Getting to Negotiations in Syria: The Shadow of the Future and the Syrian Civil War
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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In early 2014, representatives of the Syrian government and opposition rebel groups met for a UN-mediated peace conference--the so-called Geneva II talks. The sides met and talked for a week--no small achievement--but ended the conference without progress or result, or even a firm commitment to meet again. The failure at the Geneva II talks was emblematic of a deeper reality that policymakers and analysts are loath to admit There is almost no prospect for a negotiated solution to the civil war in Syria in the near term... Because combatants are not the only players that affect their fate--outsiders also influence the future--this is the area in which the international community can most effectively play a role. International actors have a range of options that can decisively influence Syrias belligerents expectations about the future. If the Syrian factions believe that all sides will abide by an eventual peace agreement that protects their interests and that an impartial third party will guarantee the peace and provide resources for reconstruction, they are more likely to agree to negotiations, make reasonable demands, and abide by the peace agreements terms. If, however, the international community communicates that it is collectively unable or unwilling to guarantee peace or invest in Syrias future, Syrians will continue to believe--perhaps rightly--that they have more to gain by carrying on the fight. Syrias civil war may end in a military victory for one side or the other. But if the international community wants to help end the civil war in a negotiated settlement, it should give the parties incentive to talk by promising a peacekeeping and reconstruction force that will start after they have agreed to peace.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics