It looks like the directors of the Empire, as found in another ruling class "think tank", have resurrected their old plan of "safe zones" in order to carve up Syria. With Turkey seemly taking another u-turn, unfortunately for Syrians this plan has a good chance of success. Not only will this plan weaken Syria, Israel's old nemesis, but will likely permit the construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar via Turkey to Europe which President Assad objected to before.
There are numerous quotes from a Rand study, but no linked reference to the study. This bothered me, so I did some online sleuthing and found what I am reasonably sure is the Rand document entitled "A Peace Plan for Syria III". Scanning the document I found one of the quotes that was in this article (fifth paragraph).
We therefore recommend that the United States propose to put Raqqa province, once liberated, under an interim international administration, thereby creating a neutral area held by neither the regime nor the opposition, pending the ultimate resolution of the civil war.