With this introduction, CIPE Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Abdulwahab Alkebsi opened a panel discussion on May 21 co-hosted by CIPE and the Stimson Center entitled “A Way Forward for a Viable Syria: An Insider Perspective from the Private Sector and Civil Society.” The panel featured Chairman on CIPE partner, the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) Ayman Tabbaa, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Stimon Center Ellen Laipson, and Middle East Fellow at the Stimson Center Geneive Abdo. The panelists discussed the role of democrats from the private sector and civil society in reshaping Syria and countering extremism.
Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center described these business relations in the context of regional economic integration. She spoke of applying to the Middle East the big ideas of the Marshall Plan, which the United States launched after World War II to rebuild economic activity in a devastated Europe. The Marshall Plan promoted private sector development and entrepreneurship alongside intraregional economic cooperation to achieve greater economies of scale and interdependence. Formal regional economic integration remains low in the Middle East after the Arab Spring.
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