In late 2003 the reaction against the US invasion of Iraq began to develop into a full-blown insurgency. Groups coalesced from a variety of different backgrounds – ex-soldiers, tribal fighters, criminal gangs, ex-Iraqi intelligence officers and also radical Islamists from inside and outside Iraq. A ‘netwar’ cell-based insurgency with a broad strategic target set and access to a seemingly endless supply of weapons kept the US and Iraqi forces under intense pressure. In 2006 and 2007, the US forged alliances with the Sunni tribes, community and religious leaders and ex-Ba’athists and then brokered peace between those groups and the government in Baghdad. Now a third of Iraq is controlled by the Islamic State. How did we reach this point? Where did IS come from? How strong is IS militarily and as an organization? And what is the capacity of the Iraqi government to combat the threat it presents?
About the Speaker
Dr. Norman Ricklefs has worked in Iraq for a decade. He served in Iraq from 2005 to 2010 with the Australian and US governments. Dr Ricklefs served as a branch chief providing analytical support to the commanding general Coalition Forces during the period of sectarian civil war in 2006; then as political advisor to the Australian commanding general Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007; as advisor to the deputy head of the Iraqi Defence Ministry during the battle of Basrah in 2008; and finally as senior advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Interior from 2009-2010 during the period of transition as US forces withdrew from the cities and Iraq held its national election. Dr Ricklefs worked and traveled all over Iraq in his official duties. For his service in Iraq, Dr Ricklefs was awarded the US Department of Defense’s Outstanding Civilian Service medal, the US Department of Defense’s Commander’s Public Service medal and the Operational Service medal with clasp from the Australian Department of Defence.
After leaving government service in 2011, Dr Ricklefs founded a consultancy and lobbying group in Dubai called Iraq Advisory Group and has been advising and lobbying on behalf of the oil and gas sector, banking sector, defense and security industry and also advising the US Government and Congress.IAG is mostly focused on lobbying the highest levels of the Iraqi Government. For example, IAG was responsible for preventing the expulsion of the foreign private security companies in 2012, it has negotiated and supported several large US defense deals with Iraq, and in 2014 successfully negotiated a joint venture on behalf of the Iraqi Ministry of Transport.
Dr Ricklefs has a PhD in history. Prior to his government service he taught history and philosophy at university level and worked as an archaeologist and historian – conducting fieldwork in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt and publishing on the Middle East during the Roman period.
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