Tag Archives: Denis Sullivan

Experts tackle Syria conflict and its global impact


October 10, 2013 by 
Syria and the World
Three Middle East experts discussed the civil war in Syria on Tuesday evening at Northeastern. From left to right, Rami Khouri, Valentine Moghadam, and Franck Salameh. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Polit­ical jour­nalist Rami Khouri char­ac­ter­izes the Syrian con­flict as history’s “biggest proxy war,” one in which the majority of actors believe they are fighting an “exis­ten­tial battle.”

Speaking on Tuesday at North­eastern during a panel dis­cus­sion on the global impact of the civil war in Syria, he noted that internal forces are afraid to lose in fear of being expelled from Syria, while external actors such as France and Russia “can’t afford to lose either because of their strategic inter­ests in the nation.”

What­ever the out­come, the war will end when Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. come to an agree­ment on a res­o­lu­tion. “An end will not come very quickly unless they talk and agree on a mech­a­nism to end the con­flict,” said Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Insti­tute for Public Policy and Inter­na­tional Affairs at the Amer­ican Uni­ver­sity of Beirut.

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Carnegie Corporation grant

With support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Middle East Center will establish the Boston Consortium on Arab Region Studies (BCARS) in partnership with faculty around the Boston area; the Consortium will also include scholars and policy analysts from Beirut and Cairo.

Prof. Denis Sullivan, Co-Director of the Middle East Center, is the Principal Investigator and Director of this initiative. Rami Khouri, the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut, is the principal Arab region partner with Northeastern on this new initiative.

Together, BCARS scholars and policy analysts will mobilize their collective resources to promote greater understanding of the Arab Awakening through transdisciplinary scholarship and research.

The Arab Awakening (aka, “Arab Spring”) has presented a crisis for scholars and policy makers alike, compounding the historical and ongoing struggle of the American public to understand Arab cultures, Arab contributions to humanity, and American interests related to the Middle East as a whole.

BCARS will provide an international forum where Arab region scholars from Boston and Arab institutions can meet and work collaboratively to advance research, strengthen a scholarly community, and mentor the next generation of scholars and policy analysts.

Denis Sullivan

The U.S. must intervene in Syria, but in a three-fold manner

By Denis J. Sullivan, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs; Director, Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development, Northeastern University

The U.S. should not bomb Syria. By bombing Syria, the U.S. sides with the rebels: the good, the bad, and the fanatical; yet it will not end the tyranny of the Assad regime. So it will fail.

Still, the U.S. must intervene in Syria, but do so in a three-fold manner: humanitarian action, political and diplomatic engagement, and military pressure. This three-pronged approach is not being discussed at all, but it is likely to be the only way of resolving the Syria crisis. The U.S. should be leading the world community toward establishing humanitarian corridors, safe zones, and/or “internal refugee camps” inside Syria. No doubt such an action will require military support—which would have to be international in scope. And any military engagement would be “defensive” in nature, not “offensive”: i.e., it would aim at defending and supporting the humanitarian action (refugee assistance, aid convoys, safe zones, transport, and logistics).

A first step toward such humanitarian action may well be the “political solution” that many global leaders have called for, which could begin with the U.S. and Russia finding common ground on Syria, using the UN as the inevitable institution to secure an end to the slaughter and a political resolution to this civil war. We will have to wait and see.

Denis J. Sullivan is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director, Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development at Northeastern University. This post is part of U.S.-Syria Perspectives, a project developed by the International Program at Carnegie Corporation of New York