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ISIS: A History – LSE public lecture with Professor Fawaz Gerges

In a fascinating LSE public lecture, expert speaker on the Middle East Professor Fawaz Gerges traced the emergence of ISIS as a political force. You can listen to a podcast of Fawaz’ talk here. Below are some of the key points that stood out for me: ISIS speaker

  • ISIS was born out of the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
  • But unlike Al Qaeda, its strategic focus until recently was the “near enemy” rather than the “far enemy”.
  • The failure of the Arab Uprisings, very high levels of corruption, poverty and unemployment (of the 320m people in the Middle East, c. 30-40% are unemployed) have made it possible for ISIS to recruit in such large numbers.
  • ISIS has used the political vacuum created by the collapse of the state system and political institutions in the Middle East to its advantage.
  • ISIS will be physically defeated, but the real danger is that their ideology continues to live on.

You can purchase ISIS: A History by Fawaz Gerges now.

To find out more about Fawaz and to book him for your next event, email me at or call me on 0044 (0) 7809609529.

Exclusive interview with leading geopolitical speaker General Sir Rupert Smith: “The West has no clear strategy to tackle ISIS”

General Sir Rupert Smith, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO, is a senior international authority on defence, security and strategy.

In an exclusive interview with Chartwell, Sir Rupert gives his take on the West’s strategy towards ISIS – or lack thereof – and whether the West has got it right, following Britain’s recent decision to perform air-strikes in Iraq. Sir Rupert also draws comparisons to the crisis in Ukraine, though noting that the situations are very different from one another, and comments on the ability of strategists to think about, and prepare for, long term solutions.

To book Sir Rupert Smith as a speaker for your conference or client event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at or on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Dominique de Villepin: “Choose weapons of peace over the rhetoric of war to eliminate Islamist violence”

Writing in the Financial Times, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Dominique de Villepin argues that the West has to do what it takes to eliminate Islamist violence.

Following the barbaric murder of Alan Henning, Dominique believes there is a fresh call for more efficiency in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). However, with reference to the on-going global war on terror, he points out that there is “confusion over what is said, what is done and what is wished.” He goes on to say that “40 years inconsistent policies, especially in Washington, have fuelled war between nationalist dictatorships and Islamist movements.”

Dominique asserts that “we cannot afford an endless war of fragile truces punctuated by brutal outbursts that leads, little by little, to a clash of civilisations.” In response, he sets out three imperatives as a core strategy to achieve the elimination of Islamist violence:

  1. The key strategy remains political, and requires the unity of the Arab nation states.
  2. The second imperative is responsibility: the regional war can only be solved by the region’s countries.
  3. The third imperative is reconciliation. In the Middle East, the West needs to promote local peace, in one place at a time, to achieve a regional peace tomorrow.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information on how to book Dominique de Villepin as a speaker for your conference or client event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Prospect Editor and political analyst Bronwen Maddox on UK politics, ISIS and the outlook for the West

Bronwen Maddox, former Foreign Affairs Editor of the Times and now Editor of London-based Prospect magazine analyses the nexus between finance, geopolitics and security.

Recently returned from the US where she interviewed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (pictured above), Bronwen speaks to Chartwell’s Alex Hickman about the legacy of the Scottish referendum and the outlook for the UK 2015 General Election; the US-led coalition against ISIS and its prospects for success; and what ISIS and the situation in Ukraine means for global security and the global economy.

For more information on how to book Bronwen Maddox as a speaker for your conference or client event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

“ISIS should not top US foreign policy list” warns Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama, fellow at Stanford University and expert speaker on political philosophy, wrote in the Financial Times that ISIS risks distracting the US from more menacing foes.

Francis believes that the “focus of today’s debate [over Western intervention] ought to be: how should we prioritise the threats facing us and how bad are the most serious?” Authoritarian forces are on the move, as seen with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South and East China seas, and the collapse of the Iraqi government’s power. Francis argues that the latter is “the least consequential of these challenges in terms of core US interests.”

Instead, Francis contends that Russia’s annexation of Crimea crossed the most important threshold. He points out that the “entire post-cold war order in Europe rested on Russia’s acceptance that ethnic Russian minorities stranded in neighbouring states would remain in place. President Vladimir Putin has thrown all that into question, with effects that will be felt from Moldova to Kazakhstan to Estonia.” He goes on to say that “strategy is about setting priorities, saying that some things are more important than others and explaining why this is so.”

Click here to read the full article.

To book Francis Fukuyama as a speaker, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at or on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Containing ISIS: Guidance from expert speaker Dennis Ross

Dennis Ross speakerWriting in the LA Times, Dennis Ross, expert speaker on geopolitics and one of America’s foremost foreign policy experts on the Middle East region, warns that Washington’s actions toward ISIS now must be taken with both Iraq and Syria in mind.

Dennis explains that the calculus that guided the U.S. in Iraq and Syria was fear over the costs of action, which led Washington to ignore the costs of inaction. He argues that sanctions, a political process and humanitarian assistance did not affect reality in Syria, and that today we are seeing the cost in terms of spillover in the region, and the consequences of radical Islamists coming to dominate the opposition.

He goes on to say that “there is no border between Syria and Iraq, and the re-emergence of a terrible sectarian conflict in Iraq is inextricably linked to Syria. There will be no effective or enduring answer to the ISIS threat in Iraq without also taking steps in Syria to deny it a sanctuary and a recruiting base.”

Dennis argues that “there will be risks to acting, but by now we have seen the costs of inaction — and they are only likely to grow over time.” The military and diplomatic steps that President Obama has ordered reflect the U.S. need to prevent ISIS from embedding itself in more of Iraq. Whether they will work, Dennis adds, is another matter.

Click here to read the full article.

To book Dennis as a speaker, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at or on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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