Trump in Context

Paul Rogers  openDemocracy 11 November 2016.
The American election result can fruitfully be seen in a global context, as an expression of ‘revolts from the margins’ that arise in response to a failed economic system.

PA-29114429A revolt from the margins? Donald Trump’s supporters at a campaign rally. Charles Krupa AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. The reasons for Donald Trump’s victory in the United States presidential election are already being intensively examined and discussed. Many more tens of thousands of words will be published in the coming weeks. The focus may be on American domestic politics, the way in which Washington and the media failed to predict the result, or on themes of gender, race, and class.

An important aspect is the experience of white males in low-paid work, and more generally the fact that a huge minority of blue-collar Americans have had virtually no increase in real wages in more than a decade. This is in contrast to many white-collar jobs, and far more to the wealthiest fifth of the population.

Even more interesting though, and probably less discussed, is whether Trump is a symptom of a much wider global trend of ‘revolts from the margins‘. In the United States, this perspective might easily have focused to even greater effect on Bernie Sanders in the event he had won the Democrat ticket.

For a decade and a half – almost from the start of openDemocracy – a consistent (and hopefully not too boring) element in these columns has been the view that a combination of socio-economic divisions and environmental limits will be the defining determinants of international insecurity in the coming decades, unless both trends can be reversed (see “The global crisis: seeing it whole“, 1 May 2014).

Edwin Brooks’s dystopic vision from the early 1970s of a “crowded, glowering planet of massive inequalities of wealth, buttressed by stark force yet endlessly threatened by desperate men in the global ghettoes” was seen as the negative future in which determined and violent military operations would become the instrument of that “buttressing by stark force” (see “A tale of two towns”, 21 June 2007).

The origin and nature of those possible revolts was examined in an analysis that pre-dated 9/11. The question now is whether it relates in any way to the success of Trump’s mission to lead the United States.

The analysis from the late 1990s suggested:

“What should be expected is that new social movements will develop that are essentially anti-elite in nature and draw their support from people on the margins. In different contexts and circumstances they may have the roots in political ideologies, religious beliefs, ethnic, nationalist or cultural identities, or a complex combination of several of these. They may be focussed on individuals or groups but the most common feature is an opposition to existing centres of power. They may be sub-state groups directed at the elites in their own state or foreign interests, or they may hold power in states in the South, and will no doubt be labelled as rogue states as they direct their responses towards the North.  What can be said is that, on present trends, anti-elite action will be a core feature of the next 30 years – not so much a clash of civilisations, more an age of insurgencies.”

The movement matrix

How does that look after fifteen years of the post-9/11 world, and does it relate to Trump?  There are many and varied examples of social movements, with diverse origins. Some are involved in brutally violent revolts. These include the multiple Islamist outgrowths, from ISIS to al-Qaida and Boko Haram to al-Shabaab. Few analysts doubt that these groups are persistently sustained by perceptions of gross marginalisation, especially within the Middle East and north Africa, but also extending to numerous diasporas. Among tens of millions of educated young people with poor life prospects, only a very few may find extreme movements appealing. But that might still amount to many thousands of potential followers willing to give their lives, with effective and self-reinforcing results (see “Al-Qaida, and a global revolt“, 22 May 2014).

There are also movements with a political focus, often with a military arm: neo-Maoist Naxalites in India, Sendero Luminoso and others in Latin America, Nepal and the Philippines, socialist movements such as the Zapatistas in southern Mexico, as well as numerous movements with strong ethnic and nationalistic bases.

In parallel with these it is reasonable to argue that the revolts from the margins extend to a wide political dimension. These may belong on the left, in the form of Podemos, Syriza, the Corbynistas and others; and on the right, encompassing movements with a very strong anti-migrant stance, some of which have acquired power, as in Hungary. Fear of migration is strong and is alighted on by many politicians in Europe and beyond, notably Marine le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Nigel Farage in the UK.

