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Host: Hello, I'm Claire Heffron, and welcome to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy podcast on the latest issues, advancing peace, security and international cooperation. Nuclear deterrence continues to dominate international relations. We spoke to an anti-nuclear weapon campaigner who answers the question, do nuclear weapons still keep us safe? And we spoke to the Iraqi historian behind a secret blog during the Islamic State's occupation of Mosul, he risked his life to tell the outside world what was happening. Earlier we spoke to Omar Mohammed, who is the founder of Mosul Eye, who risked everything to tell the story of the ISIS occupation. When Islamic State group took over Mosul in Iraq in 2014, they flooded the internet with propaganda, the historian set up an anonymous blog and twitter account to expose the atrocities and failings of IS fighters but at great personal risk. He tells us it was his duty to tell the real story and it became the main source of information for journalists covering the occupation.
Omar Mohammed: I've lived under the role of ISIS or Daesh for more than two years documenting what's happening day by day, inside the besieged city of Mosul.
Host: Why did you want to tell the story of the ISIS occupation?
Omar Mohammed: The decision why I published Mosul Eye, from the beginning, why I became Mosul Eye, was my feeling of the responsibility that someone has to do something about his own city because as a historian I've been reading through all of what happened in the city before and I found that there were many gaps and these gaps were made because there was absence of documentation of the history. History is very important to protect the future, to make the future better. But most importantly was to protect the narrative of the city and ISIS or Daesh, when they came to the city, they didn't only bring weapons with them, they brought their own package of historical narrative that they wanted to impose on the city. And that's why my decision, despite how risky it was, I decided to take this responsibility in order to tell the story of the city because I believe that all dictators, oppressors, and groups like ISIS, are afraid of history, but not the history that is lost in time and buried in books. They fear the history that is written out of their authority, and that is being published as it happens.
Host: What was life like before the invasion, and how has it changed?
Omar Mohammed: Before 2014 or before ISIS, any conversation between different, people from different groups, would be limited to their own religions. Now they are addressing their own dreams, which is something like very important for them to dream in such a situation. I think this is the main hope that I have. I believe in the youth, I believe in their ability to make their life better. I've read about post-Second World War, and I know that the youth were the key, they played the key role in reviving Europe. I'm very hopeful that the youth in Mosul will do the same.
Host: And tell us of your love of Mosul’s history and do you have any concerns for the future of Mosul?
Omar Mohammed: Since I reveal my identity, as Mosul Eye, I've been focusing on the cultural revival of the city of Mosul because I believe that one of the reasons why ISIS occupied the city was the damage that the cultural life had in the city of Mosul, the absence of public spaces for youth, the absence of art, music, etc. So I've been focusing on this. My hope for the future is that this cultural movement is growing and it's coming back to the city again. We have artists, we have musicians, we have for the first time we have entrepreneur innovation companies, small companies in the city. The people are thinking of more on their future. But most importantly, what happened in post-ISIS, which is something very important is that the people found their space to discuss things. They found the space to have conversations, peaceful conversations away from the political atmosphere, the corrupted political atmosphere.
Host: Today there are almost 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 1,800 of which are in a position where they are ready to launch. Ray Acheson, the director of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom’s (WILPF) disarmament programme discussed with us the necessity of disarmament and the theory of deterrence. Deterrence theory holds that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons. But do they ensure peace and security worldwide?
Ray Acheson: No, I don't believe that nuclear weapons keep us safe. And I certainly don't think that the theory of nuclear deterrence keeps us safe either.
Host: What about countries that have acquired nuclear weapons relatively recently, such as India, Pakistan and North Korea?
Ray Acheson: Even as more countries were acquiring these weapons, this idea somehow that they were upholding security…it should have been exposed for the nonsense that it is.
Host: And what about the argument that nuclear weapons have deterred war? After the United States nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 supporters argue that deterrence, and the theory of mutually assured destruction have prevented nuclear powers from engaging in another major conflict. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or the nuclear weapons ban treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. As of the first of October, this year, 33 states have ratified the treaty. What is the goal?
Ray Acheson: I think our best hope for overcoming this problem and really thinking about how we want to live, how we want our security governed and what role we think violence and weapons play in that.
Host: Well, that's all for today's podcast for the GCSP, thanks for listening and thank you to Ray Acheson for joining us along with Omar Mohammed. Join us again next week as Armistice Day marks 101 years since the end of World War One. Discover how the peace-making process of 1918 to 1923 was a turning point for Switzerland's diplomacy. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Until then, bye for now.