may, 2017

03may09:0017:30Options for Syria


Event Description

The Syrian civil war is one of the longest post-cold war ongoing conflicts, with a heavy toll on civilians, and with long-lasting effects on regional and international politics. There are multiple regional and international actors directly and indirectly involved in the conflict. As the crisis has changed shape and forms, these primary actors’ policies and priorities have evolved as well. The recent chemical attack by the regime in Idlib and the ensuing US response have introduced new variables into the equation in Syria. At this stage, it is of paramount importance to evaluate the situation in Syria and analyse how the options and priorities of the Syrian, regional and international actors have changed. The round table aims to be both descriptive and prescriptive on the Syrian crisis.


(Wednesday) 09:00 - 17:30


Hotel Conrad Istanbul


    • Day 1
    • 3 May 2017
    • 09:00 Opening Remarks09:00 - 09:15Opening Remarks Speakers: Wadah Khanfar

    • 09:15 Introductory Notes09:15 - 09:20Introductory NotesSpeakers: Lina Khatib, Galip Dalay

    • 09:20 Session 1: The Political Track in Syria09:20 - 11:00Moderator: Lina Khatib This session assesses the prospects of talks on Syria in Astana and Geneva. What are the priorities of the major Syrian actors and what options are available to them?Speakers: Sinan Hatahet, Assaad Achi, Ahmad Abazeid

    • 11:30 Session 2: The Role of Regional Actors 11:30 - 13:00Moderator: Galip Dalay This session discusses the changes in the roles of regional actors on Syria. How have their policies changed? Can there be a Saudi-Iranian agreement on Syria? What is the PYD’s future acceptable role from Turkey’s perspective? Speakers: Saban Kardas, Guney Yildiz, Reza Raouf Sheibani

    • 14:00 Session 3: The Role of International Actors 14:00 - 15:30Moderator: Clayton Swisher This session focuses on options available for international actors in the Syrian context. Is US foreign policy shifting? What is the Iranian future acceptable role in Syria from Russia’s perspective? What is the future of Russian-Turkish relations?Speakers: Nikolay Kozhanov, Andrew J. Tabler, Bente Scheller

    • 16:00 Session 4: The Way Forward16:00 - 17:30Moderator: Ammar Kahf This session assesses options available for achieving a settlement to the Syrian conflict. How can political transition be implemented? What is the future of armed groups in Syria? Who will govern areas liberated from Daesh? What role can the EU play? Speakers: Kayhan Barzegar, Maria Fantappie, Irina Zvyagelskaya, Bahjat Hajjar

Speakers for this event

  • Lina Khatib

    Lina Khatib

    Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

    Head, Middle East and North Africa Progr...

  • Saban Kardas

    Saban Kardas

    TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Ankara

    Saban Kardas is the President of ORSAM and a faculty member at the Department of International Relations at TOBB University. He has published scholarly articles and book chapters on Turkish domestic and foreign policies, human rights, energy policies and international security and has been an occasional contributor to Turkish and international media. He has taught classes at Diplomacy Academy, Sakarya University, Police Academy and Turkish Military Academy. He received his doctoral degree in political science from the University of Utah. Dr. Kardas also holds a master’s degree in international relations from the METU in Ankara, and a second master’s degree in European Studies from the Center for European Integration Studies in Bonn, Germany.

    TOBB University of Economics and Technol...

  • Kayhan Barzegar

    Kayhan Barzegar

    Director of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran

    Barzegar is the Director of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran. He is also Associate Professor of International Relations and the Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of the Islamic Azad University. Dr. Barzegar was a Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. Dr. Barzegar is Editor-in-Chief of Discourse: An Iranian English Quarterly

    Director of the Institute for Middle Eas...

  • Ammar Kahf

    Ammar Kahf

    Co-Founder and Executive Director of OMRAN Center for Studies

    Ammar Kahf is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Omran for Strategic Studies, and a Board Member of the Syrian Forum. He earned his Ph.D at the Interdisciplinary Program for Islamic Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles with a subfield focus on political science, history and sociology. His dissertation research was entitled "Syrian Authoritarianism: Persistence or Change?" His research work focuses on geopolitical political studies, transitional period comparative studies, local governance, and economic development

    Co-Founder and Executive Director of OMR...

  • Nikolay Kozhanov

    Nikolay Kozhanov

    Visiting lecturer at the European University at St. Petersburg

    Nikolay Kozhanov is an academy associate at the Russia and Eurasia Program of Chatham House and a visiting lecturer at the European University at St. Petersburg. From 2006 to 2009, he served as an attaché at the political section of the Russian embassy in Tehran. He got his PhD from the St. Petersburg State University. His area of expertise involves Iran's foreign and domestic policies as well the issue of Russian presence in the Middle East.

    Visiting lecturer at the European Univer...

  • Assaad Achi

    Assaad Achi

    Executive Director of Baytna Syria

    Assaad Al Achi is a Syrian economist and activist. He is the executive director of Baytna Syria. He worked for the American Oil and Gas Company ConocoPhillips. Al Achi became part of the revolutionary movement in Syria, joining the Syrian National Council in December 2011 and helping establish the Assistance Coordination Unit of the Syrian Opposition Coalition in December 2012. He graduated from the American University of Beirut with a bachelor’s in business administration and holds an MBA from INSEAD.

