The Quarterly DAG-3QD Peace and Justice Symposium: The Iraq War and Democracy in the Middle East

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Dear Reader,

We are very pleased to collaborate with the Amsterdam-based Dialogue Advisory Group (DAG) to bring to you quarterly online symposia on topics of international peace and justice. This is the fourth in this series of symposia; the first three can be seen here, here, and here.

DAG is an organization which discreetly assists government, inter-government and other actors to confidentially manage national and international mediation efforts. Among their publicly known activities is DAG’s involvement in verifying the ETA ceasefire in Basque Country and the decommissioning of the weapons of INLA, a dissident Republican armed group in Northern Ireland.

DAG is directed by Ram Manikkalingam who also teaches politics at the University of Amsterdam. He advised the previous President of Sri Lanka during the peace process with the Tamil Tigers and prior to that advised the Rockefeller Foundation’s program in international peace and security.

In the DAG-3QD Peace and Justice Symposia internationally recognized figures will debate challenges in conflict resolution and human rights. One (or more) author(s) will present a thesis in the form of a short essay and then the others will present critiques of that point of view. Finally, the initial author(s) will also have an opportunity to present a rebuttal to the critiques.

The topic this time is whether the Iraq war helped or hurt the spreading of democracy in the middle east.

The distinguished participants in this symposium:

  • Kanan Makiya is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. He was a prominent member of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein and an influential proponent of the 2003 Iraq War. His books include Republic of Fear (1989), The Monument (1991), Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (1993), and The Rock: A Seventh Century Tale of Jerusalem (2001).
  • James L. Gelvin is professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of five books, including The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (2012) and The Modern Middle East: A History (2011), along with numerous articles and book chapters on the social and cultural history of the region.
  • Azzam Tamimi is the Director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought (IIPT). He has been a visiting professor at Kyoto and Nagoya universities in Japan. His books include: Power-Sharing Islam (1993), Islam and Secularism in the Middle East (2000), Rachid Ghannouchi a Democrat within Islamism (2001), and Hamas Unwritten Chapters (2006). He is a regular commentator on a number of Arabic satellite channels including Aljazeera and Alhiwar and frequently makes appearances on a number of English channels as well.

I would like to thank the participants as well as Ram Manikkalingam, Fleur Ravensbergen, Michelle Gehrig, and the indefatigable Amanda Beugeling of the Dialogue Advisory Group for working closely with me in organizing these symposia. The logo for the symposia has also been designed by Amanda Beugeling.

We look forward to your comments and feedback.


S. Abbas Raza

NOTE: DAG and 3QD wish to acknowledge the generous contribution of the Dutch Stichting Democratie en Media toward these symposia, as well as the support of our readers.


[Click the links below to read the essays.]

  1. How did the 2003 Iraq War both contribute to spreading the idea of democracy in the Middle East, and discredit that idea at the same time? by Kanan Makiya
  2. Here's What Actually Happened by James L. Gelvin
  3. Makiya's Theory is Farfetched by Azzam Tamimi
  4. Response to Gelvin & Tamimi by Kanan Makiya





Please leave comments about any of the essays in the symposium in the comments area of this post. Thank you.