EUC Middle East Seminar on Syria
Erasmus University College is hosting a Middle East seminar on Syria: Syria: the search for an elusive peace, on Thursday 2 February. The main speaker at this event is Koos van Dam, a distinguished Dutch diplomat and academic.
Until tragic violence wrought havoc on its multi-faceted society, Syria was arguably the Arab World’s best-kept secret. Religiously diverse, culturally wealthy and historically significant, Syria had abundant insights to offer to anyone interested in the Middle East.
European states and societies –including cities like Rotterdam-are increasingly discovering the country through their newly immigrated citizens. Yet, many of them remain misunderstood and/or misrepresented.
This seminar will provide an opportunity to tackle the historic, religious and geopolitical backgrounds that sparked the Syrian civil war in the wake of the Arab Uprisings of 2011. While the violence continues to cause horror, dismay and unbelief across continents, we will identify key actors in this conflict.
What are their objectives and their strategies? And why is it so difficult to stop the deadly war and its destruction? Can we discern any key factors to resolve this spiralling conflict? Crucially, perhaps, are there any lessons for ordinary, critical world citizens like us?
The main speaker at this event is Nikolaos (Koos) van Dam, a distinguished Dutch diplomat and academic. He served as an Ambassador of The Netherlands for 22 years, with postings to Baghdad, Cairo, Ankara, Bonn/Berlin and Jakarta. Dr van Dam is also a widely respected author on Syrian politics. His book The Struggle for Power in Syria (IB Tauris, 2011) remains a classic reference for all students of Middle Eastern politics. For the past two years (2015-16), he has served as the Dutch Special Envoy for Syria.
Two additional speakers will briefly present the recently published book: Ontmoetingen met Syriërs: Bengin Dawod is an architect and urban designer with an artistic background.He currently practices at Common Affairs and advises municipal boards on the reconstruction of war-torn cities.
Esseline van de Sande is a social psychologist. She created a consultancy practice The Room of Listening in Damascus, Syria, where she spent many years working for the UN and the Dutch VPRO Radio. She currently facilitates different integration projects by creating city coalitions and is one of the founders of the network Het Grote Midden-Oosten.