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On March 6 and 7, 2019, the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani’s (AUIS) Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) will host its sixth annual Sulaimani Forum at a formative time in the history of the Middle East region.
As in past years, the Sulaimani Forum will bring together key policymakers, stakeholders, and analysts for two days of thought-provoking debates and discussions on the most pressing issues facing the Middle East region. The Forum has become one the premier platforms to develop ideas and solutions for the challenges facing Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, and its neighbors. This year, the conversations will move beyond conflict analysis to explore factors necessary for good governance and inclusive economic growth, with special consideration for ongoing challenges of government formation in Baghdad and Erbil.
Over the past five years, the Sulaimani Forum has welcomed guests such as the current Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, former Vice President Osama Nujaifi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani. Distinguished guests such as David Miliband, Francis Fukuyama, General David Petraeus, Thomas Friedman, and Lyse Doucet have joined in Forum discussions.
Akeel Abbas is an Assistant Professor at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Before teaching at AUIS, Abbas worked for several years as a journalist covering Iraq and the Middle East, appearing as a guest analyst in a number of Arabic-language TV programs. He has made a number of documentary films focusing on Iraqi women activism for equal rights, oil and Iraq's history. Abbas was also involved in writing a series of English and Arabic guides on democratization in Iraq for the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He also founded and managed the Ayoon Organization for Human Rights, a non-profit organization that documented human rights abuses in Iraq. Abbas holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University.
Adil Abdulmehdi is an Iraqi politician and economist and served as Finance Minister in the interim government from 2004 to 2005. In 2005 he assumed the role of Vice President of Iraq along with Ibrahim Al-Jaafari from 2005 to 2011. He has served as Minister of Oil from 2014 until 2016. He is a trained economist and lived in exile in France. He has worked for French think tanks and edited magazines in French and Arabic. He attended Baghdad College and was educated in France.
Abdul Razak Abdul Jalil Al Essa
Abdul Razak Abdul Jalil Al Essa is the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Iraq. He held different academic positions, including the Head of Biochemistry Department at the College of Medicine, Kufa University, and was involved in various academic committees to promote the level of teaching programs of basic sciences. Al Essa holds a Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry from the University of Liverpool.
Hisham Al Hashimi
Hisham Al-Hashimi is an Iraqi journalist and analyst writing for Asharq Al-Aswat, among others. He is also a member of National Reconciliation Commission in the Iraqi Prime Minister's office and a researcher in Al-Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies. Prior to that, he was the Security Adviser for the Iraqi Journalistic Freedom Observatory, and for the the Iraqi Journalists Union. Al-Hashimi has several publications including two books: entitled The World of ISIS and Inside Daesh Organization.
Salim Al Jebouri
Dr. Salim Al Jebouri is an Iraqi political leader and law scholar. He was elected to the Iraqi Parliament in December 2005 and became Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Legal Committee. He is also been involved in the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee. He was elected to the Iraqi Parliament for a third time after which he was appointed Speaker of Parliament. Al Jebouri obtained a doctorate in law in 2001 and has worked as a law professor at Nahrain University in Baghdad.
Hayder Al Khoei
Hayder Al Khoei is currently a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to this, he was an associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. He was previously a researcher at the Centre of Academic Shia Studies in London. Al Khoei holds masters degrees in International Studies and Diplomacy from SOAS, University of London and Islamic Studies from the Islamic College. He holds a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations from Kingston University, London. He writes widely on Iraqi and Middle Eastern affairs and has been published by Foreign Affairs, CNN, The Guardian and Reuters.
Mina Al Oraibi
Mina Al-Oraibi is an Iraqi-British journalist and analyst. She is a Yale World fellow and a senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Effectiveness (ISE). Prior to this, she was the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Alawsat, the international Arab-language daily, for close to four years. She has written extensively on United States and European policies in the Middle East and covered diplomatic affairs of the region. Al Oraibi is also a special advisor to the Global Dignity Day Movement and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Middle East and the International Media Council (IMC). She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS).
Mahdi Alaq is the General Secretary of the Council of Ministers, Government of Iraq.
General Secretary of the Council of Ministers, Government of Iraq
Raad Alkadiri is the Senior Director of the Center for Energy Impact at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He has more than 20 years of experience advising senior oil and gas industry executives and government leaders on the management of long-term investment strategies, aboveground risk mitigation, and stakeholder engagement. Previously, Alkadiri ran the petroleum sector risk capability at IHS and was a partner at PFC Energy. He also served as a policy advisor and assistant private secretary to the UK Special Representatives to Iraq. He holds a D.Phil in international relations from Oxford University.
Abdulwahab Alkebsi is the Deputy Director for Programs at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Prior to joining CIPE, Alkebsi served as the Director of the Middle East and North Africa division at the NED, and prior to that, Alkebsi served as Executive Director at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), a non-profit think tank, based in Washington, DC, dedicated to studying Islamic and democratic political thought and merging them into a modern Islamic democratic discourse.
Jon B. Alterman
Jon B. Alterman is a senior vice president, holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and is director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS in 2002, he served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the United States Department of State and as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs. He also previously served as an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group. In addition to his policy work, he lectures on Middle Eastern studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the George Washington University. Before entering government, Alterman was a scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He also worked as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. Alterman holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.
Asli Aydıntaşbaş is Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR, where she primarily works on Turkish foreign policy and external ramifications of its domestic politics. She has joined ECFR after a lengthy career in journalism, which last included being a columnist at Milliyet (2009-2015) and a commentator on regional issues in international publications and networks. Aydıntaşbaş has hosted a popular daily show, Karşı Gündem on CnnTurk during 2013-2014. Prior to joining Milliyet, she has served as a Washington correspondent and later the Ankara bureau chief for Sabah, one of Turkey’s leading newspapers. She covered the Clinton Administration, the United Nations, the Bush Administration, and the Iraq War in 1997-2004 as a Washington and New York correspondent for NTV and Radikal.
Ziad Badr joined the IFC in 2011. Prior to this, starting in 1993, he worked at the World Bank, assuming various responsibilities, including Senior Economist in the Africa Knowledge and Learning Unit, Head of the World Bank mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Head of the World Bank Iraq Interim office in Amman. He also lead the first World Bank mission to the Kurdistan region that opened the door for closer cooperation with the regional government, and the development of several projects in the north of Iraq.
Joseph Bahout is a visiting scholar in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, an Associate Fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, and a member of the scientific board of the Institut Français du Proche-Orient. His research focuses on political developments in Lebanon and Syria, regional spillover from the Syrian crisis, and identity politics across the region. Previously, Bahout served as a permanent consultant for the Policy Planning Unit at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009–2014). He was also a Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sciences Po Paris (2005–2014) and a senior fellow at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale (2008–2014).He holds his Ph.D. in Political Sciences from the Sciences Po Paris.
Fabrice Balanche is an associate professor at the University of Lyon 2, the Director of the Research Group on the Mediterranean and the Middle East (GREMMO), and a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute. He has spent over ten years living in Syria and Lebanon, which are the main areas on which his research focuses. He is frequently called upon as an expert on water issues and the Syrian crisis. He published a work on contemporary Syria in 2006 entitled The Alawite Region and Syrian Power. More recently, he published Atlas of Arab Near East (2012) and Geopolitics of the Middle East (2014). Balanche holds a doctorate in geography from the University of Tours.
