EU launch of the “Syria Transition Roadmap”
EFD convened a briefing at the European Parliament with members of the secular Syrian opposition to present the “Syrian Transition Roadmap,” a document intended to give all parties, inside and outside of Syria, a vision for a viable post-conflict country.
The event, organized in cooperation with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), was hosted by MEP Andrey Kovatchev (EPP), and featured the following Syrian policy experts and human rights activists who have been working extensively with different political groups inside Syria:
- Radwan Ziadeh, Executive Director, Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies
- Ekhlass Badawi, Former Syrian MP and Member of the Syrian Expert House Working Group on Political and Administrative Reform
- Hazem Nahar, Researcher, Syrian Center for Research and Policy Studies
- Reem Joha. Member, Syrian Expert House
- Mohamed Dughaim, Reyhanli Office Director, Syrian Expert House
The room was packed, and the audience visibly moved to tears by the delegation’s harrowing accounts of how both Assad’s forces and radical Islamist groups are terrorising the local population. The delegation’s personal stories were chilling and their warnings distressing. Delegates cautioned that Syria is dangerously close to becoming a new Somalia in the heart of the Middle East, a failed state marred by sectarian conflict that is a haven for radical, Islamic terrorism.
The delegation rallied Western policymakers to take a long-term view. At the very least if the West invests in education and promotes democratic values among Syrian youth, democrats and democracy could still have a chance. The Islamists know this too. That’s why they are focused on recruiting impressionable youth from refugee camps. The West needs to present a credible and strong counter narrative to the Islamists…and fast.
The speakers also described how Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces played a key role in the regime’s violent repression against what began as peaceful opposition protests in 2011, and stated their view that Iran should not be included as a player in any prospective national “reconciliation” discussions.
The “Syrian Transition Roadmap” presented by the delegation consists of a comprehensive assessment of political, institutional and social considerations that need to be factored into a post-conflict democratic transition. The Assad regime has thus far rejected opportunities in Geneva to engage in any serious discussion with the opposition about Syria’s future, and is single-mindedly focused on crushing the opposition – regardless of the cost to Syria in death, displacement and destruction.
EFD has been a longstanding advocate for the democratic opposition in Syria. Our goal is to create awareness about the secular opposition among policymakers and give these brave men and women a voice in Brussels. While the West may not be able to control the many forces at play in Syria, it can provide greater support for secular, democratic actors who are fighting for survival against both Assad and the Jihadists.