The fight against Islamic State (IS) has been the focus of Western countries’ policy towards Syria since late 2014, while the objective of finding a lasting political solution to the conflict has been relegated to the background. This policy focus has manifested as a military counterterrorism campaign, primarily in the north east and with no real link to political and security developments elsewhere in the country. There has been very little effort devoted to addressing any of the root causes of IS’s rise. As the military campaign against IS comes to an end, many questions need to be raised to help design new policies that could translate IS’s military defeat into political gains for stability and peace in Syria.
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