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Past event

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: The Role and Future of Extremist Groups in the Region


Date: Monday 15 September 2014, 18:00 - 20:00

Venue: Leiden University/Campus Den Haag, Kantoren Stichthage, 13th Floor (above the Hague Central Station)

* Update: The English translation of Fidaa Itani's paper "Roots and Future of al Qaeda Offshoots in Syria" is now available *

The speed and strength with which the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS) has gained ground in Syria and Iraq is unprecedented. While the civil war continues in Syria, and unrest has spread to neighbouring countries, questions arise regarding the role of violent extremist groups, and what their rise means for the future of the region. What are the relationships of groups like ISIS and al Nusra Front to national, regional and international actors? What significance do recent developments have for the role of al Qaeda and – importantly - how should the international community respond?

This joint Hivos and ICCT evening seminar addressed the role of violent extremist groups in Syria, Iraq and beyond. After a welcome by ICCT Director Mark Singleton and Hivos Policy Officer Michiel Beker, al Qaeda in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon expert Fidaa Itani presented his recent paper on al Qaeda’s role in Syria and Iraq. This publication is part of the Hivos “Civil Society in West Asia” initiative. University of Amsterdam Assistant Professor Mariwan Kanie and Director of FIDA Management Munir Zamir provided responses with a particular focus on policy recommendations. Hivos' Middle East expert and Carnegie's Visiting Scholar Kawa Hassan moderated the ensuing panel discussion, which gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues as well as policy recommendations in more detail.



17:45 – 18:00: Doors open, coffee and tea served

18:00 – 18:10: Welcome by Mark Singleton (Director, ICCT) and Michiel Beker (Policy Officer, Hivos)

18:10 – 18:30: Al-Qaeda in Syria by Fidaa Itani (al Qaeda in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon expert)

18:30 – 19:00: Responses by Mariwan Kanie (Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam) and Munir Zamir (Director, FIDA)

19:00 – 19:30: Panel Discussion moderated by Kawa Hassan (Middle East Expert, Hivos and Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Middle East Centre)

19:30 – 20:00: Drinks reception

This was the second seminar convened jointly by Hivos and ICCT, forming a unique combination of two The Hague-based organisations at the intersection of international development, and preventative as well as legal aspects of counter-terrorism.



The seminar took place on the 13th Floor of Leiden University/Campus Den Haag, located above The Hague Central Station. With your back to the rail tracks, take the stairs opposite platform 9 / 10 up to the mezzanine level above the shops, taking a left to the reception marked "Kantoren Stichthage". There, they will direct you to the venue on the 13th floor.


Meeting Report

To find out more about this evening seminar, read the Meeting Report here.