ISIS, Assad and the Iranian regime. Appeasement or/and Intervention? The lack of a Western strategy in the fight against Islamism.

Hiwa Bahrami
Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken

Panel-Discussion with Hiwa Bahrami, representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and Thomas von der Osten Sacken (Wadi e.V.)

When: Novemver the 13th at 7pm

Where: Humboldt-University Berlin, Room 2094

Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin

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The stunning takeover of large parts of Syria and Iraq by the so called Islamic State (IS) and the steady stream of jihadi fighters also from Europe and the US to the warzones, alarmed the Western public. As a consequence a US-lead coalition began to attack IS positions in Iraq and Syria, to arm the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq and pledged to train the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA). Prior to these developments the West watched the decay of Iraq and Syria without taking action. The Western powers did nothing when the Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad began with a brutal crack down on the peaceful opposition in 2011. It took no decisive action when Assad, with the help of the Iranian regime and Russia, bombarded Syrian civilians and the moderate opposition and attacked cities with chemical weapons. It took no decisive action even with 200.000 Syrians dead and when half of the population were turned into refugees. But when IS-Fighters captured Mossul and pushed to the gates of Bagdad the West began a frantic search for allies in the region. As a result some actors in the West are now pleading that Iran - responsible for the current situation – could be part of a solution. This idea completely ignores that without the help from Tehran, Assad would have lost his war against the Syrian people long ago. In Iraq the Iranian influenced government suppressed the Sunni majority. The sectarian politics of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki benefitted from the complete American withdrawal from Iraq. This drove the Sunni tribes into an alliance with the IS. These were the same tribes that had been an essential part in the fight against terror in the wake of the Surge 2007. Iraq was largely peaceful and stable when Obama took over from George W. Bush. With our two speakers, who have a profound knowledge of the region, we would like to discuss a wide range of questions: What is Iran’s role in the recent escalation? Who - and for what reasons - sees Iran as a partner in the fight against the IS? What regional and global factors lead from the uprising in Syria to a cross border ethno-sectarian war? Can IS-terrorists be defeated and the unity of Iraq be preserved? Who are reliable partners in that fight? What is the situation in the different Kurdish areas in the region? Do different Kurdish organizations follow different interests? And finally: What is Germany doing to confront Islamism, either in Tehran, Iraq or Syria?

Hiwa Bahrami is representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and travels to the region each year several times.

Thomas von der Osten Sacken is direcor of Wadi.e.V. The Iraqi-German association WADI supports various programs and projects to empower people and strengthen human rights in the Middle East. WADI focuses on women's rights with training and literacy classes, assistance for victims of domestic violence and building spaces for women and girls. He also is a journalist und editor of different books concerning the region.