IISS Manama Dialogue 2017: Sky News Arabia Debate

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Good evening and welcome all to our session in the Manama Dialogue. This is the opening session with Fadila Al Souissi with Sky News Arabia, under the title, ‘After Mosul and Raqqa: Stabilising the Middle East, and Fighting Terrorism and Extremism Worldwide’.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome the guests at this opening plenary, and so I would like to welcome His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board, King Faisal Center of Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia. Welcome, and thank you. I would like also to bid welcome to Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs from Iraq. Welcome, Dr Al Jaafari. It is as well a great pleasure to welcome Dr Yenny Wahid, Director of the Wahid Foundation for the Promotion of Peace and Tolerance from Indonesia. All of you, welcome to our session.

I would like also to welcome the audience that is filling this room. I would like to start with you, Your Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal. Every year, we talk about fighting terrorism and extremism. Many things have happened since we met last year at the opening plenary here as well in Manama. What is your understanding of what has happened regarding the fight against terrorism until now?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

In the name of God, the fight against terrorism has really been great and the Iraqi military, the Iraqi soldiers were able to mobilise all the components of the Iraqi population in order to face this risk that is not only a risk towards Iraq, but also to everybody. Consequently, these are considerations to be taken, whether in Syria or in any other places.

There are many places that know this epidemic, that is really benefiting by the failures of some of the leaders in these countries, that led to these places of war and these pockets in Yemen, Libya, Syria and others. But we see also that terrorism is really reaching other places, whether we are talking about the different continents, and this terrorism is also trying to grasp any opportunity to hinder the worldwide peace that we need to live within in this world. Consequently, the solution is to be through the collaboration and the cooperation, not only through the exchange of information, but also through the basis to face terrorism, whether we are talking about security, about the social level or the doctrinal level.

These people have a specific project that is very known. They want to occupy the world, and consequently we need to face them at the worldwide level, and thus, we need to face this problem, and we need to end this problem very soon.

As I said last year, these are the symptoms of the main sickness, because the main sickness is in how to safeguard this social fabric, that needs to remain harmonious, that needs to be secured and to be working in solidarity, thus prohibiting these people from benefiting from the troubles that some of the countries are witnessing. Also, we need to blame the international community in general, because the international community did not stop such errors in a positive way, and they did not stop all these risks, thus they had the possibility to really become numerous in some areas, and consequently become a risk to everybody.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Maybe Dr Jaafari can be very proud of the success against ISIS in Mosul, especially that we have had the announcement of the Prime Minister of Iraq of this success. So, do you think that this has been reflected at the political and the security level in Iraq?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

In the name of God, first of all I would like to welcome all of you and to greet everybody, especially that I am participating with you today after the success that we were hoping for some years ago. So now, we are living this success, especially that the Iraqi military have achieved this success, not only for Iraq but for the entire region, because ISIS is an international and a worldwide threat, and consequently, the Iraqi answer was also a worldwide one. I hope that next year, whenever we will meet, we will be able to talk more about this success, and how to stop ISIS and all the other groups, and just know that there is an organic link between the security, the political and economic levels. We cannot disintegrate these three aspects based on which the state works.

What has happened in Mosul has, in 2014, represented a huge crisis, and led to the despair of many populations. Now, we have achieved a huge success in many governorates and provinces. Iraq would not have been able to do so had it not mobilised all its forces at the military level, and all the forces that have included everybody at the political level, the military, the population, the forces to fight terrorism, so all of them, hand in hand, were able to work under the general command of the military forces in order to do so. And also, they have unified their speech. Of course, you know that in Iraq we have many and multiple speeches and many and multiple ideologies and thinkings, but this does not mean that this diversity is only a point of strength, and consequently the political speech has become a unified one whenever they were talking about the issue of ISIS, so they used to identify and define ISIS in a unified way and consequently, we have to be strong at the security and at the political levels.

This has led to having the entire world, for the first time in history, to have all the world supporting one idea. If you read all the books, you will not find anywhere in history where all the populations of the world were on the one side. This has happened with Iraq. We have seen it in the United Nations, and the Arab League of States, all the states have supported Iraq. And thus, we should not only be proud and be happy with our success. This is a pride for all the countries that have participated and that have given Iraq 16 international positions now. We also have the security coverage, the financial support, et cetera.

