Policymakers, Syrian Community Leaders Discuss Future of U.S.-Syria Policy at MPAC Forum

July 1, 2011

This week, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held a first-of-its-kind forum in Washington, DC, about the escalating conflict in Syria. This half-day roundtable of three panel discussions, co-sponsored by the New America Foundation, focused on the humanitarian crisis that has been caused by atrocities of the Assad regime in response to the Syrian people's revolution.

The event was attended by policy experts, government officials and many leaders of the Syrian American community.

“This forum was quite unique,” said Haris Tarin, director of MPAC’s Washington, DC, office. “Today, we brought together policymakers and Syrian Americans to engage in the type of candid conversation needed to effectively address the situation.”

The discussion centered around three major principles: ending the current bloodshed, supporting a transition to a democratic state and assisting international media and humanitarian groups in their efforts to enter Syria.

The conference opened with a panel considering the U.S.’ potential role in Syria, and concluded with unanimous agreement among the participants that Syrians alone should determine the future of their nation. The second panel discussed the types of pressure the United States could exert and defined the conflict as a humanitarian problem of significant scale.

The third panel focused on such humanitarian problems. Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian American leader from Chicago, spoke passionately about his recent trip to the Turkey-Syria border, where 10,000 refugees are currently living. Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, talked about the importance of nongovernmental organizations in halting the suffering of the Syrian people.

As a follow-up to the forum, MPAC will be releasing a position paper containing the most compelling ideas generated in an effort to assist policymakers in ending the tragic conflict in Syria. Follow MPAC on Twitter (@mpac_national) or on Facebook to watch video from the forum when it becomes available.

Help us continue our work with a quick
one-time or monthly donation.