Syria's peace: what, how, when?

An openDemocracy conference in partnership with the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF), 12 February 2013. 

20 March 2013
Syria's peace: what, how, when?

Syria's peace: what, how, when? refined on-going debate and dialogue to understand the conflict in Syria. Under Chatham House rule, participants mapped the international paralysis to take action in Syria while discussing steps, many already taking place, towards pragmatic peacebuilding amidst the violence.

Morning (9.30 - 1.00)
| Panel 1: No political track? |
| In conversation: Fawaz Gerges & Rosemary Hollis w/ Robin Yassin-Kassab |

Afternoon (2 - 4.30)
| Workshops: emerging realities |
| Panel 2: Possible outcomes |

Panel 1: No political track?

The political track has been declared effectively non-existent. A 'grand bargain' is needed but apparently unattainable, with conflict frozen into international and regional stances, and actively participant in Syria's on the ground reality. Violence is creating new ground-level political realities. What work should be done now to create and build upon opportunities for de-escalation, and widen options for Syrians?

Chair: Mariano Aguirre

See a full list of panellists here.


Economic interventions
Convened by Farah al-Atassi (Syrian Economic Task Force)

Addressing social divisions
Convened by Talal Al-Mayhani (Cambridge)

Emerging civil administrations
Convened by Tristan Salmon (Integrity)

Future scenarios
Convened by Shelley Deane (International Alert)

Panel 2: Possible outcomes

The conveners are joined by workshop participants to build on the day's sessions. What possible outcomes arise, and what implications do they bear for international and domestic actors?

Chair: Scilla Elworthy

See a full list of panelists here.


Panel 1:

Alexey Malashenko Carnegie Moscow, Scholar in Residence
Co-chair of the Carnegie Moscow Centre's Religion, Society and Security Programme. Professor of Political Science, previously taught at the Higher School of Economics and Moscow State Institution of International Relations.

Firdevs Robinson Foreign Policy Centre, Senior Research Associate
London-based journalist, broadcaster and commentator specializing on Turkey, the Middle East, Caucuses and Freedom of the Media.

Heiko Wimmen SWP-Berlin, Research Associate
Research interests include political systems and dynamics of conflict in ethnically diverse societies in the Middle East and the Balkans. Programme coordinator of 'Elite change and new social mobilisation in the Arab World'.

Kjetil Selvik Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Senior Researcher
Political scientist specializing in comparative politics of the Middle East region with empirical focus on Iran, Syria and Kuwait. His current work analyses the politics of enemy images in the Iranian Islamic Republic.

Julien Barnes-Dacey European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Senior Policy Fellow
Previously a reporter across the Middle East including Syria, and head of MENA practice for Control Risk with a particular focus on corporate social responsibility and development practice in Basra.

Rim Turkmani Building the Syrian State
Dr Rim Turkmani is a founder member of Building the Syrian State movement, and is co-chair of the Damask Rose Trust, a charity that supports development and education in Syria. She is an Astrophysicist at Imperial College London, and is a specialist in the history of Arabic/Islamic science and its influence on the west. She has published many papers and books on both historic and scientific subjects.

Mariano Aguirre Chair
Mariano Aguirre is the director of the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre. He writes and comments on international affairs for openDemocracy, El Pais, Radio France International and La Vanguardia, amongst other media. Author and editor of several books he previously worked for the Ford Foundation, and the research institutes CIP and FRIDE, in Madrid. His main expertise is on the Middle East and US foreign policy.

Return to programme.

Panel 2:

Farah al-Atassi Syrian Economic Task Force / National Syrian Women Association
Mrs Atassi is a Syrian political activist, writer and expert in Middle Eastern affairs. Also the founder of the Arab Information and Resource Center in Washington DC, and owner of Zenobia Lounge: the first mulitcultural café and bookshop about the Arab and Muslim worlds in the US. Mrs Atassi was chosen as an Ambassador of Peace by the Universal Peace Foundation for her work in interfaith dialogue and building cultural bridges between the United States and the Arab World.

Talal al-Mayhani Cambridge
Talal has a background in neuroscience, and the history and philosophy of science. He participated, after the current Syrian uprising, in the Samir Amis meeting of June 2011 in Damascus, which was the first public opposition meeting inside Syria in decades. Later, in September 2011, he joined Mr Louay Hussein and colleagues to be a founding member of the political opposition group Building of the Syrian State Movement (BSS). He has an interest in political theory and biopolitics and has published many political articles in Arabic newspapers and journals.

Shelley Deane International Alert
Shelley is Senior Middle East Advisor for International Alert. Formerly assistant professor of Government at Bowdoin College, Shelley researches security pacts, negotiated bargains and peace agreements in protracted conflict to peace transitions.

Tristan Salmon Integrity Research and Consultancy
Tristan worked in Syria for three years advising businesses and NGOs on a range of developmental projects. Since the uprising he has worked for Integrity researching security and development issues in South Sudan, assessing the changing policy environment in Egypt and providing oversight for ongoing research on civil society in Syria.

Scilla Elworthy PhD Chair
Founder of the Oxford Research Group and Peace Direct; awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003; three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; adviser to Peter Gabriel, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson in setting up 'The Elders'; chair of the Civil Society sector of the Hanwang Forum in China; Councillor of the World Future Council.

Return to programme.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData