INQUIRY 2016-17

INQUIRY 2016-17

Syria: The Future

When the Arab Spring erupted in the Middle East in 2011, citizens across the region, in non-violent and violent movements, began a struggle for individual liberties and democracy in response to decades of authoritarian and military rule and repression. The governments of the region responded differently to this unexpected groundswell, from Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain. In Syria, what began as a very limited, peaceful movement incurred the swift and violent wrath of its president, Bashir al-Assad.

How did a non-violent protest by ordinary citizens evolve into a multi-factioned, horribly violent and destructive civil war that has affected not only Syria’s neighbors but extended far beyond its borders? And how might it end?

In Syria, there are many factions. There is Assad, and his security forces. There was the Free Syrian Army – before it factionalized; now it is estimated that more than 150,000 insurgents are divided into more than 15 factions, some secular and some radical Islamist. The conflict provided a home for the Islamic State, founded in neighboring Iraq, as well as the al-Nusra Front – both of which encourage a global jihad against non-believers. It is estimated that more than 30,000 individuals from all parts of the globe have traveled to Syria to join some of these jihadist groups.

What role can the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) play – comprised of the Arab League, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, The Netherlands, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States?

Part of what the students will be doing is discussing who should be involved in the discussions to end the conflict in Syria, regarding both the external and internal actors. Who can be invited to the table and are there factions that should not be? And what is that threshold? What are the issues that need to be considered? What does violence preclude at the negotiating table, if anything? And who gets to make that determination? What are the goals of ending the conflict in Syria, where there are no “good” guys except for the citizens caught between the multitude of factions? Who has to be involved to ensure that a peace or a ceasefire holds? Is it something that can be imposed or does it ultimately need to come from within Syria? What might accountability look like? Is amnesty possible? Will the refugees be able to return, and will they want to?

The April 2017 gathering will bring together the many different groups and countries engaged in the ongoing civil conflict within Syria to begin discussions about what a post-conflict Syria could be.

Committees:

Governance

  • the future government of Syria
  • developing a new constitution
  • civil-military relations

Strategic Security

  • terms of a ceasefire across the country
  • contending with the presence of foreign militaries/fighters
  • securing the borders

Local Security

  • demobilization of fighters and weapons
  • reintegration of fighters into society
  • re-establishing law and order

Social Reconstruction

  • establishing civil society
  • religious freedom and expression; human rights
  • contending with the internally displaced
  • contending with widespread trauma victims

Economic Reconstruction

  • rebuilding the infrastructure
  • meeting basic needs, from food to employment
  • development plans for the near- and long-term

Justice, Peace and Reconciliation

  • what form will accountability take
  • formalizing a reconciliation process
  • contending with sectarianism

Cross-Border Issues

  • refugees and repatriation
  • environmental concerns, esp. water
  • terrorism and radicalization

Role/Delegation

School

Tufts Mentor

Syrian Government

Packer Collegiate

Douglas Berger

High Negotiations Council

Broad Ripple HS

Douglas Berger

Syrian National Council

El Puente Academy

Jackson McGlinchey

National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary
and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition)

Columbia Prep

Shaan Shaikh

Democratic Union Party (PYD)

Dover-Sherborn HS

Daniel Lewis

Kurdish National Council

Pace Academy

Shawn Patterson

Moscow Group

Boston Latin School

Alexis Tatore

Hezbollah

Columbia Prep

Leif Monnett

Russia

Columbia Prep

Denis Bravenec

Iran

Andover Collaborative

Shaan Shaikh

China

Dover-Sherborn HS

Giovana Manfrin

US

O’Bryant HS

Minh Dinh

Turkey

Broad Ripple HS

Mariya Ilyas

Oman

Boston Latin School

Alexis Tatore

United Kingdom

O’Bryant HS

Minh Dinh

France

Little Village HS

Adriana Guardans-Godo

Germany

Boston Latin School

Alexis Tatore

Saudi Arabia

Dover-Sherborn

Jackson McGlinchey

Qatar

O’Bryant HS

Tong Liu

Iraq

Little Village HS

Jonathan Vincent

Jordan

O’Bryant HS

Tong Liu

Lebanon

Pace Academy

Thaw Htet

Egypt

Boston Latin School

Alexis Tatore

Humanitarian NGOs

Dover-Sherborn

Giovana Manfrin