Syria

Syria’s multi-sided war continues to threaten stability across the Middle East. It has killed more than 250,000 and uprooted millions, triggering an unprecedented refugee crisis in neighboring states and Europe. As Syria fragments, USIP is supporting community-level initiatives to reduce root causes of the conflict. This grass-roots approach to peacebuilding relies on leaders and networks that cross sectarian, political and ethnic lines. USIP is working with locally influential religious and tribal leaders who can collectively ease tensions, strengthen their communities’ resistance to the war’s divisive effects, and counter extremist narratives. These efforts build on USIP’s work in Syria since 2012. That included facilitating the creation of an independent Syrian organization, The Day After, which provides critical research on the conflict and its drivers to policymakers, practitioners and the public. USIP also has supported women leaders and their efforts to counter gender-based violence and the appeal of extremism among youth.

Using the Arts to Promote Human Rights in Peacebuilding

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 14:00
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 16:00

Genesis at the Crossroads, a Chicago-based organization that uses the arts in peacebuilding, joins the U.S. Institute of Peace on April 22, 2015 to host an interactive panel discussion on building peace and human rights—and the role that the arts and artists can play.

Genesis at the Crossroads uses education and the arts — including innovative performances of music, dance and other genres — to creatively promote human rights, inter-ethnic dialogue and the building of peace. Join us April 22 for a conversation with academic, artistic and human-rights specialists about this intersection of human rights and the humanities. As part of a “new conversation for human rights in peacebuilding,” panelists will discuss how to mesh human rights concerns with the reconstruction of societies and governments following war or other violent conflict.

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Meet Syria’s Rescue Workers: Saving Lives, Building Peace

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 14:00
Tue, 09/30/2014 - 16:00

Syria is the world's most dangerous place to be a civilian. But there is another side to the conflict: those focused on caring for civilians in the conflict are also seeking to build peace. Volunteers are coming to the rescue with no regard for sect or creed. The U.S. Institute of Peace, The Syria Campaign and the Syrian American Medical Society cohosted on September 30 a public discussion, bringing together two of these courageous rescuers to discuss the future of peacebuilding in Syria.

Read the event coverage, Meet Syria’s Rescue Workers: When War Becomes 'Daily Life.'

Some 600 Syrians known as “White Helmets” or Syrian Civil Defense units, are organized volunteers who act as rescue workers in areas like Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the country’s northwest. They are unarmed and impartial, and operate on principles on “solidarity, humanity and impartiality,” as laid out in the Geneva Convention. In the six months prior to the panel discussion, they recorded more than 2,500 lives saved. They ran out after barrel bombs have dropped and dig through the rubble, often with their bare hands, in search of life.

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The Future of the Syrian Revolution

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 11:00
Wed, 05/07/2014 - 12:15
Subtitle: 
President Ahmad Jarba's First Washington Address

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted "The Future of the Syrian Revolution," a conversation with President Ahmad Jarba, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The event was President Jarba’s first public address in Washington, DC.

Read the event coverage, Syrian Opposition Leader Jarba Appeals for U.S. Understanding, Weapons

The collapse of the Geneva talks in February stalled efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict. The future of the revolution itself appears increasingly cloudy as the situation on the ground grows more chaotic. The Syrian government’s announcement that it would hold presidential elections in June – elections that President Bashar Assad is widely expected to win – limits chances for a political resolution to the crisis. Many, including the Syrian opposition, have called the elections a democratic charade.

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Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis and the International Response

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 10:00
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 12:00

On March 12, 2014, the U.S. Institute of Peace and Oxfam America will co-hosted the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and two civil society activists to address the humanitarian and political challenges of the Syrian conflict.

Read the event coverage, U.N. Refugees Chief Guterres Urges Support for Fleeing Syrians

António Guterres, Keynote and Q&A
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Panel:

Ray Offenheiser, Moderator
President, Oxfam America

Rajaa Altalli
Co-founder and Co-director, Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS)

Dr. Rim Turkmani
President and Founder, Madani

With more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, the sheer scope of the crisis has hampered efforts to curtail the humanitarian emergency and drive forward peace talks. The third anniversary of the war marks an opportunity to explore avenues for progress that have thus far not been a part of the prevailing narratives.

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Inaugural PeaceGame 2013

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 08:00
Mon, 12/09/2013 - 17:30
Subtitle: 
Chart the Best Possible Peace for Syria

Governments around the world regularly devote enormous resources to conducting “war games.” On December 9, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and The FP Group (FP) conducted the inaugural PeaceGame, focusing on “the best possible peace for Syria.” With one game in the U.S. and another in the Middle East, the semi-annual PeaceGames will bring together the leading minds in national security policy, international affairs, academia, business, and media to “game” out how we can achieve peace in Syria. USIP and FP intend for the game to redefine how leaders think about conflict resolution and the possibility of peace.

