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The Impact of Jihadist Islam State on Iraq and its Neighbours. What can be done?

Published 02 Sep 2014

America’s former envoy to Iraq and US deputy national security adviser, Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, addresses AIIA NSW.

In the northern summer of 2014 the world is confronted with a series of linked threats in the Middle East not seen since 1979, when as we heard earlier this month from ASIO director-general David Irvine Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, now pose the world’s most serious terrorism threat. Iran,with its surrogates throughout the region, are putting states under pressure through mass movements, military advances, terrorist attacks on civilians, massacres and expulsions.

By the end of July, the al Qaeda breakaway group had carved out a large chunk of territory in north-eastern Syria and neighbouring Iraq, effectively erasing the border between the two and laying the foundations of what it now calls the Islamic State.
The immediate future of Iraq and Syria now seems likely to be determined by non-state actors and powerful foreign patrons.

What does this frightening development mean for the future of Iraq and Syria and how will it impact on the broader Middle East? Can Iraq and Syria survive intact? Can the West act to restore stability? What are the options?

James F. Jeffrey retired from the United States Foreign Service with the rank of career ambassador in June, 2012. At present he is the Philip Solondz distinguished visiting fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a visiting instructor at George Washington University, consultant, and member of the US secretary of defence’s defense policy board.

A former infantry officer in the U.S. Army, ambassador Jeffrey served in Germany and Vietnam from 1969 to 1976.