    Executive Director of Baytna Syria

  • Waddah Khanfar

    Waddah Khanfar

    President of the Al Sharq Forum

    Wadah Khanfar is the President of the Al Sharq Forum and former Director General of the Al Jazeera Network. He is a board member of the International Crisis Group and Global Editors Network (GEN). Khanfar has been named as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 global thinkers of 2011 as well as one of Fast Company’s ‘Most Creative People in Business’ of the year.

    President of the Al Sharq Forum

  • Gallip Dalay

    Gallip Dalay

    Research director at Al Sharq Forum

    Research director at Al Sharq Forum and senior associate fellow on Turkey and Kurdish Affairs at Al Jazeera Center for Studies. He previously worked as a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin and as a political researcher at SETA Foundation in Ankara. He is a regular contributor to German Marshall Fund of the United States’ on Turkey policy brief series, and a columnist for Middle East Eye.

    Research director at Al Sharq Forum

  • Maria Fantappie

    Maria Fantappie

    Senior Analyst at International Crisis Group

    Maria Fantappie is Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Iraq. Maria has conducted fieldwork in Iraq and Syria since 2009, and works with other members of the Middle East & North Africa team to research and produce reports on security, conflict, politics, governance, and social issues on Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish regions. She has engaged policymakers on her research at some of the highest levels of government in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

    Senior Analyst at International Crisis G...

  • Ahmad Abazeid

    Ahmad Abazeid

    Writer and Researcher

    Ahmad Abazeid is a Syrian writer and researcher focusing on the Syrian uprising and armed groups. He has written for Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Siyasat Arabiya, The New Arab, Omran Center for Strategic Studies, and Forum for Arab and International Relations.

    Writer and Researcher

  • Reza Raouf Sheibani

    Reza Raouf Sheibani

    Former Iranian Ambassador to Syria (2011-2016)

    Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani has been Iran’s Ambassador to Cyprus (1991 - 1995), Egypt (2004 – 2005), Lebanon (2005 - 2009) and Syria (2011 - 2016). He was also Iran’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2009 and 2011. He is currently a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) of Iran and a Senior Expert of the Centre for Education and International Studies at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Former Iranian Ambassador to Syria (2011...

  • Bente Scheller

    Bente Scheller

    Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Middle East office in Beirut

    Dr. Bente Scheller became the director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Middle East office in Beirut in 2012, a position she took after directing the foundation's Afghanistan office in Kabul between 2008 and 2012. She holds a doctorate in political science at Freie Universität Berlin and specializes in Foreign and Security Policy. From 2002 to 2004 she worked at the German Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Later she took over the Berlin Aspen Institute's Syria program.

    Director of the Heinrich Böll Foundatio...

  • Irina Zvyagelskaya

    Irina Zvyagelskaya

    Professor at Moscow Institute of International Relations

    Irina Zvyagelskaya is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1991 she is also vice-president of the Center for Strategic and Political Studies. She has been lecturing at the Moscow Institute of International Relations under the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation and at The Institute of African and Asian Studies (Moscow State University). The field of her scientific interests include conflicts, international relations and security issues (mainly in the Middle East and Central Asia). She is author of six books and over 200 articles.

    Professor at Moscow Institute of Interna...

  • Bahjat Hajjar

    Bahjat Hajjar

    Syrian Researcher and Activist

    Bahjat Hajjar is a Syrian researcher and activist.

    Syrian Researcher and Activist

  • Clayton Swisher

    Clayton Swisher

  • Guney Yildiz

    Guney Yildiz

    Visiting Fellow at ECFR

    Guney Yildiz is a visiting fellow for ECFR's Middle East and North Africa Programme, where he is focusing on the post-Islamic State stabilisation of Syria, with specific emphasis on the areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He is pursuing a PhD on non-state actors in the Middle East at the University of Cambridge and holds a Master's degree from the London School of Economics. He has advised the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament as a Special Adviser on Turkey, works as a political and security consultant and carries out investigative journalism mainly on Turkey, the Kurds and ISIS. He has given talks at Chatham House, RUSI, ECFR, Oxford University, the UK Parliament and LSE. He has also been consulted by government institutions and the diplomatic community in London. He regularly provides analysis for TV, radio and online outlets, including reacting to breaking news stories from the region. As a journalist with the BBC for ten years, he broke numerous top UK and international stories that have been picked up by other domestic and international broadcasters.

    Visiting Fellow at ECFR

  • Andrew J. Tabler

    Andrew J. Tabler

    Senior Fellow Washington Institute for Near East Policy

    Andrew J. Tabler is the Martin J. Gross fellow in the Geduld Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute, where he focuses on Syria and U.S. policy in the Levant. During fourteen years of residence in the Middle East, Mr. Tabler served as co-founder and editor-in-chief of Syria Today, Syria's first private-sector English-language magazine; as a consultant on U.S.-Syria relations for the International Crisis Group (2008); and as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs (2005-2007), writing on Syrian, Lebanese, and Middle Eastern affairs. Following his graduate work in Cairo, Egypt, Mr. Tabler held editorships with the Middle East Times and Cairo Times, where he focused on Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, before becoming senior editor and director of editorial for the Oxford Business Group (OBG). In 2001, Mr. Tabler personally oversaw with OBG the first comprehensive English-language report on Syria in more than thirty years. Mr. Tabler has lived, worked and studied extensively in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

    Senior Fellow Washington Institute for N...

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