Dr. Henri Barkey is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is the former Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor at Lehigh University. A leading expert on Turkey, from 1998-2000 he served as a member of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff working primarily on issues related to the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and intelligence. He is widely published and has authored, co-authored and edited five books, among them Iraq, Its Neighbors and the United States, with Phebe Marr and Scott Lasensky. Barkey has taught at Princeton, the State University of New York, and the University of Pennsylvania. He recently completed a two year position as a non-resident visiting scholar in the Carnegie Middle East Program, and was also visiting fellow at Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Peter Bergen is CNN’s National Security Analyst. He is also a journalist, professor, think tank executive and the author of four books. Bergen currently holds the position of Vice President and Director of the International Security Program at New America in Washington D.C and is a Professor of Practice at the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University, where he co-directs the Center on the Future of War. Bergen also serves as a fellow at Fordham University's Center on National Security and as the Editor of the South Asia Channel and the South Asia Daily. He is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict & Terrorism and a member of both the Homeland Security Project, and the Aspen Homeland Security Group. In 2016, Bergen published United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists, which was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2016 by the Washington Post.
Mark DeWeaver is an emerging-markets fund manager, independent economist, and author. His publications include the book Animal Spirits with Chinese Characteristics: Investment Booms and Busts in the World’s Emerging Economic Giant, op-eds for major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and contributions to the Journal of Socio-Economics and Economics Bulletin. He is currently partnering with the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at AUIS as a non-resident fellow. His research focuses on interactions between Iraq’s public and private sectors, the impact of changes in oil prices and the security situation on the Iraqi economy, and economic conditions in the Kurdistan region.
Lyse Doucet is the BBC's Chief International Correspondent and an occasional Contributing Editor. Doucet was based in Kabul from late 1988 to the end of 1989 to cover the Soviet troop withdrawal and its aftermath. She was then the BBC correspondent in Islamabad from 1989 to 1993, also reporting from Afghanistan and Iran. In 1994, she opened the BBC office in Amman, Jordan. From 1995 to 1999 she was based in Jerusalem, travelling across the Middle East. In 1999, she joined the BBC's team of presenters while continuing to report from the field. She co-directed two documentaries: Children of Syria (2014) and Children of the Gaza War (2015). Doucet has been a Council Member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and is currently a Council Member of the International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) based in Geneva. She is also involved with Friends of Aschiana UK which supports working street children in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy is currenty the Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at theAmerican University Cairo. He was the Foreign Minister of Egypt (2013-2014), Ambassador of Egypt to the United States (1999-2008), Ambassador of Egypt to Japan (1997-1999), and the Founding Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo (AUC) from 2009 to 2013. He was also elected Vice Chairman of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Affairs) of the 44th Session of the General Assembly in 1989. He has been involved in numerous conferences and sessions of the United Nations General Assembly since 1977, including the United Nations Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (UNABDM). Ambassador Fahmy has also been a non-resident chair of the Middle East Nonproliferation Project at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) since 1998.
Ambassador Lukman Faily
Lukman Faily was the Iraqi Ambassador to the United States from 2013 until 2016. He has also served as the Iraqi Ambassador to Japan (2010-13).
Ambassador Lukman Faily
Former Ambassador of Iraq to the United States
Fantappie is an Iraq Analyst for the International Crisis Group. Before ICG, she was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. She received her B.A. from the University of Florence, her Masters from Sciences-Po in Paris, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at King’s College, London. Fantappie is a Spring 2014 IRIS Visiting Fellow. Her research will focus on the impact of the Syria conflict on questions of Kurdish identity questions amongst the Syrian-Kurdish refugees.
Bruce Walker Ferguson
Bruce Walker Ferguson is an educator, entrepreneur and investor with a lifelong interest in technology-based innovation. He joined the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) as president in 2016. Prior to joining AUIS, he served as Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Systems and Management, and as the founding Head of the Institute Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Ferguson is a co-founder and former chief operating officer of Orbital ATK, a space technology company listed on the New York Stock Exchange; a co-founder and former chief executive officer of Edenspace Systems Corporation, a biotechnology company developing innovative crops for energy and environmental applications; and an early-stage investor in more than a dozen technology companies. Currently vice chair of the Carnegie Institution for Science, he is a former Fellow at the George Washington University Center for International Science and Technology Policy and former vice chair of the Kansas State University Research Foundation. Ferguson received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School
Bruce Walker Ferguson
President, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Mosbacher Director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University. He previously worked at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he was the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor and Director of SAIS's International Development program. Fukuyama was also a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation and of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State. He holds the Chair of the Editorial Board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. Additionally, he is a member of the American Political Science Association and of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of several books, including The End of History and the Last Man (1992) and Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy (2012). Fukuyama holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University.
Ellie Geranmayeh is senior policy fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Her work focuses on European foreign policy in relation to Iran, particularly on the nuclear and regional dossiers. Geranmayeh closely followed and advised governments and companies on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers from 2013-2015. Ellie previously worked at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP law firm working on sanctions policy and graduated with a BA in Law from the University of Cambridge.
Carl Gershman is the President of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, congressionally supported grant-making institution with the mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. In addition to presiding NED’s programs, he has overseen the creation of the Journal of Democracy, International Forum of Democratic Studies, and the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Program. Prior to assuming the position with the NED, Gershman was the Senior Counselor to the United States Representative to the United Nations, where he served as the United States Representative to the United Nations’ Third Committee and also as Alternate Representative of the United States to the United Nations Security Council. He was also resident scholar at Freedom House and the Executive Director of Social Democrats, USA. In 1998, Gershman took the lead in launching the World Movement for Democracy in New Delhi.
Thamir Ghadhban is an Iraqi civil servant and politician. He has been specialising in the oil industry since the early 1970s. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, he became Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Oil, and then served as Interim Oil Minister in the interim government of prime minister Iyad Allawi.
Former Minister of Oil, Government of Iraq
Susan Glasser is POLITICO’s chief international affairs columnist and host of its new weekly podcast, The Global Politico. Glasser joined POLITICO in 2013 after several years as editor-in-chief of the award-winning magazine Foreign Policy, overseeing its relaunch in print and as a daily online magazine. During her tenure, the magazine was recognized as a finalist for 10 National Magazine Awards and won three of the magazine world's highest honors. Before that, Glasser worked for a decade at the Washington Post, where she was a foreign correspondent, editor of the Post’s Sunday Outlook and national news sections and political reporter. She started at the Post in 1998 as deputy national editor overseeing the Monica Lewinsky investigation and subsequent impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and later served as a national political reporter, covering the intersection of money and politics.
Lise Grande is the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq. She previously served as the UNDP Resident Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator in India since August 2012; Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan (2011‑2012); Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, South Sudan (2008‑2011); Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2005‑2008); and Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia (2003‑2005).
Ms.Grande holds degrees from Stanford University, California, and the New School for Social Research, New York.
Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative, UNDP Iraq
Fanar Haddad is a research fellow at the Middle East Institute at National University of Singapore. His current research focuses on historical memory and narratives of state in the Middle East. Prior to that, he lectured in modern Middle Eastern politics at the University of Exeter and at Queen Mary, University of London. Haddad was also a research analyst at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he worked on North Africa. He has since published widely on issues relating to historic and contemporary Iraq. His main research interests revolve around identity, historical memory, nationalism, communal conflict and minority politics. He is the author of Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity (2011). He holds a Ph.D. in Arab and Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter.
Dr. Choman Hardi is the Chair of the AUIS English Department and Founding Director of the Center for Gender and Development Studies. She is a contemporary Kurdish poet, translator and painter, writer, academic and researcher. She has been a former chairperson of Exiled Writers Ink! and has organized creative writing workshops for the British Council in UK, Belgium, Czech Republic and India. She was recently presented with the Woman’s Award in recognition of her achievements as a creative writer and academic as well as her work on women’s issues. She currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Serdemi Jin, a bi-seasonal Kurdish journal of women’s theory, culture and art. She has published three volumes of poetry in Kurdish. Her collection of English poems titled Life for Us was published in 2004. She studied psychology and philosophy at Oxford and University College London and was awarded a Ph.D. at the University of Kent.