Consequently, Iraq feels success now, feels the glory, but we are also alert that these people that have gathered, coming from many different backgrounds, that have reached 124 countries in Mosul that all gathered around one thing, which is destroying the infrastructure, the civilisation of Iraq, but fortunately, they have become a lesson to learn from for everybody, because they wanted evil and they were not able to implement it. So, we have to focus on all levels – the government, the governors – and everybody was in solidarity against Daesh.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Dr Al Jaafari. I would like now to ask Dr Yenny Wahid to participate to our dialogue. You are not far from this scene and from this worldwide war that His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal was talking about, and of course in Indonesia, in Southeast Asia, you are also alert regarding all those who are coming back, whether from Iraq or from Syria. To what extent do you consider that this is a risk?

Yenny Zannuba Wahid, Director, The Wahid Foundation, Indonesia

I would like to put that in perspective first. You see, Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. We have more than 200 million Muslims living in Indonesia. But, in the words of former Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron, he said, out of these 200 million Muslims, only 500 actually went to Syria. But in the UK, for example, out of 2 million Muslims, 5,000 went to Syria. So, with that number, you can tell that our problem is relatively small compared to other countries. But of course, we do have returnees coming back to our country.

I think in our country we have got a good system in which we try to overcome these challenges. Actually, the model of Saudi Arabia, the counselling programme, and also the campaign, the Sakinah Campaign that Saudi Arabia embarks on, is also a good model that we try to replicate in our country. We look at the radicals from the point of view of these policy approaches. So, you look at the problems. You divide the society into three different categories. The first one is the healthy one. The second one is maybe the people who have a little bit of virus already, contracted some virus. The third ones are the ones who are chronically infected. The approaches that you have about these groups are different. You do not put too much emphasis, for example, for the healthy ones. You do not really target them. But for the radicals, sometimes there are no other approaches than the security approach. But for the middle ground, you need to make sure that they are immune from other persuasions, that they are not going to be persuaded to join the radical cause. So those are, I think, the best approaches when it comes to how to deal with the challenge of radicalism.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

So, when fighting terrorism and extremism, we need to adopt a very strict approach. The security approach itself cannot in fact solve the issue of terrorism, and it is necessary to have also an intellectual approach. Saudi Arabia is witnessing a new era. It is witnessing also a change that observers are noticing. Maybe there is also a rupture, with years where people might believe that there was extremism. So now there is a new promise. A promise of a new era. An era of openness to cultures. What do you think about the intellectual approach in fighting terrorism?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

Challenging extremism has to come with different ideas, with another ideology. In our religion, Islam, we have many doors that allow us to face such a challenge, through the Koranic verse or through also the Hadith. As communities, whether in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, we only need to rely on such a rich source, and to use these tools that Allah has provided us with in his Koran. And this is in fact what the Kingdom has tried to do, through programmes that were mentioned by Mrs Wahid, that is, the counselling programme or the Sakinah programme. Those are tools that are being used in order to face such an ideology that is harmful, according to Dr Jaafari.

Thank God, the community and the social fabric in the Kingdom were able to face those who were calling for extremism and for not respecting human beings, so for them, they believe that the human being does not have any value, while God granted us an intellectual, physical and a moral value as well. So, the Kingdom, while it was trying to face such a phenomenon, mobilised all the efforts in the schools, in the mosques, in the universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and also through the security agencies in order to confront such an ideology. And thank God, thanks to the testimony of others, like Mrs Wahid has said, there are successes that have been registered.

We are human beings, like any other human beings, and as Mrs Wahid has said, if some are contaminated or catch a virus, leading to extremism, to barbarism and to this bloody tendency, there are, however, tools that will allow us to confront such a threat, and the Kingdom, with its wise leadership, King Salman and the Crown Prince were capable of showing this to the world.

