Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Showing posts for "Syria"

Syria and the Global Humanitarian Crisis

by Stewart M. Patrick
Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters). Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq (Muhammad Hamed/ Courtesy Reuters).

Three years after the outbreak of war in Syria, the agony only deepens for its civilian population. The conflict has already killed 140,000, forced 9.5 million­­—44 percent of the nation’s prewar inhabitants—to abandon their homes, and led some 2.5 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Syrian refugees now constitute more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s population, on top of 400,000 Palestinian refugees already present. In January, the United Nations sponsored a conference in Kuwait City, requesting that international donors provide $6.5 billion in emergency assistance for the victims of the Syria conflict—a figure dwarfing any previous humanitarian appeal. The scale of this effort underscores the magnitude of the human tragedy in Syria. It also points to broader strains and dilemmas confronting the humanitarian enterprise globally. Read more »

The Global Response to Armed Conflict: From Aleppo to Kinshasa

by Stewart M. Patrick
IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters). IIGG announces updated Global Governance Monitor (Yurri Erfansyah/Courtesy Reuters).

As the civil war in Syria rages on, and the United States and its international partners appear unable to mobilize a collective response to stem the bloodshed, CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program has launched an update to its Global Governance Monitor: Armed Conflict. The revamped multimedia guide uses a new technology platform to track and analyze recent multilateral efforts to prevent, manage, and respond to armed violence around the globe. Combining stunning images and compelling narrative, it identifies the major successes and failures in global conflict mitigation during 2013. Read more »

On Display in Syria: The Costs of UN Security Council Dissensus

by Stewart M. Patrick
A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013 (Mohamed Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013 (Mohamed Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Syrian foot-dragging in destroying its arsenal of chemical weapons has again exposed the limitations of UN collective security when the Security Council’s permanent members fail to speak with one voice. UNSC Resolution 2118, passed on September 27, 2013, requires the government of Bashar al-Assad to destroy all chemical weapons production and mixing equipment by November 1, 2013, and eliminate all materials by mid-2014. This was always an ambitious deadline given the challenges of loading and securely transporting large quantities of weapons in the midst of a civil war. It is now apparent that the Syrian government will miss its deadline by a wide margin. As of January 30, Syrian forces had transported less than 5 percent of the required material. Read more »

Geneva II: The Diplomatic Headaches Have Just Begun

by Stewart M. Patrick
Leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition Ahmad al-Jarba and Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the coalition, arrive for the Geneva 2 talks on Syria, at Geneva International airport January 21, 2014 (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Courtesy Reuters). Leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition Ahmad al-Jarba and Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the coalition, arrive for the Geneva 2 talks on Syria, at Geneva International airport January 21, 2014 (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Courtesy Reuters).

Coauthored with Claire Schachter, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program.

How to interpret the diplomatic kerfuffle over the United Nations’ decision to invite—and then disinvite—Iran to the Syria peace conference, scheduled to begin tomorrow in Montreux, Switzerland? Read more »

The 2013 Nobel Message: Hold the Line Against Chemical Weapons

by Stewart M. Patrick
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Ahmet Uzumcu speaks during a news conference in The Hague October 11, 2013. The OPCW, which is overseeing the destruction's of Syria's arsenal, won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday. Set up in 1997 to eliminate all chemicals weapons worldwide, its mission gained critical importance this year after a sarin gas strike in the suburbs of Damascus killed more than 1,400 people in August (Michel Kooren/Courtesy Reuters). Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Ahmet Uzumcu speaks during a news conference in The Hague October 11, 2013. The OPCW, which is overseeing the destruction's of Syria's arsenal, won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday. Set up in 1997 to eliminate all chemicals weapons worldwide, its mission gained critical importance this year after a sarin gas strike in the suburbs of Damascus killed more than 1,400 people in August (Michel Kooren/Courtesy Reuters).

In awarding this year’s Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Norwegian Nobel Committee had three clear objectives. The first was to reinforce the global taboo against chemical weapons, violated by the large-scale sarin gas attack on civilians in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, which the Obama Administration says was launched by Syrian government forces. The second was to bolster the work of OPCW inspectors newly arrived in Syria as they seek to locate, quarantine, and destroy that country’s one thousand ton arsenal. The third was to chastise international laggards, including the United States and Russia, who have failed eliminate their remaining stockpiles of these horrific weapons. Read more »

The Realist Idealist: Obama’s UN Speech

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Mike Segar/ Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Mike Segar/ Courtesy Reuters).

President Barack Obama stuck to the anticipated script in his UN General Assembly address, focusing on diplomatic openings in the Middle East. He outlined U.S. hopes to: Read more »

Russia’s Syria Initiative: Beware Strangers Bearing Gifts

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) after delivering opening remarks to the media before their meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, in Geneva September 12, 2013. Syria applied on Thursday to sign up to the global ban on chemical weapons, a major first step in a Russian-backed plan that would see it abandon its arsenal of poison gas to avert U.S. military strikes (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Moscow has seized the initiative in the increasingly dizzying diplomacy over Syria’s chemical weapons (CW). By picking up on Secretary of State John Kerry’s offhand remark—that Damascus might avoid a U.S. military strike by eliminating its CW stockpiles—Vladimir Putin has offered a lifeline to a beleaguered White House. Bereft of domestic and international support for a hard line against Bashar al Assad, Barack Obama must be sorely tempted to make this new initiative work. After all, by disarming Syria of chemical weapons, he can declare “victory” without dragging an exhausted American public into another Middle Eastern quagmire. But before making this leap, the President needs to take a hard look at the political as well as technical requirements for an effective inspection regime. Read more »

Obama and Syria: Insights from the President’s G20 Press Conference

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama departs a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama departs a news conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg September 6, 2013. Obama said on Friday that most leaders of the G20 countries agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for using poison gas against civilians as the U.S. leader tried to rally support at home and abroad for a military strike (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

In his revealing press conference closing out the G20 summit, President Obama provided the clearest summary yet of his thinking on Syria. Perhaps the most significant points were the following: Read more »

MLK, Obama, and the Audacity of Intervention in Syria

by Stewart M. Patrick
President Barack Obama speaks at a dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington October 16, 2011. (Molly Riley/Courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama speaks at a dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington October 16, 2011. (Molly Riley/Courtesy Reuters)

At first glance the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the chemical weapons crisis in Syria seem entirely unrelated. But they offer an opportunity to juxtapose the visions of war and peace of two influential Americans. On the one side is the towering figure of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK), an apostle of nonviolent resistance, convinced that “violence never brings permanent peace.” On the other is President Barack Obama, himself product of the civil rights struggle, who confronts an agonizing policy choice in Syria after the suspected chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime on civilian populations last week. Read more »

Pluralism, Peace, and the “Responsibility to Innovate”

by Guest Blogger for Stewart M. Patrick
Former President Ronald Reagan addresses a crowd at the opening of the Reagan Library in Simi, California, November 4, 1991 (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters). Former President Ronald Reagan addresses a crowd at the opening of the Reagan Library in Simi, California, November 4, 1991 (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

Below is a guest post by Mark P. Lagon, adjunct senior fellow for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Read more »