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Meeting Dr Bente Scheller

by Aminah Khan

The Worldwise Learning Centre welcomed Bente Scheller to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in May 2014.

Ms Scheller, author of ‘The Wisdom of Syria’s Waiting Game: Foreign Policy Under the Assads’, gave a talk on Syria’s foreign policy from the perspective of her role as a former German Diplomat in Damascus.

Aminah Khan, a student on the BA (Hons) Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Arabic, attended the talk and gave this account.

“Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Bente Scheller, a German diplomat who has worked in the Middle East and Syria.

“Her talk was about Syria and how events of the 20th century and the relationships of other Arab and non-Arab states have impacted on and led to the current crisis in Syria. Though Ms Scheller has written a book about this subject – ‘The Wisdom of Syria’s Waiting Game’ – she seldom referred to it and gave a very succinct and concise commentary of what has happened.

“She highlighted many areas that I had not been aware of within the Syrian regime and how and why they have reacted in certain ways. Ms Scheller also gave her listeners a window into the psychology of the Assad way of dealing with the situation in the country – mainly one of watching and waiting and riding out the storm.

“Western powers could have done more in the early weeks of the revolution. They didn’t and their relative apathy towards the situation was disappointing. Many people in the West think of Syria as ‘over there’ and that what is happening to Syrians is only affects them. However, we have lecturers from Syria and their relatives are still living in the country. When they tell you people have gone missing and been killed and you see how it affects them, then Syria is not ‘there’ but ‘here’ and it is no longer ‘them’ but ‘us’.”

Left to Right: Summer Mouallem, Bente Scheller and Adham Mardini.