King Salman, in his first speech delivered when he became King, said that the Kingdom will always face such an ideology. In turn, the Crown Prince, mainly in the latest speeches, said that the Kingdom considers itself open to all of the civilisations, cultures and religions, and how it welcomes the principle of dialogue, and not the principle of confrontation. The Saudi community also succeeded in facing these lost souls, and in overcoming the problems. But world events unfortunately are probably providing oxygen or maybe also nutrition that is leading to so many viruses, and as I have mentioned previously, the human being, when he is injured, if he does not treat his wounds, microbes will come.

The latest event was the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem. This is going to give oxygen to the lost souls. They will become active again, and they will be in fact very difficult to deal with. I hope that President Trump, who has thrown himself in the sea, before he drowns, I wish that he will be saved and I wish that he will issue a statement recognising the state of Palestine with Jerusalem East as its capital. I think that this is the only measure that can allow us to overcome the current situation in terms of turmoil and instability, not only in the region but worldwide.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Since you mentioned Jerusalem, and the American decision issued by Trump two days ago, Dr Jaafari, do you believe that the decision as such can have negative repercussions on Iraq? Once again, do you think it might be used and exploited by some stakeholders, like Daesh, that do not care about Jerusalem? Do you think that peace has really been killed in the Middle East?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

This is a bad decision and it will have negative repercussions. I think that this is a step towards war, and such a step, if there is no going back, it will definitely lead to repercussions, and God knows what will be these repercussions.

As for Iraq, victory has been achieved, and Iraq has proved that this is a country where the present is linked to the past, and this country is capable of dealing with all those who have the Daesh or ISIS ideology, and thanks to great efforts, it was able and capable of overcoming this problem. So, there are lots of events that are taking place here, and the Middle East is currently going through a specific situation. Let us in fact see the real wound behind the Daesh phenomenon.

Some people have talked about bacteria, viruses. Since I am a doctor, I can talk about this issue. Microbes live in a specific environment. Where did we see Daesh occurring or blooming? In a political area that is destabilised, that has never witnessed electoral periods, women that represent half of the community are not getting all of their rights, so those are regimes that do not know how to deal with crisis. They do not know how to manage crisis. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, the economic situation. Iraq, as other countries in the region, is one of the richest countries in the world. It has two-thirds of the oil reserves. You also have many resources in the region. You also have intellectual resources. You also have great tourism in this area. And in Iraq, you also have lots of visitors and tourists. So all of these resources and all of this wealth is available. So why are we witnessing such a division? Twenty per cent of the West benefits from 80% of the wealth in the world.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Maybe this is the fault of the different governments?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

The young men that consider that they cannot choose the government, that they cannot benefit from the wealth. They become poor, when they come from a rich country. What were you expecting? And some people were in fact planning to push these people through retaliation.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Dr Jaafari, since you want to pinpoint the problem, and I hope that we will be very honest with each other, there are some people who say that talking about terrorism cannot be accomplished or completed without talking about the terrorism of Iran. Iran sponsors terrorism, as the US, Trump and the international community say, this happens in Yemen, in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. How can Iraq live such a stability, and how can it benefit by this glory against ISIS, while it is in an environment where Iran is destabilising the situation?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

Mrs Fadila, let me be honest with you. Such topics are things that I talk about easily, whether at home or in front of the screen. In fact, I went to Iran, and I saw that Iran also is a victim of terrorism. I did not see Iran acting or doing terrorism.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

How is it a victim of terrorism?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

They have had explosions. Saddam Hussein waged a war of eight years against them. They have lived misery. He has destroyed everything there, but I have not seen Iran sending any terrorism towards Iraq. I have not seen so. I have not seen – please, allow me to finish. What do I say? So, I am talking about the reality, the real situation that we have in Iraq. I have not seen this, Iran in such a case. So, when we have had a problem, Iran said that we are able to assist, and we have asked for some consultants, as we have done from many, many other countries. Maybe, Prince Turki Al Faisal can answer this point in order not for me to answer it. Could you please take the floor, Your Royal Highness?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

Dr Ibrahim, let us shake hands before I talk. Maybe the doctor went to Iran, and I have not been there. Consequently, I cannot say what is happening, since I have not been there since the Shah. But what we are seeing in Yemen, we see that Iran is supporting the Houthis. What has happened, the Houthis have destroyed Yemen. They have also nurtured lots of discords and conflicts, and this is what has happened between them and their ally, President Saleh. We see some liquidation that is taking place in the streets, for more than 2,000 or 3,000 persons, on the same day of the assassination of the ex-president, and they have liquidated all those who have assisted him and all those who belonged to his line.

