Uncommon Ground: What to do for Syria?
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February 14th, 2012
10:38 PM ET

Uncommon Ground: What to do for Syria?

Welcome to Uncommon Ground, a new discussion series on CNN Digital that brings people together from around the world for unlikely conversations.

Wednesday at 10:15a.m. EST, we’re discussing the ongoing violence in Syria with a panel of leading analysts from Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Russia.

Is Syria in civil war? Will the army splinter? Should the international community intervene? What would a post-Assad Syrai look like?

You can join the discussion directly and pose your own questions.

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Amr Al Azm was the Director of Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums (1999-2004)  and taught at the University of Damascus (1999-2006). Currently he is an Assistant Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio and an active member of the Syrian opposition.


Emile Hokayem is the Senior Fellow for Regional Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies based out of the Middle East office in Manama, Bahrain. 
Prior to joining the Institute, he was the Political Editor and international affairs columnist of the Abu Dhabi-based English-language newspaper The National.


Michael Young is the opinion page editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut, Lebanon, where he writes a weekly column. Michael is also the author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon's Life Struggle (Simon & Schuster), which the Wall Street Journal named one of its 10 notable books for 2010.


Alexander Sotnichenko is a Senior Analyst for the St. Petersburg Modern Middle East Research Center and Associate Professor of International Relations. He is based in St. Petersburg.

Amar C. Bakshi is the managing editor of CNN.com/GPS and world producer at CNN.com. He is based in New York City. Previously, he reported for The Washington Post on world views of America.
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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Peter Baril

    A UN founded on the primacy of national sovereignty is hand-tied in dealing with domestic genocide or atrocity. It's time to codify when neighbours may justifiably intervene uninvited to interrupt egregious abuse in progress.

    February 15, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I do think many of the U.N. organisations need to be restructured. The General Assembly should review the balance of power at the Security Council. The double veto of China and Russia last week was appalling and the two could get away with their abuse.

      February 15, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        The U.N. Security Council does need to be restructured because the U.S., Great Britain and France have far too much to say over what goes on there. Besides, we have no right whatsoever to intervene in Syria or any other civil war as far as that goes. We need to let the civil in Syria play out and let the chips fall where they may!!!

        February 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • DOD

        The General Assembly is not going to "balance votes" to meet your needs. Wake up dude. You are not the center of the Univerce. It is a different Country with different rules. Let them figure that out. Enought wars already.

        February 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • jal

      The issue is that, by the time any issue reaches the UN, the cat is already out of the bag. The people of the UN are all very respectful, even when emotions run high. Having that, at this high level, is great, but we need it at the micro, everyday level. I just went to a job site recently and it was worse than a prison, with respect to general politeness. This type of work culture is rampant in the US and everywhere else. At the UN, we just get to see how it materializes. Sorry to sound negative, but people are just treated like batteries in this day and age.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:15 am | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Is Syria in civil war? Yes, it's simmering. Further regime violence exacerbates the conflict.
    Will the army splinter? Money can buy loyalty. If the GCC countries are willing to offer millions for a coup, it might work.
    Should the international community intervene? Yes, but the opposition has to be united, so we know we are not helping different and conflictual groups.
    What would a post-Assad Syrai look like? It wouldn't be worse, but improvements will be slow and painstaking. It requires years of hard work and huge amounts of perseverance, determination and self motivation to make progress.
    The general lack of patience and endurance can be the people's undoing.

    February 15, 2012 at 5:29 am | Reply
  3. Peter Baril

    The term 'civil war', reserved for when both sides are armed, would not justify outside interference by a UN so fiercely predicated on national sovereignty. That has not been the case in Syria, so far. Rather it has been a prolonged slaughter of the unarmed by the armed. That, along with a limited number of other emergency conditions such as disaster and epidemic, should be recognized as humanitarian, trumping sovereinty, and justifying reflex neighbourly intervention. The current UN is myred in a priori assumptions of territorial aggression.

    February 15, 2012 at 8:05 am | Reply
  4. Musa murtala.

    Actually Syria is not in a civil war,but a serious power tussle. Syrians need a vivid and charismatic leader.PEACE.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:16 am | Reply

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