March 29, 2018 | By Cécile Shea, Dr. Wendy Pearlman, Becky Carroll

Deep Dish: Battleground Syria - Human Impacts of Political Violence

Deep Dish often takes a strategic or policy-oriented view toward conflicts around the world. In this episode, we pause to consider the real human lives impacted by the headlines we read. Becky Carroll of C-Strategies LLC is in direct contact with people on the ground in Eastern Ghouta and co-founded the #StandWithAleppo social media campaign in 2016. She serves on the Ambassador Board for MedGlobal. Dr. Wendy Pearlman, whose new book, "We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria," reports first-hand testimonials of those affected by political violence in Syria. Dr. Pearlman is a political science professor at Northwestern Univeristy. 



[Becky Carroll: They just want to live. They continue to fight. They continue to try and protect their families because they don't want to leave Syria. They want to remain in their home.

Dr. Pearlman: You know, a Syrian citizen is a number. Dreaming is not allowed.

Becky Carroll: They're angry but more frustrated with the rest of the world and feel like they've been left behind and that they're screaming from the top of the rooftops that they're dying. Their children are dying. Their wives are dying. They are dying.

Dr. Pearlman: So, we're still in the moment of trauma. I don't know if we've fully gotten to post-traumatic stress.]

Cecile Shea: This is Deep Dish on Global Affairs, going beyond the headlines on critical issues. I'm Cecile Shea, filling in for Brian Hanson, and today we're talking about some of the ways the Syrian Civil War affects our fellow human beings.

I'm joined by Becky Carroll, president and CEO of the public affairs firm C-Strategies LLC. Becky is in direct contact with people on the ground in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. She co-founded the #StandWithAleppo social media campaign in 2016 and serves on the Ambassador Board for MedGlobal. Welcome, Becky.

Becky Carroll: Thanks for having me.

Cecile Shea: Our Deep Dish on Global Affairs podcast often takes a strategic or policy-oriented view towards conflicts and developments. But policies affect human beings. Today we are going to consider the ways that the violence in Syria impacts our fellow human beings there. The death toll for the Syrian Civil War stands at somewhere between 350,000 and 500,000 people. That's the equivalent of the population of Atlanta, Georgia. It's two percent of the Syrian population. In other words, it would be like if six million Americans had been killed in a conflict. Six million. Half of the pre-war population of 22 million currently cannot return to their homes. Five million are living as refugees outside of Syria. Six million are internally displaced inside their country. 11 million displaced persons is the equivalent of the combined populations of New York City and Los Angeles.

In the last two months, nearly 16 hundred people have been killed in the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta alone. That's the equivalent of the Las Vegas music festival shooting massacre happening every single day for the entire month of February. Thousands of people are still trapped in Ghouta, caught in the stand off between rebel groups and regime forces, unable to flee to safety.

I understand you're in regular contact with people on the ground in East Ghouta, which is under siege right now. The situation appears to be quite serious there. Could you tell us a little bit about what you're hearing?

Becky Carroll: Sure. I'm part of a group on WhatsApp that's getting daily updates on what's happening on the ground. And it's in East Ghouta [inaudible 00:02:49] other areas that are constantly under siege. And I can't describe it other than it's like watching hell. It's like having a direct pipeline into seeing what hell is like. These people are living every single day, not just under the threat of attack but under attack. Phosphorus bombs, chlorine bombs, napalm. It's kind of unreal to think in this day and age that this is happening and that you can see it in real-time. You know it's happening, but yet the rest of the world is doing nothing and allowing it to continue.

Cecile Shea: I think that's one of the things that I find so stressful. Is that I feel so helpless. I know that these horrors are going on. I've known they've been going on for seven years. And yet, it just seems so depressing to ponder it and so I think a lot of people try to push it out of their minds and try to forget that this kind of horror is occurring right now.

Becky Carroll: It's true. I've found myself in the same place sometimes. I was pregnant a year ago, and had a very difficult pregnancy. And I literally had to kind of back out of it for just a while, while I got through it because it was so hard to bear and to witness and to know people who are there. And to know people who have family there, and so I mean if it's difficult for someone like me or you and we're not even there, imagine what that terror is like being on the ground.

But, I still think people here are very hopeful even though not much has really changed, and in most ways it's really gotten worse. People continue to advocate because if we don't continue, I mean it will only get worse. So, I think through all the advocacy work that's going on here in the United States and elsewhere, you have to have some hope that at some point someone in power is going to pay attention and actually try to do something. And it's not like they have not tried, but they certainly have not tried enough. The UN has just been crippled by this, because the Security Counsel and Russia constantly steps in the way of trying to make any kind of real progress. So, there has to be some, either a change in that process, or some other kind of stepping up to say, "Enough is enough." And the time has come.

