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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.

Bronwen Maddox interviews former US President Jimmy Carter

Bronwen Maddox Speaker Editor and Chief Executive of Prospect magazine, Bronwen Maddox recently had the pleasure of interviewing former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter about the launch of his new book, “A Full Life: Reflections at 90.”

Throughout their discussion, former President Carter shares his perspective on US relations with the Middle East, and the Iran deal, which he describes as “the best we can do and the only alternative to a conflict with Iran.”

In one of the chapters of his book, Carter delivers his verdict on the world’s worst conflicts, and insists that “the Netanyahu government decided early on to adopt a one-state solution,” meaning that the “two-state solution,” which is still the professed international goal, is not going to happen. Overall he shares his hopes that the “US’s relations with Iran can improve.”

After devoting much effort to the Israeli-Palestinian relations while President, he pronounces that “at this moment, there is zero chance of the two-state solution.”

To read the full interview, click here.

For more information on how to book Bronwen Maddox as a speaker for your conference or client event, please get in touch with Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call on +44 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, American foreign policy expert, makes case for West accepting Iran nuclear deal.

Nicholas BurnsExpert speaker, Ambassador Nicholas Burns gives his insight into the next steps the US must take to contain Iran after a nuclear deal was reached in Vienna on July 14th.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Nick outlines the importance of a ‘reassertion of American interest in playing the leading role in that region’ in order to maintain control over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information, or to book Nick Burns as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact

Justin Marozzi wins Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize for “Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood”

Justin Marozzi speakerJustin Marozzi, expert commentator on ISIS and the Middle East, has won the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize for his book “Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood”. The £10,000 award goes to the book – fiction, non-fiction or poetry – that best evokes the “spirit of a place”.

Praised by judges as a “truly monumental achievement”, the book offers a history of Baghdad that ranges from its 15th-century sacking by Tamerlane to the invasion by American troops in 2003. The former foreign correspondent beat titles by authors including Elif Shafak, Helen Dunmore and Rana Dasgupta.

On receiving the prize, Justin said:

“I am deeply honoured and completely thrilled to have been awarded the RSL’s Ondaatje Prize. Living and working in Baghdad – and writing about the city – have taken up much of the past decade during an extraordinary time in the history of a city that has surely known more violence than any other and yet which once was the capital of world civilisation. If there is one lesson to be learned from the turbulent history of Baghdad and the current turmoil of the Middle East, it is that tolerance and cosmopolitanism are the only hope.”

Click here for more information.

For more information on how to book Justin Marozzi as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

“The whole world needs feminism, but the Middle East needs it acutely” alerts award-winning novelist Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak speakerWriting in the Financial Times, Elif Shafak, Turkey’s best-selling female author, stresses that Middle Eastern women should not have to rely on authoritarian male leaders to advance their rights.

Despite the notion that female bodies are a battleground in the Middle East, both ideologically and physically, Elif notes that female adulation of male autocrats is widespread throughout the region. She believes that turning to autocrats for protection is a response born of fear, but why are Middle Eastern women so scared?

Elif suggests that “extremism and political violence can create a state of perpetual anxiety, in which patriarchs take on idol-like qualities for the seeming stability they offer, and women may turn a blind eye to human rights violations under their noses.” However, Elif believes there is a contradiction here, because “if we believe in one, we should fight for both.”

She believes that people must come together to bridge unnecessary division, because “as long as we allow such divisions to stand, all women in the Middle East will be weaker.” She goes on to propose that “what we require is a network and awareness of sisterhood that goes beyond national, ethnic, class, religious and sectarian boundaries. The whole world needs feminism, but at this moment in history, the Middle East needs it acutely.”

Click here to read the full article (paywall).

For more information, or to book Elif Shafak as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Alex Hickman at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8004.

“A new Middle East is emerging” cautions former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer

Joschka Fischer speakerWriting for Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer, a vitally important European political figurehead and thinker, asserts that a new Middle East is emerging in which the Kurds and Iran are gaining regional influence, whilst Sunni powers are declining.

What is becoming apparent, Joschka notes, is the collapse of the region’s old order, and with it the decline of the region’s traditional stabilising powers. He explains that the “political weakness of those powers – whether global actors like the United States or regional players like Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – has led to a remarkable role reversal in the region’s power dynamic.” Joschka goes on to say that “although the US and the European Union still classify the pro-independence Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, only the PKK’s fighters, it seems, are willing and able to stop the Islamic State’s further advance.”

As a result of their newly won legitimacy, the Kurds’ fate has become a burning question in Turkey. Joschka comments that the West is presented with a dilemma: “Given its reluctance to commit its own ground forces to a war it knows it must win, it will have to arm the Kurds.” However, this will not sit well with NATO member Turkey – or, most likely, with Iran. Consequently, Joshka warns that the “key strategic question…will not be resolved on the region’s battlefields, but in the various negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.”

Click here to read on.

For more information, or to book Joschka Fischer as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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