I have been reading the intriguing articles brought together here in conversation for this special issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies at the same time that I have been trying to keep track of the barely viable Syrian peace talks going on (or, more often, fizzling) in Geneva in February 2016. Practicing this double vision has made me appreciate these articles individually. But the effort also has made me even more aware of how important it is for us all to read these articles together.

For more than three years Syrian women active in Syrian civil society groups—groups unaffiliated with any of the rival parties or warring armed groups—have been organizing, strategizing, and lobbying the United Nations and great power (especially US and Russian) conveners of the peace talks. Their goal: to make a...

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