Independent Thinking: Assad comes in from the cold

Episode 27 of our weekly podcast examines the Syrian regime with signs that governments in the Middle East are prepared to engage with Bashar al-Assad again.

Published 25 May 2023 Updated 16 October 2023 26 minute listen

For more than a decade the regime in Damascus has been an international pariah amid a long and brutal campaign of terror by the Syrian armed forces against its own people.

But the regional geopolitics is starting to shift, with signs that other Middle Eastern governments are now willing to reopen relation with Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. The panel examines what this means for the region, the implications for the alliance between Iran and Syria, and whether justice for the Assad regime’s many victims is now lost to realpolitik. 

Also this week Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a rallying call for helping Ukraine at the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia. In a part of the world where views of the war differ greatly from those in Europe, what was Zelenskyy trying to achieve, what influence does Russia have in the region, and how is the war on Ukraine perceived by the people of the Middle East?

Joining Bronwen Maddox from the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa programme is its director Dr Sanam Vakil and consulting fellow Dr Haid Haid. They are joined by Professor Christopher Phillips from Queen Mary University London, author of the book The Battle for Syria.

About Independent Thinking

Independent Thinking is a weekly international affairs podcast hosted by our director Bronwen Maddox, in conversation with leading policymakers, journalists, and Chatham House experts providing insight on the latest international issues.

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