A Way Forward for a Viable Syria: An Insider Perspective from the Private Sector and Civil Society

5.21.2015, 12:00PM to 2:00PM

Every day we see news about atrocities and violence in Syria. Much of the media coverage focuses on sectarian violence and ISIS-created mayhem. But even with the chaos and human suffering, there are signs of hope.

On May 21, the Center for International Private Enterprise and the Stimson Center hosted a discussion on A Way Forward for a Viable Syria: An Insider Perspective from the Private Sector and Civil Society. One of the main reasons for the rise of ISIS and other extremist movements is that Syrians are disenfranchised by their failed government and the lack of economic opportunity.

The panelists talked about the role of democrats from the private sector and civil society in reshaping Syria if it is to survive tyranny and extremism. Syrian business and community leaders offered first-hand accounts of the situation on-the-ground and discuss openings for progress. A positive and compelling counter-narrative to the regime’s false narrative and ISIS’s extremist messaging will also be discussed, as well as stabilization lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.


  • Geneive Abdo is a fellow in the Middle East program at the Stimson Center as well as a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution. She also directs the U.S.-Iran Advisory Group, a program on Iran, in conjunction with Heinrich Boell Stiftung, North America.
  • Abdulwahab Alkebsi is the Deputy Director for Programs at the Center for International Private Enterprise.
  • Ellen Laipson is president and chief executive officer of Stimson. She also directs the Middle East/Southwest Asia program, which covers issues including Gulf security and the strategic repercussions of the Arab transitions.
  • Ayman Tabbaa is a founding member and Chairman of the Syrian Economic Forum, an independent think tank that is the voice of the pro-democracy Syrian business community. He is a businessman from Damascus, Syria.


Center for International Private Enterprise
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