Rebuilding Syria

  • Lessons Learned: A Year After the Fall of Aleppo

    This past December marks one year since Aleppo fell back into regime control following six years of fighting and a bloody aerial bombing campaign. This put an end to the most violent theatre of war in Syria; marked by the departure of those expelled from Aleppo on the last convoy on December 22 to the western countryside. Russia proposed to various factions of the opposition that all fighters and civilians in areas under their control be evacuated to Idlib under Turkish supervision. 

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  • The Kurdish School Curriculum in Syria: A Step Towards Self-Rule?

    The Kurds in northern Syria have established their own education system in what they call Rojava, unfettered by the central government in Damascus, after taking control of the area following the Syrian regime's withdrawal. This has been achieved through rolling out a Kurdish curriculum, which has so far been introduced for Kurdish (non-Arab) pupils in the primary and preparatory stages of their school education. They hope to follow this with a Kurdish secondary school curriculum, before opening universities in the three Kurdish provinces of Al-Jazira, Euphrates, and Afrin.

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  • Assad’s Political Investments in Reconstruction: Rewarding Regime Loyalists and Allies through Suspicious Deals

    A few months ago, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech to Syrian expatriate businessmen announcing his imminent military victory over “terrorism” thanks to the support of his Russian and Iranian Allies. In his speech, Assad promised loyalists and businessmen a share in reconstruction while stressing that the US, Gulf, and other western companies would have no role to play in reconstruction whatsoever.

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  • Reconstruction Funds Will Not Change Assad’s Behavior in Syria

    The promise of foreign reconstruction aid will not induce cooperation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is why international efforts to rebuild the war-ravaged country should focus on local solutions, removed from the regime’s sphere of influence, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “A regime that would rather have gone through what it had to go through over the past six years… than [share] political power… is not going to do so if we offer them money,” said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    Among others, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, has deemed reconstruction funding the last bit of leverage Western nations still hold over the Assad regime. However, Itani said: “I don’t see it.” He said Assad would...

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  • Itani Quoted in PBS on Syria Disappearances Exhibit


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  • Rebuilding Syria

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    Rebuilding Syria by Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Faysal Itani and independent international security analyst Tobias Schneider, focuses on large, strategic policy questions: Why should the international community help rebuild Syria? Should it work with the Syrian government? If so, can the promise of rebuilding be used as leverage? Who are the local partners? What are the priorities in terms of sequencing?

     
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  • Education in Syria Needs More Than Short-Term Solutions

    Syria’s situation—the massive amount of discussion, fragmented governance, and ongoing fighting—are not going to disappear anytime soon, and education models in Syria need to better adapt to it to address the growing learning gap. Although many organizations have programs to address education gaps for Syrian students, their approaches—focusing on access over quality, building traditionalschools, supporting underground schools—are not the only way to keep Syrian students learning. These approaches sweep the following under the rug: the reality of politicized curricula by state and non-state actors, dangers the journey to and presence in schools pose, as well as the psychological impact of learning under threat, specifically in areas out of government control vulnerable to shelling and airstrikes. While education overhaul in Syria goes hand in hand with a seemingly-distant political solution, new models can keep communities connected to learning while minimizing exposure to...
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  • Hof Quoted in US News on the Assad Regime and the Future of ISIS


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  • The Awkward Space for Syria’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction

    International political opinion about the future of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has shifted. President Donald Trump's revocation of any remaining support for the covert CIA 'Train and Equip' program, and French President Emmanuel Macron's recent admission that the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is no longer a key policy objective, demonstrate the faded political will to force a transfer of power in Syria. Within that context, the complexity that the current landscape presents for stabilization and reconstruction merits consideration.

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  • Considering US Options for Implementing Reconstruction Projects in Syria

    Although the United States government has yet to officially become involved in the reconstruction conversation, it will, with little doubt, be involved in some capacity in Syria’s reconstruction. Postponing the how, when, and where will only weaken America’s position vis-à-vis other actors in the country. In a press conference in May, special envoy Brett McGurk said that the US is not planning to pursue “long term reconstruction where projects are chosen by outsiders often with no connection to the local community,” but he did not say what type of reconstruction it will consider. McGurk alluded to US hesitance to become involved in reconstruction until a political settlement has been reached with Assad. Currently, the United States funds a number of programs focusing on humanitarian, relief, and stabilization projects, and some of these activities resemble reconstruction activities, but the US government has not officially changed its mandate to focus on reconstruction. Nonetheless,...
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