There are several related issues. One is "desertification" the changing of land to desert due to unrestricted grazing of goats and sheep and other environmental degradation. In long settled areas this is often a by-product of war, civil or otherwise. This will be mainly a problem in dry, but not exactly desert climates.Well, I have an interest in these matters, but don't consider myself an expert. I was of the view however, which doesn't necessarily contradict yours, that a key requirement for improving the situation is to increase levels of greenery in any areas where you wish to mitigate the effects of warming/drying.
Still, probably something of a thread deviation, although key to the long term future of Syria...
A second problem is loss of land in places such as oases or irrigated areas to encroaching sand dunes. The water may still be there, but the land becomes buried beneath sand.
Another is rain fed agriculture in a dry climate. Crops are subject to loss due to periodic droughts. As the climate becomes drier, the droughts become longer and more frequent. Very long droughts will force farmers to abandon their land as no longer economically viable.
Yet another is irrigated agriculture in a dry climate. Farms can be very productive and less vulnerable to drought, but a drying climate will over time reduce the available water supply, again forcing the abandonment of farms at the margins.
Related to the above is over-exploitation of ground water though the use of modern technology (e.g. diesel powered pumps) which causes traditional irrigation systems to dry up, but that is really just a redistribution of water.
With regard\s to the first and second problems, the solution often involves restricting the herding of livestock and planting suitable desert trees and other vegetation. Iran has been doing this on a very large scale for some time now. There is also an excellent documentary on the Loess Plateau of China describing this as well. The transformational recovery of the latter is absolutely astounding.
Deserts can be man-made, but they are more commonly the consequence of the climate. Efforts to restore the environment will improve life in marginal areas, but they won't reverse a drying process induced by a changing climate.