Though no complex framework is needed to gauge the grave human costs brought about by three years of conflict in Syria, the crisis itself has been driven by a complex of motivations and interests across multiple systemic levels. Beginning as a nonviolent popular movement seeking reforms to Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime, Syrian protests escalated to violent means when it became clear that the government, rather than accommodating bulleted requests, would retaliate with bullets of its own. The intractability of the conflict frustrated the opposition into splitting along strategic and ideological lines. Today, the number of opposition groups in Syria allegedly exceeds 1,000, their divisions hindering outside powers from organizing an opposition front worthy of broad-based international support. Furthermore, the very support of foreign actors delegitimizes rebel groups in the eyes of many civilians, who recognize that theirs are not the most powerful interests at play in the now-international crisis.
- Border Security: Bolster international border control on all sides of Syria with UN security forces and observers in order to curb the flow of foreign arms and jihadist fighters into the country.
- Ceasefire: Achieve a ceasefire by accommodating the principal concerns of involved international actors (i.e. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, and the United States) to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, promote stabilization within the state, and initiate Syria’s transition into a democracy.
- Transitional Government: Establish regional elections that would usher in peaceful national elections; bring together various military units within Syria to establish a national military.