Comrades in Arms: North Korea and Syria


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When: Jul 14 2021 - 12:00pm until Jul 14 2021 - 12:45pm
Where: Zoom Webinar

East-West Center in Washington and National Committee on North Korea logos

The East-West Center in Washington and National Committee on North Korea invite you to the
North Korea in the World Webinar Series:

 Comrades in Arms: North Korea and Syria


Dr. Samuel Ramani
Politics and International Relations Tutor,
University of Oxford

Mr. Ross Tokola (Moderator)
Executive Associate to the Director,
East-West Center in Washington

Mr. Keith Luse (Opening Remarks)
Executive Director,
National Committee on North Korea

East-West Center in Washington · Comrades in Arms: North Korea and Syria


Left to right: North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung and former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad
Image: Portrait of Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad and North Korean leader Kim Il-sung at the October War Panorama Museum in Damascus.
Photo by jan_jaja.

This webinar discussed Pyongyang’s relationship with Damascus in the context of its broader involvement in the Middle East, from the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel to Pyongyang’s contemporary support for the Assad regime during the Syrian Civil War. It looked at how Pyongyang’s relationship with Damascus fits into the broader context of North Korea’s engagement with the Middle East, and examine the continuing value the relationship has for both countries.

This North Korea in the World webinar was the fourth in a series examining North Korea’s historical and contemporary relations with countries in the Global South. The North Korea in the World project is a joint initiative of the National Committee on North Korea and the East-West Center in Washington; the website collects and curates information and data on North Korea’s external economic and diplomatic relations.


Samuel Ramani completed his DPhil in International Relations at the University of Oxford in March 2021 and is currently a Politics and International Relations tutor at Oxford. Samuel is a regular contributor to Foreign Policy magazine and to think tanks, such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Middle East Institute. Samuel has written extensively about North Korean foreign and security policy for The Diplomat, the Washington Post and 38 North. Samuel has briefed and advised the NATO Intelligence Fusion Center, US Department of State INR branch, US Department of Defense EUCOM branch, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and France's Ministry of Defense on security issues pertaining to Russia, Afghanistan and North Korea. His first book on Russia's contemporary policy towards Africa will be published by Oxford University Press and Hurst and Co. in early 2022.

Mr. Ross Tokola is the Executive Associate to the Director at the East-West Center in Washington, where he gives advice and support to the Director on ongoing near-term and long-term strategic projects and programs. He is also responsible for the Congressional Staff Program on Asia and for North Korea in the World. Previously, Mr. Tokola was a Program Officer at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies during his five years in Seoul, and worked for the US embassies both in the Republic of Korea and in the United Kingdom. In addition to studying the Korean language at Sogang University in Seoul, he holds a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from Heythrop College, University of London, and a M.Phil. in International Relations from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Keith Luse is the Executive Director of the National Committee on North Korea. Previously, Luse was the Senior East Asia Policy Advisor for Chairman and later Ranking Member Senator Richard G. Lugar at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2003 until 2013. Luse also served as Staff Director for Mr. Lugar at the Senate Agriculture Committee from 1999 through 2002, where the Senator also served as Chairman and later Ranking Member. While at the Senate Agriculture Committee, Luse made the first of eventually five trips to North Korea. Luse’s Bachelor of Arts degree in political science is from Indiana University. His graduate certificate in public management and additional graduate studies were obtained at Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Wang
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