On Tuesday, January 8, 2019 THO hosted a teleconference on “The Future of Syria” featuring the following speakers:
Dr. Zaki Lababidi — President, Syrian American Council
Azeem Ibrahim — Research Professor, U.S. Army War College; Senior Fellow, Center for Global Policy
Dr. Bora Bayraktar — General Manager, CNN Turk
Dr. Bora Bayraktar began the teleconference by opening up the discussion of the recent developments in Syria and how this has impacted the current relations between the U.S. and Turkey. According to Dr. Bayraktar both the U.S. and Turkey are not acting enough as allies but with the recent developments there is an opening to improve this partnership. Dr. Bayraktar discussed the storied relationship between the U.S. and Turkey since 1927 and how it might be impacted moving forward by outside groups. He discussed the idea that there is no way to tolerate terrorist organizations and fight against those organizations right next to both Turkey and Syria’s borders. Moving forward, Dr. Bayraktar discussed that Turkey wants to see a continued partnership between the U.S. and Turkey and will be actively seeking support.
Dr. Zaki Lababidi was then asked in the teleconference of the Syrian perspective on the potential withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. Dr. Lababidi discussed that the announcement was obviously a surprise but also held symbolic significance. The Syrian people, as Dr. Lababidi detailed, were not as panicked as some media outlets may have alluded to, but rather the Syrian people were more realistic in understanding their history with the Assad regime and the necessity for the main players in the region to come up with a political solution for the Syrians.
Next, Azeem Ibrahim discussed the more recent changes in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria discussing that National Security Advisor John Bolton indicated a change in the rhetoric from what President Trump initially used in this conversation. Ibrahim detailed that nobody is truly certain of President Trump’s foreign policy of plan regarding Syria, but that the implications of a complete withdrawal would be extremely severe. Through the removal of troops Ibrahim explained that the risk of Russia and Iran continuing to extend influence into the region would most likely be certain and must be avoided if possible.