3:10 pm – How the Arab Spring Begat a Deadly Summer
Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai, Syrian Youth Activist
Ahmed Al Omran, Blogger, Saudijeans.org
Andrew J. Tabler, Next Generation Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Katherine Zoepf, Moderator, Schwartz Fellow, New America Foundation, Contributor, New York Times
Katherine Zoepf, a Schwartz Fellow at New America and a New York Times contributor, moderated a discussion with Syrian youth activist Oula Alrifai, Saudi blogger Ahmed Al Omran and journalist Andrew Tabler. Al Omran explained how he got into online activism about Saudi Arabia, where political discussion is against the law. Last year was a year of opposition campaigns, he said, and the Internet became a forum for the opposition in a country where people are not allowed to protest. Alrifai discussed a conference she participated in this year in Antalya, Turkey, where Syrian activists gathered to support the growing revolution. Many had to sneak out of Syria to attend the conference, she said, and many even returned to Syria afterward to continue protests. Tabler, who has written a lot about older opposition forces in Syria, talked about the rise of a younger, more tech-savvy opposition that isn’t interested in compromising with the established regime. The people are now realizing there are no positive aspects to the regime remaining in power, fueling the opposition movement. The uprisings could continue for a long time, and could become much more violent, he said, but they will not be able to last without changing dramatically to meet new social conditions.