RAND’s peace plan for Syria

RAND Report: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE100/PE182/RAND_PE182.pdf

It is important to know that the RAND corporation are no ordinary think-tank. They are one of the leading think-tanks in America that have shaped policy and decision making at the highest level. This is why any analysis that come out of RAND, you can be sure that it is the direction the politicians will take in America.

This recent report by RAND regarding the peace plan for Syria agrees with much of the Brooking’s Institutions report on deconstructing Syria towards a regionalized strategy.

The report starts off by recognising the two paths that can be taken in Syria, them being:

  1. Concentrate on brokering a comprehensive political arrangement among the warring Syrian parties and their external sponsors, including the reform of state institutions, the formation of a new government, and a plan for elections, accompanied by a ceasefire and the beginning of a process of reconstruction.
  2. The second approach would be to secure agreement to an immediate ceasefire, which would be followed by further negotiations on the shape of a reconstituted Syrian state and government.
We can see that the West are currently aiming for the first path by gathering the opposition to come to an agreement. However whether or not Assad stays or leaves is the main sticking point for most of the warring factions – something that Russia also wish to have a say in.
RAND suggest that path one is unrealistic now that sectarianism is as rife as ever.

“pitting the regime against the opposition, Shi’a against Sunni, Arab against Kurd, and moderate against extremist. It has attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters from Europe, North America, and Africa; exacerbated geopolitical rivalries among Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, the United States, and others; and drawn in the armed forces of nearly a dozen external states. There may have been a time, early on, when it could be argued that the benefits of overthrowing Assad would be worth the human, strategic, political, and economic costs of achieving that goal, but that time has long past. At this point, whether President Assad stays or goes in the near term should be regarded as a matter of pure expediency”


Whereas the second path seems to be more achievable according to both RAND and the Brooking’s Institute. The most telling point of this report is the acknowledgement of three safe zones for Syria. RAND writes:

“Were the fighting to be halted on the basis of the territory currently held, Syria would find itself divided into roughly four zones—one controlled by the government; one controlled by the Kurds; one controlled by diverse elements of the Sunni opposition; and one controlled largely by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).1 As ISIS has no foreign sponsors, is largely immune to external influence, and is certain to reject any ceasefire, Syria would effectively be divided into three “safe” zones in which the parties agreed to stop fighting, and one zone in which all other parties would be free to wage war on ISIS.”

 RAND’s proposal acknowledges three difficult realities.

  1. The first is that four years of fighting and more than a quarter million dead have left Syria intensely divided by sect and ethnicity. It should be a goal to mitigate those divisions in the long run, but they must be acknowledged in the short run.
  2. Second, ousting the current regime by building up the military power of the opposition—the basic approach of the United States and its partners for the past four years—is unlikely to succeed. Russia and Iran have proven so committed to the regime’s preservation that escalation of the conflict has not led to Assad’s capitulation, but rather a significant counter-escalation, more killing and refugees, and radicalization of the opposition.
  3. Third, the current battle lines on the ground, while hardly ideal, would have to be the fundamental basis of any armistice. Limited territorial swaps may be necessary to facilitate the disengagement of combatants and assist in ceasefire implementation.

It goes on to state that the war in Syria has ruined the intermixing of  ethnicities and sects within Syria, thus forming regions based on them or creating lines in the sand, what some would call Sykes-Picot Part 2.

 “Like most countries in the Middle East, Syria’s ethno-sectarian breakdown is far from clean. Syria’s communities have historically intermixed, so there is no such thing as a solid stretch of land inhabited by a single community. In addition, Sunni Arabs constitute more than 60 percent of the country’s total population. They are present throughout the country, comprise A ceasefire may not be a sufficient condition for an eventual political settlement, but it is likely to be a necessary one. 3 a majority even in regime-held areas, and in many cases remain loyal to the Assad regime.4 These important caveats aside, Syria’s longstanding ethnosectarian map does reflect regional groupings, which have been consolidated by internal displacement”

Without the war in Syria it would have never been possible to split Syria up on ethnic and sectarian lines. One could call this the sickest method of separating the Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh).

The map above shows the clear zones that RAND are suggesting in their proposal for Syria. In the full report you will find more maps relating to sects within Syria before and after the war.


It is also interesting to note how RAND suggest each of these players are backed by international support to secure its own interests.

Thus, Russia and Iran would guarantee the regime’s adherence; the United States would guarantee Kurdish adherence; and Turkey and Jordan would guarantee the Sunni opposition’s adherence. All external parties would collaborate to dislodge ISIS. 

However I do believe that the final point about all external parties collaborating to defeat ISIS is only mentioned due to the fact ISIS have been used as a pretext for all this change in the Muslim world and also to contain the Muslims from seeking an alternative system. It will be interesting to see how long ISIS remain after the Syria end game is played out. They will either cease to exist or kept like Al Qaeda as a pretext into other parts of the Muslim world where the West require change. So far they have become the golden egg for the West and so easily allowed them to dictate the situation for the rest of the world under the guise of “terrorism”.

It goes on to mention that it could become somewhat similar to Lebanon’s sectarian power sharing model including the international oversight on the Bosnia model using U.N forces to implement ceasefire and support. If this is the case, the Muslims should look back at what happened to the Bosnian Muslims as the Serbs slaughtered them in U.N’s presence. It would be a disaster to allow them to “protect” the Muslims.

“International oversight of the ceasefire and support for the political process would be undertaken by a Peace Implementation Council, on the Bosnia model, made up of the above-mentioned states plus others ready to contribute significantly. “

It clearly admits that support for Al Nusra and other groups currently receive support and will stop receiving it once the above actions have been taken.

“It would have to be clear to all groups that external support will be cut off for groups that violate the ceasefire.”

In conclusion it is clear to see that this second path is on its way already as Russia have now become a key player in the Syria end game, and was needed in order to support Assad in a alawi region and be their main guarantor.

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