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AC: Rebuilding Syria: Reconstruction and Legitimacy

March 21 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

While it is difficult to look past daily destruction as the war rages on in Syria, efforts to rebuild should not wait until the violence has stopped. With much of Syria lying in ruins, a history of weak governance, and vast parts of the country lacking even basic necessities, the international community should not delay planning to rebuild the country. Even today opportunities exist to rebuild what the war has destroyed.

The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East is launching a new initiative, Rebuilding Syria: Reconstruction and Legitimacy. Over the next two years, the Hariri Center will pool expertise from multiple specialists to cover the many challenges of rebuilding Syria including in: economics, finance, development, infrastructure, political economy, civil society, food security, energy, law, and employment. More than just a cursory overview, the initiative will produce a strategic roadmap to reconstruction with the participation of Syrians and the support of the international community.

The Hariri Center invites you to a discussion on the technical and political challenges ahead for rebuilding Syria with country and development experts on March 21, 2017 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. at the Atlantic Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. Our panelists will include Abdallah Dardari, senior adviser for reconstruction and rehabilitation MENA at the World Bank Group, Mona Yacoubian, former deputy assistant administrator for the Middle East at the US Agency for International Development, and Bassam Barabandi, former Syrian diplomat and co-founder of People Demand Change. The conversation will be moderated by Hariri Center Senior Fellow Faysal Itani. Mr. Omar Shawaf, chairman and founder of BINAA, will give introductory remarks.

Dr. Abdallah Al Dardari
Senior Adviser for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation MENA
World Bank Group

Ms. Mona Yacoubian
Former Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East 
US Agency for International Development

Mr. Bassam Barabandi
Former Syrian Diplomat and Co-Founder
People Demand Change

Introductory remarks by:
Mr. Omar Shawaf
Chairman and Founder

Moderated by:
Mr. Faysal Itani
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council




On Twitter? Follow @ACMideast and use #RebuildingSyria

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator)
Washington, DC

This event is open to press and on the record.

VISITING THE COUNCIL: Metro and parking info 


Dr. Abdallah Al Dardari served as deputy executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UN ESCWA) from October 2014 until February 2017, when he joined the World Bank Group. He previously served as the chief economist and director of the economic development and globalization division at the UN ESCWA. Under his leadership as director, the division supported Arab efforts to deepen regional economic integration, and assisted member states in designing policies that would lead to inclusive growth, job creation, and human security. Before joining UN ESCWA, Al Dardari was deputy prime minister for economic affairs from 2005 to 2011 and minister of planning and chairman of the state planning commission from 2003 to 2005. Al Dardari, a national of Syria, holds a BA in economics from Richmond–American International University of London in 1985, and an MA in international economic relations from the University of Southern California in 1988. He undertook post graduate studies towards a MPhil in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science between 1988 and 1990. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Yalova University in Istanbul.

Ms. Mona Yacoubian is a special adviser to the US Institute of Peace’s Muslim World Initiative, where she provides analysis and policy advice on the Middle East and North Africa. She has worked on a broad range of issues in the region, including democratization and civil society promotion, as well as counterterrorism strategy. Yacoubian has consulted for a number of organizations, including the World Bank, the Department of State, RAND Corporation, and Freedom House. From 1990 to 1997, Yacoubian served as the North Africa analyst in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, where she focused on the crisis in Algeria. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), she is a frequent commentator on leading U.S. and international news outlets. She was a Fulbright scholar in Syria and an international affairs fellow at CFR, where she published a monograph titled “Algeria’s Struggle for Democracy.” Yacoubian earned a BA in public policy from Duke University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mr. Bassam Barabandi is co-founder of People Demand Change, an international development organization that works to expand and strengthen civil society in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through provision of aid and support. In this capacity, Barabandi serves as an advocate for Syrian issues in the US policy-making community and advises a number of Syrian and American pro-democracy organizations. He has also worked as a consultant for the Syrian American Council (SAC) and for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Barabandi served previously as a diplomat in the Syrian Foreign Ministry for several decades, including a tenure as the first secretary at the Embassy of Syria in Washington, DC. Barabandi left from the Syrian Foreign Ministry in 2013 in protest of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war on the Syrian people and shared insights with US officials, think tanks, and journalists on his understanding of the Syrian regime and its perceptions, calculations, and manipulations of the Syrian Revolution. Barabandi received a Certificate in conflict resolution from the United Nations University in 1996 and a BA in political science and public administration from the American University of Beirut in 1993.

Mr. Omar Shawaf is a Syrian Saudi businessman and philanthropist. Since the beginning of the conflict, he has been involved with various opposition group discussions on Syria as well as participated in joint US-Saudi efforts. In 2013, Shawaf established a Turkish registered NGO, BINAA for Development, which provides infrastructure and program management support for numerous humanitarian activities inside Syria. Among other things, BINAA has been involved in the construction of secure hospitals, semi-permanent housing for IDPs, and the rehabilitation and operation of water systems. In addition to his work with BINAA, Shawaf is the executive vice chairman and member of the executive committee for SaudConsult, the oldest engineering company in Saudi Arabia. SaudConsult was founded by Tariq Shawaf in 1965 and is involved in oil and gas sector infrastructure engineering and building. Shawaf is also chairman and managing director of PAXXAL, a plastic pallets company headquartered in the United States with production operations in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Faysal Itani is an analyst focusing on the Levant including Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. His expertise includes the conflict in Syria and its regional impact, sectarian politics, and political economy. Before joining the Atlantic Council, Itani worked as a risk analyst advising governments, corporations, and international organizations on political, economic, and security affairs in the region. Itani holds an MA in strategic studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a certificate in public policy from Georgetown University, and a BA in business from the American University of Beirut.


Atlantic Council


Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street, NW, 12th Floor (West Tower)
Washington, DC 20005 United States
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