Heated Exchange At US-Doha Islamic Forum Over Iraq


At a media briefing to discuss the early part of the day’s proceedings, Peter W Singer, Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defence Initiative at the Brookings Institution, said: "Delegates were upset, there was anger and pessimism on the situation in Iraq. These feelings were shared by both American and Muslim leaders present."

Whether US forces are pulled out or if additional forces are taken to Iraq, the consequences would be terrible. "A Muslim leader said that a pullout would cause chaos. The violence is not just television images, but there is an impact on neighbouring states. And a civil war has the ability to spread rapidly," said Singer.

The question of refugees was also a contentious issue.

"There is concern about the refugees, on how to support and protect them. Some may carry the conflict with them as they (refugees) have done in places like West Africa," said Singer.

A Muslim leader asked in one of the sessions as to who makes up Iraq’s legitimate government. "Iraq is the centre of all headlines. In the US, it is the foreign policy issue. In the fall, American voters voted due to Iraq, which is revolutionary," said Singer.

The issue of the overlapping of religion and politics was also discussed in the sessions. "One scholar said evidence shows people embrace religions as political forces as they agree with their values," said Singer.

Yet another scholar said in the case of Palestine, religion is not a driving force. "The evidence shows Palestinians are not necessarily more religious. The support for Hamas appears to be not a religious affiliation."

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