On behalf of the United States Embassy in Amman, the Capstone team analyzed the conditions under which Syrian internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the Rukban encampment could depart or return to other parts of Syria, in addition to whether and how the United States Government should support such an effort. Rukban is an isolated encampment along the Syrian-Jordanian border, in close proximity to a U.S. military base at the al-Tanf border post.
Based on interviews with individuals in Rukban, government and NGO representatives, and UN officials, the Capstone team assessed options that could allow people to depart in a way that is safe, dignified, voluntary, and informed. The report recommended a number of policy proposals around which the United States could begin negotiations with relevant stakeholders, namely Russia. Given Russia’s relationship to the Syrian government, Russia holds considerable equity in the issues pertaining to Rukban.
The recommended policy proposals include mechanisms for ensuring a broader United Nations presence in areas to which Rukban residents might depart, processes for ensuring that individuals at Rukban are well-informed about their options, as well as identifying areas of Syria that might offer safe haven from possible detention, conscription, and other forms of retribution at the hands of the Syrian government. The report provided suggested points of leverage that the United States might use to realize these mechanisms, and provide a detailed breakdown of which proposal are best suited to specific demographic cohorts in Rukban.