The climate effect

These two levels – violent revolts from the margins and less violent political movements – are linked. At each, there is disgust at an economic system that is not producing a sufficient sharing, a fault that has been greatly exacerbated by the effects of the 2007-08 financial crash. The feeling is reinforced by a pervasive perception that an entrenched elite remains immune from these effects.

Some of this sentiment is then captured by leaders who themselves come precisely from within those elites. The billionaire property developer, Donald Trump, and the privately-educated and wealthy former city trader, Nigel Farage, are leading examples. Even as they stretch credibility in their positioning, it must be recognised that they still manage to gain appeal.

The failings of the neoliberal economic system that developed apace from the late 1970s are even now seldom recognised as being at the root of so many of the current convulsions. In fact, this view meets sustained resistance from within business and financial communities, including exchequers and banks. Few politicians recognise this, with Jeremy Corbyn an example, but he is still very much the exception.

Trump should therefore be seen as yet another manifestation of a global trend. But he adds a very unwelcome factor: his resolute denial of the reality of climate change, and his accompanying desire to boost coal and oil. If that attitude prevails and the world’s largest economy gives up on a low-carbon future, other states will quietly follow the lead. Much of the limited progress made since the Paris summit will be lost.

People may certainly worry about Donald Trump’s finger being on the nuclear button, but that still represents a small risk of an utter catastrophe. To have the United States in the grip of a climate denier for at least four years carries a much greater risk, as an actual development with damaging consequences that will prove very difficult to reverse.

About the author

Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He is openDemocracy’s international security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group. His latest book is Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins (IB Tauris, 2016), which follows Why We’re Losing the War on Terror (Polity, 2007), and Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on Twitter at: @ProfPRogers

A lecture by Paul Rogers, delivered to the Food Systems Academy in late 2014, provides an overview of the analysis that underpins his openDemocracy column. The lecture – “The crucial century, 1945-2045: transforming food systems in a global context” – focuses on the central place of food systems in human security worldwide. Paul argues that food is the pivot of humanity’s next great transition. It can be accessed here

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Paul Rogers: What will be Donald Trump’s foreign policy?


What will be Donald Trump’s foreign policy?

The Yorkshire Post. Published 6:13 Thursday 10 November 2016

GIVEN that Donald Trump has little experience in foreign policy and has few advisors in this area, trying to separate out some of his bombastic statements during the campaign from likely policy stances is tricky. Even so, there are some clues, leading quickly to the conclusion that if the Republican-dominated Congress agrees with him, there will be substantial changes.

On Russia, Trump admires Putin and his dominant leadership style, appears willing to make allowances for Russian moves in Crimea and Ukraine and believes that a relationship can be forged which will help resolve the US/Russia antagonism over Syria. Putin will relish this, not least in ensuring that Russia has a long-term role in the Middle East but more generally that it is taken more seriously as a major world power.

On a related issue, Trump is highly dubious about the role of Nato and especially the cost to the United States. He would prefer Nato to ease up on confronting Russia and put far more emphasis on tackling terrorism. He argues that if European states do not increase defence spending and bear more of the cost of Nato during his first term, then the US should consider withdrawing. He is also deeply critical of the EU, especially its failure to tackle terrorism, and this includes European attitudes to gun control which he sees as reducing the ability of individual Europeans to protect themselves.
While sympathetic to Putin and Russia, Trump is much harsher on China and intends to strengthen the US military presence in the region. He will want to renegotiate trade agreements and take action against currency manipulation, hacking and intellectual property theft. He sees China as the main threat to US power whereas Russia is a potential ally.

In apparent contradiction to this, he wants China to pressurise North Korea on the nuclear issue while allowing the US to hold direct talks with Pyongyang. His attitude to North Korea also seems mixed since he has talked about withdrawing US troops from South Korea while considering the value of Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons.

Where his outlook gets really forceful is on Middle East policy. While initially ambivalent on his approach to Israel, he has come to regard it as the most significant ally in the region and there is talk of his wanting to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move of great political significance and to be thoroughly welcomed by the Netanyahu government while strenuously opposed by the Palestinians. He deeply distrusts the Iranian nuclear deal and wants to renegotiate it while imposing far harsher sanctions as a means of forcing Iranian concessions on this and other issues.