Cecile Shea: At whom are they angry? I mean, are they angry at Russia? Are they angry at the United States? Are they just kind of angry at everyone? Are they too terrified and busy trying to survive to be angry? What are they thinking?

Becky Carroll: Well, I think they are very angry, obviously, at their president, his allies, the Russians. They constantly are gloating about what they are doing on the ground.

Cecile Shea: They, meaning?

Becky Carroll: The Russians, as Syrian forces. Every day I see pictures of Syrian forces and Russian allies posting selfies of themselves in front of areas that they bombed, or with people, well I call them hostage. Now, they say they're taking them into shelter. It's not shelter, it's hostage. And so, but I think they're angry but more frustrated with the rest of the world and feel like they've been left behind and they're screaming from the top of the rooftops that they're dying. Their children are dying. Their wives are dying. They are dying. And even if they're not bombed, they're still slowly dying. Stress and post-traumatic stress disorder and all that, to live in that every single day? I think there's going to have to be a new term created, because I don't think any people have ever lived under this kind of stress for this duration. And there's just no way to explain it or really even articulate it other than to read their words and see the photos and try to give them some level of comfort knowing that people out there do care and are trying to do something about it.

Cecile Shea: You started the hashtag, #StandWithAleppo in 2016. Aleppo is one of the great tragedies of the 21st century to be sure. What did you learn from that experience of trying to bring some comfort to the folks in Aleppo?

Becky Carroll: Well, it was really born out of also just frustration. Me and a friend of mine, Wendy Widom. We over the last year, from 2015 to 2016, had been getting engaged in Syrian and Syrian refugee issues after the body of Alan Kurdi had washed up onto the shores of, I believe it was, of Turkey. This was the young toddler-

Cecile Shea: This was the little child, right?

Becky Carroll: Yeah, that really finally captured the world's attention. And it certainly captured our attention. And I hate to admit that before that, I really had not been paying attention and I feel really ashamed of that. But, that's why I think we were moved to try to do something, and it was a year later that we became in contact with a doctor who was on the ground in Aleppo. He was the last neurosurgeon in Aleppo, and we were just really captivated by his story and we got to know one another through social media. And then a day came, I believe it was in late September, where his hospital had been bombed a couple of times and we didn't have any communication with him.

And there was very little that we could find in mainstream media, and we just decided, "Let's just do something. I mean, anything." So, we came up with the hashtag #StandWithAleppo, we created some social media graphics, created social media pages and listed fellow moms mostly who we were engaged with in these issues. And it went from there, and by the end of the year, we had engaged over a billion and half people across the world. And it wasn't us, I think, we just gave an outlet to people who also felt like we did. That they were frustrated, that they wanted to speak up, that they wanted to do something.

So, but I think what we learned from that is really the power of advocacy, and that social media can do some good. I'm not a believer that social media can always do good, but it can because I do believe that the #StandWithAleppo campaign coupled with the efforts of others across the globe finally brought it to the front pages. Even during the presidential debate in 2016, we had led an online effort to get a question asked during one of the presidential debates. And we had lobbied CNN, and Anderson Cooper and others who were hosting and they did ask the question. And it felt like a small, little victory for the people of Syria, because finally it rose to that level. And then that day, and that night, both Aleppo had become the number one hashtag on social as well as searched name on the internet. So, even if that did a little bit to raise awareness, you can see that does make a difference. And I really think it does make a difference to the people on the ground to know that people are trying to do something for them.

Cecile Shea: And so, at the end of the day, Aleppo was destroyed. Untold suffering there in the meantime. So what did your campaign ultimately accomplish? I mean, it raised awareness, but it didn't move the Russians out and it didn't bring action from the US. What did it accomplish? Can you talk about that a little?

Becky Carroll: Yeah, I think what it really accomplished is it gave people who are frustrated a sense of purpose to engage and be voices for these mothers and these children and these fathers, and everyday people like us who were accountants and bakers and teachers. I mean, they lived a life much like ours. And I think for us, we wanted people to get engaged to understand that if this can happen to them, this can happen to us.

