A “package of measures” are needed to address political, religious and socio-economic challenges in the Middle East that are fuelling extremism in the region, according to out-going Iraqi Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Hisham Al Alawi. These measures, he says, need incorporate both government and non-government entities and come from both within the region, as well as the broader international community.
“The crisis in Syria in particular is a big tragedy….I think officials and non-officials realise that this conflict needs to end, and that the longer it lasts the larger the casualty figures, the bigger the suffering of Syrians and the greater the negative consequences for people in the region and beyond,” Al Alawi told VOC’s Drivetime.
Despite the growing problems in Syria, Al Alawi said there has been some positive developments at regional and international level that are likely to bring about a political solutions to the situation.
“It could lead to the formation of a transitional government that could prepare the grounds for lasting peace. That will also be in line with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and in my view it would have far reaching consequences beyond the borders of Syria,” he declared.
While much of the global focus has been on Syria and a developing situation in Turkey, Iraq has somewhat slipped under the radar. Al Alawi said the past 15 months had been one of great difficulty for Iraq, with the influx of ISIS radicals from Syria amongst the biggest areas of concern. As a result, three million Iraqi’s have since been internally displaced. This has been coupled by the radical group’s persecution of ethnic minorities, in particular women of the country’s Yazidi tribes.
“Despite this I think we have done relatively well in the past 15 months. The government has embarked on a new approach to deal with security challenges and there have been meaningful positive developments there. We’ve managed to control many of the area, cities and towns that have been captured (by ISIS),” he said.
According to him the Iraqi government were also confident of retaking most of ISIS-held territory in the province of al-Anbar by the end of 2015.
Iraq has also been beset by a range of issues including significant drops in the price of oil, rising unemployment and other economy-related challenges. But Al Alawi explained that the government were currently embarking on significant reform packages, likely to have lasting positive impacts on the country’s economy. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)