Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria: Stability Through Regional Cooperation

News | November 22, 2016

On the 13-15 of November 2016, the EastWest Institute, in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, convened a two-day confidential dialogue in Cadenabbia, Italy, entitled “Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria: Envisioning a Stable and Sustainable Regional Order” with experts from the Middle East, Europe Russia and the United States to discuss political and economic scenarios for a post-ISIS Syria and Iraq.

The military campaigns against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) are making some progress, the ongoing offensive against ISIS in Mosul is representative of the trend showing ISIS is losing ground and territory. This however, is neither the military end nor the political and ideological defeat of ISIS. Should the current trajectory continue, it is expected that ISIS will be further weakened and contained in both countries.

While national, regional and international actors are mainly focused on the military battle, there is an urgent need to address the aftermath of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as the structural failures and societal grievances that have allowed the rise of ISIS in the first place. Further, it is paramount to place post-ISIS scenarios in Syria and Iraq in the right regional context by addressing the impact key regional states such as Saudi Arabia, other GCC states, Iran, and Turkey, will have on post-ISIS geopolitics and geo-economics, as well as how these countries will in turn be impacted.  

Against this background, the EastWest Institute and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Gulf States Regional Program and Syria/Iraq Office organized a confidential roundtable discussion to develop strategic track II measures for Syria and Iraq.

The two most important points stressed throughout the discussion were 1) the only way to bring an end to the bloodshed sustainably in the region is to address and tackle structural problems that created a conducive context for the rise and rapid expansion of ISIS, and 2) a sustainable solution will require the involvement and commitment of all regional and international actors, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.S. and Russia.

The experts from 10 countries, also debated different state-forms and scenarios for both Iraq and Syria, including federal and confederal models and solutions, as well as the future of the Kurdish regions, and their relations to the central government and to regional actors. The regional rivalry and tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia remain a central theme, and they play out in both Iraq and Syria. The participants also discussed the impact of the US presidential elections on the US’s relations with Russia, and what effect it could have on attempts to settle the conflict in Syria.

The EastWest Institute and the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation will publish a joint report outlining the main findings of the discussion and policy recommendations.

Read more here.