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“Conflict in Syria: Asking the Right Questions”

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Since it began almost five years ago as part of the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War has claimed more than 250,000 lives, making it one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. With uprisings happening all over the Arab world as part of the Arab Spring of 2011, Syrians took to the streets to protest against the ruling dictatorship of Bashar Al Assad. A brutal and violent response from the ruling Assad regime ultimately led to the formation of the Free Syrian Army, initially consisting of defecting Syrian Armed Forces officers and soldiers. The conflict in Syria quickly escalated into a full-blown civil war, with the government and rebel groups each fighting for control of territory.

In August 2013, chemical weapons were fired at the districts around Damascus in the Ghouta Chemical Attack, causing hundreds of deaths and injuring thousands. Syria and Russia blamed the rebels for the attack, while Western powers declared the Assad regime as the perpetrator. Avoiding US intervention, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. Capitalising on the chaos in Syria, various jihadist groups, most notably Daesh (Islamic State) became increasingly active. Daesh has taken vast swathes of territory and caused widespread destruction, ultimately leading to a US-led coalition launching airstrikes against the group in 2014. The Syrian Civil War has resulted in a vast humanitarian crisis, with over four million people displaced from their homes and much more displaced internally.

The University of Birmingham Debating Society presented an evening of discourse and debate on one of the most defining issues of our time. In this event, the Debating Society tackled the critical areas regarding the Syrian Conflict. From the role that the Assad regime should play resolving the conflict to the proxy wars supported by foreign powers, to the failures of the Arab Spring and the hope for democracy in Syria. All four of the speakers are experts on these issues from a range of backgrounds. By the end, it hoped to create a new perspective on the problems that have been dominating the headlines and answers to the questions that needed answering.

Dialogues

‘Act East’ – Understanding India’s Asia-Pacific Policy

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On September 9 2014, The India Project at Brookings hosted an event on India’s “Act East” policy to discuss the developments, the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, as well as the implications for Indian policy broadly. Now when India has hosted leaders from all the 10 ASEAN countries as guests at its Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, the discussions at this event held in 2014 are pertinent.

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Dialogues

2017: The Year That Was for India’s Foreign Policy

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The past year has been one in which India has calibrated its role in world affairs. In this discussion on Lok Sabha TV, experts discuss India’s role in the world and the challenges that it faced in the past year.

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Debating Syria’s Future

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Panel discussion held on November 23, 2015 in Denver at the Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), featuring (in order): Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch, James Gelvin of UCLA, Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma, and Najib Ghadbian of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, moderated by Danny Postel of the University of Denver.

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