ICG publishes KAS-supported study on South Syria


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In July 2017, Russia as the most important backer of the Syrian Assad-regime, the United States and Jordan agreed on establishing a de-escalation” in Southern Syria in the Daraa and Quneitra governorates. The ceasefire agreement that has protected south-western Syria for nearly a year is in danger of collapse. Having retaken the last opposition enclaves in greater Damascus and outside Homs, Syrian regime forces are turning south. A military confrontation could have grave implications for the area and lead to a dangerous regional escalation.

On June 21, the International Crisis Group (ICG) with the support of KAS Syria/Iraq Office published a comprehensive study assessing the current situation in Southern Syria and offering recommendations on how to prevent an escalation of violence in the area. ICG released the paper titled “Keeping the Calm in Southern Syria” at a high-ranking launch event in Amman, Jordan. To prevent an open battle for the south west which could not only lead to wide-scale destruction in Daraa and Quneitra but also cause a new refugee wave fleeing towards Jordan and trigger regional conflict between Israel and Iran, ICG proposes a negotiated settlement between the Syrian opposition in southern Syria and the Assad regime. Such a settlement would include the return of the Syrian state to Daraa und Quneitra and a zone parallel to the Golan free of Iran-linked forces.

Szabina Altsach, Project Manager at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, delivered the opening remarks for the event, which took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Amman. In particular, she emphasized the importance and timeliness of the research paper as well as KAS’ ambition to actively contribute to preventing and solving violent conflicts. Heiko Wimmen, Project Director for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon at International Crisis Group, thanked KAS for the generous support and for the trusting cooperation. He stressed that he hopes to continue the partnership between both institutions in the future. Sam Heller, Senior Analyst for Non-state Armed Groups, and Armenak Tokmajyan, ICG-Fellow on Syria, completed the team of International Crisis Group and presented the research paper in their capacities as lead authors of the study.

The event was well attended and received positive feedback from the almost 50 participants, among whom were foreign diplomats, journalists, and members of UN-institutions as well as NGOs operating in Jordan. The event hence greatly contributed to the current debate on the situation in southern Syria and options to prevent a fatal armed confrontation in the region.

Conflict in southern Syria which could lead to numerus casualties and develop into a regional crisis, must be averted. ICG offers clear recommendations that could advance a peaceful resolution of the coming battle for the south and foster regional stability.

Please find the full study in the document above.

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Lebanon, August 7, 2018