“What is Going on in the World?” Iraq and Syria: Authoritarian Roots of Conflict

How did the leadership in these countries create such enduring systems? What was the economic system that prolonged the regimes’ longevity, but simultaneously led to their collapse? Why did these seemingly stable regimes begin to falter? And most importantly: What does that mean for the situation in Iraq and Syria today and how could a transition process from authoritarianism look like?

ACTIVITAT REALITZADA
25 de maig 2016 - 18:30h
LOCALITZACIÓ: CIDOB, sala Jordi Maragall, Elisabets 12,08001 Barcelona
ORGANITZAT PER: CIDOB

Objectiu

Civil war and violent conflict in Iraq and Syria are threatening to tear the Middle East apart and impact upon Europe via the refugee crisis and the risk of military entanglement. While much of the debate focuses on current affairs, the atrocities of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and the involvement of external powers, domestic roots of such conflicts are often forgotten. Iraq and Syria have been two of the most notorious examples of authoritarian government in the Arab world and their current conflicts are impossible to understand without this historical baggage. Joseph Sassoon is a leading authority on authoritarianism in the Arab world and has been able to study the phenomenon with the help of hitherto unpublished archival material and firsthand interviews. By drawing on examples from his recent book he examines the system of authoritarianism in the region. He portrays life under these regimes and explores the mechanisms underpinning their resilience. How did the leadership in these countries create such enduring systems? What was the economic system that prolonged the regimes’ longevity, but simultaneously led to their collapse? Why did these seemingly stable regimes begin to falter? And most importantly: What does that mean for the situation in Iraq and Syria today and how could a transition process from authoritarianism look like? 

Talk and book presentation by Joseph Sassoon, Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World, Georgetown University and Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. 

Discussant: Eckart Woertz, Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). 

Moderator: Miriam Bradlley, Assistant Professor at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). 

Joseph Sassoon is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East. Sassoon completed his Ph.D at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics (Cambridge University Press 2016) is his fourth book. 

Eckart Woertz is a senior research fellow at CIDOB, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. In the 1990s he studied and worked in Syria and currently he has a Marie Curie grant of the European Commission for a project about food security and political stability in Iraq. He teaches at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI) and was KSP visiting professor at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at SciencesPo. He is author of Oil for Food (Oxford University Press 2013) and holds a PhD in Economics from Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg. 

Miriam Bradley is Assistant Professor at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). Prior to joining IBEI, Miriam held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and teaching positions at University College London, the University of Oxford, and Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on the politics and practice of humanitarianism, and she recently completed a book, Protecting Civilians in War, which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2016. Miriam holds a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford.

Participants

SPEAKERS

Miriam Bradley

Miriam Bradley

Assistant Professor, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI)

Joseph Sassoon

Joseph Sassoon

Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World, Georgetown University; Senior Associate Member, St Antony’s College, Oxford

Eckart Woertz

Eckart Woertz

Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)

“What is Going on in the World?” Iraq and Syria: Authoritarian Roots of Conflict ACTIVITAT REALITZADA