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January 25, 2016

Event Summary: ‘Iran’s Ambitions in Iraq’

by
Henry Jackson Society

by Jonathan Rubra

On the 25th January, Mithal al-Alusi, leader of the Iraqi Ummah Party, delivered a talk on ‘Iran’s Ambitions in Iraq’. The event was chaired by Bob Blackman MP and hosted by the Henry Jackson Society in the Houses of Parliament.

Mr al-Alusi presented a thoroughly thought-provoking and humbling talk enriched by his own extensive political career as well as personal history of exile following being sentenced to death for undermining Saddam Hussein.

Opening the talk, Mr al-Alusi offered sincere thanks to the UK for the continued support the government has shown in Iraq and the Middle East in recent years. It is clear that for Mr al-Alusi support and unity are essential instruments for progress, as mentioned throughout.

Acknowledging the problems within the Middle East, Mr al-Alusi emphasised the importance of internal development; he observed that even the best efforts from countries such as Britain are futile if internal actors are not cooperative or open to progress. Terrorism is just one of the examples of disruption in the area and resultantly receives the most media attention in the West. Few also consider the impact of small organised militia, or growing tensions from Saudi Arabia and Iran’s competing desires to be the ‘leader’ of the region.

Mr al-Alusi expressed that “Saudi Arabia say they are the leader of the Sunni, Iran say they are the leaders of the Shia, and as a result society as a whole suffers”. Subsequent of this division, normality is lost. No one discusses opportunities for peace while neighbours are killing neighbours.

Mr al-Alusi continued by addressing other issues that face Iraq in the region, discussing the wide range of ISIS-sympathising groups throughout the Middle East. Highlighting the importance of this issue, he establishes that our understanding of the development of ISIS is related to individuals’ proximity to Syria, when individuals acting nearer Iran should also be closely scrutinised. Similarly, attention should be paid to the rapidly depleting number of Iraqi Jews and Christians as a result of these widespread Islamist militants.

Concluding his talk, Mr al-Alusi reiterated the importance of unity in tackling terrorism and promoting progress as a whole. The plethora of issues that impact the Middle East have a direct global impact, thus forming a solution is not only a shared responsibility, but a universally beneficial goal.