Future Geopolitical Realities and Expectations in Syria Panel13 Dec 19
On Thursday, November 21, 2019 the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a panel discussion on the “Future Geopolitical Realities and Expectations in Syria” with panelists Abdulaziz Tammo, Giorgio Cafiero, Hamdi Rifai, and Sara Firth. The panel, moderated by THO Non-Resident Fellow Benjamin Lutz, began with opening remarks from Sara Firth.
On Thursday, November 21, 2019 the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a panel discussion on the “Future Geopolitical Realities and Expectations in Syria” with panelists Abdulaziz Tammo, Giorgio Cafiero, Hamdi Rifai, and Sara Firth. The panel, moderated by THO Non-Resident Fellow Benjamin Lutz, began with opening remarks from Sara Firth. Firth, a journalist that recently returned from Syria spoke about on-the-ground realities in Syria and the inaccuracies of the portrayals right now of the Syrian Kurds and Kurdish populations. Firth also noted that it is a critical reality people in Syria want the delineation to be known that not all Syrian Kurds are part of the YPG- and that anything that states otherwise is giving an inaccurate portrayal. Firth continued that the focus for Syrian Civilians is getting “security back in their lives...something they have not had for a long time and that there needs to be a focus on portraying the situation with more accuracy.”
After Firth’s comments via Skype concluded, the moderator turned to the panel questions and opened with a question to Abdulaziz Tammo, President of the Independent Syrian Kurdish Association. Tammo began discussing the issue of safe zones and addressing the need for a secure place for Syrian refugees in the region and the developments of the Kurds in the region. Giorgio Cafiero, President of Gulf State Analytics discussed the context of how Russia sees the situation in Syria: “We hear a lot about the Russian interests and vision for stability in Syria, but we need to examine the greater context of Russia trying to insert itself as a security force in the region.” Cafiero continued in that “Russia is trying to convince Arab states that Russia is more reliable partner in the region.” Next, panelist Hamdi Rifai, Executive Director for the Council of the United Syrians and Americans, discussed the difference of influences and the White House meeting between President Trump and President Erdogan, “Turkey was a winner, the US was a winner, Russia lost influence.” The next topic of conversation turned to the influence of US-Kurdish relations on the current US-Turkey relationship. Mr. Tammo responded that Turkey is “now a major player in Syria, and is a very important alliance for both the United States and Syria.” The roundtable discussion continued with Mr. Tammo continue to discuss the nuances within the Kurdish groups, alliances in the regions, and the delineation of the Syria people and the Syrian perspective in the region.
Cafiero discussed the influence of domestic politics on the US-Turkey relationship and mentioned that “the perception that Trump wants to create in the region and message he is trying to send to voters in American swing states is that he is handing off the baton to regional states like Turkey and placing it more in the hands of the U.S. allies in the region.” Further, Cafiero shared that “from the Turkish perspective, this development of [relationships between Turkey and a number of Gulf states] is very unsettling and the relations are very tense right now. The fear is a potentially more unified front against Turkey from Arab states.”
Our event concluded with audience questions to the speakers. Stay tuned for more of THO’s engaging events coming up soon by visiting our website www.turkheritage.org and subscribing to our newsletter!