My participation in a discussion on Syria and the Chemical Weapons issue hosted by The New Discussion, a live and a global conversation between key leaders and young activists. The discussion focused on the US and EU’s role in the conflict in Syria.
Key leaders included:
– Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter: President of the New America Foundation and former Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department
– Mr. Marwan Muasher: Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment and former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan
– Ambassador Andreas Reinicke: EU Ambassador for the Middle East Peace Process
In this discussion I asked Ambassador Ryan Crocker about establishing a No-Fly-Zone in Syria in order to provide a safe haven for Syrian civilians. I believe the United States is responsible for protecting civilian lives, stopping Assad from killing his own people and creating the necessary conditions for a peaceful transition to Democracy in Syria.
What Syrian-Americans think of President Obama’s policy towards the Syrian Revolution after two years of the uprising; and what role they want to play regarding future relations between Washington and Damascus.
Guests: Oula Abdulhamid, Mouhanad Abdulhamid, Omar Al-Muqdad, Hayvi Bouzo, Dlshad Othman, Rami Nakhla, Aya Zerikly, Sirwan Kajjo and others.
We quickly assembled a production crew to cover this most pressing news story within the Arab Spring by interviewing both Syrian activists, Oula Alrifai (Abdulhamid) and her Stepfather, Ammar Abdulhamid. Both Oula and Ammar work tirelessly to spread awareness about the oppressive Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The support by Syrians in the US and the international community more broadly is a critical part in the movement for change in Syria. Our Producer and Guest Host, Erica Woods stepped in to host and produce this episode.
Oula Abdulhamid, activist and dissident from Syria.
Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian-born human rights activist, dissident, and founder of the Tharwa Foundation.
What are the lessons to be learned from the waves of democratic uprisings in the Middle East? Will they encourage similar movements elsewhere? How can these gains be consolidated?
Oula Alrifai (Abdulhamid)
Syrian Democracy Activist and Political Asylum Refugee
Oula Alrifai and her family are political refugees from Syria. Since the revolution started in Syria , they have been deeply involved in political protest particularly through social media – spreading the word both within and outside Syria, and keeping protesters motivated. Oula is currently a university student majoring in Political Science and International Relations. In 2009, she co-hosted and organized “The First Step”, a breakthrough academic television show that focused on promoting democracy, development, and stability in the Middle East. She has also worked at The United States Institute of Peace and for the Terrorist Propaganda Project.
Reporter with the Washington Post and author of “To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America”
Tara Bahrampour has been a staff writer for the Washington Post since 2004. Based in Washington, she covers immigration and has also reported for the Post from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Republic of Georgia. She is the author of To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America, a memoir about revolution and growing up between two cultures. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times and The American Scholar.
President of the National Endowment for Democracy
Carl Gershman is President of the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, congressionally supported grant-making institution with the mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. In addition to presiding over the Endowment’s grants program in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Latin America, he has overseen the creation of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, International Forum for Democratic Studies, and the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. He also took the lead in launching in New Delhi in 1999 the World Movement for Democracy, which is a global network of democracy practitioners and scholars.
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.