Russia faces opportunities and challenges as it seeks to restructure and reform the Syrian armed forces, which it sees as a key to concluding the civil war on terms favorable to the Assad regime, containing Iranian involvement, and winding down Russia’s combat role.
Russian-led military reform in Syria can deal with the twin challenges of weak sovereignty and Iranian influence by committing to developing Syrian military education, training a highly mobile force, and monitoring the political reconciliation process over the long term.
Russia faces a conundrum in Syria: how to modernize the armed forces while the regime’s political priorities undermine proposed reforms in personnel management, force generation, and unit organization.
Joseph Bahout is a nonresident fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. His research focuses on political developments in Lebanon and Syria, regional spillover from the Syrian crisis, and identity politics across the region.
Fellow Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program
Frances Z. Brown is a fellow with Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, who arrived at Carnegie after fifteen years as a USAID official, White House staffer, and non-governmental organization practitioner. She writes on conflict, governance, and U.S. foreign policy.
Hamza Meddeb is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research focuses on economic reform, political economy of conflicts, and border insecurity across the Middle East and North Africa.
Yezid Sayigh is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where he leads the program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States (CMRAS). His work focuses on the comparative political and economic roles of Arab armed forces and nonstate actors, the impact of war on states and societies, and the politics of postconflict reconstruction and security sector transformation in Arab transitions, and authoritarian resurgence.