While a political settlement to the conflict in Syria is still a distant reality, the major international powers in Syria agreed in early 2017 on the creation of de-escalation zones covering the remaining main opposition strongholds. Simultaneously, other de-confliction steps take place locally across the country. Yet, efforts are intended as temporary measures and have had only varying success in reducing violence. Critics even argue that most so-called “de-escalations” measures have been mere tactics of war, buying time to redeploy military forces rather than contributing to a genuine de-escalation of the conflict.
In light of these developments, on the 4th of December 2017, the Berghof Foundation organized a roundtable discussion under the title “perspectives on de-escalation agreements in Syria.” This closed-door roundtable event convened scholars and policy experts to discuss current de-escalation arrangements on the ground, their viability, challenges and potential to pave the way to more lasting stability and peace in Syria.
The aim of the roundtable was to allow participants to discuss from the viewpoint of stakeholder and guarantor perspectives on current arrangements, drawing on both academic analysis and direct experience of experts in the Syrian context. The group also discussed how current de-escalation agreements fit into the broader picture of a solution to the Syrian crisis. The roundtable discussion addressed different typology of agreements, de-escalation mechanisms that have been chosen and the successes and challenges to the Astana process.