This country witnesses the fingerprint of Iran in each of its villages, in each of its streets. In Syria, who is fighting with Bashar al-Assad? This tyrant who has killed more than half a million persons among his population. Who is supporting him? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with some volunteers who were brought by Iran from Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other places. All these things are not allegations. These are things that have been witnessed by all the five senses.

Maybe in Iraq, as Dr Al Jaafari said, Iran has not practised such terrorist acts. He knows more than I what is happening in Iraq. I cannot say the opposite. But in general, Iran has this expansionist tendency, and this expansionist tendency is represented at the top of the power that says that it is responsible for all the Muslims all around the world, and not only those who are of a specific rite or sect. So, from this Wilayat al-Faqih rite that is consecrated in the constitution and in the practices of Iran, so these are not accepted by the Jaafari leaders in Iraq. Al Sistani is not of the same tendency. And thus, they have introduced this to us as Muslims, and we see their expansionist ambitions in these areas that I talked about. So this, for me, testifies that Iran practises terrorism. Maybe others do not see so, and it is up to them to decide.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

I would like here to have the opinion of Dr Yenny Wahid. Previously, we were talking about the Trump decision regarding Jerusalem. How does the Indonesian population interact with such a decision? Do you think that some extremist groups will be grasping this opportunity to benefit by it there in Indonesia?

Yenny Zannuba Wahid, Director, The Wahid Foundation, Indonesia

Yes. Jihadists feed on a sense of grief, a sense of alienation and injustice. When there are injustices that people perceive as happening in some other parts of the world, they can use this as a consolidating issue. They would get, for example, vulnerable young men, vulnerable young people now, because girls also get attracted to the idea of going abroad for jihad, and these vulnerable young people get called into meetings, usually secret meetings, and are then brainwashed into doing some radical acts.

The issue, the decision by President Trump, for us is really a reckless decision, because it will contribute to the instability of many countries in the region, not just in the Middle East but also in countries where there are many Islamic communities. In Indonesia, for example, we have got demonstrations already. People took to the street, voicing their sense of solidarity. People feel that there is an injustice going on. This is going to be a platform that will be used by the radical groups to recruit more people to join their cause. These young people, they want to fight this injustice. They want to fight against this injustice, but they do not want to go to Palestine, so they will be asked to do some acts in their own countries. That is the kind of manifestation of the frustrations that the jihadist group is going to use to get to young people.

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

In fact, you use a term that is interesting, along with many other terms that have been taken by these groups, and they have changed its meaning. Like the word Al Jihad, because in Islam, the best thing is to have your jihad against your own person, to live with others, to be good with people. These people have taken this term and consequently they qualify all their words by jihad, and this is not correct. This is not good. This is as if we are saying, yes, they are jihadists. God asks us to have the jihad for God. Consequently the term, maybe the best term to use for these people is to say that they are destroyers, people who destroy everything. Terminators.

These people have tried to put their hands on Islam. They say, they talk about the Islamic State. It is neither a state nor Islamic. Consequently, we need to be very careful with the use of our words, and how to defend our own terminology, and not to give them to these people. Not to let them put their hand on these terms and to be linked to them, while we are the Muslims. We are the ones who are working for God. They are stealing these terms, and they are using them.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Your Royal Highness. I would like now to include and involve some of our audience in order not to have what we had last year, where I was blamed.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

But I wanted to complete what His Royal Highness has said. Is it possible? First of all, again, I would like to salute and greet and shake hands, just to say that, of course, when we talk about differences, things are fine. I know His Royal Highness since long ago; I know him since 1990. We used to have this jihad against Saddam together. There is some difference between some terms, so there are some people who are carrying weapons from some countries coming to other countries, and spreading terror. I told you previously that this is a kind of reaction. We have had 124 nationalities amongst those who have come to Iraq, so from all the countries, from the US, from the UK, from the Gulf states, from Southeast Asia, et cetera. But we have not condemned anybody because of that. I have not seen in Iraq any Iranians carrying weapons. Please allow me. I am not representing anybody here. I am an Arabic person, please allow me to continue. I am proud of my Arabicity and I come from Al-Hijaz, and His Royal Highness knows so. Since 730 years ago, we came to Iraq, so this is my history and consequently, when we want to talk about the file of any of the countries, we ask the opinion of the person coming from this country, especially a person who knows this country.

