Syria: Alternate Perspectives & Implications for UK

The situation in Syria is becoming more volatile by the day. 'Applied strategy' is not a spectator sport; it is about defining choices and their implications so that well-informed purposeful action can be taken. Recently, SSI in conjunction with Exeter's world-renowned Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, conducted an exercise designed to better understand the prospects for Syria, the Region and the west. It involved senior members of various UK government departments, the Syrian opposition and experts on the Syrian conflict including some with first-hand recent experience.  
 
Rather than a standard academic seminar, the exercise used one of the strategist's tools that will be taught on the MA Applied Security Strategy. 'Scenario planning' allows the strategist to build several plausible models of the future. These are not firm predictions, but rather the basis of further analysis that in turn allows the strategist to identify indicators and triggers for the direction a volatile situation may take, and various courses of action that can be explored with a view to taking greater control of a situation rather than just reacting to events.
 
Several critical issues were exposed, including the imperative to send appropriate and clear signals to the vast majority of Syria's security and intelligence forces, many of whom will 'have blood on their hands' after more than 18 months of civil war. They may well feel they are being backed into a corner where they must fight for the Regime rather than contributing to an orderly transition. Messaging, also known as 'strategic communications', is a powerful tool in modern strategy, and its use must be closely integrated with other levers, such as economic sanctions, and military force.

A copy of the report can be read here: Syria: Alternative Perspectives And Implications For UK 

Media comment

For more information read the media reports by the BBC, MSN and Metro. Sir Paul Newton was also interviewed on BBC Radio Four's flagship news programme, Today.