The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a moderated conversation on Syria with Salman Shaikh, the founder and CEO of The Shaikh Group, and Ambassador Frederic C. Hof. Syria’s political process is at a standstill, with a constitutional commission still not formed and UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, soon to depart his role. With the conflict continuing to evolve and international attention shifting, new thinking is needed to tackle the Middle East’s most thorny issue: how to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Shaikh will discuss his lessons learned from many years of intensive Track II efforts on Syria and how they might be applied to designing more effective, alternative pathways forward; and Hof will expand on the implications and sustainability of the newly announced U.S. strategy in Syria and prospects for progress on the political track.
MEI's senior fellow and director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism program Charles Lister will moderate the conversation. Hadi al-Bahra, a member of the Syrian Negotiations Commission and opposition political committee, will give brief introductory remarks.
Hadi al-Bahra, opening remarks
Member, Syrian Negotiations Commission and opposition Political Committee; Former president, National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary & Opposition Forces
Ambassador Frederic C. Hof
Professor and Diplomat in Residence, Bard College in New York; Nonresident senior fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council
Frederic C. Hof is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and specializes in Syria. Prior to becoming a nonresident senior fellow, he was director of the Center. In 2012 President Obama conferred on Hof the rank of ambassador in connection with his new duties as special adviser for transition in Syria. Hof was previously the special coordinator for regional affairs in the U.S. Department of State's Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, where he advised Special Envoy George Mitchell on the full range of Arab-Israeli peace issues falling under his purview and focusing on Syria-Israel and Israel-Lebanon matters. He joined the State Department in 2009 after serving as the president and CEO of AALC, limited company, an international business consulting and project finance firm formerly known as Armitage Associates LC. In 2001 he directed the Jerusalem field operations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee headed by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and was the lead drafter of the Committee's 2001 report.
Founder and CEO, The Shaikh Group
Salman Shaikh is the founder and CEO of The Shaikh Group (TSG). Before establishing TSG, he was the director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, where his research focused on conflict resolution, domestic policy, and geopolitics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Levant (particularly Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq) and the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Shaikh has extensive experience working for the United Nations in a number of offices, including as special assistant, Middle East and Asia in the office of the undersecretary-general for political affairs, political advisor to the secretary-general's personal representative for Lebanon during the 2006 war, special assistant to the special coordinator to the Middle East peace process, and programme officer for the special representative for children in armed conflict. Shaikh also served as director for policy and research in the private office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned, the consort of the former Emir of the State of Qatar.