detail - Syria/Iraq Office
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The closed-door event took place in Beirut and was attended by a dozen influential journalists, policy makers and researchers from numerous nations such as Turkey, France and Lebanon. The main objective of the workshop was to develop a comprehensive framework which facilitates recovery and sustainable settlement in Northeast Syria, a region that suffered immensely under the violence and destruction of the past war-torn years. The first panel aimed to give an overlook on the security situation in the region after the pending withdrawal of the US forces. Experts from main stakeholders such as Iran, Turkey and the US offered their view in order to provide an extensive and multilayered picture of the current state of affairs. Following these inputs, the participants tried to assess future goals and strategies of all parties involved in the conflict. The remaining threat of the Islamic State (IS) was a recurring theme during the discussion, throughout which all participants agreed that the organization has not been entirely defeated and still remains active in the area. The second panel addressed the situation inside Syria, touching upon possible scenarios for a sustainable settlement. Here, the attendees aimed to design a framework that provides effective humanitarian aid, supports reconciliation within the communities and thus improves the living conditions in a way that could facilitate the return of Syrian refugees. The third and last panel addressed the economic potential of the region, and took the opportunity to focus on its future development. Northeast Syria is not only rich in resources but also contains a big agricultural sector; one expert thus described it as “the breadbasket of Syria”. However, before any of these resources can be harnessed effectively, the infrastructure must be rebuilt and long-term stability must be achieved. This indeed proves to be an incredibly complex task, since both Europe and the US are hesitant to participate in any recovery measures under the given political circumstances and Russia and Iran equally lack the political will and the financial resources to rebuild the country on their own.