Increase pressure for a lasting peace deal by reinvigorating the UN process in Geneva.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Ensure that no U.S. reconstruction money goes to the Assad regime until it ceases civilian attacks, allows free and fair elections, and minimizes its reliance on foreign state sponsors (H.R. 1706).
- Promote U.S. engagement with groups in the Syrian Opposition and Syrian civil society to ensure that their vision enshrines human rights, rule of law, separation of religion and state, and inclusive governance.
- Hold war criminals accountable, and make sure U.S. assistance supports the investigation and prosecution—not just the documentation—of war crimes. Support cases brought in national courts, as in Spain and Germany, or prepared by the UN’s International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM).
A free Syria is in the interests of the United States. The only way to reach peace in Syria is through a negotiated political solution—ideally one that leads to a transition to a democracy governed by rule of law with equal rights for all its citizens. Instability in Syria will continue so long as Assad is in power. If Assad stays, the refugee crisis will continue and terrorist groups will further enjoy safe haven on the borders of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel.
The UN peace process has ground to a halt. The United State has missed several chances to assert its role in the process and needs to regain leverage to reach the outcomes outlined by UN Security Council 2254 (2015). This resolution encourages a new Syrian constitution that supports democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
By failing to empower the UN process, the United States has left room for Russia, Iran, and Turkey to create competing side processes in Astana, Kazakhstan and Sochi, Russia. These parallel tracks have served to legitimize Iran as a guarantor of a future Syrian peace, thereby ensuring its long-term presence in the country.
While talks stall, the Assad regime and its allies are rallying for a military solution. Their destructive campaign has razed over 50 percent of Syria’s medical and educational infrastructure. Former UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura estimated that rebuilding Syria will cost at least $250 billion.