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Past Events

Winning the Peace: Armed Groups & Security Sector Challenges

3 June 2021

Armed non-state actors have exploited state fragility with devastating impact and have experienced a remarkable ascension in recent years, powerfully competing with conventional military forces, sometimes delivering governance to local populations, courting state sponsors and working with them across borders. In the wider Middle East, their rise and impact has been pronounced. Developing effective internal and external policy responses to such hybrid security environments, rife with contestations over power, resources, and geopolitical dynamics has been a challenge. Policymakers have grappled with integrating some of the armed groups into formal governing structures, while countering others and with devising policy responses to their rule. 

To explore these issues, Crisis Response Council and the Brookings Institution's Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors were delighted to convene panel discussion that examined the future of armed groups in the Middle East and policy options for responding to them. It looked at whether armed groups should be integrated into formal governing structures, whether armed movements can govern, and which armed groups should be accepted, and which should be sidelined; it examined how the international community, particularly the U.S. and Europe, should address security crises and looked at potential policies for conflict mitigation and resolution at the local and regional level.




Vanda Felbab-Brown

Brookings Institution


Benedetta Berti



Fred Wehrey

Carnegie Endowment


Yaniv Voller

Kent University

Turkey's Relationship with Iraq: Caught Between Conflict, Cooperation & Geopolitics

11 May 2021

Turkey’s relationship with Iraq has been shaped by domestic political dynamics in Turkey and wider geopolitical issues, including the Kurdish question in Turkey, Ankara’s relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the conflict in Syria. Ankara has developed wide-ranging political and economic ties to different political actors in Iraq and has played an instrumental role in enhancing the autonomy of the Kurdistan Region over the past decade but the onset of the Syria conflict and the increased regional prominence of the PKK and its affiliates has undermined Turkish foreign policy, while Baghdad has raised concerns over Ankara's irrigation and dam projects that could trigger a catastrophic water crisis in Iraq. In northern Iraq, President Erdogan has threatened to launch a military incursion to remove PKK affiliates from Sinjar, which has resulted in heightened tensions with Iran and its proxies, who recently launched an attack on a Turkish military base and killed at least one Turkish military personnel.

Crisis Response Council, together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, were delighted to convene a panel discussion on the future of Turkey's relationship with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, focusing specifically on the implications of a possible Turkish military incursion into Sinjar, Turkey's political and economic relations with Erbil and Baghdad, Ankara's rivalry with Iran, and conflict mitigation mechanisms that can stave off a conflict.



Denise Natali

National Defense


Dr Osman Sert, Ankara Institute.jpg

Osman Sert




Lahib Higel

International Crisis



Guney Yildiz



The Future of the State in the Middle East

Conflict and socio-economic grievances have resulted in upheavals that have delegitimised the state and political systems across the Middle East and North Africa. The youth bulge, growing population rates and dilapidated infrastructure could result in the region’s next implosion, while the emergence of ISIS and ongoing conflicts throughout the region highlight the fragility of territorial borders. There are still uncertainties surrounding the future of fragile states, including Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, which have been mired in conflict and devastation for at least a decade and, with that, the future of armed non-state actors as these groups make further political gains and expand their influence over state institutions. 

Together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Crisis Response Council convened a panel discussion on the future of the State in the Middle East, focusing specifically on how the state can better respond to the needs of populations, whether there are viable alternatives to existing administrative and territorial structures, the future of the state-system in the region and the role that international actors can play to address state fragility and the underlying drivers of instability. 

22 April 2021



Toby Dodge

London School of



Linda Robinson




Joseph Bahout

American University

of Beirut


Christiana Parreira




Ariel Ahram

Crisis Response


Securing Lasting Peace in the Middle East

15 December 2020

The Middle East and North Africa is beset with devastating wars and tumult: across the region, and in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen in particular, hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions have been displaced and entire communities have been destroyed. Proxy conflict and geopolitical rivalries have enhanced the durability of warfare, undermining peace-building efforts and post-conflict transitions in the process.  There are a whole set of realities that policy-makers must grapple with moving forward: a high risk of escalating violence, continued governance failures and the proliferation of armed non-state actors who will exploit the collapse or weakening of state institutions and swell their ranks with the disenfranchised. The pandemic will further strain public services, exacerbate socio-economic inequalities and, as a result, the conditions that enable violent conflict and instability.  


Crisis Response, together with its partners the Carnegie Corporation of New York, EastWest Institute in Brussels and the Proxy Wars Initiative, convened a panel discussion that forms part of its "Ten Years Since the Arab Spring" series, focusing on the main challenges to stabilization and reconstruction, the future of democracy promotion in the region, reconciliation and peace-building and the role that international actors like the United States and Europe can play to constrain the fallout from conflicts and their second-order effects.