And we shouldn't kid ourselves about that. They just woke up one day, and found themselves under attack by their regime simply because they were searching for basic human rights that they were not afforded. And, if we as a people here in this country, or other countries who live in a free form of democracy think that that can't happen to them, it can. So, we really tried to appeal to people in a way to say, "This could be your child. Look, what would you do if this was your child?"

And, so I think that was a way to engage people and raise awareness, and without raising awareness, I think perhaps it could have been much worse. But if anything, it's helped to create a movement around engaging people, to engage around human rights of those who aren't in their backyard; people they don't even know. And, we see that happening in other places like Rohingya, Yemen, and so I'd like to think that this has helped give people an avenue to engage as advocates.

Cecile Shea: So, what is going to happen to all of those people? I mean, half of the pre-war population is displaced, either internally or externally; what's going to happen to all of them?

Becky Carroll: I really wish I had a sincere answer for that. I think, there's a hope that at some point Assad is going to say, "Okay. Enough." Or some group of leadership across the world is going to say, "Enough is enough." A lot of people make comparisons to the Holocaust, and rightfully so. I mean, this is the worst genocide really the worst to happen since World War II. And even in World War II, we saw that there was silence for so long that it ended up really helping to create the Holocaust. And now, that's already happening. In Syria, people are being systematically murdered, butchered, maimed, displaced. So I don't know what else it takes to convince world leaders that they need to step up, but something needs to happen in order for these people to get back to some sense of normalcy. But what that will look like and when is just completely unknown.

Cecile Shea: Do you have any sense from talking to your contacts, of what the effect of the Syrian Civil War has been on Islamic extremism in the area? Because, you hear a lot about ISIS having moved into Syria and just made the conditions worse, and there are fears that Islamic extremism is having an impact on the refugee communities outside of Syria. Is that a secondary concern for folks? What are you hearing?

Becky Carroll: I think that some people would argue that it was actually Assad who allowed the extremists into Syria, because it was distraction. And it was also an excuse for him to engage militarily along with the Russians and even more so now with the US. I'd like to think that the US is going in with the right intentions, because yes, we are all unified to step down on international terrorists, but I think most people on the ground who are informed don't believe that, "Oh. ISIS just decided to move in because it's a country of conflict and they can build and recruit there." Syrians, they hate the terrorists more than anybody else. I think there has been a perception that, which definitely has been exasperated by Donald Trump, that, "Well, we can't let Syrians into this country because they're so aligned with Islamic terrorists," and that couldn't be more a lie.

They've been under the same form of systemic terrorism that everyone else has been. They've upended their lives; they have forced them into taking up arms. They've murdered their family. But, at the end of the day, I really do believe it was Assad who opened the doors to them to create chaos and a sense of, "Oh, we have to do something, too. Push back on the Islamic terrorists who have entered our borders." Instead of dealing with the fact that this conflict was created because he's a dictator and he did not allow his people to live as basic human beings.

Cecile Shea: And we should remember that Syria's always been a multi-religious, multi-ethnic country. His father's most famous massacre was of a Christian town. Many of the displaced are themselves not Muslims but of all sorts of other minority religions, some of which can only be found in Syria. Some of which are truly ancient, and the fact that some of those very ancient, for instance the Assyrian religion, the Assyrian Christians, could be wiped off the face of the earth is a secondary but deeply tragic outcome of this entire civil war. So, do you think that the folks you are in touch with, who I assume are of all different religious backgrounds also, do they long for that? What is the future Syria gonna look like, I mean if we can go back to some kind of a world where Syrians are able to go home. What is that Syria going to look like?

Becky Carroll: I think that they don't want all of this pain and suffering and loss of life of literally hundreds of thousands of people and tens of thousands of children to be in vain. I think that they want to live to some extent how we live. They want to be free to exercise their rights to whether it's religion and who they want to marry and what professions they want to pursue. They just want to live, so I think of course that they continued to fight, they continue to try and protect their families because this is ultimately their dream. They don't want to leave Syria; they want to remain in their home.

However, Syria today is not what it was seven years ago. I don't think there's many parts of the country left that have not experienced some level of the conflict. And the photos that I'm privy to every day show that. Sometimes there are a lot of before and afters and you see that there's only after now. And there's pictures of bombed buildings and streets; it's not even a semblance of itself. So, I'm not sure what the new Syria can look like other than it will take an enormous amount of support from the international community to help rebuild. To rebuild not just the physical infrastructure, but the human infrastructure, the political infrastructure and that's probably going to take decades because the destruction is so severe.

Cecile Shea: For folks listening to this who want to do something, who are just heart broken when the see the photos, what can just one person do?

