The Syrian Fire Storm and the Spillover in Iraq: Where Is It All Heading and How Concerned Should We Be? Professor William Harris, University of Otago


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Prof Bill Harris
Prof William Harris
“The Syrian Fire Storm and the Spillover in Iraq: Where Is It All Heading and How Concerned Should We Be?” Professor William Harris, University of Otago political studies department head and specialist in Middle East politics.

Please preregister by email to connect@catalystnz.org as seats are limited. $5 at the door.

Prof Harris has recently returned from a trip to the Turkish/Syrian border area and northern Iraq, including a visit to the Kurdish Peshmerga army’s frontline with Isis at the Mosul Dam.

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is “the chief arsonist and the impresario” of the firestorm that has consumed almost a quarter of a million Syrian lives with no end in sight, Prof Harris said. “He opened the gates of hell in 2011 and 2012 when he escalated violence against Syrian towns, cities, and villages into the stratosphere. The ISIS jihadists came into the story through those gates.”

The University of Otago political studies department head is fluent in Arabic and has a reading knowledge of Hebrew and Turkish. He specialises in the politics and history of the Middle East, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean and the Fertile Crescent including Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, northern Iraq (Kurdistan), Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

His most recent books are “Lebanon: A History, 600 – 2011” and “The Levant: a Fractured Mosaic”, the first edition of which won an outstanding academic title award from Choice Magazine in the US.

Prof Harris’s ongoing interests include the nature and implications of the present Syrian crisis, the role of Turkey in regional developments and the circumstances of the Kurdish Regional Government in what is currently northern Iraq.

His illustrated talk, “The Syrian Fire Storm and the Spillover in Iraq: Where Is It All Heading and How Concerned Should We Be?” will start at the Rees Hotel Queenstown conference room at 5:30 p.m. on February 9.

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