Kurdistan Conflict and Crisis Research Center (KCCRC), a partner of Mashreq Politics & Culture Journal hosted Ahmed Haji Rasheed, Iraqi MP and Head of Parliament financial Committee on 8th November 2017. Below you will find the transcript and a summary of an interview with Mr Haji Rasheed and the most important questions and answers, as it was prepared by the MPC Journal’s partner KCCRC.
Iran’s “theocratic regime”, which has maintained power domestically via brutal oppression for over four decades, continues its expansionist policies across the Middle East, paying no heed to the bloody results of its subversive policies.
Egyptian general-turned-president Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi would likely be the first to admit that an iron fist is no guarantee for retaining power. Not because of the fate of the country’s longest ruling autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in 2011 by a popular revolt. But because Mr. Al-Sisi’s iron fist has not squashed resistance, nor has it enabled him to properly deliver badly needed public goods and services.
The struggle for dominance between Saudi Arabia and Iran – one the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, the other of the Shi’ite – is being conducted up and down the Middle East. In Syria and Yemen, the conflict has descended into open conflict. In Iraq it is largely a struggle for political superiority. Elsewhere the two countries are competing by proxy, providing varying degrees of support to opposing sides in disputes in Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
It’s hard to prove beyond doubt a direct causal link between militancy and Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative forms of Sunni Muslim Islam. That hasn’t stopped Belgium’s parliament from attempting to wrest control from Saudi Arabia of Brussel’s downtown Grand Mosque after three years in which Belgians played a prominent role in Islamic State attacks in the Belgian capital as well as Paris.
In truly historic news, Saudi Arabia has decided to let women drive. The royal decree marks significant progress in the rights of women in the kingdom, which was the only country in the world prohibiting women from driving. The change is predicted to be the catalyst of transformation in the Saudi workforce and societal norms.
According to media reports, the Trump Administration is exploring options to maintain an American military presence on the ground in northern Syria after the expulsion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
There may be a silver but risky lining for Kurdish nationalists in their devastating loss of Kirkuk and other cities on the periphery of their semi-autonomous region as they lick their wounds and vent anger over deep-seated internal divisions that facilitated the Iranian-backed Iraqi blitzkrieg. Mounting popular anger coupled with US Congressional fury could, however, position the Kurds as a key player in potential US efforts to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq and counter the Islamic republic as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tougher approach towards the Islamic republic.
As far as Kurdish affairs are concerned, the world’s attention is currently focused on the independence referendum held on September 25, 2017 by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in north-eastern Iraq and that, despite considerable international pressure, there was a 92 percent vote in favour, on a 72 percent turnout. Little attention has been paid to the fact that just three days earlier, another historic Kurdish election took place in neighbouring Syria.
The wealth of cultural sites strewn throughout present day Syria and Iraq bear ample witness to the fact that this area was once revered as the cradle of civilisation – sadly, many of these sites have fallen victim to war, violence and looting.