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Episode 84- Understanding the Syrian Insurgency with Charles Lister and Aaron Zelin

September 20th, 2013

Charles Lister (@charles_lister) and Aaron Zelin (@azelin) discuss the Syrian insurgency. Below I've listed an outline of the conversation and the questions we covered.

First, update us on the war. What is the state of the insurgency post chemical weapon use? At this point in the war how can we relate FSA to other parts of the insurgency (jihadis, Islamist, etc)[ infighting ]. Where do we factor in sectarianism? Where do we factor in the level of violence?

 How much of the insurgency can be considered "secular" vs "Islamist" vs "jihadi"? How would you define each category, and more importantly has there been shift from one category to another?

In the US there has been a heated debate about the "good" and "bad" guys: Broadly, is it possible to define and separate the "good" from the "bad" in a complex insurgency? How has funding and arming affected the aforementioned categorization?

Whenever experts and or intelligence services can offer foreign policy decision-makers nuance and in depth view of a complex event, that analysis meets (a) entrenched policies and party pressures, (b) the impressive force of lobbyists and interested campaign contributors, and (c) uninformed or misinformed popular public opinion, which will likely turn into votes next time around.

What has been your experience in dealing with the pressures in producing a genuinely in depth and nuanced product vs the political forces and domestic politicization of the conflict in Syria particularly in dealing with the call for intervention?


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