Talks between Washington and Moscow on military and political coordination on Syria have entered their final stages. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said if an agreement is concluded, "we will have won the opportunity to have fundamental change in the trajectory of this conflict." However, the diplomacy must now take account of Turkey's military incursion into Northern Syria, further complicating the range of actors and issues the U.S. and Russia must contend with to deescalate the conflict.
What are the prospects that U.S.-Russia coordination can achieve a cessation of hostilities in Syria? How does coordination on Syria fit within broader U.S.-Russia relations? How does Turkey's military intervention affect the prospects for establishing a national ceasefire in Syria?
The Middle East Institute and The Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosted Henri Barkey (Wilson Center), Amb. Robert Ford (MEI), Roger Kangas (NDU) for a discussion of these questions. Randa Slim (MEI and SAIS) moderated the discussion.
Director, Middle East Program, The Wilson Center
Dr. Henri J. Barkey is the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is the former Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor at Lehigh University. Barkey is also a former public policy scholar at the Wilson Center. His most recent works include Turkey's Syria Predicament (Survival, 2014) and Iraq, Its Neighbors and the United States, co-edited with Phebe Marr and Scott Lasensky (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2011). He served as a member of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff working primarily on issues related to the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and intelligence from 1998 to 2000.
Amb. Robert Ford
Senior Fellow, The Middle East Institute
Robert Ford is a senior fellow at The Middle East Institute. He previously served for 30 years in the State Department and Peace Corps, finishing his career as the U.S. ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. He previously served as U.S. ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008), deputy ambassador in Iraq (2008-2010), senior political advisor to the U.S. ambassador to Iraq (2004-2006), and deputy ambassador in Bahrain (2001-2003). Ambassador Ford has also held postings in Egypt, Turkey, and Cameroon, and in Algeria during its civil war. He was awarded the Presidential Honor award for his leadership of the American embassy in Damascus, and the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award for his work on Syria, which is the State Department's highest award. In 2012, he received the annual Profile in Courage award from Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library for his defense of human rights in Syria. Ambassador Ford has appeared on CNN, PBS, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, the BBC, and Arab networks, and has been published in The New York Times and Foreign Policy, among others.
Academic Dean and Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University.
Dr. Roger Kangas is the academic dean and a professor of Central Asian Studies at National Defense University (NDU). Previously Kangas served as a professor of Central Asian Studies at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security in Germany; deputy director of the Central Asian Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Central Asian course coordinator at the Foreign Service Institute for the U.S. Department of State; and a research analyst on Central Asian Affairs for the Open Media Research Institute (OMRI) in Prague. He has been an advisor to the Combatant Commands, NATO/ISAF, the US Air Force Special Operations School, National Democratic Institute, International Research and Exchanges Board, American Councils, Academy for Educational Development, USIA, USAID, and other US government agencies on issues relating to Central and South Asia, Russia, and the South Caucasus.
Randa Slim (Moderator)
Director for Track II Initiatives, The Middle East Institute and Fellow, The Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS
Randa Slim is director of the Track II Dialogues initiative at The Middle East Institute, and a non-resident fellow of The Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins-SAIS. 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 former member of the Dartmouth Conference U.S.-Russian regional conflicts taskforce, she was involved from 1992-2005 in conflict management activities in Central Asia working in Tajikistan and the Ferghana Valley. Since 2002, Slim has developed and managed a number of dialogue and peace-building projects in the Middle East. The author of several studies, book chapters and articles on Middle Eastern politics, dialogue processes and post-conflict peace building, Slim has written for, appeared with, or been cited by several U.S. and international media outlets.