Last week, the UN issued a statement asserting that the civil war in Syria, now entering its third year, has claimed the lives of more than 60,000 people. For us in the West spectating on the sidelines, the conflict can be confusing – as we watch it unfold and progress in five minute gobbets on the evening news, a sense of context is missing, and questions of where it will end and what will happen next remain unanswered by the six o’clock bulletins.
Almost no one has a better grasp of the situation than Dennis Ross, one of our exclusive speakers, and an internationally respected authority on the Middle East region. In an interview with The Economist in January last year, Ross predicted that Assad would not abdicate, peaceful opposition would transform into violence, Russia would continue to support Syria from a distance, and that the conflict was far from over. Now, almost a year later, Ross has been vindicated on every point.
Another question that has been asked frequently, since the UN placed Syria’s death toll at 60,000 and rising, is why the West hasn’t intervened in Syria as it did in Libya. In the clip below, Dennis tackles this policy quandary – and despite being recorded in late September of last year, his insight is still very much relevant.
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