Rebuilding Syria

  • Smart Agriculture in Syria

    Advanced technological solutions are not limited to technologically advanced societies. Numerous examples in Syria show the use of innovative solutions for real world problems using open source technology: 3D printed prosthetics for amputees, renewable energy in cities under siege, and now aquaponics in damaged farmlands. The use of smart agriculture can help provide for people’s essential nutrition needs, especially in conflict zones, where food insecurity is prevalent and underserved farming opportunities are common. 

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  • A Short Tribute to Raed Fares

    I first met Raed Fares in November 2015 when he spoke at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. I had learned about his work as an activist however much earlier in the Syrian conflict, especially his role in organizing local sit-ins in his northern Syrian town of Kafr Nabl. Locals were regularly photographed holding banners bearing witty English slogans to raise awareness of regime and extremist violence and shame the international community into taking action (that the slogans were often written in broken English somehow made them more endearing). Raed also founded Radio Fresh, whose broadcasts frequently criticized the local al-Qaeda derivative Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) who likely murdered Raed five days ago.

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  • Has the US Given Up on Stabilization Efforts in Syria?

    The Trump administration announced last month that it would not be releasing the over $200 million in State Department funds destined for stabilization operations in Syria, which were “frozen” by President Trump earlier in March this year pending comprehensive review. Much has been made of what this move means for the future of U.S. policy in Syria, warranting deeper examination and attention to context. For reasons addressed below, neither Trump’s tweet nor headlines asserting that the United States has ended stabilization efforts for Syria paint the full picture.

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  • What Exactly is the US Policy Toward Iran?

    On July 22, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed an audience that included many members of the Iranian diaspora. The speech focused on the Iranian regime as a danger to its own people and to US interests—kleptocratic, terroristic, and totalitarian. The accusations were specific and the language was strong which could indicate a harsh new anti-Iran policy, especially given the broader context of the US administration’s belligerence toward Iran. Secretary Pompeo’s speech was followed shortly by US President Donald Trump’s social media threats directed at the Iranian leadership.

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  • What Exactly is the US Policy Toward Iran?

    On July 22, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed an audience that included many members of the Iranian diaspora. The speech focused on the Iranian regime as a danger to its own people and to US interests—kleptocratic, terroristic, and totalitarian. The accusations were specific and the language was strong which could indicate a harsh new anti-Iran policy, especially given the broader context of the US administration’s belligerence toward Iran. Secretary Pompeo’s speech was followed shortly by US President Donald Trump’s social media threats directed at the Iranian leadership.

    Given this harsh rhetoric on Iran and the demands that it withdraw from Syria and end support for Hezbollah among other capitulations, it is unclear whether this language is meant to deter. It could also signal the start of a...

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  • Here's Why Syrian Women Need to be Included More in Peacebuilding

    Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, Syrian women have been involved in all aspects of the conflict: from fighting, demonstrating and documenting war crimes to providing humanitarian relief and local politics.

    Syrian women, who make up more than 50 percent of the Syrian population, are also taking on a more active role in local negotiations to end the conflict that has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more, including tens of thousands of females. However, women remain grossly underrepresented in international peace negotiations.

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  • The Resilience of Agriculture in Syria Amid Conflict

    In January 2018, Syria Independent Monitoring published a research report titled “Understanding Market Drivers in Syria” in which it conducted field research into the olive/olive oil and spice/herb market systems in northeastern and northwestern Syria to assess the flow of food commodities—that has been highly impacted by the conflict —in the dynamic and adaptable agricultural markets that have proven to be the most resilient. Therefore, to stimulate the market, it is recommended that more aid be targeted at the agricultural sector by facilitating market actors, creating cooperatives, and offering a variety of funding options for local farmers.

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  • The Danger of US Assistance to the UN, Rewarding Assad

    In his recent testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former United States Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, called on Congress and the US administration to consider cutting assistance to United Nations humanitarian aid programs in Syria. He followed up with an op-edin The Hill explaining his controversial stance: for years the Assad government has impeded or entirely blocked aid to opposition-held areas, effectively causing the US government, through the UN, to subsidize the Syrian government with one-sided humanitarian aid. This legitimizes and enriches the very apparatus responsible for the genesis of the conflict in Syria and the prolonged suffering of millions. Ambassador Ford is not alone in his call for a re-evaluation of the current US...
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  • Stabilization vs Reconstruction: What is the Long Term Role of the US in Syria?

    A key component of the new US policy towards Syria, as outlined by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his address at Stanford, is its focus on stabilization efforts in areas cleared of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). Stabilization efforts, according to Tillerson, aim to bring about two of the five desired end states he enumerates: ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, and facilitating conditions that would allow for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). His concession that “no party in the Syrian conflict is capable of victory or stabilizing the country via military means alone” indicates an understanding of the root cause of both the war with ISIS and the Syrian civil war: bad governance.

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  • Itani Quoted in News Deeply on the Russian-Led De-Escalation Agreement


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