Abbreviated Role Descriptions | Download PDF | Event Page

*During the PeaceGame, participants assumed 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.

Assad Regime

  • Ted Kattouf
  • Murhaf Jouejati


  • Julie Smith
  • Hans Binnendijk


  • Andrew Tabler
  • Steven Heydemann
  • George Lopez


  • Randa Slim
  • Andrew Exum

International Humanitarian Organizations

  • Sharon Morris

International Peacekeepers

  • Lise Howard
  • George Moose


  • Daniel Brumberg
  • Kenneth Pollack


  • William Taylor
  • James Jeffrey

Islamist Extremists

  • Mona Yacoubian
  • Robert Malley


  • David Schenker


  • Firas Maksad
  • Maura Connelly


  • James Traub

Private Sector

  • Rob Mosbacher
  • Steve Koltai
  • Nelson Ford


  • Mark Katz
  • Paul Saunders

Saudi Arabia/Moderate Arab Regimes

  • Edward ‘Skip’ Gnehm
  • Karen House
  • Judith Yaphe

Syrian Civil Society

  • Manal Omar
  • Peter Ackerman
  • Mouaz Moustafa


  • Henri Barkey
  • Jeremy Shapiro

United Nations

  • Esther Brimmer
  • Carina Perelli
  • Colum Lynch

United States

  • Casimir Yost
  • P.J. Crowley

Expert Council Members

  • Daniel Kurtzer
  • Mitchell Reiss
  • Mark Schneider
  • Kristin Lord
  • Paula Dobriansky

Abbreviated Role Descriptions

Assad regime: Fighting for its life and willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands, the long--‐reigning, minority Alawite--‐led regime currently controls 30 percent to 40 percent of Syria, but has been making gains against a splintered opposition and showing deft survival instincts by agreeing to shed its chemical weapons when faced by an imminent U.S.--‐led strike.

Europe: Potentially threatened by the refugee influx and extremist militants honing their skills on Syria’s battlefields, the EU has sanctioned Assad’s government but mostly opposes use of outside military force, and backs the Geneva process with an UN--‐mediated political resolution.

Free Syrian Army (FSA)/Supreme Military Command (SMC): Made up of moderate, democratic fighting forces seeking Assad’s ouster, the FSA and its military command structure are aligned with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, which gets support from the U.S. and other Western allies, Turkey and Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Hezbollah: Based in Lebanon, its Shia militants are fighting in Syria on behalf of the regime both to defend a core backer and at Iran’s behest, and the organization looks determined to stick with the regime despite the violence and destabilization its actions are spurring back in Lebanon.

International Humanitarian Organizations: Aid groups have struggled to provide even basic food, water and shelter for all of the more than 2 million refugees registered outside Syria’s borders and for the overwhelming needs of more than a quarter of the population displaced inside the country.

International Peacekeepers: With a mandate for the first U.N. mission in the Syrian crisis having expired amid intensifying fighting, U.N. peacekeeping officials are preparing for a possible future mission, whether the war is ended militarily or through negotiation. Any peacekeeping force would be a complicated operation requiring robust enforcement authority exercised in dangerous and volatile settings.

International Private Sector – A resolution of the conflict could ease sanctions that restricted foreign investment in Syria even before the war, and might allow energy companies such as the UK--‐Dutch concern Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, China National Petroleum Company and India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to resume production and capitalize on new discoveries made just before the war broke out. .

Iran: Syria’s closest ally in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic has given vital support to the Assad regime in hopes of retaining its strategic partner, co--‐supporter of the Hezbollah movement, and partner in resistance against Israel. Under President Rouhani, however, Iran might show greater flexibility in international talks on Syria’s future.

Iraq: Iraq’s Shia--‐dominated government, struggling with the spillover of Shia--‐Sunni antagonisms from Syria, professes neutrality on the Syrian conflict and advocates a negotiated peace. But in reality it favors the Assad regime out of fear of a new Sunni stronghold emerging next door that would encourage new challenges to the Shia majority in Iraq.

Islamist Extremists: Some of the toughest fighters on the battlefield, these include al--‐Qaeda affiliates such as Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and seek to overthrow Assad in order to establish a system based on extreme interpretations of Islamic Law and to diminish Western, democratic influence in the region. 9

Jordan: Host to over 500,000 Syrian refugees, Jordan’s already scarce resources and fragile economy have been heavily taxed by the Syrian conflict and the Jordanian monarchy fears violence in Syria will lead to instability in Jordan. The Government has refrained from taking sides in the conflict, while keeping Jordan’s borders relatively open to humanitarian assistance flowing into Syria.

Lebanon: The country’s ever--‐fragile stability has been particularly shaken by the Syrian conflict more than that of any other nation, with Lebanese political institutions dividing their Syrian allegiances along mostly sectarian lines and refugees and violence spilling across the border from Syria.

Russia: An ally of the Syrian regime since the Cold War and a key supplier of military hardware and political support, Russia is intent on preserving its influence (and Mediterranean naval base) in the country and opposing Western military intervention, a goal that stimulated Russian sponsorship of the deal to remove Syria’s chemical arms.

Saudi Arabia/Moderate Arab regimes: Led by the Syrian rebel support provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Arab nations where Sunni Islam dominates seek to counter the regional influence of Shi’ite Iran and, to a limited extent, work with the U.S. and other western nations in backing the Syrian opposition. Private Gulf donors have funded extremist rebel groups, as well.

Syrian Civil Society: Civil society groups, under tremendous pressures from the conflict, are nonetheless conducting peacebuilding, reconciliation, and humanitarian work, including negotiating local ceasefires, and will play an important role post--‐conflict in any political transition, reconstruction, and resettlement of refugees.

Turkey – Allied with the U.S. and Europe, Turkey has opened its doors to millions of Syrian refugees after pressing for Assad’s ouster in hopes of gaining a more friendly government across the border, even calling for outside military intervention.

United Nations: Deadlocked in the Security Council by Russia’s veto--‐wielding support of Assad, the UN has struggled to persuade the warring parties to resume peace talks in Geneva and faces the further erosion of its role as an effective player in preventing or resolving conflict.

United States: With a deep hesitation to intervene militarily borne of its Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, the U.S. is simultaneously pushing for a negotiated Syrian political settlement that would result in Assad’s removal from power, attempting to strengthen and coalesce moderate opposition elements to sideline Islamist radicals, and addressing a dire humanitarian situation.