DAY 1: December 9th

8:00 am-8:45 am Arrival/Registration/Continental Breakfast

8:45 am-9:15 am Welcome and Brief Overview

  • Jim Marshall, President, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor, The FP Group
  • Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates

9:15am-10:30 am   “Establishing a Baseline: What Would a Lasting Peace in Syria Look Like?”

  • Steven Heydemann, Vice President of the Center for Applied Research on Conflict, U.S. Institute of Peace

10:30am-10:45 am   BREAK

10:45 am -12:30 pm “Phase I: Achieving a Near-Term Political Solution”

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch Break

1:30 pm-3:15 pm “Phase II: Establishing the Peace”

3:15 pm-5:00 pm “Phase III: Challenges to Peace Emerge”

5:00 pm-5:15 pm Brief Wrap Up and Close for the Day

DAY 2: December 10

8:00 am-8:45 am Continental Breakfast

8:45 am-9:15 am Review of Day 1 and Goals for Day 2

9:15 am-11:00 am “Establishing a Sustainable Peace”

11:00 am- 11:15 am Break

11:15 am-12:30 pm Wrap Up and Conclusion

During the PeaceGame, participants will assume the roles of various actors party to the war in Syria. Their statements should not be construed as representing their own personal views or the views of their respective organizations.

Watch the full video below, or watch each session individually: Session I - Establishing a Baseline, Session II - Achieving a Near-term Political Solution, Session III - Establishing the PeaceSession IV - Establishing a Sustainable Peace

Join the conversation on Twitter with #PeaceGame.

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Amidst Iraq’s Turmoil: What Can We Do?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:00
Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:30

How are Iraqis coping with the current crisis, and how can they be better engaged by the international community?  What policy levers do the U.S. or other international actors have to help promote stability?  What lessons can be applied across the increasingly porous and insecure boundaries of the Middle East?

Read the event coverage, Panel at USIP Urges More U.S. Activism in Iraq, Syria

For well over a year, Iraq’s political, security, economic, and social well-being continues to be shaken by internal and external events that have implications for stability in the country and the region. Despite gains, recent events on the ground have taken a swift turn. Internal displacement, the rise of armed groups, and recourse to violence present serious challenges in maintaining peace and sustained development within the country.

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U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of ‘State Fragility’

The new administration, a coming change in leadership at the United Nations, and an emerging global consensus about the fragility challenge make this an opportune moment to recalibrate our approach. The United States cannot and should not try to “fix” every fragile state. Nor can we ignore this challenge; all fragility has the potential to affect U.S. interests to some extent, especially when left to fester. There is simply too much at stake for our interests, our partners, and the global order. A sound and realistic policy framework is urgently needed to help our policymakers determine where, when, and how to invest scarce resources and attention to maximum effect.

William J. Burns, Michèle Flournoy, Nancy Lindborg

The report is the product of a nine-month study of Fragility Study Group led by William J. Burns of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Michèle Flournoy of the Center for a New American Security and Nancy Lindborg of the U.S.

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 15:44

Syrian Rescuer, Killed in Airstrike, Felt the Danger

Khaled Harah, a volunteer with Syria’s Civil Defense Force, or “White Helmets,” died in an airstrike in Aleppo last week as he worked to rescue survivors amid the debris of an aerial bombing. In 2014 at USIP, Harah and some of his colleagues described that rescue work, which had brought them to world attention.

USIP Staff

In the video below, Harah, seen at right, told of the group’s rescue of a 10-day-old child, quickly called “the miracle baby,” from a building destroyed in a June 2014 air strike. Four months later, in a panel discussion at USIP, Harah recounted that that rescue took 16 hours.

Tue, 08/16/2016 - 16:59
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Articles & Analysis

Khaled Harah, a volunteer with Syria’s Civil Defense Force, or “White Helmets,” died in an airstrike in Aleppo last week as he worked to rescue survivors amid the debris of an aerial bombing. In...

By:
USIP Staff

The recent U.S. designation of genocide to describe the ISIS extremist group’s killings and persecution of minorities as well as Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria highlighted the long history of...

By:
USIP Staff

The two-day World Humanitarian Summit held recently in Istanbul drew criticism for the absence of top global leaders, but it actually broke ground in several ways, experts said in a discussion...

By:
Fred Strasser

Videos & Webcasts

Khaled Harah, a volunteer with Syria’s Civil Defense Force, or “White Helmets,” died in an airstrike in Aleppo last week as he worked to rescue survivors amid the debris of an aerial bombing. In...

The recent U.S. designation of genocide to describe the ISIS extremist group’s killings and persecution of minorities as well as Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria highlighted the long history of...

USIP President, Nancy Lindborg, testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

More from President Lindborg following her testimony, "Refugees and Social...

Learn More

Publications

By:
William J. Burns, Michèle Flournoy, Nancy Lindborg
The new administration, a coming change in leadership at the United Nations, and an emerging global consensus about the fragility challenge make this an opportune moment to recalibrate our approach....
By:
USIP Staff
The war in Syria has killed more than 250,000 people and uprooted 12 million, half of the population, threatening the stability of countries nearby and as far as Europe. Syria’s violence is the main...