How to end a war that has taken over 250,000 lives in only five years? The current picture in war-torn Syria appears bleak. The necessity of an international framework to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and create an environment conducive to peace talks is a given. While this should remain a priority of international policymakers, equal attention should be paid to local conflict dynamics.
Samer Araabi’s and Leila Hilal’s innovative report Reconciliation, Reward, and Revenge: Analyzing Syrian De-Escalation Dynamics through Local Ceasefire Negotiations addresses this gap by focusing on one prominent framework for local mediation and de-escalation in Syria: local ceasefire negotiations. Based on research conducted between mid-2014 and March 2016, their report presents four in-depth cases of ceasefire negotiations that have taken place inside Syria since 2012. It explains the environment in which these negotiations occurred and offers observations on the obstacles and shortcomings they faced.
Its findings include insights on the role of key actors with direct influence on localized de-escalation and reconciliation, including armed groups, reconciliation committees, the UN, Russia and Iran, community notables, and civil society actors.
The study infers that local ceasefires offer important insights into local conflict dynamics that can either undermine or reinforce a national framework for de-escalation. It concludes with a set of ideas for deepening efforts for combining grass-roots, bottom-up approaches with National Cessation of Hostilities frameworks and broader peacebuilding efforts.
The study is the result of a project supported by the Berghof Foundation through a 2014 Grant for Innovation in Conflict Transformation on the topic of national dialogues. The project was implemented in collaboration with and with additional support provided by Conflict Dynamics International.