Becky Carroll: There's really a lot they can do. There are a lot of organizations out there that are working with refugees and organizations that are providing assistance right into Syria. So, example MedGlobal, which folks can find at; they're an organization founded by Dr. Zaher Sahloul who is a native of Aleppo, who is part of the #StandWithAleppo campaign. He and Dr. John Kahler from Chicago created this organization to help eliminate healthcare disparities in areas of crisis. So, that has involved Syria, Yemen, Rohingya refugees. They've even been to Puerto Rico, but not only can you donate funds to help them do the work and help provide critical healthcare services, but you can also get engaged. I personally plan to do a trip myself to be on the ground in one of these refugee areas to help and people can do that, especially if you are medical personnel. And then there are also other organizations that are out there that are supporting Syrian refugees like the Syrian American Medical Society and others that allow you to be helpful on the ground, to do events, raise money. But that's what they need, they need funds in order to provide either service or goods.

Cecile Shea: For those of you interested in finding ways to help the people in Syria, the NGO that Becky mentioned is MedGlobal, where she serves on the Ambassador Board. Becky also broadcasts her own podcast titled appropriately, The Broad Cast. Tune in if you're interested.

Becky Carroll: Thank you for having me.

Cecile Shea: Joining us remotely from Cambridge, England is Dr. Wendy Pearlman, a Northwestern University Political Science professor. Wendy's new book, We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria, provides firsthand testimonials of those affected by violence in Syria. Wendy is kind enough to join us right before she goes on stage for a book talk over there in Cambridge. Welcome once again, Wendy.

Dr. Pearlman: Thank you very much for having me.

Cecile Shea: Wendy, you are a Political Science professor; could you give us a little background on how we got to where we are today in Syria?

Dr. Pearlman: Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, Syrians also went out into the streets like their Arab brethren calling for change, calling for freedom, calling for dignity. At first, the peaceful protests called only for reform of the given system. People weren't even calling for the collapse of the regime. They were calling for a bit more freedom and bit more accountability to lead better lives. That regime responded to peaceful protests with violence, with shooting and beating people on the streets, with house arrests, with house raids and for nearly six months, protests remained largely peaceful despite severe repression.

And eventually the opposition took up arms as well. First in defensive maneuvers, in some ways the armed rebels were there to try to protect the peaceful demonstrations so they could continue and then eventually escalated to more offensive operations against the regime. The regime escalated its reprisals in turn, always escalating the level of violence and the conflict evolved into this complex, brutal, multi-sided war that exists today. The regime's allies have stood by that regime, offering it economic, political, military support; its chief allies being Russia, Iran, the Lebanese group Hezbollah. The rest of the world said for the most part that Assad is illegitimate, he's a war criminal, he should step down. But the rest of the world has not come to the aid of the opposition in the way that Assad's allies have come to the aid of the regime.

The world powers have also been competitive, fragmented, unorganized in their support, and what we've seen is an evolution of violence over now more than seven years in which the regime first lost control of whole parts of the country as it withdrew from areas and ceded those areas to rebel control and now the regime has been slowly, systematically taking back territory, winning it again, consolidating its control over the country in the hopes of finally defeating all the forces that oppose it and ruling Syria again.

Cecile Shea: And, your book deals with some oral histories of some of those people. I believe everyone you interviewed were outside of the country, right? They were in refugee camps or living elsewhere outside of the country?

Dr. Pearlman: Yes, and actually the overwhelming majority of Syrian refugees outside the country are actually not living in camps. Most are urban refugees, so they're renting apartments, they're living in houses, sometimes they're living in tents. There are a few large camps in the area; there's a very large camp in Jordan, Zaatari refugee camp, which is the fourth largest town in Jordan. Turkey has camps run by the Turkish government, but most Syrian refugees are scattered across, living in towns and villages, and that's where I found them. I did interviews in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and then as the large wave of refugees to Europe in 2015, I also began to interview Syrians in Europe. Primarily, in Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Cecile Shea: So what were some of the themes in these interviews? What was the message of the folks whom you talked to?

Dr. Pearlman: Well, there are many messages, and in many ways I think people's stories follow that historical trajectory that I tried to lay out. From what experiences were like of authoritarianism before 2011, the experience of revolution and uprising and then the experience of all of these varied and horrific forms of violence that have unfolded since. And the Syrians, when I talked to them and people tell me the stories of their lives, their lives don't begin with the conflict. They don't begin with the stories of being refugees. They have longer histories; they have longer pasts. They have stories, they have aspirations, they have voices, they have dreams. And people unfold those stories and I think they give us a lot of context.

