria. Their statements should not be construed as representing their own personal views or the views of their respective organizations.

Watch the full video below, or watch each session individually: Session I - Establishing a Baseline, Session II - Achieving a Near-term Political Solution, Session III - Establishing the PeaceSession IV - Establishing a Sustainable Peace

Join the conversation on Twitter with #PeaceGame.

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Amidst Iraq’s Turmoil: What Can We Do?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:00
Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:30

How are Iraqis coping with the current crisis, and how can they be better engaged by the international community?  What policy levers do the U.S. or other international actors have to help promote stability?  What lessons can be applied across the increasingly porous and insecure boundaries of the Middle East?

For well over a year, Iraq’s political, security, economic, and social well-being continues to be shaken by internal and external events that have implications for stability in the country and the region. Despite gains, recent events on the ground have taken a swift turn. Internal displacement, the rise of armed groups, and recourse to violence present serious challenges in maintaining peace and sustained development within the country.

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Geneva II and the Limits of Diplomacy

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 15:00
Tue, 03/18/2014 - 16:30

On March 18, 2014, the U.S. Institute of Peace and National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Etilaf) will co-host a conversation to address the Syrian opposition’s perspectives on the Geneva process and the role of diplomacy in resolving the conflict.

After two rounds of meetings earlier this year, UN-sponsored talks between the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition ended without progress.  Whether the Geneva II process will continue is highly uncertain, raising questions about prospects for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian conflict.  Recently, Mr. Ahmad Jarba, President of the Syrian National Coalition, declared that the “time for diplomacy has passed.” 

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New Peacekeeping Strategies Following Violent Regime Change

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 09:00
Fri, 05/30/2014 - 17:00

With a focus on current peacekeeping missions by the United Nations and regional organizations, participants will examine approaches for the international community to assist emerging governments in controlling their national borders, policing their cities and protecting their citizens.

In the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has demonstrated renewed interest in international peacekeeping. Presidential Policy Directive 23 made it a goal of U.S. policy to strengthen collective security arrangements by building the capacity of partner nations to conduct multilateral peacekeeping missions. 

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U.N. Refugees Chief Guterres Urges Support for Fleeing Syrians

Calling the Syrian civil war and its spillover into neighboring countries “probably the worst humanitarian crisis in the world since the Rwandan genocide,” António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, used a March 12 appearance at the Institute to appeal for greater international support for Syrians who’ve fled their homes because of the conflict and for the neighboring countries that are taking in millions of them.

“It’s not a question of generosity to stop this conflict, to support the Syrians. It’s a question of enlightened self-interest,” Guterres said during a forum  at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) co-sponsored with Oxfam America. The event marked the impending third anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict. “This is becoming a nightmare for all of us, everywhere.”

USIP Staff
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 11:41
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Syria’s Civil Society: Wael Sawah on the Push for Influence

Syrian-led organizations inside and outside the country support humanitarian aid efforts, share information and relevant skills, and prepare to build the institutions necessary to govern local communities even now and, ultimately, to help get a postwar state back on its feet. They’re also fighting for a seat at the negotiating table in Geneva.

On Target

Could discussing humanitarian issues lead to disaster at the Geneva II talks?

Steven Heydemann

Following weeks of bitter infighting and several postponements, a deeply splintered Syrian coalition voted in Istanbul on Saturday to attend the Geneva II talks that are scheduled to begin in Montreux under U.N. auspices on Jan. 22. In a separate meeting the same day in Ankara, the coalition vote was endorsed by key groups within the armed opposition, including the Free Syrian Army and all but one faction of the Islamic Front. The vote removed the last remaining obstacle to convening the talks. It did little, however, to raise expectations about what they will achieve.

Mon, 01/20/2014 - 07:12
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Maria J. Stephan

Maria
Stephan
Senior Policy Fellow

Please submit all media inquiries to interviews@usip.org or call 202.429.3869.

For all other inquiries, please call 202.457.1700.

Dr. Maria J. Stephan is a senior policy fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where she focuses on the dynamics of civil resistance and their relevance for violent conflict prevention and democratic development. Previously, Stephan was lead foreign affairs officer in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), where she worked on both policy and operations. Her last assignment entailed engaging the Syrian opposition in Turkey.  Earlier, she was detailed to the U.S.

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Articles & Analysis

March 24, 2014

The Syrian opposition is seeking to persuade the Obama administration that it has made progress in reorganizing and unifying its political structure and clearing its military ranks of extremist fighters and now deserves more intensive American assistance.

February 27, 2014
By:
Rachel Brandenburg
January 20, 2014
By:
Steven Heydemann
January 17, 2014
By:
Sheldon Himelfarb and Sean Aday

Our Work in the Field

Learn More

Classroom Courses

Instructor:
Robert M. Perito
May 28, 2014

With a focus on current peacekeeping missions by the United Nations and regional organizations, participants will examine approaches for the international community to assist emerging governments in controlling their national borders, policing their cities and protecting their citizens.

In the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has demonstrated renewed interest in international peacekeeping. Presidential Policy Directive 23 made it a goal of U.S.

Publications

By:
USIP Staff
Calling the Syrian civil war and its spillover into neighboring countries “probably the worst humanitarian crisis in the world since the Rwandan genocide,” António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, used a March 12 appearance at the Institute to appeal for greater international support for Syrians who’ve fled their homes because of the conflict and for the neighboring countries that are taking in millions of them.
Could discussing humanitarian issues lead to disaster at the Geneva II talks?