Interestingly he now regards George W Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 as a major mistake, whatever he thought at the time. That may be thought to imply that the US should now have nothing to do with Iraq but he is, at the same time, highly antagonistic to Daesh – the so-called Islamic State. He has talked of the need for 30,000 US troops to be deployed to defeat IS but is not specific as to when this might happen. He believes that torture is acceptable when dealing with terrorists. Interestingly he sees Russia as having a stabilising role in Syria, even to the extent of appearing willing to let the Assad regime survive.

On immigration, Trump remains adamant that a 1,000-mile wall will be built along the Mexican border, up to 11 million “illegals” will be deported and the border protection forces will be tripled in size. While the border is directed at Latino control, he is even more forceful on Muslims. His original blanket ban on Muslim entries may have been moderated but it still means a ban on those from “terror states and terror nations”, both undefined terms, and what he terms “extreme vetting” of Muslims from elsewhere.

Much of his foreign policy stance is predicated on the need to make the United States an oasis of well-defended stability but his wider stance on international security is difficult to comprehend. On the one hand he intends substantially to increase military spending but on the other he is cautious about oversees adventures, excepting IS and China. Presumably the assumption is that no-one will be foolish enough to threaten US interests in the face of a much stronger US military and a Trump White House.

Perhaps most significant of all in relation to long-term impacts is his denial that climate change is a problem and his desire to increase the use of coal and oil. He would even like to withdraw from the Paris climate deal. That will cause great dismay among many governments while some may hide behind this stance to limit their own commitments. Since violent climate disruption is now one of the greatest threats to world security, two Trump presidential terms of office involving sustained climate change denial could be little short of catastrophic.

Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University. His new book, “Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins”, is published by I. B. Tauris.

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York Against the War

Public Meeting


Paul Rogers

Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies,

University of Bradford

Paul is a leading expert in the field of international security, arms control and political violence.

After more than a decade of war on terror global terrorism is increasing. Paul will look at the changing nature of war and argue that the world is becoming more dangerous and riddled with irregular war.

7.30pm Thursday November 10th
Friends Meeting House
Friargate, York YO1 9RL


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Maurice Vassie
29 October 2016

In the current era of civil wars between sects and tribes, in the Middle East and Africa with the misery they bring to non-combattants, especially women and children, we commend the desire of  British Governments to take action to prevent the suffering, but reject the recourse to armed intervention. British participation in military action and in arms sales to combattants has patently  failed to bring an end to suffering in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Iraq, in Yemen and in Syria.

We cannot understand why the United Kingdom fails to capitalise on its hard-won expertise in bringing an end to the decades of armed sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The conflict was the product of centuries of resentment and bad feeling between the Catholic and Protestant communities in both parts of Ireland. It was exacerbated by foreign involvement with the provision of funds and arms. The involvement of the British army was not effective. It was resolved by negotiation between the two combattants and between the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

It is a remarkable achievement, and can surely serve as a template in the resolution of other conflicts. In the light of the United Kingdom’s standing in the United Nations Security Council, and other international bodies, it should be able to work in conjunction with Ireland, and other nations, such as Sri Lanka which have brought an end to armed intercommunal disputes to provide a political and diplomatic task force to resolve civil conflicts.


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Maurice Vassie,
29 October 2016

In the war against terrorism the meeting of force with force, it is the terrorists, who draw up the rules of engagement that apply equally to counter-terrorist forces. When we take armed action against terrorists the nature of the conflict necessitates our fighting according to their rules. It is axiomatic that human life has no value except as a means of achieving a political ends. A terrorist is expected to be ready to give his life as a suicide bomber for example, and to take the life of others to gain attention, or to take out an enemy and any innocent bystanders that happen to be near him. That inhumanity is reflected in the counter-terrorist response.

