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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

After Alan Kurdi: New Perspectives on a Sustainable Solution for Syria

Thursday, September 10, 2015
2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
National Press Club

529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Holeman Lounge
Washington DC 20045

Coffee and light refreshments will be available


Mohammed Ghanem
Syrian American Council
Radwan Ziadeh
Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies
Faysal Itani
Atlantic Council
Najib Ghadbian
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
Dr. William Lawrence
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy


The tragic death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi and images of tens of thousands of refugees fleeting the conflict and crossing Europe on foot has transformed the global conversation about the Syrian crisis. Millions of families and thousands of institutions and organizations around the globe have opened their hearts to the plight of the Syrian people in ways unprecedented since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. As we become aware of the more than 10,000 innocent Syrian civilians that have died already in 2015, among whom Alan Kurdi was but one of the more recent and gut-wrenching victims that sparked the global outcry, now more than ever is the time to take stock of how we have arrived at one of the worst human catastrophes of our time and how we all can help solve it. Addressing the refugee and migration issue is critical, and hopefully the newfound elan in this regards will help hundreds of thousands of Syrians to survive and re-establish their lives in new lands. But the only way to resolve the problem is to develop the political will to find a sustainable political solution that stops the carnage and begins Syria’s long slow journey back to health.

To address these issues, CSID has assembled an all-star panel of leading Syria experts and tasked them with providing their analysis on the best way forward toward a political solution. While virtually all analysts agree that the problem cannot be solved through military or laudable humanitarian efforts, political intervention and diplomatic forays have been tepid, inconclusive, and plagued by Cold War-style power politics. Any sustainable political solution must address political grievances and core concerns of all Syrians. Discussions and consultations continue next week in Europe, but without concerted international effort to put parochial interests and limiting geopolitical strategies aside for the greater good and to save lives, the next diplomatic effort is unlikely to produce the desired result. Just as world leaders have been shamed into modifying their stands on Syrian refugees and increasing engagement, those same leaders can and must be pressured to help find a solution to this crisis.


ghanemFew people have been working harder and more tirelessly on this issue over the years than Mohammed Ghanem, who will be leaving imminently along with other Syrian figures to participate in the discussions in Europe. Ghanem is the Senior Political Adviser, Government Relations Director, and Strategist for the Syrian American Council in Washington D.C. Ghanem is also a board member of the Coalition for a Democratic Syria. He was a professor at the University of Damascus, and has been involved in the Syrian revolution since its early days. He advises local administrative councils in liberated areas across Syria on international relations. In early 2013, he participated in monitoring the elections of the first democratically elected government in Aleppo. Ghanem is frequently quoted in the media, and his op-eds have appeared, among others, in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, the Hill, and the New York Post. He has appeared on CNN, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, HuffPost, RT, and CCTV America. He holds a master’s degree in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation.

ziadehRadwan Ziadeh is co-founder and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. and serves on the board of CSID. He is head of the Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice, established on November 14, 2013 by the Syrian Interim Government, and founder and director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies in Syria. Ziadeh was a Visiting Scholar at Lehigh University, Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy, Visiting Scholar for the Dubai Initiative at Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies (IMES) in the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Prins Global Fellow at Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University, Visiting Scholar at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University, Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington D,C and Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in New York City. He has written ten books; his most recent book is Power and Policy in Syria: Intelligence Services, Foreign Relations and Democracy in the Modern Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2011).


itaniFaysal Itani a Resident Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, who will present his latest thinking on how to solve the Syrian crisis. His long standing expertise is on the Syrian conflict, including its sectarian politics, political economy, and wider regional impact. Before joining the Atlantic Council, Itani worked as a risk analyst advising governments, corporations, and international organizations on political, economic, and security affairs. Itani holds an MA in strategic studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a certificate in public policy from Georgetown University, and a BA from the American University in Beirut.



ghadbianNajib Ghadbian is the Special Representative to the United States for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. Dr. Ghadbian is a Syrian pro-democracy activist and academic. He served on the Board of the Day After Project, a cooperative movement by members of the Syrian opposition to outline a plan to rebuild the country and end the Syrian conflict once Bashar al-Assad is ousted from power. An Associate Professor of Political Science and Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas, he is the author of Democratization and the Islamist Challenge in the Arab World (1997 (English), 2002 (Arabic)). His second Arabic book, The Second Assad Regime: Bashar of Lost Opportunities, was published in 2006. He has contributed political commentaries to several US, European, and Middle East media outlets. Dr. Ghadbian’s research interests include democratization and leadership in the Arab world, Syrian politics, and US-Mideast relations. He is a founding member of the Democratic Network in the Arab World. Dr. Ghadbian is a signatory to the Damascus Declaration (2005) and was a founding member of the Syrian National Council.

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