detail - Syria/Iraq Office
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The one-day workshop featured four panels that discussed various perspectives on the subject matter. The first panel addressed the current political and military realities in Syria to lay the foundation for a more informed conversation about the social and economic state of the country. The inputs provided insights into the modus operandi of the Assad regime, assessed the current situation of the opposition, and analyzed the diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the conflict in Syria.
The second panel provided a survey of Syria’s socio-economic state. The first input outlined the functioning of the country’s survivalist economy, which has forced Syrians to adapt to severe circumstances in light of the breakdown of Syria’s economic and social order. The second input described the complex relationship between Bashar al-Assad the country’s private sector, which constitutes on of the backbones of the regime. The third input gave an overview of the humanitarian efforts that are currently being undertaken in Syria, both in regime-held areas and areas controlled by the opposition.
The third panel touched on the role that regional and international actors can play in shaping Syria’s economic future. It started by outlining the interests and goals of Assad’s allies, addressing the crucial question of whether they have the capacity to rehabilitate Syria’s broken economy. The second input analyzed what kind of impact a potential rebuilding of Syria will have on the country’s neighboring states and concluded that the business communities in adjacent countries such as Lebanon should not be too optimistic about reaping the fruits of ‘reconstruction’. Finally, the panel discussed the interests that the West has with regards to Syria’s upcoming economic trajectory.
The final discussion sought to adapt lessons-learned from previous cases of post-conflict stabilization, including Afghanistan and Lebanon. Moreover, it addressed the issue of the Syrian refugees in the Middle East and Europe. It concluded that most refugees in the Middle East seek to return home. However, the Assad regime has no interest in allowing Syrians who have fled since the outbreak of the conflict back into the country.