It is a war in which the enemy is not defined by nationality or race or any physical feature. In an area in which a terrorist or counter-terrorist force is operating, the enemy is any individual, who does not accept the authority of the fighter and who is deemed ready to resist actively that authority. Such an individual is seen as putting himself beyond being treated humanely. If when he is targeted he is in the company of other people, whether self-designated enemies or non-combatants, his arrest or elimination takes precedents over their human rights.

It follows that a terrorist will be expected to have no compunction in locating himself in a family group, or among schoolchildren or in a hospital. Similarly a counter-terrorist is not expected to refrain from arresting by force or eliminating a terrorist even if that action puts the lives of civilians at risk or denies them their human rights: as for example destroying a vehicle in which an identified terrorist is a passenger although other passengers include women and children, or destroying a hospital treating terrorists.

It is accepted by counter-terrorists that since terrorists may and usually do operate as individuals or as ad hoc groups their identities can only be determined from recorded or printed records, or by informers. This is seen in practice as justifing torture and housebreaking. It is acceptance of the fact that counter-terrorism by force cannot be undertaken effectively if conducted in accordance with the internationally agreed Convention of  War.

It is nation states that have drawn up and signed the several Conventions of War and sanctions can be imposed on those nations that break them. Terrorist groups are not nation states; they are not and cannot be a party to them, they set their own rules of engagement.

By committing our armed forces to engage in a form of warfare, which is not covered by internationally agreed conventions, the U.K. is exposing our soldiers to situations where they may not be able to safeguard themselves by restricting the use of force, including lethal force, to instances where a clear distinction can be made between combatants and civilians. We may be requiring them to act against the traditions and national ethos of the United Kingdom.


A New Short Film by Oxford Research Group

Oxford Research Group (ORG) has produced a new short film to showcase its work. The three minute film features ORG’s Professor Paul Rogers and Gabrielle Rifkind as well as their patron Dr Hans Blix and leaders of our dialogue projects in Palestine and Israel. It vividly explains the crucial importance of ORG’s work in fostering sustainable alternatives to militarism and safe spaces for strategic dialogue. To see the film go to:

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Protest at Fylingdales on Saturday 1st October 12.00 to 15.00

md-1Russia and China view the build up of US and NATO missile defence bases in Europe and the Pacific as destabilising and an aggressive threat to their nuclear deterrence strategies. This forward deployment of missiles and radars on their borders is not only preventing any progress in nuclear disarmament talks but is actually on the verge of reversing some of the agreements made on the stationing of nuclear weapons in Europe. At a time of increasing international tension and distrust it is important that we protest at the use of US bases in the UK for this purpose and for the global threat posed by the increasing militarisation of space.

The demo is one of the events during ‘Keep Space for Peace Week’, organised by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space to highlight the growing use of space by the military for communication, surveillance, targetting and management for power projection and military interventions.

The Fylingdales demo is shaping up to be a great mix of music, poetry and excellent speakers. Fabulous York band ‘Bull the Band’ will be playing us in (check them out at Speakers include Kate Hudson (General Secretary of CND), John Bourton (Chair of Veterans for Peace), Denise Craghill (York Green Councillor) and all the way from Germany, Konni Schmidt who will talk about missile defence and the protests against the Ramstein base in Germany, NATO’s Air Command HQ.

Meet 12.00 at Eller Beck, just north of Fylingdales on the A169 between Pickering and Whitby.

There will be food, hot drinks and a toilet by the marquee. The politics and entertainment will be followed by a march to the main gate at Fylingdales (about 1 mile), where we will hand in a letter to the Base Commander.

Speakers: Kate Hudson (General Secretary of CND), Konni Scmidt from Germany’s Stop Ramstein Campaign, John Bourton, Chair of Veterans for Peace, Denise Craghill , York Green Councillor.

For more detailed info about US missile defence see:


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The west’s indifference will doom Aleppo

Natalle Nougayrede
The Guardian Weekly 05.08.16


As Europe reels from terrorist attacks, Aleppo, once Syria’s second city, is suffering its own nightmare. The connection between these two developments is more than coincidence. As bombs, guns and knives were being wielded in France and Germany, a massive military operation was under way to besiege, and perhaps empty or starve, the eastern districts of Aleppo that since 2012 have been controlled by the anti-Assad rebellion.

