detail - Regional Programme Gulf States
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While recent advances against the self-proclaimed “Islamic State in Syria and Iraq” (ISIS) not yet amount to the military, let alone political-ideological defeat of the Jihadist group, it has suffered substantial losses and lost 40% of its territory in Iraq alone. Should the current trajectory continue, it is likely that ISIS will soon find itself further weakened and possibly contained.
While military means were essential during the past years to bring ISIS’ cruel advance to a halt, there remains an urgent need to expand our thinking to the aftermath of the military campaign and to generate an environment supportive of political engagement and long-term stability. The sole way to end bloodshed and consolidate peace in the Middle East will be addressing and tackling underlying grievances which created a context conducive to the rapid rise of ISIS in the first place. Those include 1) sectarian, political, and ethnic exclusion or marginalisation; 2) regional geopolitical jockeying for influence; 3) authoritarian forms of state and political systems; 4) resulting lack of good governance, transparency, and accountability; 5) internal and external disputes over natural resources and territories.
For the time being, anti-ISIS forces across the region are “united” in their struggle against a “common” enemy. As the two key states in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran are indispensable in finding a long lasting solution for the conflict both in Syria and Iraq. But sporadic military clashes and power struggles between them give a grim glimpse of what might come once ISIS is contained. The core problem lies in the persistent lack of regional security structures or frameworks for economic integration capable of fostering prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts.
Facing this wide array of challenges, the strategic dialogue provides a confidential setting to discuss in-depth measures for post-ISIS Syria and Iraq. It brings together distinguished experts and practitioners from the Middle East, the Gulf States, Europe, the United States, and Russia. The dialogue will examine Track 2 and Track 3 initiatives that could address post-ISIS issues in Iraq and Syria; furthermore, it will explore ramifications for and roles of regional and international powers in solving these problems. Through the congress Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, in conjunction with the EastWest Institute, strives to shift the current debate on short-term measures towards a long-term, civil-military framework for the region.