So people emphasize what it was like to live under this authoritarian regime before 2011; they talk about fear and silence. A situation in which they were covert informants and you never knew who might be listening in on you and who might be spying, and if you criticized or even said anything out of the ordinary, maybe somebody would report you to the secret police. There was kind of a looming sense of punishment should you criticize, should you challenge. People were very aware of histories of state violence, whether it was the regime's flattening of the town of Hama in 1982 to put down a Muslim Brotherhood insurrection there, whether it was the families who disappeared and political imprisonment in dungeon prisons to be tortured and never hear from again.

So, their stories really paint a picture of fear, of silence, of intimidation, and also of corruption and quashed aspirations. So, one of the most powerful excerpts in the book from me is the first one in the book, which is a single sentence in which a young man says, "You know, a Syrian citizen is a number; dreaming is not allowed." And that's the kind of dark, heavy picture people paint of life before 2011.

Cecile Shea: That's really interesting to me that they want the world to know that it's not like they had nirvana before the civil war started. Right? And I imagine that many of them, were many of them initially optimistic when the Arab Spring happened and the war started?

Dr. Pearlman: Yes, absolutely. And I think it's really important to recognize that it didn't start a war, it started a popular uprising. It started a peaceful demonstrations with ordinary people going out and calling for change with demonstrations that were festive, that involved singing and dancing and normal people simply raising their voice. And that was a tremendously hopeful time and I hope that the memory of that is not buried with the subsequent violence.

So, people went out into the streets really sort of gaining momentum March, April 2011 in these mass demonstrations calling for change and then people describe all the various forms of violence that they've suffered since. There are stories in the book about people who were imprisoned and talk about just horrendous conditions of torture, overcrowding, disease, malnutrition, starvation in prisons. There are stories about people enduring aerial bombardment, the kinds of things that we're hearing about the news now in Eastern Ghouta of people hovering in basement shelters or wherever they can. Knowing that there's nowhere you can hide from arbitrary aerial bombardment. A bomb can drop anywhere at any time.

People talk about the visceral experience of those bombardments. Some people said, "You know, the sound of the planes is worse than the actual bomb because you hear the sound of the planes buzzing overhead and everyone just waits and wonders when the bomb will drop, where the-". The whole experience living under wars is absolutely horrific.

In addition to those that've been imprisoned, I talked to the families of those who've been imprisoned who wait day in and day out and they simply don't know if their loved ones are alive or dead. They don't even have the closure of knowing that someone's been killed. Someone's been disappeared and not heard from since. So I talk to women who don't know whether or not they're widows or children not knowing whether or not their parents have been killed or simply languishing in some dungeon prison.

So the stories of violence go on and on. They're stories of starvation. One of the regime's strategies have been to encircle towns, put them under siege so that food and medicine can't enter. That's also what we've been seeing in Ghouta for years and other towns have experienced similar things over the past seven years.

People talked about not having enough food, and having to collect leaves and grass and boil leaves and grass and eat that for months, perhaps. About people not being able to access medical care, of doctors performing surgery by the light of a cell phone in a field hospital. Just trying the best they can to offer care, knowing that it's not sufficient. Not having adequate equipment, adequate medications, doing surgeries without even anesthesia or without proper threads for surgery and so forth. So the amount of suffering is just really unspeakable. These are war crimes, they're crimes against humanity. These are atrocities that one would hope would not have come in the era of responsibility to protect Never Again.

But they are unfolding day in and day out as we speak, and they have been now going into their eighth year.

Cecile Shea: What do the people you talk to want from Americans? What can we do to help these folks right now?

Dr. Pearlman: People want first and foremost protection for civilian lives. It seems inexcusable that in the 21st century, the Assad regime can bomb civilians, Russia can bomb civilians using bunker busters that go many layers down in the ground to kill families and children hiding. It is inexcusable and unacceptable that the world sits back and watches civilians be slaughtered. That's what's happening. First and foremost, we need to end this violence and protect civilians.

Cecile Shea: So there's been a lot of research, Wendy, on the effects of populations when lots of people in those populations have post-traumatic stress disorder. And the effects go on multi-generationally so the children of those folks will have difficult relationships with their parents perhaps. Can you talk about what some of the current physiological results are among this population and also what you worry about in terms of the future of Syria given the trauma that these folks have been through?

