First Wednesday: Syria crisis – Diplomatic shifts and developing dialogues

Talk Wednesday 6 March 2013, 7:00 PM

A year after Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, the war in Syria is still raging and has cost the lives of more than 60,000 people. Following new US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first foreign tour, we ask if he can deliver on his vow not to leave the Syrian opposition “dangling in the wind”.

His trip has included meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and Friends of Syria in Rome. “We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming,” Kerry said at a news conference in London. “And we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”

We will be joined by a panel of experts to reflect on this latest effort by the US to engage with the crisis. Does this hint at a change in US policy toward Syria? Will this lead to any action? We will be looking at the groups and governments Kerry has met with and what their role may be in bringing the crisis in Syria to an end.

As the SNC announces plans to form a new transitional government, we ask if it is time the international community throws its weight behind them.

Chaired by Paddy O’Connell of BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House.

The panel:

Julien Barnes-Dacey is a policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. He was based in Syria from 2007 to 2010 as a journalist, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Firas Abi Ali is the Head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis, recently acquired by IHS.

Sakhr Al-Makhadhi is an award-winning journalist who has covered Syria for the past decade. Formerly based in Damascus, he regularly contributes to the BBC, Foreign Policy magazine, Channel 4 News, Al Jazeera and the Guardian among others.

Dr Rim Turkmani is a founder member of Building the Syrian State movement, and is co-chair of the Damask Rose Trust, a charity that supports development and education in Syria. She is an Astrophysicist at Imperial College London, and is a specialist in the history of Arabic/Islamic science and its influence on the west.