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The Negotiators A co-production with Doha Debates

How a Finnish Diplomat Negotiated Release of Mothers, Children From Syria


Finnish ambassador Jussi Tanner spent nearly two years bargaining with the Kurdish-led autonomous government.

This week on The Negotiators, we hear about a negotiation that should have been easy but turned out to be long and complicated. 

Jussi Tanner is an ambassador and special envoy with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In late 2019, he negotiated with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, a Kurdish-led area that’s part of Syria but has its own governing body and military units. 

Those units helped defeat the Islamic State caliphate in 2019. They now run detention camps in the region, where many former Islamic State fighters and their families are held, including some foreigners.

Tanner’s mission was to get the Kurdish-led government to hand over Finnish mothers and children in the camps for repatriation. He thought it would just take a few weeks, but the negotiation lasted for nearly two years.

About The Negotiators:  Conflicts don’t just get resolved on their own. Most are settled through a grueling process of give and take, usually behind closed doors. On the new podcast The Negotiators, Foreign Policy is teaming up with Doha Debates to put listeners in the room. Hosted by FP deputy editor Jenn Williams, each episode will feature one mediator, diplomat, or troubleshooter, describing one dramatic negotiation. You’ll hear about a nuclear standoff, a hostage crisis, a gang mediation, and much more: successes and failures that shaped people’s lives.  See All Episodes

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The Long Road to Libya’s Election

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A former Afghan government official describes what it was like to sit at the table with the armed group.

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