RSIS Seminar by Professor Amin Saikal, NSSP Distinguished Visiting Professor; and University Distinguished Professor, Public Policy Fellow, and Director, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East and Central Asia), The Australian National University
Preventing Sectarian Conflicts in Multiethnic and Multicultural Societies: Some Personal Reflections
About the Lecture:
The question of how to generate a conflict free harmonious setting in an ethnically and culturally diverse society has become a perennial issue for policy analysts and makers, especially since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War as we knew it. Ethno-nationalist conflicts have come to prevail in many countries on every continent in one form or another. To prevent such conflicts, it depends on whether they are fuelled from inside or outside of a state or resulted from a combination of the two. If the conflicts are internally driven, the rise of a unifying and benevolent leadership and good governance may prove to generate a national consensus for national reconciliation and accommodation. However, if the conflict is also of the nature that it is fuelled by external forces, to find a nexus between the internal and external circumstances may well turn out be very laborious. This seminar draws examples from three conflict-ridden countries to discuss the issue: Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, not to mention Yemen and Libya.
About the Speaker:
Amin Saikal is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University. He has been a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in International Relations, and Visiting Fellow to Princeton University, Cambridge University; the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; and Indiana University. He is an awardee of the Order of Australia (AM), and an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is the author of numerous works on the Middle East, Central Asia, political Islam, and Russia. His recent works include: Iran at the Crossroads (Polity Press, 2016); Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (I.B. Tauris, 2014); and Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (I.B. Tauris, 2012); The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran – from Autocracy to Religious Rule (Princeton University Press, 2009); Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation? (Palgrave Macmillan); co-author of Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and Politics of Legitimacy (Westview Press, 1991); and editor of The Arab World and Iran: A Turbulent Region in Transition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Weak States, Strong Societies: Power and Authority in the New World Order (I. B. Tauris, 2016); co-editor of Afghanistan and its Neighbours after the NATO Withdrawal (Lexington Press, 2016); Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges (United Nations University Press, 2003); The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press, 1989); Russia in Search of its Future (Cambridge University Press, 1985). He has published numerous articles in major international journals, book chapters in edited volumes, feature articles in major dailies, and he is a frequent commentator on Australian and international TV and radio.