Regional experts discuss effects of Syrian war on neighboring countries

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 27.04.2016 00:00
Updated 27.04.2016 01:08

The Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) organized a workshop on Tuesday where experts from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq discussed the effects of the Syrian civil war on neighboring countries. A report on the topic was presented at the workshop. Speaking at the event as the keynote speaker, a member of the Syrian opposition High Negotiation Committee, Khaled Khoja, said: "The Syrian crisis is not being resolved because the root cause of the issue since the very beginning has not been addressed."

The report on the effects of the Syrian civil war on neighboring countries, compiled by Ferhat Pirinççi and Oytun Orhan, said: "Syrian refugees will provide economic support to Turkey in the long-run despite the current negative perception." Additionally, Walid al-Khatib, who is a researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan, provided details on the Syrian civil war's effects in Jordan. The director of research at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Nasser Yassin, discussed the the effects in Lebanon. Hamza Hasan Shareef, the president of Al-Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies in Iraq, and Mesut Özcan, the head of the Foreign Ministry's Diplomacy Academy, discussed the effects of the war in their countries.

Following Kardaş's opening remarks and those by the head of the KAS office in Turkey, Colin Dürkop, Khoja, who is also the president of the Syrian Opposition, said: "The terrorism and refugee crises caused by the Syrian civil war have become global issues." He stressed that the issue must be taken into consideration with a global perspective:

"We are currently experiencing a new alliance in Syria with a front that includes Iran and Russia. This new alliance causes serious concerns to the neighboring countries.

"As the Syrian opposition, we had been moderately approaching a political transition."

Khoja also said that the only solution to the Syrian civil war is going to the negotiation table and talking with the regime. He further said that the violence in Syria must stop as a comprehensive solution in Syria can only be found with the contribution of neighboring states.

During the presentation of the report, Pirinççi from Uludağ University provided details from the report regarding the effects of the Syrian civil war in Iraq and Lebanon: "It is evident that the radicalization in three groups [Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Kurds] in Iraq has reached a different point with the emergence of the Syrian crisis." He said that Iraq developed two short-term responses to manage challenges for its security, including the "formation of the Popular Mobilization Forces with the aim of supporting the army, and asking for military support from other countries against ISIS [DAESH]."

As for Lebanon, he drew attention to the serious number of refugees and said: "Every one person out of four is a refugee in Lebanon." He also said that Lebanon's current policy on Syrian refugees comes from its previous experience taking in Palestinian refugees.

Additionally, ORSAM researcher Orhan explained the effects in Turkey and Jordan: "The integration of Syrians in Jordan is being perceived as taboo in Jordan." He said that with the current situation in Syria, "Turkey's priorities have changed as border security has gained serious importance."

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