Nickolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
Julien Barnes-Dacey, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
The advance of the Islamic State (IS) into Iraq has thrust Iraq into renewed civil war and renewed Western military intervention three years after US troops left the country. While counter-terrorism is now dominating the agenda, giving life to the anti-IS international coalition, it is clear that longstanding political divisions have played a central role in fuelling current tensions. Even as military operations against IS proceed, the new government of Haider al-Abadi has pledged itself to drawing in a Sunni minority alienated by the rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, Iraq sits within a highly combustible regional environment, which is serving to fuel the descent into sectarian conflict while also forging unlikely new alliances.
During this discussion Mr Mladenov assessed these critical dynamics and the current conditions on the ground, including prospects for the political process and the impact of military efforts. What is needed to pull Iraq back from the brink and hold the country together, and where should the international community be focusing its attention?
Nickolay Mladenov is Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). He is an ECFR Council Member and has previously served as Foreign and Defence Minister of Bulgaria.
Julien Barnes-Dacey is a Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR's Middle East and North Africa Programme.