Inside the Sieges: The Scope and Implications of Besieged Syria

February 10, 2016 - 11:30 am

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower)
Washington, DC

Inside the Sieges: The Scope and Implications of Besieged Syria

A conversation with:
Dr. Mohamad Katoub
Protection Officer
Syrian American Medical Society

Ms. Valerie Szybala
Executive Director
The Syria Institute

Mr. Jan Jaap van Oosterzee
Middle East Policy Lead

Mr. Faysal Itani
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Introduction by:
Ambassador Frederic C. Hof
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council
The images of emaciated children in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya drew international attention in January 2016. Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian High Negotiations Committee’s unanswered demand for lifting of sieges, as stipulated in UN Security Council resolution 2254, threatens to derail Syria peace talks in Geneva. Key international leaders’ calls for implementation of the resolution, aimed at ending the violence, have not resulted in access to besieged areas. 

On February 10, 2016 please join the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East for a discussion on the scope, scale, and policy implications of the ongoing siege crisis. Dr. Mohamed Katoub will share his experiences as a dentist and medical worker from the besieged Damascus suburb of Douma. Valerie Szybala will present the findings of the newly released Siege Watch report that indicates there are well over 1 million Syrians under siege in Syria, and that the Syrian government and its allies are the main parties besieging civilian populations. Jan Jaap van Oosterzee will examine the implications of the sieges, and Faysal Itani will moderate the discussion.

Dr. Mohamed Katoub is the Public Relations Director for the United Medical Office of Eastern Ghouta. Valerie Szybala is the author of several influential reports including Slow Death: Life and Death in Syrian Communities under Siege and Assad Strikes Damascus. Jan Jaap van Oosterzee has been working on Middle East programs in various capacities with PAX, an international peace organization based in the Netherlands. Faysal Itani focuses on the war in Syria and its regional impact. Ambassador Frederic Hof specializes in the conflict in Syria.

On Twitter? Follow @ACMideast with #ACSyria #SiegeWatch

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 

VISITING THE COUNCIL: Metro and parking info


Dr. Mohamad Katoub is a dentist and medical worker from Douma, which, along with the rest of the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, has been under siege by the Syrian government for more than three years. Since the start of the Syrian crisis, Katoub has worked on the provision of emergency medical care and helped establish several field hospitals in Douma and nearby communities. In 2014 he escaped from Douma with his family and fled to Turkey, where he has continued working to support the medical sector in the besieged Eastern Ghouta. He has spoken in front of the UN Security Council, US Senate Human Rights Caucus, US House Foreign Affairs Committee, and numerous international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) about the situation in besieged areas inside of Syria and the need for protection. 
Valerie Szybala is Executive Director and Cofounder of The Syria Institute, an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution based in Washington, DC. She has focused on Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011 and in recent years has worked as a Syria researcher and UN advocate with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), and as a Syria Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). Szybala is the author of several influential reports including Slow Death: Life and Death in Syrian Communities under Siege (SAMS, 2015) and Assad Strikes Damascus (ISW, 2014). She has been cited in news outlets including Foreign Policy, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Al Jazeera America, ABC, and IRIN. 

Jan Jaap van Oosterzee leads advocacy for the Middle East team of PAX, an international peace organization based in the Netherlands that has been supporting local civil society organizations in Syria since 2003. He has been working in various capacities on PAX programmes in the Middle East, in particular Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine, for 19 years. 

Faysal Itani is an analyst focusing on the Levant including Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. His expertise includes the conflict in Syria and its regional impact, sectarian politics, and political economy. Before joining the Atlantic Council, Itani worked as a risk analyst advising governments, corporations, and international organizations on political, economic, and security affairs in the region. Itani holds an MA in strategic studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a certificate in public policy from Georgetown University, and a BA in business from the American University of Beirut.

Ambassador Frederic C. Hof came to the Atlantic Council after a career as a US Army officer, a private sector CEO, and a US Department of State diplomat. He is a Vietnam veteran and as a military officer served on the commission that investigated the 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps headquarters at Beirut International Airport. While in the private sector he took a leave of absence in 2001 to serve as Chief of Staff of the Sharm al-Sheikh Fact-Finding Commission, headed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and was the principal drafter of the Commission's report. In the Department of State from 2009 to 2012, he took the lead in an effort to mediate Syrian-Israeli peace and was given the rank of ambassador in his capacity as Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Transition in Syria. Among his military decorations is the Purple Heart.