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David L. Phillips
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David L. Phillips is currently Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips has served as Foreign Affairs Expert and as Senior Adviser to the U.S. Department of State and as Senior Adviser to the United Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Phillips has worked at academic institutions as Executive Director of Columbia University’s International Conflict Resolution Program, Director of American University’s Program on Conflict Prevention and Peace-building, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Future of Diplomacy Project Fellow and Fellow and at Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies, and Professor at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He was Deputy Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Preventive Diplomacy Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Project Director at the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Phillips has also been a foundation executive having been President of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. Phillips has been an analyst and commentator for NBC News and the British Broadcasting Company. He has authored books, policy reports, and hundreds of articles in leading publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune and Foreign Affairs.

Entries by David L. Phillips

Erdogan's "Inner Stalin"

(4) Comments | Posted July 20, 2016 | 11:13 PM

Erdogan's "inner Stalin" is unleashed.

After last week's failed coup attempt, Erdogan warned: "This latest action is an action of treason, and they will have pay heavily for that."

"This move is a great favor from God. Why? Because it will allow us to [purge] the armed...

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Time For Turkey To Adopt A New Security Strategy

(2) Comments | Posted June 29, 2016 | 3:13 PM

The ISIS attack on the Istanbul's Ataturk airport is the result of Turkey's failed policies in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Islamists groups fighting against the Assad regime, thinking he could control them. But instead of acting as proxies projecting Turkey's influence, they turned on their benefactor. Now...

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Liberating Fallujah -- Losing Iraq

(1) Comments | Posted May 26, 2016 | 9:59 AM

The operation to liberate Fallujah from the Islamic State is underway. We know how this ends. Large numbers of ISIS fighters will be killed. Fallujah will be turned to rubble; hundreds of civilians will be killed. Prospects for reconciliation will be ruined.

ISIS has administered Fallujah since 2014. The...

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Preventing Deadly Violence in Nagorno-Karabakh

(2) Comments | Posted April 10, 2016 | 8:37 PM

By David L. Phillips and Van Krikorian

Violent conflict erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) on April 2, killing hundreds. Azerbaijan violated a cease-fire that had been in place since 1994. The situation remains extremely volatile, despite a temporary truce.

The United States and Russia must intensify their...

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Turkey: An Uncertain Ally

(0) Comments | Posted March 30, 2016 | 6:15 PM

NATO is more than a security alliance. It is a coalition of countries with shared values. If Turkey stays on its authoritarian course, the Obama administration should rethink the scope of US-Turkey relations.

Turkey's crackdown on freedom of expression is particularly worrisome.

The Turkish government recently closed the trial...

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Power-Sharing in Syria

(4) Comments | Posted March 20, 2016 | 9:11 PM

The root cause of Syria's conflict is the concentration of power by a minority-led Alawite administration. Decentralization can contribute to peace and political transition.

Syria's future governance should consider constitutional arrangements, which enshrine power-sharing. There is no standard power-sharing formula. It differs from case to case. As a rule,...

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Countering Islamic Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2016 | 4:55 PM

By David L. Phillips and Florian Qehaja

This article considers the rise of Islamic radicalization and violent extremism in Kosovo. It proposes strategies for de-radicalization by Kosovo state structures, civil society, religious figures, as well as the international community. The article draws from the "Report inquiring into the causes and...

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Refoulement Violates International Law

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2016 | 8:15 PM

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel heralded the European Union's deal with Turkey as a "breakthrough." The deal envisions returning migrants and refugees from Greece to Turkey. For every Syrian sent back to Turkey, the EU will resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey. The deal is ethically, politically, and practically flawed. Moreover,...

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Accountability for War Crimes in Turkey

(0) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 10:12 AM

Ten Kurds were shot by Turkish troops in Cizre, Turkey, on January 20. Video of the shooting went viral, causing international outrage. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, urged Turkey to a conduct a "thorough, independent, impartial investigation." Zeid emphasized, "If State operatives commit human rights violations,...

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Preventing Ex-Combatants From Spoiling Colombia's Peace

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 6:43 PM

The government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are on the verge of an historic peace agreement after 50 years of civil war. Sustainable peace requires a plan for disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating (DDR) ex-combatants. The UN has vast experience with DDR, which can help consolidate...

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Bowie: A World Class Humanitarian

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2016 | 1:39 PM

I met David Bowie in 1994, during the war in Bosnia. Bowie was deeply troubled by ethnic cleansing of Bosniak Muslims by Croats and Serbs. He used his celebrity discreetly yet effectively to raise awareness about events in Bosnia. I knew Bowie as a humanitarian and a man of principle.

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Losing Turkey

(11) Comments | Posted January 6, 2016 | 10:14 AM

The Obama administration must see Turkey under the reign of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what it is, not how it used to be, or how Washington wishes it were. It is time for steely-eyed realism about Erdogan. Following are the facts:

Erdogan is authoritarian.
He recently...

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Turkey's Islamist Agenda in Kosovo

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2015 | 3:20 PM

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed an audience in Prizren during an official visit to Kosovo in October 2013: "We all belong to a common history, common culture, common civilization. We are the people who are brethren of that structure. Do not forget, Turkey is Kosovo, Kosovo is Turkey!"


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Islamism in Kosovo

(9) Comments | Posted December 21, 2015 | 12:32 PM

Albanians have always been intensely pro-American. Kosovars deeply appreciate the US-led NATO intervention in 1999, which put Kosovo on the path to independence. They are grateful to the US for coordinating Kosovo's recognition by the international community. Given the strong affinity between Albanians and the United States, the recent rise...

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Research Paper: Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade

(0) Comments | Posted December 14, 2015 | 5:00 PM


The sale of oil products by ISIS garners about $500 million/year. The US led multinational coalition has pledged to destroy ISIS. Its strategy includes depriving ISIS of financial support. Allegations abound that Turks are engaged in oil trade with ISIS. Additionally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are...

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A Real Plan for Defeating ISIL

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 11:33 AM

President Barack Obama presented his strategy for defeating ISIL in an address to the nation from the Oval Office yesterday evening. Other than recognizing the seriousness of the threat, which was heartening after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Obama offered nothing new. His speech was a retread of old ideas...

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U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course in Syria

(26) Comments | Posted November 2, 2015 | 10:44 AM

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens "all necessary measures" to prevent Syrian Kurds from advancing west of the Euphrates River. The People's Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is America's principal ally fighting ISIS in Syria. Attacking the YPG puts Turkey and the US on a collision...

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Turkey's Refugee Problem

(0) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 5:43 PM

Turkish merchants and human smugglers are providing a service, profiting from refugees transiting through Turkey to Greece and sanctuary in Northern Europe. More problematic, however, is Turkey's official policy. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding funds and other concessions from the European Union (EU) in exchange for cooperation with the...

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Muslims Can Serve

(4) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 9:50 AM

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson asserts that the United States should not have a Muslim president because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution. According to Dr. Carson, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." Dr. Carson does not appreciate the difference between a...

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Lessons from Bosnia for Syria

(1) Comments | Posted October 6, 2015 | 12:22 PM

There are striking parallels between Syria today and what happened in Bosnia in the 1990s.

More than 100,000 people died and several million were displaced in Bosnia between 1991 and 1995. The conflict between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniak Muslims seemed intractable. However, the US facilitated training and the delivery of...

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