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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Defeating ISIS and Solving the Political Crisis in Syria

Thursday, September 18, 2014
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
National Press Club

529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Zenger Room
Washington DC 20045

A light lunch will be available between 1:00 and 1:15 p.m. on a first-come first-served basis


Radwan Ziadeh
Syrian American Council
Mohammed Alaa Ghanem
Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies
Oubai Shahbandar
Atlantic Council
Dr. William Lawrence
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy


As the international community rallies to confront ISIS (the so-called Islamic State also referred to as ISIL and recently renamed IS), new international action in Iraq and Syria has already begun with discussion of how to achieve inclusive politics in Iraq, but little debate on how to achieve the same objective in Syria. Virtually all analysts agree that concerted international military engagements in Syria will fail without robust humanitarian and political intervention on behalf of all 22 million Syrians, including the 9 million displaced by the civil war. Any political solution must address political grievances and core concerns of all Syrians.

To address these issues, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) has organized a panel of Syrian experts and activists to address the political crisis and offer policy recommendations regarding Syria.


ziadeh Radwan Ziadeh is co-founder and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. He is also 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).


ghanem Mohammed Alaa Ghanem is the Senior Political Adviser, Government Relations Director, and Strategist for the Syrian American Council in Washington D.C. Ghanem is also a fellow with the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies and 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.


shahbandarOubai Shahbandar is Strategic Communications Advisor to the Syrian Coalition, a Syrian-American, and former Department of Defense official.  With over seven years of experience working for the Department of Defense as a strategic analyst and foreign affairs specialist, Mr. Shahbandar has an extensive and diverse background in developing national security policy throughout the Middle East and South Asia. He served a one-year tour in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 during General Petraeus’ surge as a strategic analyst supporting counterinsurgency operations and the U.S. military’s outreach to the Sons of Iraq program. From 2010 to 2011, Mr. Shahbandar served as a senior civilian advisor to the Combined Forces Special Operations Command-Afghanistan, working on the critical Village Stability Operations program.  He served for four years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a Foreign Affairs Specialist focusing on Middle Eastern and Gulf Security Affairs. He also provided strategic communication and political support to the Syrian Opposition negotiating delegation in Geneva, Switzerland.

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