A discussion with

Faysal Itani
Resident Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Bassam Barabandi
People Demand Change

Moderated by:

Rym Momtaz
Foreign Assignment Editor
ABC News

Top-down attempts at reaching a lasting peace in Syria and defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have thus far been unsuccessful. In a new Atlantic Council report, “Seizing Local Opportunities in Syria,” authors Faysal Itani and Bassam Barabandi argue these fail because the Syrian war is ultimately a local conflict despite its many external players. Instead they suggest a more focused approach, in which the United States takes advantage of specific local opportunities to increase US influence and thereby hasten an end to the civil war and the jihadist groups it empowers.

Through interviews with on-the-ground sources, the authors identify three opportunities in Syria to develop durable partnerships that can further US interests: a Sunni-Druze coalition in the south, an Arab-Kurdish one in the north, and a relationship with Jaish al-Islam (JAI) in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta. Although the authors recognize that the regime remains the key agent and driver of violence in Syria, they focus on actionable insights to encourage political change at a local level that will not require a drastic revision of the United States’ current strategy. Please join us for a discussion of the report’s findings with the authors, held under the Chatham House rule. 

At the Hariri Center, Faysal Itani focuses on US policy in the Levant, with an emphasis on the conflict in Syria and its regional impact. Bassam Barabandi is a Co-Founder of People Demand Change and a former Syrian diplomat. Rym Momtaz is a Foreign Assignment Editor at ABC News, where she specializes in the Middle East and foreign terrorism.

DATE:         Wednesday, September 2, 2015

TIME:        9:00 – 10:30 a.m. 

Light breakfast will be served. 

LOCATION:     Atlantic Council
1030 15th St NW, 12th floor (West Tower)
Washington, DC 20005

Please note this event is by invitation only and transferable only by request