In policy planning, there’s a lot of effort involved when
planning for conflict. Research papers and briefings, certainly, but also
“war games” — simulations of conflicts with experts on the various
parties to the conflict acting out their roles. If Group A invades and takes
this military base, how does Group B respond (or Group C, D, or E)? What if
policymakers put as much thought into thinking through diplomatic scenarios as
they do war scenarios?
That was the question posed by PeaceGame, a simulation of diplomatic efforts
around the Syrian civil war organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace and Foreign
Policy Monday. The discussion brought together 45 experts, including former
ambassadors and State Department officials, academics, and Arab activists, all
together representing 19 groups influencing the war. It’s the first of what is
planned as a series of similar events. The next one is scheduled for Spring
2014 in the United Arab Emirates.
PeaceGame sought to highlight the interests and roles of
groups whose voices are frequently lost in often insular Washington policy
discussions. Though they won’t be in Geneva, Salafi militants, represented at
today’s event by Mona Yacoubian, senior advisor at the Stimson Center, did
everything could to derail an agreement to end the war. USIP Associate Vice
President Manal Omar spoke for Syrian civil society, and though they may not be
at the negotiating table, Omar gamed out how they might implement — or not —
a potential peace deal.
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