SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

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The Rafik Hariri Center hosted a private meeting on June 3 to discuss the policy implications of a remarkable report issued by the Syrian American Medical Society. Entitled Slow Death: Life and Death in Syrian Communities Under Siege, author Valerie Szybala placed under the microscope one aspect of the Assad regime’s mass homicide survival strategy.

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In his May 19 briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest leveled, in his own peculiar way, with the people of Syria: “... the President feels very strongly that the very significant problems that are faced by people in Syria, for example, are not problems that the United States is going to come in and solve for them.

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As noted in the May 18 MENASource article on civilian protection, an administration operationally inert in the face of Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities sees peril if Assad collapses too soon, which is to say nearly four years after President Barack Obama counseled him to step aside.

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That which is painfully clear amid the complexity of Syria's horrific conflict is the operational absence of the Obama administration in protecting Syrian civilians.

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Insurgents captured the strategically important town of Jisr al Shughour from regime forces on April 25. This followed a rebel takeover of the provincial capital of Idlib, a mere few weeks earlier. Significantly, while only one of many members of the coalition that took Idlib and Jisr al Shughour, the Nusra Front played a critical role in fighting and leading these battles. This victory demonstrates not only its military capability, but also its success in embedding itself within the wider insurgency in a coalition that included not only Islamist but also nationalist Free Syrian Army brigades.

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In the wake of releasing the report Setting the Stage for Peace in Syria: The Case for a Syrian National Stabilization Force, several pertinent (and tough) questions have been posed to one of the authors by Congressional staffers and others. This may well be the first of several postings aimed at sharing these questions and answers.

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Last week the Rafik Hariri Center of the Atlantic Council launched a report Setting the Stage for Peace in Syria, recommending that the anti-Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) “train-and-equip” program for Syrian nationalists be put on steroids:

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Ambassador Frederic Hof, Senior Fellow with Atlantic Council, Bassma Kodmani, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative and Associate Professor at Paris University, and Jeffrey White, Defense Fellow and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy presented their report, Setting the Stage for Peace in Syria: The Case for a Syrian National Stabilization Force, on April 14, 2015 at the Atlantic Council. Please read Ambassador Frederic C. Hof’s opening remarks below.

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