Since the invasion of Iraq, the United States' relationship with Syria has become precarious at best. Washington has consistently tried to isolate Damascus, yet this approach has not yielded any tangible results. Meanwhile, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group on the importance of engaging Syria leave many skeptical. The Bush administration seems to have run out of ideas and settled for the absence of a clear policy to deal with the Assad regime. In this report, Scott B. Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian develop a set of policy recommendations for an effective approach to the Syrian regime. They specifically ask what results an engagement with Damascus at higher levels of the Bush administration would yield, what can be done in order to secure Syria's cooperation in the region, what Washington should be concerned about in the continuing deterioration of its relationship with Damascus, and what alternatives exist to the regime in Syria.
Scott B. Lasensky is a senior research associate at the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the United States Institute of Peace. He is also an adjunct assistant professor of government at Georgetown University. Mona Yacoubian is a special adviser to the United States Institute of Peace's Muslim World Initiative in the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention.