Some 89% of respondents to the annual Arab Opinion Index (AOI) survey expressed negative and very negative views about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or Daesh), reports suggest:
As for political change, the Arab public is neatly divided as 45% agreed with the statement that the Arab Spring “will achieve its aims”, despite acknowledging present setbacks, compared to 39% who agreed with the opposing statement, that “the Arab Spring has come to an end”, and that the old regimes have returned to power,. Some 52% of respondents stated that they were worried, to varying extents, about the rise to power of Islamist groups, compared to 42% who stated that they were not worried about Islamists coming to power.
With Daesh losing ground across the Middle East, the opportunity exists for a new beginning, according to the fifth annual Sulaimani Forum:
However, if regional governments are to chart a different course, they will first need to address the fundamental issues that have encouraged extremism, and driven violent conflict: poor governance, social inequity, widespread youth unemployment, political marginalization, and sub-par economic growth. Without leadership from within to solve these problems, regional states will be unable to complete the move to the virtuous cycle that their populations deserve.
Featured analysts and academics at the forum included Francis Fukuyama (Stanford University), Jon Alterman (Center for Strategic and International Studies), David Miliband (International Rescue Committee), Henri Barkey (Wilson Center), Sir John Jenkins (Institute of International and Strategic Studies), Tamara Cofman Wittes (Brookings Institution), Carl Gershman (National Endowment of Democracy), and senior commentators from international media outlets.
One panel (above) addressed the challenges Middle East states face in moving to a virtuous political and economic cycle and what measures need to be implemented to cement lasting reform.
On another panel, Dr. Barham Salih, Founder of The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, discussed prospects for governance reform with Dr. Francis Fukyama, Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute (below).