When responding to the latest terror in Europe, few if any western officials draw parallels with the plight of Aleppo. That is understandable. Public opinion is naturally more focused on the domestic fallout from traumatic events. When security fears take over and political passions are aroused, it is hard to look beyond what lies in your immediate vicinity. Yet Aleppo will have consequences for Europe and for its citizens, and there is little cause to think they will be positive.

This is why: Islamic State cannot be defeated just through military action in Iraq and Syria, or police operations in Europe. It can be defeated only if the attraction that the militant group exerts on young, confused Sunni Muslims, in the Middle East and elsewhere, is somehow neutralised. The massacres carried out by the Assad regime in Syria over the past five years, and the failure of the international community to put an end to them – or even to hold his power accountable – have provided no small reason for the radicalisation now making Europe bleed.

The summer of 2015 went down in history as a time when the chaos of the Middle East suddenly became a vivid reality for Europeans because of the refugee crisis. The summer of 2016 may go down as the tipping point when all hope of a negotiated settlement in Syria’s civil war, one that would deprive Isis of much of its ability to recruit and sow terror, entirely faded.

In recent days, Bashar al-Assad’s army, assisted by Russian air power and Iranian-connected ground forces, has achieved its long-held objective of encircling eastern Aleppo, where 200,000 to 300,000 people are now helplessly stranded and under attack. Any European who remembers the 1990s should think about parallels with the siege of Sarajevo, and the Srebrenica massacre 21 years ago.

As one UN official put it this week: “In the 1990s, we said never again. Aleppo is the new Srebrenica.” Those who rightly express solidarity with refugees need to go one step further and ask why nothing has been done to prevent the mass atrocities that have sent so many people struggling over land and sea to reach our world. We should question the faulty western strategies that have focused entirely on combatting Isis and not on protecting Syrian civilians.

Right now more questions should be asked about Russia’s behaviour in Syria than about its cyber warfare in the US (however huge that story) because the consequences of Moscow backing Assad are a bigger threat to Europe’s liberal, democratic order. If Assad stays in power, which seems to be the ultimate goal of recapturing Aleppo, more – not less – radicalisation will ensue; the absence of political transition in Syria will fuel the Sunni anger that Isis thrives on. That, in turn, will lead to more terrorism in Europe, providing even more fertile ground for far-right movements who want to up-end fundamental democratic principles.

And if progressives who care about preserving those principles join the dots, they should realise the need to look a bit further outwards. However strong the “no more wars” slogans of the western left, in the past five years there have been no significant street demonstrations against the war that Assad and his allies have waged on Syrian civilians. What does that say about the solidarity with Muslims that many claim to profess?

We mourn our dead in Europe, and that sorrow cannot be minimised; but our difficulty in concentrating even a little on the suffering of Syrians may one day be something that haunts us. Rather than worry about how jihadi terrorists’ pictures are published in our newspapers, we’d do better to relentlessly draw attention to the wider picture of how an unravelling in the Middle East leads to a political unravelling in European societies; and we should spend more energy trying to overcome the difficulty of covering Syria and what its citizens are being put through.

There are no simple answers to the mess the Middle East finds itself in, but building awareness of how the safety of citizens in Europe cannot be dissociated from the question of protecting civilians in Syria should be a constant focus. In recent decades no large-scale atrocity, whether Rwanda, the Balkan wars or post-2003 Iraq, has affected Europe’s political and social fabric like the Syrian war has.

As Aleppo’s agonies deepen, the distant dream of a peaceful, democratic country emerging from the wreckage may live on among the Syrian diaspora in Europe. But in the meantime, it is our confusion and our fatalism – the “western bombs are the biggest problem” line, or the “what can we possibly do” line – that so many refugees live among.

