The Syria Project

The Syria Project


The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011. Years later, with hundreds of thousands dead, no end appears in sight. Multiple diplomatic conferences and ceasefire agreements have failed to achieve a resolution or anything more than a temporary lull in the fighting.

In its first two years, the conflict was a relatively straightforward contest between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces under the banner of the Free Syrian Army. As the war continued, outside actors interested in either propping up or toppling the Syrian ruler entered the fray, transforming the country into a battlefield for larger international conflicts.

Hezbollah openly declared its military presence in 2013, intent on swinging the tide of battle in Assad’s favor. It was joined by a host of other Iranian proxy militias – Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and others – and then by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. A host of Sunni Islamist militias appeared in response, either splintering off from the FSA or coming from abroad.

The most important of these is Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra), an al-Qaeda affiliated group. The Islamic State, formerly confined to Iraq, entered Syria in 2014 and seized large swathes of territory, establishing its de facto capital in Raqqa and declaring war on both rebels and regime loyalists. Russia entered the fight in late 2015, assuring the momentum remained with the regime-led alliance.

Despite predictions of his downfall, the Syrian president has proved surprisingly resilient. The late 2016 conquest of Aleppo was a turning point that definitively swung the tide of battle in his favor. Regime gains, however, have come at huge cost: the Syrian Arab Army is shattered, and Assad’s Syria is a pariah in the Arab world. In the long run, Assad’s dependence on Iran and its proxy militias – which have declared their intent to permanently remain in the country – will serve to erode Syrian sovereignty, perhaps transforming Damascus into another puppet of Tehran.

Assad’s Fundraiser at the World Bank

8th February 2017 – Tablet Magazine

Assad’s Fundraiser at the World Bank

Tony Badran

For all the controversy surrounding it, there was one silver lining to President Trump’s now suspended executive order that barred nationals from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, including Syria, from entering the U.S.: It had kept an old associate of Bashar al-Assad from entering the United States and rattling the tin can on behalf of the Syrian butcher. more...

Analysis & Commentary

18th March 2017 – Quoted by Matthew RJ Brodsky - The National Interest

Can Trump Refrain from Repeating His Predecessor’s Mistakes in Syria?

Tony Badran

The case of the president’s self-inflicted wound from his self-imposed red line provides a rather illustrative example of being outmaneuvered. more...

8th February 2017 – Quoted by Jonah Bennett - The Daily Caller

Marine Captain: Russia Has Embarrassed US In Ukraine, Syria With Fraction Of Our Military Budget

John Hannah

Active-duty Marine Capt. Joshua Waddell has written an op-ed arguing that Russia has utterly embarrassed the U.S. in Syria and Ukraine, while only maintaining a military budget a fraction of the Pentagon’s total budget. more...

7th February 2017 – Sirius XM


Behnam Ben Taleblu

FDD senior Iran analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu comments on the Trump administrations sanctions towards Iran, and the conflict in Syria. more...

1st February 2017 – Quoted by Wladimir van Wilgenburg - Arab News

Syrian government disagrees with Russia on Kurdish autonomy

Tony Badran

The Syrian government completely rejected any form of Kurdish autonomy and has reportedly proposed amendments to change the Russian draft proposal for a new Syrian constitution. more...

From the Hill: