On September 6th, 2017 Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian democracy, and human rights advocate joined the Rumi Forum for a presentation on Syrian refugees.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis: The Need for a Strategy
Date: Wednesday, September, 6th
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: 11200 Waples Mill Rd. Suite 360 Fairfax, VA 22030
Throughout its internal conflict the “Syria issue” has become more and more complex with issues such as refugees, regional interventions, terrorism, etc. pushing any country, including America, to hesitate to take a position on any of the issues the country faces. The need to address these problems was passed on from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, which has escalated the U.S. military’s role in Syria but has yet to articulate to the public its goals and limitations of those goals, or release a new strategy for the war-torn country to combat ISIL, to deal with the refugee crisis and to push for a political transition to remove Assad. Failure to develop a strategy will further harm the possibility of political stability the country so desperately needs, and is unlikely to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis at hand. The West is currently witnessing the largest forced migration since World War II, testing Europe’s capacity and American commitment to the international refugee conventions. Failure to bring forth a coherent strategy has wide-reaching impacts beyond simply the humanitarian, but also impacts international alliances, and the battle against extremism.
Radwan Ziadeh, the Senior Analyst at the Arab Center in Washington D.C., provided attendees an alternative framework to analyze the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Despite recent attempts from the international community, Syria remains a country in constant conflict. During his lecture, Ziadeh explains how The United Nations has failed to provide adequate aid to Syria; despite the inhumane treatment of its citizens. Syrian Refugees are constantly exposed to war, poverty, and hunger, and have been subject to chlorine and serine gas attacks over 33 times in the past 3 years. Furthermore, Ziadeh predicts that the UN’s ignorance will have major repercussions in the surrounding European countries. One major concept many fail to realize is that Syria is facing a moving crisis. The battle between regimes and communities constantly moves across the country. Therefore, the over 6.8 million Syrians are in a perpetual state of displacement.
Ziadeh claims that countries split the crisis in Syria into three parts. The first is the rise in terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Many countries are more concerned with eliminating ISIS militarily; rather than addressing the larger implications of their actions. Unfortunately, this conflict has resulted in massive causalities, destruction, and animosity. Second, are the humanitarian efforts for Syrian Refugees. These efforts are placed primarily on the surrounding countries such as Germany and Turkey; who have offered asylum to millions of refugees. Finally, countries fail to contextualize future of the Syrian and the future regime of the country. According to Ziadeh’s research, the future of the Assad government has not been seriously discussed. However, instead of viewing these issues as separate problems, he suggests that the only way to truly help the Syrian refugees is to understand the link between the three parts. Ziadeh suggests that ISIS cannot be beaten militarily because the entire society has been radicalized under 7 years of torture, death, and despair. Instead, countries must inspire Syrians to fundamentally alter their ideologies. The future of Syria is also closely tied to humanitarian efforts as well. So far, few large countries have offered asylum to Syrian Refugees. More communities must open their borders to preserve the sanctity of life and help shift their ideological differences.
There are countries who have rose to the occasion and helped alleviate the crisis in Syria. Turkey, for instance, founded the first Syrian refugee camp in 2011. Since then, the country has housed over 3 million displaced Syrians. One can only imagine the impact a country 13 times the size of Turkey might have if they opened their borders.
Radwan Ziadeh is a senior analyst at the Arab Center in Washington D.C. He is as well the founder and director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies in Syria (www.dchrs.org); and co-founder and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C (www.scpss.org). Since the Syrian uprising started on March 15, 2011, he was involved in documenting the ongoing human rights violations in Syria and testified at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva twice and in front of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S Congress.
He holds a D.D.S in Dentistry from Damascus University, Diploma in International Human Rights Law from College of Law at the American University in Washington D.C, and another Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from University of Cyprus; MA (Master of Art) in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He was a Visiting Fellow and Scholar at many prestigious universities like George Washington University; New York University, Georgetown University, Columbia University and Harvard University.
Ziadeh was named best political scientist researcher in the Arab world by Jordan’s Abdulhameed Shoman Foundation in 2004. In 2009 he was awarded the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Academic Freedom award in Boston; and in 2010 he accepted the Democracy Courage Tributes award on behalf of the human rights movement in Syria, given by the World Movement for Democracy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ziadeh has written more than twenty books in English and Arabic, his most recent book is Syria’s Role in the Changing Middle East: The Syrian-Israeli Peace Talks (2016) from I.B.Tauris. His op-ed appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic and New Yorker; and he is a frequent political commentator on several U.S., European, and Middle Eastern media outlets such as BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, and Al-Hurra. He also writes a bi-monthly op-ed for the leading Arab daily, Al-Hayat and New Arab