The Syrian Crisis: What Lies Ahead on the Battlefield and in Diplomacy?

Experts on the military and diplomatic aspects of the Syrian conflict consider possible ways forward.
Wednesday, April 26
1:30 - 5:00 pm
The Middle East Institute
1319 18th Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20036
Registration is not currently open for this event.

Event Information

Syria is entering its seventh year of civil war. More than 500,000 people have been killed and half of the population is displaced. The fall of Aleppo to regime forces and the initiation of U.S. airstrikes in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons create new realities on the ground and between Washington and Moscow. The international community is riven by competing interests and disagreement over whether and how to intervene militarily and diplomatically to bring the conflict, and its resulting humanitarian crisis, to an end.

The Middle East Institute (MEI) Track II Dialogues Initiative and the National Defense University Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies have convened three rounds of private consultations with Russian counterparts about the Syrian conflict, most recently in February 2017. Participants from those and parallel MEI Track II encounters with Middle Eastern leaders will join with other experts on the military and diplomatic aspects of the conflict in two panel discussions to consider possible ways forward.

This event will be livestreamed. Tune in here.
 

Agenda:
1:30PM-1:40PM | Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Amb. (ret.) Wendy Chamberlin
President, The Middle East Institute
 
1:40PM-3:10 PM | Panel 1: The Future of Armed Conflict in Syria and Counter-Terrorism Policy
Jennifer Cafarella
Lead Intelligence Planner, Institute for the Study of War
Charles Lister
Senior Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Andrew J. Tabler
Martin J. Gross Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
LTG (ret.) Terry A. Wolff
Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, U.S. Department of State
Karen DeYoung (Moderator)
Associate Editor & Senior National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post

3:10PM-3:30PM | Coffee Break

3:30PM-5:00PM | Panel 2: Opportunities for and Limits to Peacemaking
Wa'el Alzayat
CEO, Emerge USA
Amb. (ret.) Robert S. Ford
Senior Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Roger Kangas
Academic Dean and Professor, NESA Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Randa Slim
Director of Track II Dialogues, The Middle East Institute
James Bays (Moderator)
Washington Editor, Al Jazeera English

Speakers:
Wa'el Alzayat
CEO, Emerge USA
Wa'el Alzayat recently became CEO of Emerge USA, a leading Muslim American civic engagement organization, after a decade of public service at the State Department. He is also an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. As senior policy advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb. Samantha Power, he focused on national security, non-proliferation, and humanitarian issues concerning Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East. He previously served as the Syria outreach coordinator at the Department of State from 2012 to 2014. Prior to that he was special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey from 2011 to 2012, and served on the Iraq and Egypt desks from 2007 to 2011. Alzayat served as a provincial affairs officer for Anbar, Iraq at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2007 to 2008, providing policy and operational guidance to provincial reconstruction teams in Fallujah, Ramadi, and al-Asad provinces.

James Bays
Washington Editor, Al Jazeera English
James Bays is based in Al Jazeera’s bureau in Washington D.C. As well as following the U.S. administration, he covers global diplomacy, defence, and development issues, and hosts Al Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’ and ‘Talk to Al Jazeera’ programs. Bays has travelled to more than 70 counties and has reported from numerous conflict zones, including Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Mali, Afghanistan, Panama, the former Soviet Union, Israel, and Palestine. In his previous post at Al Jazeera as a roving correspondent, Bays frequently reported from Baghdad and Kabul, and during the Arab Spring he covered events in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria.

Jennifer Cafarella
Lead Intelligence Planner, Institute for the Study of War
Jennifer Cafarella is the lead intelligence planner at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), where she is responsible for shaping and overseeing the development of ISW’s detailed plans and recommendations on how to achieve U.S. objectives against enemies and adversaries and in conflict zones. Previously, as Syria analyst at ISW she researched and wrote on ISIS and various opposition groups in Syria, with a particular focus on Al Qaeda. She served as the lead author of the report “America’s Way Ahead in Syria,” which was published in March 2017 as part of the series "U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda."

Amb. Wendy Chamberlin
President, The Middle East Institute
Wendy Chamberlin has been president of the Middle East Institute since 2007. Previously, as deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2004 to 2007, she supervised the administration of the U.N. humanitarian organization. A 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, she was ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002, when she played a key role in securing Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11.
Ambassador Chamberlin served as director of global affairs and counter-terrorism at the National Security Council (1991-1993) and as deputy in the bureau of international counter-narcotics and law enforcement affairs (1999-2001). As assistant administrator in the Asia-Near East bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2002 to 2004, she oversaw civilian reconstruction programs in Iraq and Afghanistan and development assistance programs throughout the Middle East and East Asia. Other assignments included U.S. ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (1996-1999), director of press and public affairs for the Near East Bureau (1991-1993), deputy chief of mission in Kuala Lumpur (1993-1996), Arab-Israeli affairs (1982-1984) and postings in Morocco, Pakistan, Malaysia, Laos, and Zaire.

