The Syria Study Group (SSG) was established by Congress with the purpose of examining and making recommendations on the military and diplomatic strategy of the United States with respect to the conflict in Syria. The SSG is a bi-partisan working group composed of 12 participants each appointed by a member of Congress for the duration of the study.

The U.S. Institute of Peace was mandated by Congress to facilitate the Syria Study Group based on USIP’s demonstrated expertise in convening Congressionally-directed study groups. Please note that the content of the report is solely that of the Syria Study Group and does not represent the views of USIP.

Over the course of the past several months, the SSG reviewed current U.S. objectives and the desired end state in Syria. This included conducting a comprehensive assessment of the current situation, its impact on neighboring countries, the resulting regional and geopolitical threats to the U.S., and current military, diplomatic, and political efforts to achieve a stable Syria. The Group submitted the final consensus report with the SSG’s findings to Congress on September 24, 2019.

A man selling watermelon in front of buildings destroyed by government forces in eastern Aleppo, Syria, June 23, 2019. (Meridith Kohut/The New York Times)

Public Event

Syria Study Group Releases Final Report

Thursday, September 26 | 2:30pm - 4:30pm

The Syria Study Group hosted a panel discussion and presentation of the final report’s assessments and recommendations. The event included keynote addresses from Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who spearheaded the creation of the bipartisan study group, and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Co-Chairs

Michael Singh

Mr. Michael Singh

Michael Singh is the managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to advancing American interests in the Middle East.  Mr. Singh was senior director for Near East and North African Affairs at the White House from 2007-2008, and director for several Middle Eastern countries, including Iran and Syria, on the NSC staff from 2005-2007.

Earlier, Mr. Singh served as special assistant to Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, as well as staff aide to the US ambassador to Israel.  He co-chaired Gov. Mitt Romney’s State Department transition team in 2012, and served as a Middle East advisor to the Romney presidential campaign from 2011-2012. 

Mr. Singh has served as an adjunct fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as an economics instructor at Harvard College.  His writings have appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, the Economist, International Security, and elsewhere, and he has appeared as a commentator on CNN, NBC, Fox News, and other outlets.  

He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics summa cum laude from Princeton University and an MBA with high distinction (Baker Scholar) from Harvard University.

Dana Stroul

Ms. Dana Stroul

Dana Stroul is a senior fellow in The Washington Institute's Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics. She previously served for five years as a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she covered the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. In that capacity, she played a central role in the oversight of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which included overseeing U.S. foreign assistance and weapons sales, as well as crafting relevant legislation.

Before working on Capitol Hill, Stroul served in the Middle East policy office of the Secretary of Defense. From 2008 to 2013, she focused on a range of topics including U.S.-Egypt relations, the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq, and a review of U.S. government policies and programs in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. In addition, Stroul also worked at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on economic-political affairs, at the U.S. Institute of Peace on civilian-military relations in Iraq, and at the National Democratic Institute on Gulf Affairs. 

Syria Study Group Executive Director

Mona Yacoubian
Senior Advisor for Syria, Middle East and North Africa, U.S. Institute Peace

Members

  • LTG Charles Cleveland (U.S. Army, Ret.)
    Adjunct, RAND Corporation
    Former Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
  • Ms. Melissa Dalton
    Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Ambassador Frederic Hof
    Diplomat in Residence, Bard College
  • Dr. Mara Karlin
    Director of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
    Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
  • The Honorable Mark Kirk
    Former U.S. Senator, Illinois 

For too long, the United States has lacked and overarching strategy to respond to the tragic civil war in Syria, which is why I’m very pleased that the Syria Study Group will soon begin its critical work. Now more than ever, we need a thorough and independent top-to-bottom review of U.S. policy in Syria. I’m very grateful for the willingness of the distinguished experts to serve on this panel and for the help of bipartisan congressional leadership, including the late Senator John McCain, who helped shepherd this provision through the Senate. I believe that having a strategy at long last will be a great testament to Senator McCain’s legacy, and I look forward to reviewing the group’s recommendations.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Related Publications

The Best Hope for Sustained De-escalation in Syria

The Best Hope for Sustained De-escalation in Syria

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian

As the conflict in Syria approaches its 10th anniversary, a holistic political settlement encompassing the entirety of the country is unlikely in the near to medium term. More than eight years of diplomatic initiatives have yielded only limited results. The two principal tracks—the Geneva and the Astana/Sochi processes—are running up against the complexity of the conflict and an emboldened Assad regime; neither process is sufficient on its own to generate momentum toward a lasting political settlement for the whole of Syria. However, creatively bridging these two processes could bring greater stability to those areas of Syria still beyond the Assad regime’s control, assuaging the suffering of some Syrians, and potentially serving as a building block for a longer-term settlement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian ; Chris Bosley; Leanne Erdberg Steadman

More than a year since the territorial defeat of ISIS, the region is still reeling in the wake of the self-styled caliphate’s destruction. Kurdish authorities operate two dozen detention facilities in northeast Syria holding thousands of former ISIS fighters. On October 5, Kurdish authorities in charge of al-Hol said they would free the 24,000 Syrians in the camp, where conditions have become increasingly unsustainable. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian, Chris Bosley, and Leanne Erdberg Steadman look at what led to the decision to release these Syrians and the challenges ahead for reintegrating them into their communities.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Reconciliation; Violent Extremism

The Current Situation in Syria

The Current Situation in Syria

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Now in its 10th year, the Syrian conflict has led to more than 500,000 deaths and displaced an estimated 13 million—over half of Syria’s pre-war population. Over 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, and 5.6 million are refugees, predominantly in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

Type: Fact Sheet

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