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The Middle East Studies Forum is pleased to present
the third event in the Policy Dialogue series:
Proxy dynamics and peace in Syria.

This initiative is part of a Deakin University project ‘Assessing the impact of external actors in the Syrian and Afghan proxy wars’, funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York (grant number: G-18-55949).

What impacts do the activities of proxy forces and external actors have on conflict and peace in Syria? Bringing together Syrian and international analysts, activists and researchers, this session will examine proxy dynamics between relevant regional and extra-regional actors. Through this dialogue, we wish to generate new understandings of proxy conflict and propose policy recommendations for peace and stability in Syria.

You can access the event flyer here.

Discussion points

  • Nine years into the war, which foreign states are still most involved and what impact is this having?
  • Foreign states will inevitably be involved in ending the Syrian war. How can we ensure that the needs of Syrians are prioritised in any peace agreement?
  • Will foreign states pose a barrier to the achievement of peace in Syria?
  • Foreign involvement has had a polarising impact on Syrians, particularly within the opposition. How can Syrians rebuild trust and put the legacy of polarisation behind them?
  • How can the future administration in the United States play a constructive role in the Syrian conflict?


Noha Alkamcha is a Syrian development consultant, governance advisor and researcher. Since 2011, she has supported and co-founded numerous civil society initiatives and organizations in Syria. In 2016, Noha was the Chief Organizer for the Syrian Civil Society Declaration Initiative, which worked with 300 CSOs to participate in Geneva peace talks. She currently leads a Syria-based gender analysis study for the International Rescue Committee.

Nick Grinstead is non-resident scholar with the Middle East Institute’s Syria program. He has been researching regime-held Syria for several years, initially with the Clingendael Institute, providing policy advice for the Dutch government and EU. His work examines the relations of loyalist militias to the state and with foreign patrons. He also works as a Senior Regional Security Analyst for Le Beck International.

Malik al-Abdeh is a Syrian conflict resolution practitioner running his own Track II consultancy in London. He began his career at the BBC before establishing Syria’s first opposition TV channel in 2009. After reporting on Syria’s civil war, he moved to the Humanitarian Dialogue Centre and the European Institute of Peace, two leading Track II organisations, where he developed dialogue initiatives to end the war in Syria and stabilise Iraq.

Bente Scheller is head of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Heinrich Boell Foundation, Berlin. She headed the foundation’s offices in Beirut (2012-19) and Kabul (2008-11). Based at the German embassy in Damascus between 2002 and 2004, she also holds a PhD in Syrian foreign policy. Bente is the author of The Wisdom of Syria’s Waiting Game: Foreign Policy under the Assads (Hurst, 2013). She is also associate fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College, London.


15 October 2020
Melbourne 5:00-6:30pm GMT+10
London 7.00-8.30am GMT+1
Stockholm/Berlin 8.00-9.30am GMT+1
Istanbul 9.00-10.30am GMT+3
Please join us via Zoom*

Please RSVP to by 13 October 2020

*Attendees will be provided with a Zoom link and password to access the webinar via a calendar invite sent to the email address registered with on the 14 October 2020

Please note, registering for an event automatically subscribes you to the MESF event mailing list.