With more than 191,000 killed and 9 million uprooted from their homes, the bloody conflict in Syria has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanda. It is also the focal point for intense debates over chemical weapons, Islamic extremists like ISIS, and what the U.S. and others can do to stop the killing.
Hard choices require hard facts, which is why Belfer Center researchers created this “one-stop shop” for key facts, documents, statistics, and analysis. To learn more, click on one of the eight categories below:
December 2, 2014
By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
After OPEC's announcement last week that it would not be cutting production, oil prices fell dramatically. Given the significant global oversupply due to the U.S. shale oil boom and decreased demand in China and Europe, this decision marks an historical moment in which OPEC relinquishes its supply-based approach to price manipulation and embraces a market-based approach. Wisely, the organization has shown that it is aware it can no longer dictate oil prices by attempting to control the market.
As the leader of OPEC, Saudi Arabia is the engineer of this new approach. Indeed, at the OPEC summit the kingdom blocked calls from OPEC and non-OPEC producers, such as Russia, Venezuela, Mexico and Iran, who were urging production cuts in the hopes of raising prices in order to stabilize their oil revenues. It is important to understand why Saudi Arabia is so staunchly advocating this new market-based approach.
December 4, 2014
By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School
The U.S. must act with much greater conviction to respond to the humanitarian meltdown in Syria. With more than 200,000 people dead and 11 million Syrians homeless--half the population--this is now in International Rescue Committee President David Miliband's words, "the greatest humanitarian crisis of the century."
What is needed? More cross-border aid to refugees trapped between a vicious Syrian government and rebel groups, pressure on Russia and China to support the relief effort, and expanded aid to reinforce neighboring Jordan and Lebanon. Professor Burns writes in his column, without decisive action, "Syria's civil war will almost certainly worsen as 2015 approaches."
November 24, 2014
The National Interest
"ISIS cannot be defeated with airstrikes, and that's all the West seems prepared to do. The coalition needs local and regional support. It must be prepared to send in large numbers of ground forces for a long time. Only Iran will be both able and willing to do that."
October 29, 2014
In this installment of “Inside the Middle East: Q&A,” Ambassador Robert Ford, former United States Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014 and Algeria from 2006 to 2008, discusses his experiences with the State Department in Iraq and Syria, US strategy in the Syrian Civil War, and Syria's future.
October 27, 2014
By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
President Obama’s strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS has become the target of heated criticism, not only from partisan opponents but from many of his supporters as well. Categorically ruling out American boots on the ground, while subcontracting the bloody job of house-to-house fighting to the Iraqi military, Free Syrian Army, and Kurdish Peshmerga, can only assure failure, critics argue.
These assessments fall into a familiar trap: assuming that what has been announced is the sum of the matter. Especially for admirers of the diplomatic sleights of hand practiced by Henry Kissinger or Jim Baker, neglecting the obvious when assessing the current strategy is unfair.
With more than 191,000 killed and 9 million uprooted from their homes, the bloody conflict in Syria has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanda. It is also the focal point for intense debates over chemical weapons, Islamic extremists like ISIS, and what the U.S. and others can do to stop the killing. Hard choices require hard facts, which is why Belfer Center researchers created this “one-stop shop” for key facts, documents, statistics, and analysis.