Syria Under Assad: Challenges for European Policy - Meeting Report

Middle East
Conflict Research Unit of Clingendael Institute

The key challenges for European policy in Syria acquire both urgency and practical meaning when it comes to the matter of support for the country’s ‘reconstruction’ - social, material and perhaps even psychological. This type of support will need to be highly politically aware and sensitive in order to avoid simply setting the scene for the next conflict years down the line. It is, furthermore, necessary to consider European policy towards Syria on its own merits because US foreign policy towards the Middle East is currently too uncompromising and belligerent to align with.

The focus of the panel discussion was whether European countries should support Syrian reconstruction and if so, how this can be done. Key questions include:

  • What are the key challenges for reconstruction efforts in Syria?
  • How are these challenges affected by recent regional developments?
  • What can European countries do to contribute to humanitarian needs without reinforcing authoritarianism?

Joseph Daher (Université de Lausanne) and Steven Heydemann (Brookings) discussed their perspectives on these matters alongside a representative from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, after which Monika Sie Dhian Ho (General Director Clingendael Institute) facilitated a broader discussion.

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