Dr. Pearlman: Well, it's such an important question because you have millions and millions of people who've been traumatized. Whether they've experienced trauma directly, whether they've witnessed violence directly, whether they've been anywhere in the vicinity, and even for those that have been lucky enough not to experience violence directly, they're watching their homeland be destroyed. They're watching their country be destroyed. The country they knew has been shattered and shredded. There are som many different kinds of trauma that I think it will take generations to sort through.

Among what I've seen, there's certainly those who cope with violence or the aftereffects of violence. There are certainly people who talk about, now years since they've perhaps been outside Syria, when they hear loud noises they still jump because they think maybe its bombs or planes overhead. There are among children of course problems of behavioral issues, of aggression, of bed-wetting, of terrible dreams. There's just so much- I mean the interviews I've done have been more in the moment and I think that some of these issues won't be fully clear for years to come. So we're still in the moment of trauma, I don't know if we've gotten to post-traumatic stress yet because the trauma's ongoing. It hasn't relented for a bit.

But in addition to the sheer aftereffects of violence, I think there's also frankly issues of depression. I've seen this among refugees in the Middle East and in Europe. Even as people get further away from the direct violence they may have experienced in Syria, there is a settling in of the sheer despair of a feeling that they might not go home anytime soon. Perhaps not ever. That their families are scattered and dispersed across continents. As I've said, that the world that they once knew the neighborhoods, the houses, the schools, the fields, the trees no longer exists.

That for those who identified with the uprising and went out and made such sacrifices and took such risks for political change, the sense that the Assad regime is re-consolidating control and that after so much bloodshed and so much suffering the regime has remained and the world has in many ways sat back and watched that happen. All of that adds up to huge amounts- so we have both the effects of violence and the kind of despair that the political catastrophe leaves us with. Both are elements of people's tremendously beleaguered mental health.

Cecile Shea: The refugees that you've interviewed in Europe, how are they doing in Europe?

Dr. Pearlman: Refugees are confronting, I think, different kinds of challenges wherever they find themselves. So in the Middle Eastern border countries, the situation is especially dire. Refugees do not have legal status so they worry if they'll even be able to remain in the country. The overwhelming majority are working only in the informal sector, do not have rights to work legally. So they often work in very exploitative situations where they have low wages, long hours, unsafe conditions, barely make ends meet. There's a crisis of dignified housing, of people living with many families crammed into small apartments or in tents and so forth. So, the situation is really, absolutely dire and horrific in the border countries.

In comparison, the situation in Europe for refugees is much better. But many Syrians with whom I've spoken in Europe also talk about all sorts of troubles that they have. Many are facing reality that the occupation they had back home in Syria, they might never be able to work in that occupation again. Or there are certainly severe obstacles in terms of language and certification. People might not have any paperwork to prove that they were in one or another occupation, so people might feel like they have invested their lives into having a certain professional status and craft and now facing the harsh reality that they might not be able to work in that, which I think has tremendous effects for people's sense of dignity and self worth.

There's a huge sense of loss, I think, for Syrians everywhere. But, overwhelmingly, one of the worst problems and crises for Syrians in Europe is that of family reunification. Many families, they were able to piece together enough money to have perhaps just one person of the family be able to pay a smuggler and make it to Europe in the hope that person would then get refugee or asylum status and qualify for rights for family reunification and be able to bring a spouse and children who are waiting in another part of the world, typically still waiting in the Middle East.

Cecile Shea: Thanks, Wendy, for joining us and good luck with your book talk.

Dr. Pearlman: Thank you very much for having me.

Cecile Shea: Once again, Dr. Pearlman's new book is titled, We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria. Firsthand testimonials of those affected by violence there.

Thank you for tuning into this episode of Deep Dish on Global Affairs. If you have questions about anything you heard, feel free to ask them in our Facebook group, Deep Dish on Global Affairs. As a reminder, the opinions you heard today belong to the people who expressed them and not the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. If you liked the show, please subscribe to our podcast and share this episode with your friends. Search for us under Deep Dish on Global Affairs wherever you listen to podcasts.

Deep Dish is produced by Evan Fazio. Our research associate for this episode was Alex Hitch. I'm Cecile Shea. We'll be back soon with another slice of Deep Dish.


The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion in blog posts are the sole responsibility of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council.


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| By Brian Hanson, Gregory Johnsen

Deep Dish: The War in Yemen

The war in Yemen has created one of the greatest unseen humanitarian tragedies in the world. It finally drew public attention after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which triggered a debate about US involvement in the war.