Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Activists Discuss Post-Assad Syria

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Activists Discuss Post-Assad Syria

Article excerpt

On Oct. 4, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted a team of seven scholars at its Washington, DC headquarters to present the findings of its "The Day After" project, which outlines the challenges facing a post-Bashar Assad Syria. The recommendations and strategies presented are the result of monthly deliberations among 45 to 50 key figures of the Syrian opposition, with a focus on the issues of transitional justice, security reform, social policy, economic restructuring, constitutional reform, electoral reform and the rule of law.

Steve Heydemann, USIP senior adviser for Middle East Initiatives, began by saying that, unlike in other nations swept by the Arab Spring, the establishment of a new order in Syria will not start only upon the fall of the regime. This is because the process already has begun in areas that have been wrested from government control, he explained, where local needs have been taken care of for many months. As a result, he said, "The Day After" focused on the development of programs and strategies that assist already autonomous regions of Syria.

Shawnee State University professor Afra Jalabi discussed the project's transitional justice component. Noting that human rights abuses, such as the 1982 massacre of Hama led by Bashar's father, Hafez Al-Assad, have a long history in Syria, Jalabi claimed that "it is almost an impossibility to come across someone who has not been directly or indirectly impacted by this regime." She shared the personal example of her cousin, who has been imprisoned for 31 years without trial. …

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