Syria’s No-Solution Solution

After four years of conflict, Syria appears to be doomed to a self-perpetuating spiral of violence. But UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura's pragmatic “Aleppo first” strategy – which aims to freeze military operations in Syria's largest city and facilitate inflows of humanitarian aid – offers reason for cautious optimism.

MADRID – Syria is a blood-soaked shambles. Four years of civil war have left more than 200,000 dead, one million wounded, and 6.7 million people internally displaced. Another 3.8 million are living as refugees outside the country, and 13 million (out of a pre-war population of 20 million) are in need of humanitarian assistance. Two illustrious United Nations special envoys – Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi – have resigned in the face of Syria's self-perpetuating spiral of violence.

But, against this bleak background, there is reason for cautious optimism. Kurdish forces recently succeeded, after months of heavy fighting, in expelling the Islamic State from the border town of Kobane. Moreover, the new UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has initiated a pragmatic and determined “Aleppo first" strategy, which aims to freeze military operations in the shattered city and facilitate the entry of aid. Could this mark a turning point for Syria?

When the crisis in Syria erupted, nobody predicted how serious, protracted, and complex it would turn out to be. For starters, observers underestimated citizens' ever-deepening sense of hopelessness, which has driven them to support jihadi groups or the Assad regime.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/quR94WG;
  1. Television sets showing a news report on Xi Jinping's speech Anthony Wallace/Getty Images

    Empowering China’s New Miracle Workers

    China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.

  2. United States Supreme Court Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

    The Sovereignty that Really Matters

    The preference of some countries to isolate themselves within their borders is anachronistic and self-defeating, but it would be a serious mistake for others, fearing contagion, to respond by imposing strict isolation. Even in states that have succumbed to reductionist discourses, much of the population has not.

  3.  The price of Euro and US dollars Daniel Leal Olivas/Getty Images

    Resurrecting Creditor Adjustment

    When the Bretton Woods Agreement was hashed out in 1944, it was agreed that countries with current-account deficits should be able to limit temporarily purchases of goods from countries running surpluses. In the ensuing 73 years, the so-called "scarce-currency clause" has been largely forgotten; but it may be time to bring it back.

  4. Leaders of the Russian Revolution in Red Square Keystone France/Getty Images

    Trump’s Republican Collaborators

    Republican leaders have a choice: they can either continue to collaborate with President Donald Trump, thereby courting disaster, or they can renounce him, finally putting their country’s democracy ahead of loyalty to their party tribe. They are hardly the first politicians to face such a decision.

  5. Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron John Thys/Getty Images

    How Money Could Unblock the Brexit Talks

    With talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU stalled, negotiators should shift to the temporary “transition” Prime Minister Theresa May officially requested last month. Above all, the negotiators should focus immediately on the British budget contributions that will be required to make an orderly transition possible.

  6. Ksenia Sobchak Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    Is Vladimir Putin Losing His Grip?

    In recent decades, as President Vladimir Putin has entrenched his authority, Russia has seemed to be moving backward socially and economically. But while the Kremlin knows that it must reverse this trajectory, genuine reform would be incompatible with the kleptocratic character of Putin’s regime.

  7. Right-wing parties hold conference Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

    Rage Against the Elites

    • With the advantage of hindsight, four recent books bring to bear diverse perspectives on the West’s current populist moment. 
    • Taken together, they help us to understand what that moment is and how it arrived, while reminding us that history is contingent, not inevitable


    Global Bookmark

    Distinguished thinkers review the world’s most important new books on politics, economics, and international affairs.

  8. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Bill Clark/Getty Images

    Don’t Bank on Bankruptcy for Banks

    As a part of their efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, congressional Republicans have approved a measure that would have courts, rather than regulators, oversee megabank bankruptcies. It is now up to the Trump administration to decide if it wants to set the stage for a repeat of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.