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External Actors in Syria II: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel

KAS and MdF host workshop on influence, aims and strategies

The eighth round of Geneva talks on Syria has failed. The civil war in the country will continue. External actors have played a crucial role in the conflict. While Russia announced a partial withdrawal in December, Iran continues to be the largest backer of the Assad regime. On 29 November, the KAS Syria/Iraq office and Maison du Futur held a workshop on the influence of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – hitherto the largest backers of the opposition – as well as Israel. A workshop on the Russian-Iranian intervention had already taken place in December 2016. more…

Event Reports | December 22, 2017

Preserving an uncensored history of life in pre-war Syria

KAS and Sharq continue documentation of pre-war life in Syria

For decades, the Assad regime has controlled the dominating cultural and social narrative of Syria. As a consequence of the ongoing war, millions of Syrians have left the country. As in 2016, the KAS Syria/Iraq office in 2017 again supported the NGO Sharq for citizen development in compiling the stories of life in Syria before the war. Interviewing displaced Syrians from different ethnic, confessional and social backgrounds, the oral history project “Syrian Voices” aims to draw an uncensored history of Syria and its people and to thereby lay the foundation for future reconciliation efforts. more…

December 21, 2017

Iraq after the IS: Opportunities and Challenges


On December 9th, 2017, five months after the liberation of Mosul, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared the end of the war against the Islamic State (IS). However, following the military defeat of the organisation, Iraq already faces the next set of major challenges: The country requires a sustainable long-term plan for reconstruction as well as national reconciliation. In this context, the KAS Syria/Iraq office, together with Basra University and a number of German partners held an international conference in Basra on “Rebuilding War Societies: Iraq after the IS”. more…

Event Reports | December 21, 2017

The Shiite Clergy in Iraq After Sistani - Growing Iranian Influence?

KAS and MDF publish research paper on Iran's religious Influence in Iraq

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is the most important Shiite cleric in Iraq and has traditionally acted as a bulwark against the influence of Iran's religious establishment in Iraq. However, being 87 years of age, the era of Sistani could soon be over. Laura Henselmann describes the competition between the Shiite seminaries in Najaf and Qum and discusses three scenarios for the post-Sistani time in Iraq. She argues that the religious influence of Iran will remain limited in Iraq in the future even after Sistani's death. more…

December 12, 2017

Israel's Role in the Syrian Conflict

KAS and MdF publish Policy Paper on Israeli interests and goals in Syria

Israel has significantly increased its engagement in Syria over the course of the last months. The Israeli airforce is conducting raids against positions of Hezbollah and the Assad regime in the southern parts of the country on a regular basis. Geoffrey Aronson from the Middle East Institute argues in a guest contribution for the KAS Syria/Iraq office and Maison du Futur that Israel is preparing for the "endgame" in Syria and aims to contain Iranian influence over Syria in the post-conflict scenario. more…

December 7, 2017