The Future of Aleppo and Raqqa
Haid Haid, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Raphael Lefevre, Middle East Politics, University of Oxford
Lina Sinjab, Middle East Correspondent, BBC
Chair: Dr Lina Khatib, Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
The campaign to take back ISIS’s stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, has started and the battle in Aleppo has intensified. In Raqqa the American-backed, Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), are mounting a two stage attack: firstly by liberating the surrounding countryside and isolating the city, and then, secondly, taking control of the city itself. In Aleppo the rebel held east side of the city is being hit by a mixture of troops from Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, along with the Syrian army, which has seen the displacement of 16,000 civilians flee the government advance in the area.
The panel will examine how those two battles are playing out in Syria and the long term consequences of these conflicts. In Raqqa, with tensions already heightened by the civil war in Syria and the ongoing battle in Aleppo, the SDF face long-term and complicated internal ethnic divisions and friction between foreign and domestic troops. Our panel will analyse the strategic and symbolic importance of Raqqa, the challenges the campaign is facing, the likelihood of success and the impact the battle will have in Syria and beyond.
Alongside this, the panellists will analyse the conflict in Aleppo where the fighting carries its own complexities and humanitarian impact; what is the plan when Aleppo falls, and does the Syrian government have a plan at all? Where will the displaced people from Raqqa and Aleppo settle following the battles and can the region restabilize in the immediate aftermath? The event will conclude by looking at possible long-term solutions to end fighting in the region.