The war in Syria is reaching a decisive point. As the campaign against ISIL winds down, the battle for influence over the final settlement in Syria is heating up. This larger war—geopolitically more consequential than the campaign against ISIL—is characterized by shifting and sometimes surprising coalitions of states and non-state actors. Despite some close calls, the United States and Russia have been effective in what both sides call the “de-confliction” of operations in Syria, but it’s doubtful that these efforts can serve as a foundation for more meaningful efforts to put Syria back together. Securing a peaceful future for Syria and preventing the war there from further destabilizing the region—and possibly escalating into a regional war—will require new ideas. It will also require all parties to the conflict, both Syrian and foreign, to compromise on their objectives—something that no side looks ready to do.
Recently returned from a trip to Kuwait, U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Hamilton is a Black Sea Fellow at FPRI. His current assignment is as a professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. He has served as a strategic war planner and country desk officer at U.S. Central Command, as the Chief of Regional Engagement for Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, and as the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia and as the Deputy Chief of the Security Assistance Office at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Colonel Hamilton was a U.S. Army War College fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, where he authored several articles on the war between Russia and Georgia and the security situation in the former Soviet Union. Colonel Hamilton holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Virginia.