Moscow’s Flexible Alliances in the Middle East - Opportunities and Constraints

KAS and Al Bayan Center publish paper on Russia's Relations with post-Saddam Iraq

Russia has been seeking a more robust relationship with Iraq since the so-called Arab Spring started in 2011, eager to build on the remnants of what was once a strong Soviet-Iraqi alliance during the Cold War. The Kremlin’s appetite for courting Iraq has been driven by security considerations, shrewd economic interest, as well as the desire to seek status in the wider region. Hanna Notte - an expert on Russia and the Middle East - analyzes the successes and obstacles to a Russian-Iraqi relationship in her latest publication with KAS and the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies.

Iraq after the Election: Transformation of the Political Landscape


For the first time after the military defeat of the Islamic State (ISIL), national parliamentary elections were held in Iraq. Around 7,000 candidates, organized on 88 party lists, competed for 329 parliament seats in the election on May 12. When results are official, the new parliament will be appointed to form a new Iraqi government.

Iraq at a Crossroads: Stabilization or Further Fragmentation?


The upcoming elections on May 12, 2018 mark the first national elections in Iraq after the military victory over the Islamic State (ISIL). These elections will determine whether Iraq will be able to stabilize itself politically, to establish a nation-wide security regime and to start an urgent reform process after years of civil war and the fight against ISIL.

Mapping Iraq’s Political Organizations Ahead of the National Elections


Iraq’s political landscape has experienced tremendous changes since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. After transforming from a dictatorship into a democracy, Iraq’s political environment is dynamic and ever-changing. While sectarian interests have dominated Iraqi politics in the past 15 years, attributing all post-2003 politics to sectarianism oversimplifies the complex web of players, historical rivalries, regional interference, religion, violence and personal animosities. Ahmed Ali, an expert on Iraqi political affairs, maps in this KAS publication the political landscape of Iraq.

Community Reporting and Independent Media in Syria

Syria Direct and KAS conduct country wide trainings for citizen journalists

While Syria has experienced an unprecedented extent of violence over the course of the last years, the civil war has also spurred the establishment of citizen journalists all over the country. These journalists report independently and critically about developments on the ground in their communities. In order to support the nascent independent media landscape in Syria, KAS and Syria Direct in 2017 provided trainings for citizen journalists in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, the South and the predominantly Kurdish areas in the North.

Addressing Idlib Migration Through Community Mobilization

KAS supports CCSD in promoting strategies to counter mass migration

In January 2018, the Syrian regime launched a new operation in the eastern parts of Idlub province. The province in northwestern Syria is one of the last strongholds of the armed Syrian opposition and has been severely affected by extreme violence, airstrikes and the dramatic increase of the population through the accommodation through large numbers of internally-displaced people (IDP). In 2017, KAS supported the “We Can Stay Here” campaign of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy (CCSD) that aims at fighting root causes of migration in Idlib.

Dealing With the Refugee Crisis in Kurdistan-Iraq

KAS supports OTT in conducting large-scale survey in Northern Iraq

Recent years and the ongoing sectarian conflicts in Iraq have led to massive flows of internally displaced people (IDP), a development which especially impacted the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In 2017, KAS supported the Dohuk-based Open Think Tank (OTT) in conducting a survey among refugee and host communities in the KRI.

Reintegration and de-radicalization of the Yazidi victims of ISIS terror

KAS supports Yahad in Unum in supporting traumatized Yazidis in the KRI

In August of 2014, the Iraqi town of Sinjar became the arena of the massacre of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Yazidis. More than 5,000 Yazidis were killed in the process and more than 7,000 women and children were either taken as sex slaves or indoctrinated and recruited as child soldiers by ISIS. In 2017, KAS supported Yahad in Unum in its efforts to provide psychosocial support to Yazidi victims that have escaped captivity and are now living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

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.

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.