It’s a good thing voices are calling for Europeans to stay steadfast and to refrain from conflating immigrants with terrorists. But we are still missing part of the equation: we can no longer ignore the connection between our fate and that of Syrians whose remaining hopes of being saved are fast dwindling.

The forces now besieging Aleppo are counting on our indifference as much as on their military hardware – witness the effort they have put into producing propaganda images. Russian and Syrian official announcements about “humanitarian safe passage” aren’t just aimed at tightening the noose on a whole population before it falls prey to a state machine of repression (a tactic from the Kremlin’s Chechnya war, by the way). They are also a ploy aimed at making the rest of us turn our gaze away, in the – not unfounded – belief that our attention span and our empathy for distant victims are limited.

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We must prepare for a 30-year war in the Middle East

Paul Rogers
Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
19 November 2015

Twelve years ago, George W Bush gave his “Mission Accomplished” speech from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, confident that the Saddam Hussein regime had been consigned to the dustbin of history, the Taliban regime had been terminated, al-Qaeda was dispersed, if not destroyed, and the desperately needed New American Century was back on track.

That’s what he thought. Instead, over the following decade, hundreds of thousands died in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

In the past two years, the latest manifestation of al-Qaeda’s terrorist ideology, Islamic State, has grown apace to affect millions of people across north-east Syria and north-west Iraq, even in the face of an intensive air campaign against them. The US air war, Operation Inherent resolve, has – according to the latest figures from the US Department of Defense – involved more than 8,125 airstrikes and has hit more than 16,000 targets. An estimated 20,000 IS supporters have been killled, yet the number of fighters that IS can deploy – between 20,000 and 30,000 – is unchanged.

Moreover, the assessment of US intelligence agencies last year that 15,000 people from 80 countries had joined IS and other extreme groups has been raised to 30,000 from 100 countries.

image-20151119-1601-1exlh7nMission accomplished: George W Bush on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 2003, US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements

War is good for IS. It relentlessly portrays itself as the defender of Islam under attack from crusader forces as it creates a rigid and determined caliphate, a pernicious world view hated by the overwhelming majority of Muslims – yet appealing to a tiny minority that is still worth proselytising.

Until last spring, IS concentrated primarily on developing and protecting its proto-caliphate. But it has now taken a leaf out of the old al-Qaeda book and extended its operations overseas.

This has taken two forms – developing connections with like-minded groups: whether in Libya, Nigeria, the Caucasus, Afghanistan or within the Middle East – and fostering direct attacks on the “crusaders”, whether it’s the tourists killed at the Bardo Museum and the Sousse resort in Tunisia or, more recently, on the Russian Metrojet, and during the horrific attacks in Paris.


Image published in Islamic State ‘Dabiq’ magazine shows according to IS the components that were used to build the bomb that brought down the Russian Metrojet. Dabiq

As IS no doubt hoped, France has reacted with renewed air strikes in Syria, and across the West there is talk of an expanded air war and even the use of ground troops. This will be music to the ears of the IS leadership. Some of them will be killed but what does that matter when they are part of a divine plan? Moreover, if their acolytes can carry out more attacks then there is a real chance of rampant Islamophobia evolving rapidly in France and elsewhere, with all the recruitment potential that it provides.

What should the West do?
If we follow the logic of IS wanting war and suggest quietly that it might not be a good idea, then the inevitable response is: “What should we do?”. It is not enough to say, for example, that we should not have invaded Iraq in the first place, true though that is. There are, though, some clear steps that can be taken to start the multi-year process of curbing IS.

An early priority is putting far greater emphasis on ending the Syrian civil war, the necessary precursor to constraining IS in Syria. There are some small signs of progress here with the two recent meetings in Vienna involving all the proxies to the war including Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But the process must be accelerated and, however difficult, Assad and key militia leaders must somehow be engaged. It is the most difficult of all the tasks and will require the best skills of highly competent conflict resolution specialists.


