What does the future of Syria look like? An important question that few people dared to ask during the long years of conflict, atrocious human rights violations and the invasion by the Islamic State. However, recent political and military developments make answering this question more important than ever.
Hivos has been working with Syrian women and peace activists for years to ensure that they play a role in the future of their country. That is why we organize the debate ‘The Way Forward’, about the Syrian peace process. In this debat Syrian women’s rights activists talk to Dutch policymakers and experts.
Sabah Al Hallak, a Syrian activist from a local Syrian organization, addressed the UN Security Council last Friday; her immediate colleagues are in the Netherlands on Monday and would like to talk to you. See the speech of our partner Sabah Al Hallak at the UN Security Council here.
Questions about the future
During the debate, three Syrian activists share their vision of the future of their country. We will also talk to the following experts:
- Elisabeth van der Steenhoven, moderator, member of the Advisory Council on International Affairs
- Petra Stienen, Syria expert, author and former diplomat
- Ali Al Jassem, researcher at the Center for Conflict Studies at the University of Utrecht
- Mazen Darwish is a Syrian activist, human rights lawyer and director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression
- Floris van Straaten, Middle East correspondent for the NRC
We try to find answers to the following questions:
- How do ongoing military developments influence the political process?
- How can women make a difference, both in the field and in the peace process?
- Will short-term concerns about the possible return of IS fighters lead to the Netherlands and the EU normalizing the relationship with the Assad regime?
- What happens in Syria if Assad is legitimized to stay?
- Are the calls of the victims of the Assad regime heard? Or, do the Netherlands and the EU focus primarily on the (also horrific) crimes of IS?
In recent weeks, Syria has witnessed important political and military developments that were ushered in by the withdrawal of the US army. Turkish troops moved into Syria to establish a “safe zone” on the border and Assad regained control in eastern parts of the country. In both cases, Putin’s support proved crucial.
Meanwhile, another question arises in the Netherlands. Coalition partner CDA announced its support for the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime of Assad. A position that goes against the official position of the Dutch government and the EU.
The political peace process is also continuing. A glimmer of hope in this process is the recent establishment of a long-awaited constitutional commission under the umbrella of the UN. And although there are serious doubts as to whether this process will result in real political concessions, many activists hope that the Syrian people and the end of the war will finally be given priority on the world stage.
Women like Rajaa
Hivos has been working with Syrian women for years to ensure that they play a role in the future of their country. For example, we support CCSD, the Rajaa Altalli organization. She is convinced that women play an essential role in creating lasting peace.
“In Syria, 54 percent of the population is female. Many have lost their husbands and have had to take matters into their own hands in their families and in their local communities. They often do not even realize that they are real leaders. Women are the driving force behind lasting peace. Without women, no democracy, no human rights, no security. How can peace ever come and stay if you exclude half the population?”
View the impressive story of Rajaa here.
Entrance is free, but a reservation is mandatory due to limited seats available.