I can say, honestly, that I have not seen any Iranian citizens coming, carrying weapons, as I have seen with 124 countries from the world. Despite all this, and if we consider that we have Iranians coming, like others, so it will be like all the other countries and consequently we cannot condemn the country because of these young people.

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

Dr Jaafari, I know that you do not represent Iran, but I know that Iraq is an ally to Iran. So the weapons that are provided by Iran to the Houthis in Yemen have become something that is known by the entire international community and the United Nations, and what Iran is doing in Syria through Hizbullah because they are the main funder for Hizbullah in Syria and in Lebanon; so this is something that is even bigger than denying it, by saying that there are no Iranians carrying weapons in Iraq. What do you think?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

The resistance went to Syria and they are resisting also in Lebanon, so where is the problem?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

I see many Iranians who speak in Arabic even better than the Arabs; so Hizbullah is coming from the Lebanese community and works within this context, so why should we take these illusions?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

It is not an illusion. Let us please be good lawyers, because we do not want a good idea to fail because of a bad lawyer. We have good lawyers. What has happened in Lebanon was something to face the problems that were taking place in Lebanon, and this is a Lebanese faction that has faced this. Any occupation leads to resistance; any invasion leads to a reaction from the population. Every dictatorship will lead to some revolution.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Yes, but Dr Jaafari, I would like to also involve our audience here. Dr Ebtesam Al Ketbi?

Dr Ebtesam Al Ketbi, President, Emirates Policy Center

Good evening, Dr Jaafari. What is the model that Iran can provide to Iraq? Iran does not have any successful economic nor political model, and it lives different crisis, an identity crisis, a model crisis, a crisis of building force, and it is in fact benefiting from the weakness of the neighbouring countries. So, what is the model that Iran can provide Iraq with?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

Fadila, please allow me to answer, but I will try to avoid this question in order for this not to be repeated. I am not an Iranian, and I am not a delegate for Iran to respond. I cannot in fact make them bear the responsibility for any answer I can give. So, we are talking here of Arab countries, and Iran, and I used to live in Iran, and they told me how can you live in Iran, but then I asked, no other Arab country opened its door for me. No other Arab country has opened the door for opponents. I lived in Iran. I represent a social stratum. Iran is at the borders.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

But let me tell you, the lady who asked the question asked you as an Iraqi official.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

I might answer her after the workshop, but please let me answer now. I am not an Iranian delegate. I am not responsible in front of you; I am not responsible in front of Iran. I am ready to discuss this issue in front of the whole world, but please do not put me in the corner like this.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Dr Jaafari. I hope that things will calm a little bit. We will listen to questions from people who might have a different opinion from yours.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

And I will respect that.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Mrs Raghida Dergham, a question pertaining to Iraq.

Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chair, Beirut Institute; Columnist and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, Al Hayat

You talked about the Hashd al-Shaabi, and you said it was part of the battle with the regular army, and thanks to that, you were capable of defeating ISIS and Daesh, but you have not mentioned Peshmergas.

I would like also to ask you another question: what about the Hashd al-Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilisation, after the success in Iraq? What will be its future? Will it remain to some extent an army that is parallel to the regular army?

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

What have I not mentioned?

Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chair, Beirut Institute; Columnist and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, Al Hayat

The Peshmergas. You mentioned the police.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

No, no, I mentioned the Peshmergas. I said the army, the police, the Hashd al-Shaabi, and maybe I have not mentioned the Peshmerga, but if you go back to all of my statements and declarations, I never ignored the Peshmergas. I always mentioned them. So maybe this was just something that I missed mentioning.

Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chair, Beirut Institute; Columnist and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, Al Hayat

So, what will be the future of the Popular Mobilisation, or al-Hashd al-Shaabi?

Your Royal Highness, I would like also to ask you a question regarding Jerusalem. You mentioned Jerusalem. In fact, we cannot practically ask Donald Trump to step back. He talked about Jerusalem. He never mentioned a unified Jerusalem, or he did not mention West Jerusalem. Is there a possibility for the Arab leaders to move at the highest levels so that President Trump will have to say that recognising Jerusalem means recognising Jerusalem West and consequently Jerusalem East will belong to Palestine?

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

So, first, regarding the Hashd al-Shaabi.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

Regarding the Hashd al-Shaabi, it saw the light because of a special number of realities on the ground. When Iraq saw the different provinces falling one after the other, Salahuddin, Anbar and then Mosul, and the other provinces were threatened and war even reached the doors of Baghdad, what were you expecting? Were you expecting Baghdad to fall? The army had in fact been unable to face this problem, so this is where the Hashd al-Shaabi saw the light. This is in fact a fact that proves that all of the Iraqis can act under the Armed Forces. This is on the one hand.

On the other hand, the Hashd al-Shaabi, what it did, it was not targeting or aiming at finding any social division. It saw the light because of a specific need, and now the Hashd al-Shaabi has a constitutional coverage. The world and all of the countries around the world, and I could remind the United Nations of the history, so, when there was a war, you brought an alternative army, alternative forces, so now the Hashd al-Shaabi has done a great job. It is using humanitarian tools.

 

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Let us maybe comment on this point. You are saying that it is using humanitarian methods or tools.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

Maybe I can talk directly about the fate of the Hashd al-Shaabi. The Hashd al-Shaabi had great stances; it changed the different situation on the ground, and now they have constitutional coverage. What do you want to happen? Hashd al-Shaabi is part of the Iraqi Armed Forces. It has been recognised constitutionally.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Dr Al Jaafari. I think that we are running out of time. Your Royal Highness, can you answer the question?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

I cannot answer your question, because I do not have any governmental position to talk about the different countries or about Saudi Arabia. There are meetings that will be held at the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to see what responses can be given to the statement of Mr Trump. In the speech of President Trump, he said, for example, that he is recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It does not mean that this is harming the legitimacy or the borders. I have called these Byzantine attempts to justify his position. Maybe this can be solved by a Byzantine individual, and we do not have any such person now, so this will remain bleak until we understand what this decision truly means. This is an unfair decision, a wrong decision that has been adopted by President Trump.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Dr Yenny, I really apologise because I promised you to take the floor. You wanted to make a comment regarding what His Royal Highness said a few minutes ago?

Yenny Zannuba Wahid, Director, The Wahid Foundation, Indonesia

What His Royal Highness said is very true, that we have to take back some of the concepts and terms that are being used by the radicals, and that is called counter-narratives, and many countries are engaged in that. But I would like to ask for us to actually take a step further, not just engaging in a counter-narrative, but a counter-identity.

What I mean by that, for example, in the case of Indonesia, we have got a state ideology that people believe in, that binds us together as a nation, that provides us a platform for our people to identify with. You know, the values that are written in the constitution, these five principles of Pancasila, values of humanity, values of unity, democracy and social justice, for example. These provide us with an identity so that we can be more strong and resilient as a society. And that is why I was very pleased when the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made the announcement that Saudi Arabia was a moderate country before 1979, and that the thinking of reverting back to the old traditions. I think it is very important for countries to articulate the values that will bind the people together, and that is the counter-identity that I mean.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Mrs Wahid. Can you please introduce yourself? Please, can you be brief in your question?

