Frederic C. Hof Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Atlantic Council
As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, a negotiated political transition between the regime and the opposition is highly unlikely, even as the United States and Western allies continue to emphasize a diplomatic solution. Lack of a nuanced understanding of the Syrian opposition, most importantly by US policy makers, is partly to blame.
In a new Atlantic Council issue brief, “Zooming in on Syria: Adapting US Policy to Local Realities,” Hariri Center fellow Faysal Itani and co-author Nathaniel Rosenblatt argue that foreign actors contributed to worsening divisions within the opposition and strengthening radical sectarian militias, thus spoiling efforts to overthrow the regime. The authors contend that the United States’ current approach will neither yield a settlement nor stop the conflict’s growing carnage and impact on the region. Analyzing the conflict at the micro-level, the authors assert that opposition forces are too fragmented, weak, or radical to negotiate a political settlement with the regime. Please join the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for a discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing the opposition, and how its allies can help address them in pursuit of political transition in Syria.
Faysal Itani focuses on the Levant including Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan at the Atlantic Council, and in particular the conflict in Syria, sectarian politics, and political economy. Nathaniel Rosenblatt leads Caerus Associates’ research and analysis initiatives focusing on the Middle East and North Africa. Ambassador