Latest at IRIS

Analysis: Looking Back on the 2018 Kurdish Elections

The 2018 electoral process - tainted by voter discontent, historically low turnout and allegations of electoral fraud - is a window to understand the ongoing citizen disillusionment and political impasse that characterize Kurdish politics today. This policy memo analyzes the 2018 Kurdish electoral process, from the pre-election campaign strategies and slogans to the post-election allegations of voter fraud. The ongoing fragmentation of political blocs, compounded by increasing citizen disengagement and voter apathy, threaten the credibility...

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, 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 photograph...

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, 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 a...

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...

Open Discussion with Yara Salem, World Bank Special Representative to Iraq

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 IRIS and the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted an open discussion with Yara Salem, the World Bank’s Special Representative to Iraq, during Women’s Entrepreneurship Week October 13-20. The discussion focused on existing World Bank initiatives in the context of Iraq’s reconstruction, rebuilding,...

Open Discussion: The Rise of Populism in Europe and the Middle East

On Wednesday, September 12, IRIS Fellow and London School of Economics PhD candidate Nicola Degli Esposti hosted an open discussion about the rise of populism in Europe. He discussed the recent polarization of European politics and emergence of anti-establishment parties on both sides of the political spectrum. He cited the Spanish left-wing Podemos party as an example of anti-establishment sentiment from the left aimed at highlighting corruption and inequality in...

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