Frances Z. Brown

Carnegie Endowment

for International Peace


Kawa Hassan




Jomana Qaddour



Mr Emadeddin Badi, Middle East Institute

Emad Badi

Geneva Centre for 

Security Sector


Turkey's Foreign Policy: What Next?

3 December 2020 

Turkey has been at the centre of a series of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, and more recently has been at the forefront of crises in the Caucasus and Eastern Mediterranean. Having suffered countless setbacks during the nine-year civil war in Syria, Turkey has scored a number of military victories (or gains) over the past twelvemonths. In Idlib, it prevented the city from falling to the Bashar al-Assad regime; in Libya, it played a decisive role in preventing General Khalifa al-Haftar from taking Tripoli, while in Nagorno-Karabakh it helped Azerbaijan take control of long  covetedterritories that have been central to its decades-long tensions with Armenia. Turkey’s assertive military posture and foreign policies have at thesame time antagonised the West, including the U.S. and some of its NATO allies, particularly in the wake of the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Germany, NATO and the US are seeking tode-escalate disagreements between Cyprus, Greece, France and Turkeyover maritime boundaries and potential hydrocarbon resources.


In this webinar, Crisis Response, together with its partners the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Proxy Wars Initiative, convened an esteemed group of experts to examine these challenges further, focusing specifically on the future of Turkey’s engagements with its neighbourhood and the wider region, the future of US-Turkey relations under a Biden administration and conflict mitigation mechanisms that can help reduce the fallout fromongoing crises.



Dareen Khalifa

International Crisis



Galip Dalay

Robert Bosch



Asli Aksoy

Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik


Nick Danforth

Bipartisan Policy


ian lesser 2.jpg

Ian Lesser

German Marshall


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Tensions Between the US and Iran: Where Next?

6 May 2020

In January, tensions between the US and Iran moved into uncharted territory after the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, which was then followed by an unprecedented Iranian retaliatory response that directly targeted US military personnel based in Iraq. Proxy conflict between the US and Iran has constituted a central feature of the conflict landscape in Iraq for the past fifteen years and in recent years has extended into other regional conflict theatres. The recent escalation risks a conflagration that could push Iraq and the wider region to the brink, just three years after the US-led coalition secured the territorial defeat of ISIS.

Together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Proxy Wars Initiative, Crisis Response examined the prospects of securing de-escalation, the consequences a sustained conflict might have for the region and the implications it could have for the effort to secure the enduring defeat of ISIS. It explored the role that regional countries, as well as outside actors like the Europeans, could play to develop a pathway to de-escalation, and the steps that the Iraqi government can and should take to forestall yet another devastating conflict on its territory. We were delighted to welcome


Alistair Burt, Former UK Minister of Sta

Alistair Burt

Former UK Minister of State


Dalia Dassa Kaye



Ariane Tabatabai, Columbia

Ariane Tabatabai



Lukman Faily, Former Iraqi Ambassador to

Lukman Faily



Dr Hassan Ahmadian, Tehran

Hassan Ahmadian



Iraq formed a new government in May as the country moved increasingly toward the precipice amid a series of crises, including mass social unrest, the decline in oil prices, the dominance of Shiite militia groups and tensions between the US and Iran. Political paralysis and tumult has left the Iraqi state hanging by a thread & facing its worst crisis since ISIS seized Mosul in 2014, particularly since the emergence of a country-wide protest movement in October that has rocked the political class to its core. The new government was formed amid the fallout from the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and attempts by Iran's proxies to force US troops out of Iraq, as well as an increase in terrorist attacks committed by so-called Islamic State.

Together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Proxy Wars Initiative, Crisis Response examined Iraq's prospects of securing peace and stability and explores the extent to which the new government might be able to address the long-list of challenges that currently face the country. It identifies how the Iraqi state can reign in Shiite militias and mitigate the fallout from US-Iran tensions, in addition to examining the future of US-Iraq relations and the ongoing military campaign to defeat ISIS.

Iraq's Prospects For Stability


13 May 2020


Kenneth M. Pollack, American Enterprise

Ken Pollack

American Enterprise Institute

Jane Arraf, National Public Radio.jpg

Jane Arraf

New York


Mohammed Al Hakim, Former Advisor to Pri

Mohammed Al Hakim

Iraqi Prime Minister's


Bayan Sami Abdul-Rahman, Kurdistan Regio

Bayan Sami Rahman

Kurdistan Regional


Dr Mohammed A. Radhi, Hikma Movement .jp

Mohammed Radhi



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