ISIL3In the modern era, the Middle East has always appeared to be in turmoil. In more recent times, especially since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, the problems in the region have escalated to new levels. No where is this more evident than in Syria and Iraq.

The three-year civil war in Syria has been incredibly costly. Estimates suggest more than hundred thousand lives have been lost and the conflict has produced millions of refugees. The divided nature of opposition to Asad has resulted in a protracted conflict and some analysts believe that this is responsible for the unexpected emergence of the Islamic state (IS). The IS have more recently crossed the porous border and attacked and destabilised an already fragile balance of power in Iraq. The crisis in both Syria and Iraq have become so serious that international focus and possible intervention is firmly on the cards. Many believe that the future of the region rests in the balance. At the very least, this events pose a number of pressing questions.

Is the present conflict in Syria and Iraq a sectarian one or are there deeper issues at play? Will the maps in Syria and Iraq be redrawn on the sectarian lines, ethnic lines or both? What future lies ahead for these two nations with insurgents and militant camps causing ruckus at their doorstep?

For Dr Noah R. Bassil Speech please click here.


Guest Moderator – Jeremy Fernandez

Jeremy Fernandez presents the weekend 7pm TV News bulletin on ABC1 in NSW and is a regular presenter on ABC News 24. He joined the ABC in 2000, working as a casual producer for ABC Local Radio during the Sydney Olympics, as well as other Local Radio roles in Albany, Western Australia. Since then Jeremy has worked as a journalist and producer in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and London. He has hosted the morning edition of ABC News on Australia Network, broadcast across the Asia-Pacific, as well as producing rolling news, interviews, and in-depth reports on a host of major stories. In 2013, as well as his ABC News presenting duties, Jeremy presented the ABC News 24 program, The World.


Dr Noah R. Bassil

Politics staff, Macquarie University

Noah Bassil is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations and continues to hold a position with the Centre for Middle East and North African Studies at Macquarie University. Noah’s interests include global political economy, colonialism and post-colonialism, and the political economy of uneven north-south relations.

Noah has published on a range of topics associated with colonialism and post-colonialism and most recently published a book titled “The Crisis of the Sudanese Postcolonial State” which re-examines the origins of the conflict in Darfur by contextualizing events in Sudan within broader regional and international patterns of politics, economics and culture. Noah is currently researching into the global, regional and national power relations that have emerged following the Arab uprisings.

Noah is also the Director of the MRes program for the Faculty of Arts.


Main Publications:

– Scholarly books

  • Bassil, N.R. (2013) The Crisis of the Post-Colonial Sudanese State: Origins of the Conflict in Darfur, London: I.B. Tauris and Co.


Noah has commented in the media (2BL, Sky News, Community radio, etc) on international relations of the Middle East and North Africa, in particular on the conflict in Darfur, Sudanese politics and the international relations pertaining to the conflict in Darfur. Since January 2011, Noah speaks each week on 3CR radio program “Solidarity Radio”. Noah has appeared at numerous public events including Politics in the Pub and the Australian Human Rights Arts Festival.


Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp

mehmet ozalp

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp is an Islamic theologian, intellectual and community leader. He is the Founder and the President of ISRA Australia – Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia. In 2009, Mehmet established the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Under his leadership the centre pioneered undergraduate and postgraduate Islamic Studies programs. Mehmet lectures in theology, Islamic history and contemporary issues on Islam and Muslims. Mehmet also serves as the Muslim Chaplain at the University of Sydney and the Macquarie University. Mehmet is a prolific speaker on Islam and Muslims in Australia. He was awarded Australian Muslim Role Model of the year in 2012.

Main Publications:

– Scholarly books

Mehmet is the author of three books;

  • Ozalp, M. (2004). 101 questions you asked about Islam. Blackheath, N.S.W: Brandl & Schlesinger.
  • Ozalp, M. (2004). Islam in the modern world. Istanbul, Turkey: Journalists and Writers Foundation Publications.
  • Ozalp, M. (2012). Islam between tradition and modernity: An Australian perspective. Barton, A.C.T: Barton Books.

He has also co-authored Sustained Dialogue: Close Encounters of the Muslim-Christian Kind.