Africa and the Middle East

WATCH: Middle East Programs Chair on Repercussions of Syria’s Civil War

September 12, 2013

As the world waits to learn what efforts the US will put forth in Syria, the Aspen Institute offers a series of opinion pieces from the perspectives of our policy program directors and chairs focusing on global security, homeland security, and the Middle East. The fourth expert featured in our series is the Institute’s Middle East Programs Chair Toni Verstandig, who is also the senior vice president at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. On September 11th 2013, Verstandig held a discussion on Syria at the Institute called “Syria and the Future of the Levant.”

The implications of Syria’s civil war go far beyond its borders, says Aspen Institute Middle East Programs Chair Toni Verstandig. How the United States reacts to the conflict — through military force or by diplomacy — plays a significant role in the political future of the Middle East. And by extension, how these series of events play out will impact the US, which for the past decade has been a major player in the region on and off the ground.

As a former deputy assistant secretary of near eastern affairs at the State Department, Verstandig is fully aware of the possible repercussions that can occur from a mishandling of Syria. She has worked with former Secretary of State and Institute Trustee Madeleine Albright on Middle East diplomacy in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries. In the video clips below, Verstandig illustrates how Syria’s civil war is affecting its neighboring countries, and how this will ultimately affect an already evolving region.

Verstandig explains the nuances at play in Middle East politics, and how the US diplomatic strategy in the region must be an “agile” one to keep pace with rapidly changing circumstances.

While the news has focused on the war crimes being committed in Syria, there’s another country heavily involved in the civil war: Iran. In this video clip, Verstandig explains why Iran is another important factor for the US to consider in how it responds to the Assad government.

Millions of Syrian refugees have fled the embattled country, with millions more expected to continue the exodus into neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. This is and will become a larger issue in terms of humanitarian problems that will arise, as well as other issues, as Verstandig discusses in this video clip.

Aspen Institute Series: Perspectives on Syria

Part I: Aspen Strategy Group Director on US Military Threat to Syria

Part II: Homeland Security Program Director: On 9/11 Anniversary, Syria Poses Complications for US

Part III: WATCH: Institute Trustee Madeleine Albright on US Involvement in Syria