(FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

After narrowly avoiding a collapse in talks on Friday, the two sides of the Syrian peace conference reached a tentative agreement to allow women and children to leave at least one area in the old city of Hom, which has been besieged by armed groups. We’ll get the latest on the efforts to end Syria’s violent civil war and examine the ways the conflict is spilling into neighboring countries.

Guests:
Anja Manuel, lecturer at the International Policy Studies Program at Stanford University, partner at RiceHadley Gates LLC, a strategic consulting firm, and former official in the U.S. State Department
Fred Lawson, professor of government, head of the Government Department at Mills College and author of "Global Security Watch: Syria"
Feras Alhlou, president, Northern California Chapter of the Syrian-American Council
Bridget Kendall, diplomatic correspondent, BBC

  • colinvgallagher

    My heart goes out to the Syrian people who have been the victims of a brutal civil war. Having said that, I can’t see any national interest of the United States being involved by taking sides in what is basically a sectarian conflict of Sunnis against Shiites, Alawites and other factions. How many of the armchair warriors calling for the U.S. to depose the Syrian regime would sacrifice their own children to that end?

  • Joe

    The word is that the Saudis told some of the most violent criminals in their prisons to go to Syria to fight for their (make-believe) god or face execution. This is part of why so many atrocities are happening in Syria. The so-called jìhadis were common murders and rapists. And of course, whatever the Saudis do is done with the blessing of the USA.

  • Ameena Jandali

    This is not a sectarian conflict. This is a megalomaniac who is willing to murder and destroy the entire nation in order to stay in power. He has murdered thousands and maimed, tortured, and raped thousands more. He is a war criminal and should be tried at the Hague. Since when does the world negotiate with war criminals?

    • colinvgallagher

      We negotiated with Milosevic. He was a war criminal.

    • TrainedHistorian

      It has by now become a sectarian conflict. And the two (Asad is a megalomaniac war criminal) and it is a sectarian conflict are not mutually exclusive facts. (As in the Yugoslav civil wars (Bosnia and Croatia): they were sectarian conflicts AND there were plenty of megalomaniac war criminals involved. And the “world” did negotiate with war criminals in those conflicts too).

  • Sherman Brown

    Michael; re Syrian Peace Talks, please discuss how effective such talks might have had an impact on two wars within this country? I refer to the US Revolution and the US Civil War.

  • Peter

    What a contrast between the two guests. Fred Lawson is clearly a scholar who knows Syria and its current tragic situation very well, and whose primary interest is in sharing his knowledge and insights with the public. Anja Manuel, not so much. The level of understanding that Manuel displayed about Syria wasn’t any more than one would expect from a regular reader of FOREIGN AFFAIRS magazine, and most disturbingly, her focus from beginning to end was on how the U.S. government can control events there. Lawson was too polite to confront Manuel directly, but he did make the point that any group the U.S. threw its support behind would instantly be discredited as a tool of outside “imperialists”. Manuel’s repeated use of labels like “moderates” and “worst of the worst” may get her far in Washington, but they hide more than they reveal, and Lawson was careful never to use them, except to suggest at one point that the term “moderate” may not be appropriate. Near the end of the program, in a discussion about Iran’s involvement, Lawson made a reference to the international negotiations over Iran’s “nuclear research program”, and then when Manuel had the opportunity to respond, she said that these were negotiations over Iran’s “nuclear weapons program”, which I’m sure will earn her some points in Washington, even though the administration that pushed UN sanctions on Iran admits that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

    Nobody can be right about everything, so it’s too bad that Forum wasn’t able to find another expert on the same level as Fred Lawson, so that listeners would benefit from hearing what areas of disagreement there might be between people who are well informed. On this hour’s topic, Anja Manuel was clearly outmatched.

  • Ameena Jandali

    This is not a basically sectarian conflict of Sunnis against others. This began as peaceful protests by regular Syrian men, women and children who inspired by the Arab spring began calling for an end to a 42 year old dictatorship. What ensued was a bloody crackdown that included murder, rape, detaining and torturing thousands of people in the model of the father Assad. Some of the people in Assad’s army could not stomach killing their own people and began defecting and fighting back. The international community sent delegation after delegation to investigate the ongoing atrocities against civilians, doing basically nothing. Nearly half the population of the country is now internally or externally displaced. And yet people like you continue the false narrative that this is a sectarian war rather than supporting a revolution against a brutal dictatorhip. Shame.

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