Nusra Front fighter: just one of the many factions fighting in Syria and Iraq. Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

Close behind that in importance will be a huge and immediate effort to aid the 3m or more refugees from Syria and Iraq, principally in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, many of them facing an appalling winter while the UNHCR and other agencies struggle to provide support. The core motive must be humanitarian – but if help is not provided, these camps also will provide a remarkable recruiting ground for IS.

A third element is to work as hard as possible to encourage the Abadi government in Baghdad to reach out to the Sunni minority, especially in those many parts of Iraq where persistent neglect of that minority is helping maintain support for IS.

Finally, there is the issue of the expansion of IS, not least in Libya. The need to support UN attempts to bring stability to that country is urgent yet seriously lacking at present.

In this context, perhaps the most urgent need for any state seriously interested in preventing the further growth of extreme Islamist movements is to foster a change in the repressive policies of the Sisi government in Egypt. With more than 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters killed and well over 10,000 imprisoned, many under sentence of death, this is the one country that is ripe for Islamist expansionism.

None of these measures provides anything like a full answer to the many challenges of IS but they collectively point us in a different direction. We have recently entered the 15th year of what used to be called the “War on Terror” – and that war is about to intensify with little thought about the long-term effects or the reasons for past failures. If we do not take a new direction then we should prepare for a 30-year war.



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No Way Home: Iraq’s minorities on the verge of disappearance


Displaced boy in Ashti IDP camp in Erbil providing shelter to 1,200 mainly Christian families from Ninewa. © Jeff Gardner

© 2016 IILHR, MRG, NPWJ, UNPO – July 2016

This report has been produced as part of the Ceasefire project, a multi-year programme supported by the European Union to implement a system of civilian-led monitoring of human rights abuses in Iraq, focusing in particular on the rights of vulnerable civilians including vulnerable women, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), stateless persons, and ethnic or religious minorities, and to assess the feasibility of extending civilian led monitoring to other country situations.

Key findings

Since June 2014, many thousands of persons belonging to Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities have been murdered, maimed or abducted, including unknown numbers
of women and girls forced into marriage or sexual enslavement. Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) forces and commanders have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, including summary executions, killing, mutilation, rape, sexual violence, torture, cruel treatment, the use and recruitment of children, and outrages on personal dignity. ISIS has used chemical weapons on these groups. Cultural and religious heritage dating back centuries continues to be destroyed, while property and possessions have been systematically looted. Other forces, including Iraqi Security Forces, Popular Mobilization Units and Kurdish Peshmerga, have also committed war crimes prohibited under applicable international law.

After almost two years, conditions in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remain desperate, and underresourced. There are more than 3.3 million displaced
persons, including minorities. Corruption is endemic. Many IDPs are now losing patience with return policies and restrictions, which are starting to generate further demographic changes in Iraq; as many as one in five IDPs feel that they have no choice but to flee the country. The anticipated displacement from a possible effort to retake Mosul
could total as many as 1 million over the next year and the international community could witness the flight of hundreds of thousands of further refugees in 2016 alone.

Many minority communities in Iraq are now on the verge of disappearance. The Christian population, which before 2003 numbered as many as 1.4 million, had dwindled to
350,000 by early 2014, and since the ISIS advance is now estimated as under 250,000. Most of the Yezidi and Kaka’i populations have been forced from their traditional lands
in Ninewa and are now subsisting as IDPs or have fled the country altogether. Similarly, Ninewa’s Shi’a Turkmen and Shabak have fled en masse to Shi’a majority areas in
the south of Iraq. Justice and reconciliation matters remain an unfortunately low priority for the governments in Baghdad and Erbil and, despite supportive rhetoric, for
the international community.

At the time of writing there appears to be no serious Iraqi or international effort to build the political, social and economic conditions for the sustainable return of those who
lost homes and livelihoods as a result of the conflict. Militias and unscrupulous local authorities are exploiting this vacuum. Thoughtful and realistic planning – with identification of financial and other resources – should begin immediately
for the post-ISIS era, including gaining agreement on the establishment of security to allow for the return of affected minorities to their original homes and lands.

This a summary of the key findings. The complete article can be found at: <>


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