Bipartisan Policy Center to Announce New Task Force on Turkey; Co-Chaired by Former U.S. Ambassadors Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman

Task Force to Release White Paper on the Critical Need for U.S.-Turkish Cooperation toward a Stable and Decent Post-Assad Syria

May 02, 2013, 07:50 ET from Bipartisan Policy Center

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the United States and its allies continue to assess reports that Syrian forces used chemical weapons against its own people, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold a timely discussion today on the ongoing civil war in the country as well as the challenges to U.S. interests that will still remain if President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power.

During the panel discussion, BPC will announce its new task force on Turkey, co-chaired by former U.S. Ambassadors to Turkey Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman. Task force members include: Henri Barkey, Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor of Internal Relations, Lehigh University; Svante Cornell, Research Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program; Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs; John Hannah, former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President; Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; David Kramer, Executive Director, Freedom House; Aaron Lobel, Founder and President, American Abroad Media; Admiral (ret.) Gregory Johnson, former Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe; Senior Advisor, BPC; and General (ret.) Charles Wald, former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command; BPC Board Member.

The task force will also issue its first white paper analyzing the divergence between U.S. Turkish interests in a post-Assad Syria, which illustrates why its members believe it is imperative that the United States immediately engage with Turkey in establishing joint principles and plans for what happens if Assad is ousted.

"The removal of Assad—an important ally of Iran and supporter of Hezbollah—would represent an indispensable step forward for the Syrian people and the United States," said former Ambassador Abramowitz. "But that achievement could prove short-lived if Assad's repressive rule is replaced with Islamist oppression or if Syria collapses into prolonged conflict or a failed state."

Expelling Assad from Syria has been the goal of the United States for almost two years. Turkey—a U.S. ally with keen interests in Syria—will be an important partner in shaping a post-Assad Syria. However, cooperation with Turkey poses a challenge for policymakers.

"Turkey has as much at stake in Syria's future as the United States, but a more granular understanding of events and greater leverage there," said former Ambassador Edelman. "However, disagreements between Turkey and the United States over which elements of Syria's opposition to support suggest that that the two countries have divergent visions of what a post-Assad Syria should look like and how to get there."

The task force paper emphasizes the critical need for the United States to begin immediately planning for a stable and pluralist post-Assad Syrian government, and to take an energetic role in persuading Turkey to join and support that effort.

"There is much at stake for the United States in the future of Syria," said Blaise Misztal, acting director of BPC's Foreign Policy Project. "If a new government is influenced by radical Islamists or allied with terrorist organizations, a post-Assad Syria could become a dangerous breeding ground for violent extremism. One way forward is for the United States to work with regional actors such as Turkey, but only if we can agree on a common vision of a post-Assad Syria," added Misztal. "It will be an enormous task, but one worth pursuing."

To read the full paper, click here.

About the Bipartisan Policy Center
Founded in 2007 by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.  With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.

SOURCE Bipartisan Policy Center