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Basra's Political Marketplace: Understanding Government Failure After the Protests

To date, the policy discussion on Basra has revolved around whether or not the newly appointed central government under Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s leadership can deliver basic services to a population angered over many years of stalled, failed infrastructure projects. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the impact of Basra’s unique local political dynamics on the challenge of service provision and reconstruction. In what follows it is argued that the failure of reconstruction is...

Peace-Building and Conflict Resolution with Rahman Aljebouri

On Wednesday, February 13, IRIS hosted Rahman Aljebouri, the current president of the Political Leadership and Governance Development Academy in Baghdad and former Associate Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy, to teach the first master class of the Peace and Conflict Fellowship. The theme of his masterclass was peace-building and conflict resolution. Dr. Aljebouri’s class covered specific themes within the context of conflict...

Iraq's Disputed Internal Boundaries After ISIS: Heterogeneous Actors Vying for Influence

Conflict between Erbil and Baghdad over the disputed internal boundaries (DIBs) has long been a central destabilizing feature of the post-2003 era. However, in recent years, two major events – the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 and the Kurdish independence referendum of 2017 – have transformed the two-sided dispute over sovereignty into a multi-sided competition between rival military and political groups. This report argues that any framework for resolving the broader conflict...

Iraq's 2018 Government Formation: Unpacking the Friction Between Reform and the Status Quo

This report analyzes the 2018 government formation process in Iraq. It argues that the process is marked by two competing trends, a bottom-up movement demanding institutional change symbolized by a low voter turnout and incumbency rate, and a top-down system that reinforces identity-based politics and the post-2003 order. The failure to officially identify the largest governing political bloc exemplifies this friction and paves the way for political instability. This report is based on interviews...

Anti-ISIS Operations in Syria: Assessing Scenarios after the U.S. Withdrawal

U.S. Marine Corps firing a howitzer in Syria, June 2017. Photo Credit: Sgt. Matthew Callahan, U.S. Marine Corps

JOHN HOLLAND-MCCOWAN

On January 11, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the so-called Islamic State (otherwise known as ISIS) announced the beginning of the withdrawal of the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria. Yet since President Trump’s sudden announcement of his plan to pull...

IRIS Hosts Mosulgraphy Photographer Ali Al Baroodi

On Thursday, November 15, 2018 IRIS hosted a discussion with Mosulgraphy photographer Ali Al Baroodi. Baroodi discussed the development of his passion for photography, the various places he had traveled and photographed, and his experience of photographing Mosul both under ISIS and in the aftermath of ISIS occupation. He relayed his experience progressing from his phone camera in 2006 and 2007 to a professional Sony 30x Zoom after having the opportunity to...

The Kurds After the ‘Caliphate:’ How the Decline of ISIS Has Impacted the Kurds of Iraq and Syria

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, IRIS Fellow and King’s College PhD candidate John Holland-McCowan, hosted a presentation and discussion about a recent report he published through the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, “The Kurds After the ‘Caliphate’: How the Decline of ISIS has Impacted the Kurds of Iraq and Syria.” He began with a brief history of major turning points in the recent history of the...

Political Speechwriting and US Foreign Policy: A Conversation with Daniel Benaim

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018 IRIS hosted Daniel Benaim, a former speechwriter in the White House and State Department and current senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss political speechwriting and U.S. foreign policy with AUIS students and faculty. He began his discussion with the importance of storytelling with succinct arguments and truthful and empathetic representations of political leaders and their social and political endeavors. In order to be...

The United Nations, Peacebuilding, and the Middle East

On Tuesday, October 19, IRIS hosted Dr. Peter Bartu for a discussion on the United Nations, Peacebuilding, and the Middle East.

Dr. Bartu is an expert on political transitions in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Gulf States. In 2011 he was a member of the UN’s stand-by mediation team and worked in Benghazi and Tripoli during the Libyan revolution. In 2008-2009 he led a United Nations team...