A two-day academic conference on the ongoing situation in Syria (“The Syrian Revolution: Seven Years on, What Went Wrong,?”), hosted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, opened in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, 7 April 2018. The meeting was scheduled to mark seven years since the Syrian revolution; and provided an opportunity for 26 scholars to share their evaluations of the various factors, which contributed to the stalling of revolutionary change in the country.

At the meeting, three separate panels focused on global powers and their approaches to the Syrian revolution; the regional repercussions of the conflict in Syria, including its effects on sectarianism; competition between the regime and opposition for the “hearts and minds” of Syrians and the wider world through religious-devotional practices and also through the provision of aid and relief; as well as the political economy of the Syrian conflict. The final session explored the possible avenues for economic reconstruction of Syria following an anticipated end to the conflict.

Addressing the final panel was ACRPS staff member Samir Seifan, who elaborated on the total costs of destruction to Syrian infrastructure since the militarization of the conflict, which had led to massive destruction. More difficult to quantify, argued Seifan, was the long-term effects of a disrupted education: there were an estimated 2.7 million Syrian children whose schooling was disrupted by the conflict in Syria, the speaker said, threatening a “lost generation” of Syrians. With the conference still focused on the pressing issues of the present and the lacking resolution of the Syrian crisis, this final panel of the first day left open the chance to think about the future. Chairing the session, the Doha Institute’s Sultan Barakat, a conflict resolution scholar, pointed out that “It’s not true that a political settlement must precede reconstruction; in fact, there are examples of judicious reconstruction leading to a more firm political resolution to a conflict”.

Discussions continued for a second and final day on Sunday, 8 April 2018.