Karen DeYoung
Correspondent, The Washington Post
Karen DeYoung is senior national security correspondent and an associate editor at The Washington Post. In more than three decades with the paper, she has served as bureau chief in Latin America and London and reported from many other parts of the world as a correspondent covering the White House, U.S. foreign policy, the intelligence community, and national security. She has been assistant managing editor for national news, national editor, and foreign editor. DeYoung is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and is the author of SOLDIER: The Life of Colin Powell, published in 2006 by Knopf. She is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the 2009 Overseas Press Club award for best coverage of international affairs, the 2003 Edward Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting, Sigma Delta Chi awards for both investigative and foreign reporting, and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize awarded to The Washington Post for national coverage of the war on terrorism.

Amb. (ret.) Robert S. Ford
Senior Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Robert Ford is a senior fellow at MEI, where he writes about developments in the Levant and North Africa, and an adjunct faculty member at Yale University. Ford retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after serving as ambassador in Syria and special envoy on Syria. Prior to that, Ford was the deputy U.S. ambassador in Iraq from 2008 to 2010 and served from 2006 until 2008 as U.S. ambassador to Algeria, where he boosted bilateral education and rule of law cooperation. Ford served as deputy chief of mission in Bahrain from 2001 until 2004, and political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 until 2006. In 2014 he received the Secretary’s Service Award, the U.S. Department of State’s highest honor. In April 2012 he recieved the annual Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for his defense of human rights in Syria.

Roger Kangas
Academic Dean and Professor, NESA Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Roger Kangas is the academic dean of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.  Kangas specializes in the political and security issues of Eurasia, specifically Russia and the states of Central Asia. He previously was a professor at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, the deputy director of the Central Asian Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a research analyst at the Open Media Research Institute in Prague, Czech Republic, and an assistant professor of political science at the University of Mississippi. 

Charles Lister
Senior Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Charles Lister is a senior fellow at MEI, where his work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Since September 2016, Lister has managed MEI’s Countering Terrorism project. Prior to this, Lister managed nearly three years of engagement with the leaders of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups, on behalf of the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative. Lister frequently provides briefings on the Syrian insurgency to political, military, and intelligence leaders in the United States and across Europe and the Middle East. He appears regularly on television and his articles have been widely published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and by the BBC, among others. Lister previously held positions as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar and as head of MENA research at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London, UK. Lister’s critically-acclaimed book, The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency, was published in February 2016 by Oxford University Press.

Randa Slim
Director, Track II Dialogues Initiative, The Middle East Institute
Randa Slim is the director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at MEI and a non-resident fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies' Foreign Policy Institute. A former vice president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Slim has been a senior program advisor at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a guest scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, a program director at Resolve, Inc., and a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. A long-term practitioner of Track II dialogue and peace-building processes in the Middle East and Central Asia, she is the author of several studies, book chapters, and articles on conflict management, post-conflict peace-building, and Middle East politics.

Andrew J. Tabler
Martin J. Gross Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Andrew Tabler is the Martin J. Gross Fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he focuses on Syrian and U.S. policy in the Levant. During fourteen years of residence in the Middle East, 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). Tabler held editorships with the Middle East Times and Cairo Times before becoming senior editor and director of editorial for the Oxford Business Group (OBG). Tabler is author of “Syria’s Collapse and How Washington Can Stop It” (Foreign Affairs, July-August 2013) and the 2011 book In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria (Lawrence Hill Books).

LTG (ret.) Terry A. Wolff
Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, U.S. Department of State
Lieutenant General Terry Wolff, U.S. Army, retired, became the deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in November 2015, after taking a leave of absence from the NDU Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. Wolff previously served as the director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5 for the Joint Staff from September 2011 until December 2013. LTG Wolff commanded at every level from platoon to armored division. He spent nearly ten years in Germany (1983-86; 1991-95; 1999-2000; 2009-11) and served three tours in Iraq (2003; 2006-07; 2010) commanding the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, and the United States Division-Center. Seven of his last ten years on active duty were spent in Washington, D.C., working on military strategy and policy matters as well as interagency affairs: first on the Joint Staff as a colonel; for nearly two years on the National Security Council staff as a special assistant to the President and senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan; and over two years as the Joint Staff J-5.