(WP) (Co-authored with Andrew Kydd and Fyodor Lukyanov) You probably wouldn’t know it from the news, but the United States and Russia might not be completely at odds over Syria. In a recent paper for theWorking Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations, we consider whether U.S. and Russian goals in Syria are compatible — and whether they can cooperate to end the civil war.
Even in the midst of ongoing attacks such as the ones that targeted hospital facilities in Aleppo, Russia and the U.S. have at least agreed on a plan for acessation of hostilities. Here are two important examples. In December 2015, the United States and Russia agreed on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254. The resolution’s road map for peace led to the current Geneva negotiations, which have been temporarily suspended. And before that, in 2013, the two countries agreed to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, implemented in 2014.
Given this, we argue that the United States and Russia can work side by side, if not together, to defeat the Islamic State in Syria. If successful, they could push their respective Syrian allies into negotiations toward a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian, unified Syria. While their goals are not completely aligned, we believe that each side’s positions are flexible enough to make at least some compromise possible. […]
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