Day 6

Syrian war, five years on: What the headlines aren't telling you

In spite of Bessma Momani's pessimism about the partial ceasefire in Syria, she challenges the assumption that all hope is lost for peace and democracy in the country. She explains why youth hold the key for change in Syria.
Female fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria use a tablet in al-Shadadi town, in Hasaka province, Syria, on Feb. 26, 2016. (Rodi Said/Reuters)

Five years ago this week, planned demonstrations against the regime erupted across Syria, marking the beginning of a conflict which has killed as many as 470,000 Syrians.

The ceasefire brokered on Feb. 27, 2016 by the U.S. and Russia has provided some relief, with one human rights group in the region saying that violence is down 80% since the ceasefire began.

Bessma Momani isn't optimistic about those developments. But she challenges the assumption that all hope is lost for Syria. She tells Brent how the desire for change among Syrian youth is stronger than ever. She says that civil society is flourishing in areas not under siege, with everything from women's groups to liberated media and talk shows.

Dr. Bessma Momani, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, speaks during the Carleton Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement's panel. (The Canadian Press)

Bessma Momani is the author of Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic They Will Bringfor which she interviewed youth from 15 Arab countries — including Syria — about the future of the Middle East.