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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Scholars discuss Middle East crisis, U.S. foreign policy

A panel of scholars was greeted with a full house Friday afternoon in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and the situation with human rights there.

Hosted by the Honors College Phronesis Program, the event featured visiting scholar from the Hague Mient Jan Faber, visiting post-doctoral scholar in political philosophy Johanna Luttrell, UH’s Assistant Director of the Center of International and Comparative Studies Cyrus Contractor and Director of the UH Arab Studies Program Emran El-Badawi.

In opening statements, Faber talked about his experience in Iraq and his views on the United States policy towards the terrorist group ISIS.

“It (the U.S. bombing campaign) might actually help ISIS,” Faber.

El-Badawi addressed the role of the media in the conflict, saying reporters were sensationalizing the crisis. He also agreed with Faber in that the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS is foolish.

“The U.S. is empowering ISIS,” El-Badawi said, referring to his view that the terrorists are being emboldened in their self-perception that they are crusaders fighting a great evil.

Luttrell agreed with Faber and El-Badawi, saying that in order to achieve lasting peace, the military may not be the best option.

“How does violence promote peace?” Luttrell asked. “Soldiers are not trained to promote peace.”

Contractor agreed with the former three, and went on to emphasize his view that the current crisis with ISIS must be ultimately resolved through Iraqi efforts.

“The bombing is not helping,” Contractor said. “It is an Iraqi issue, not an American issue.”

Sahar Tavakoli Sadoughi, the chief architect of the panel discussion and chief fellow of the Phronesis Program, expressed her gratitude that the event was received well.

“The participation, the panelists and the questions were phenomenal,” Sadoughi said. “I could not have asked for more in an event.”

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