Danspeckgruber Financial Times Editorial Outlines Strategy for Ending War in Syria

A new Financial Times editorial by LISD Director, Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and co-authored by Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, "Syria's Agony Can End After All Parties Talk," (FT.com registration required) discusses the role of the US, Russia, Iran, and China, as well as regional powers, in ending the war in Syria. The editorial outlines three critical steps necessary for ending the war. The three steps call for 1) an immediate ceasefire, 2) the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Syrians, and 3) the beginnings of negotiations among domestic and international parties involved. Danspeckgruber and Mar Gregorios write, "The only effective way forward is an immediate, concerted, and unified international strategy that engages those whose interests have prolonged the battle thus far."

As part of the international strategy, the authors also argue for the creation of a "Syria Contact Group" in a step similar to the Dayton Process and efforts to resolve the Yugoslav crisis in the 1990s. While urging concerted effort among global powers to facilitate a ceasefire in Syria and to mitigate regional spill-over of the conflict, Danspeckgruber and Mar Gregorios also note that any solution to the current crisis must be undertaken in cooperation with Syrians with an eye toward domestic political realities. "[S]teps by the international community should occur in tandem with an internal political process that is not only inclusive of all Syrians, but also led by Syrians," they argue. "This includes religious leaders of all faiths, as these faith leaders ensure the continuation of a functioning societal fabric in Syria and help soften any radical rhetoric that may hold the political process hostage."

Wolfgang Danspeckgruber is the Founding Director of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University and has been teaching on issues of state, security, self-determination, diplomacy, and crisis diplomacy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Politics since 1988. Danspeckgruber was educated at the Universities of Linz and Vienna, Austria, (ML; DLaws) and at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland (PhD). Following his Austrian military service (Lieutenant, Reserve) he served as special assistant to the Commander of the Austrian National Defense Academy. Danspeckgruber was a visiting scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and held fellowships at the Center of Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and at Princeton's Center of International Studies. From 2008 to 2010 during Austria's Membership in the United Nations Security Council he served as advisor to the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations. He also has advised the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations. Danspeckgruber researches, writes and teaches on security and state building issues in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the wider Middle East; on theory and practice of international diplomacy, private, and crisis diplomacy; the International Criminal Court; and issues concerning Religion and Diplomacy. Since 2001 he has visited Afghanistan, China, Georgia, India (Kashmir), Israel, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and has been involved in related private diplomacy. Until 2000, Danspeckgruber was involved in private diplomacy in Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus, and has also worked with the Ahtisaari Team and the EU Special Representative on the status of Kosovo. He conducted fact-finding missions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Yugoslavia/Serbia.

Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim holds degrees from St. Ephrem Theological Seminary in Zahle, the Oriental Institute in Rome, the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and Birmingham University in the UK where he received his PhD and wrote a dissertation entitled, “Christian Arabs in Mesopotamia before Islam.” He has held positions in Iraq, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, and Lebanon, and has served as Archbishop in Syria since 1979. He is and has been a committee member on many religious boards, including the Global Christian Forum, the Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches, and the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. He has acted as a representative of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at international, regional, and local conferences since 1980. Most recently, he assisted in preparation of the Papal Visit to Lebanon and attended the G8 Religious Summit in Bordeaux, France, as well as the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Doha.