Saeed Ahmad Masaood, Arab News Agency

I have a question to Dr Ibrahim. When he said that they were able to make ISIS withdraw, and there is a victory for Iraq, I would like to ask him, we have not heard of any prisoners. We have not heard of any people killed. Were they destroyed? Were they eliminated? Or did you open the door for them to cross the borders? If they went to the borders, it means that each country is going to fight them and push them towards the borders; and we have heard about these people going to Libya, and this is extremely dangerous.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you. It seems that all of the questions are directed to you, and the questions deal with what you have said.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

Mrs Fadila, Iraq has not launched any war or waged any war against anyone. You have the Turkish forces now that are in Iraq, and we had the best relations with them. So Iraq is not a country of war, but of course, when Iraq is the victim of aggression, we are a brave people and we know how to defend ourselves. We did not want to kill them; this was not our intention; this is not our job. We have succeeded. Victory has prevailed and now, we only have joy, and joy has spread to all of the Iraqi areas. But if you are talking about people fleeing to other countries, and these countries have accepted, this is not my problem. The problem was in fact to make security prevail in Iraq, and to make our enemies fail. So, they have their own strategies, and there are in fact suicidals, so this is what I wanted to tell you.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you, Dr Al Jaafari.

Professor Toby Dodge, Consulting Senior Fellow for the Middle East, IISS; Director, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science

I would like to ask the whole panel: Iraq is heading towards national elections next year. What do you think the best outcome would be to consolidate the military gains against the Islamic State and turn them into a sustainable political gain? I would like to ask Dr Jaafari if he agrees with his prime minister that anyone associated with the Hashd al-Shaabi cannot run in those elections as a candidate.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

In fact, these are not the first elections. Elections took place in 2005, and we have had three elections: in 2005 for the draft constitution, then in the middle of 2005 it was for the constitution itself, and at the end of 2005 we had the National Assembly elections, et cetera, so this was an electoral year and it will not be the first nor the last. Of course, any state where we have lots of elections will be far from any military approach and far from any military gains.

What our colleague the Prime Minister said, of course this is correct, and this comes from a constitutional point of view, that elections are open to everybody. And now for my own point of view, are you asking only about my own point of view regarding this issue, or in general about the Hashd al-Shaabi also? I do not have the official opinion regarding whether they will be taking place or they will be participating or not. Of course, if they want, we have the constitution, and they have their constitutional rights, so they can ask for their right. If they ask for something that is against the constitution, we will not allow them to do so.

Mina Al Oraibi, Editor-In-Chief, The National

I am Iraqi. I have two questions. One question concerning the reconstruction of the buildings that were destroyed by ISIS, and those that were destroyed by the bombing, and also the rehabilitation of the society in these areas. What do you want from the world, especially regarding towards the Kuwait conference?

Also, for Syria, we have some areas in Syria that are being bombed under the title of ISIS, while these are places that are not occupied by ISIS. What is the risk of doing so and liquidating some accounts, which is very concerning?

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you. I would like to ask His Royal Highness Turki to answer regarding the issue of Syria.

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

I already said that Bashar al-Assad has killed and displaced the majority of the Syrian population, and has led us to this issue, to this humanitarian dilemma, this very high misery that Syria is living. And he has not been punished, nor held accountable, like the terrorist groups are facing. If we look at ISIS, and as you know, I do not like to call them Daesh, I prefer to call them Ba’ath or Al-Nusra Front, and many other groups that have killed and destroyed, et cetera.

The numbers that they have killed, and the destruction that they have led, is not 1% of what Bashar al-Assad has done. We do not see the international community going towards sanctioning him, because this person, those who supported him, those who have assisted him in this issue, so these people will not be punished and sanctioned, like Russia is saying that it has for example vanquished ISIS there, and consequently they will be withdrawing or they will be shrinking their presence in Syria.

I have met the Russian ambassador, when they started with their intervention in Syria, and he told me at that time that Russia wants to collaborate with the Kingdom and many other states in order to put an end to the terrorism in Syria. I supported him then, and I told him, yes, let us start with the first terrorist in Syria, who is Bashar al-Assad. But unfortunately, he looked at me and he said, we have other opinions. How do we diverge at this level, while we see the facts? Because you know, killing, displacing, torturing, so all these acts that were perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad are multifold and widely more important than those that were perpetrated by the gangs and by the groups. We hope that God will be holding them accountable for what they have done.

Regarding what is taking place, regarding the military operations, I do not know what is happening really there, and I cannot answer.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Briefly, Dr Jaafari, regarding the reconstruction in Iraq, which is the question which was asked by the lady there.

Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

I would like to thank you for this question, because now you pushed us to leave the past towards the future, and this is what should happen. So, you asked two questions. The first question was regarding the reconstruction, and the second was regarding the reconciliation, the rehabilitation, et cetera.

There is no place in the world that can reconstruct civilisations that go back thousands of years. Germany was able to rebuild its country, because they had the Marshall Plan, so because the entire world has supported them, consequently, this is what we ask. We ask the international community to have a modified Marshall Plan for Iraq. I am a Mosul University student. This is a city that was always smiling. This city was destroyed, but this destruction can be avoided and can be removed thanks to the support of the international community.

Now, regarding the social reconciliation, this is something that we have in Iraq. We do not have anything that is called sectarian conflict, or any brother conflict, as it were. So, if you have any questions, I can give you answers. I can give you figures to tell you how Iraqis have dealt one with the other in order to safeguard the unity of Iraq. Without this unity, Iraq would not have remained. We have more than 26% of the families that are inter-sectarian. We have some children. Can you ask a child, ‘Are you with your father or with your mum, because your mum is, for example, Shiite and your dad is a Sunni?’ This is impossible. The Iraqi population is completely far from this issue.

If you allow me, Mrs Fadila, I have one issue regarding Syria. I am neither Iranian nor Syrian, but both countries are at my borders. I disagree with what His Royal Highness has said regarding the destruction that has happened in Syria. Whatever has happened, whether because of the regime or because of ISIS, this is condemned, so I come from a place that has been injured. I have seen what terrorism is. I have seen what terrorists have done, and I have … while going to Sharm El Sheikh, I met Bashar al-Assad, and I asked him in a personal meeting, ‘Where are you going towards? The problem is from inside Syria and needs to be solved inside Syria.’ And he said that he was ready for any suggestion, for example, freeing the prisoners, getting the opposition from outside, starting with a democratic state, et cetera, and completely disillusioning or removing this myth of the uniparty.

I think that we should not get into a discussion with these states to see whether it is the egg first or the hen. Let us see what are the good suggestions and to give them to them, to see whether they can accept them.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Okay, now, very briefly, we only have two minutes. Your Royal Highness, do you agree with what was said?

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of The Board, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia

I think that, unfortunately, Bashar al-Assad has not been sanctioned, or that he has not got what he deserves. You know, the issue in Syria is a humanitarian issue. If we look at the destruction that was caused by Bashar al-Assad in Syria and with the Syrians, I see the Syrians who are in the Kingdom, and who talk about the misery that they have felt because of this regime. A regime that does not differentiate between Sunni, Shia, Druze, Christians or others. Everybody is equal under the eyes of Bashar al-Assad, like they were equal under the eyes of Saddam Hussein. And, since Saddam has gotten what he deserves in Iraq, we hope and we pray to God that we will see the day where Bashar al-Assad will get what he deserves.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you so much. A last word from you, Dr Yenny Wahid. What should we focus on in fighting terrorism, because our session was to talk about what we have achieved regarding fighting terrorism and what we should focus on in order for us to fight terrorism and extremism?

Yenny Zannuba Wahid, Director, The Wahid Foundation, Indonesia

First of all, we need to strengthen our communities, and I talked about the identities before. It is very important, because it taught young kids, for example, to imagine who they are. For example, in my country, Muslims in Indonesia know, because we adhere to these five principles, it allows us room to protect minority rights, for example, or to allow women’s participation in the society, or to live in a tolerant way. This kind of platform is very needed, because if you are strong, if the community is strong, the social cohesion is there, then you will not have that grief in the society that will lead to radicalism. And since the radical groups feed on a sense of alienation, that is, I think, one focus that we need to look at.

Fadila Al Souissi, Anchor, Sky News Arabia

Thank you very much, Dr Yenny Wahid, Director of The Wahid Foundation for Promoting Peace and Tolerance, Indonesia. I would like also to thank His Royal Highness, Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Board of the King Faisal Center. And thank you, Dr Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Minister of Foreign Affairs from Iraq. I would like to apologise to those who wanted to ask questions. I would really like to apologise. We extended the time for five more minutes, and that was not enough. Thank you very much. Thank you for your presence, and thank you for being patient.

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