As one of the main sources of foreign fighters for the conflict in Syria and Iraq, Central Asia now faces the security and humanitarian challenge of repatriating foreign fighters and their families. Kazakhstan has emerged as a global leader in repatriation efforts for foreign fighters returning from Syria, having repatriated nearly 600 of its citizens, mostly women and children, through the “Zhusan” operation. Kazakhstan’s programs and tools for repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration may serve as a model for other nations. What was behind Kazakhstan’s decision to repatriate its citizens, and what can other countries learn from Kazakhstan’s progress? How can the US and other Western partners support this effort?
Yerzhan Ashykbayev, deputy minister of foreign affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Christopher Harnisch, deputy coordinator for countering violent extremism at the Bureau of Counterterrorism with the US Department of State, Noah Tucker, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, Ambassador John Herbst, director of the Eurasia Center, and Dr. Stevan Weine, professor of psychiatry at the College of Medicine with University of Illinois at Chicago, join to discuss the lessons learned. Jasmine El-Gamal, former Middle East adviser at the US Department of Defense, moderates, and William Wechsler, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East Programs, welcomes.
The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.