Kawa Hassan is director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the EastWest Institute’s Brussels office, where he leads track two initiatives focused on countering violent extremism. He is also a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research focuses on Kurdish and Iraqi politics, civil society and democratization, donor assistance, and transition processes, especially in the Middle East. Prior to this, he has extensive experience working in development and humanitarian assistance programming. Kawa Hassan received an M.Sc. from the University of Amsterdam.
Peter J.F. Hawkins was appointed the UNICEF Representative in Iraq in June 2015. Since 2004 and until his assignment with UNICEF, Hawkins had been working with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). From 1985 to 2003, Hawkins worked with Save the Children (UK) where he last held the position of Regional Director for East and Central Africa (London HQ). His other positions with the Save the Children-UK were Regional Director for South Asia (London HQ), Emergency Coordinator (London HQ), Country Director (Angola), Deputy Country Director (Sri Lanka), and Senior Programme Coordinator (Ethiopia).
Representative in Iraq, UNICEF
Joost Hiltermann is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program Director at the International Crisis Group (ICG).He has been with ICG since 2002, serving as Project Director, Middle East, Deputy MENA Program Director, and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining the organization, Hiltermann worked as the Executive Director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, the Director of Iraq Documents at Human Rights Watch, and the Research Director and analyst at Al-Haq. Hiltermann has also been an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University (1990-2002) and a Professorial Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies (2001)He is the author of two books: A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (2007) and Behind the Intifada: Labor and Women’s Movements in the Occupied Territories (1991). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Fuad Hussein is currently serving as the Chief of Staff of the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Hussein has also served as the official spokesman for H. E. Masoud Bazani. He has also appeared in several interviews in the media on the Baghdad-KRG relationship.
Chief of Staff, Office of the Presidency, Kurdistan Regional Government
Feisal Istrabadi is a university scholar in International Law and Diplomacy at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is an adjunct professor as well at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Culture. Istrabadi is also the Director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in 2004-2007. He is the principal legal drafter of Iraq’s Interim Constitution and the principal author of Iraq’s Bill of Fundamental Rights. Istrabadi obtained his LLM degree from Northwestern University in 2005, and his SJD in 2009.
Dr Sherko Jawdat Mustafa has been a member of Kurdistan Regional Government since 2013. He heads the Natural Resources Committee. Mustafa is also a member of the Leadership Committee of Kurdistan Islamic Union.
Member of Parliament, Kurdistan Regional Government
Sir John Jenkins
Sir John Jenkins is Executive Director of IISS – Middle East. He took up the position in January 2015 after a 35 year career in the British Diplomatic Service. He was HM Consul-General, Jerusalem (2003-06), Ambassador to Syria (2006-07), FCO Director for the Middle East and North Africa (2007-09), Ambassador to Iraq (2009-11), Special Representative to the National Transitional Council and subsequently Ambassador to Libya (2011) and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2012-2015). He took an active part in Sir John Chilcott’s Iraq Inquiry and was asked by the Prime Minister in March 2014 to lead a Policy Review into the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islamism. He holds a Ph.D. from Jesus College, Cambridge.
Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Middle East
Nibras Kazimi is a Visiting Fellow at Hudson Institute. He also writes a weekly column on the Middle East for the New York Sun. Previously, he directed the Research Bureau of the Iraqi National Congress in Washington DC and Baghdad, and was a pro-bono advisor for the Higher National Commission for De-Ba'athification. Kazimi's research focuses on the growing threat of jihadism in the Middle East, as well as prospects for democracy in the region. Kazimi is a graduate of Brandeis University.
Michael Knights is a Lafer fellow at The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq,Iran, Yemen, and the Gulf Arab states. Knights has published widely on security issues for major media outlets such as Jane's IHS, and regularly briefs U.S. government policymakers and U.S. military officers on regional security affairs. Knights worked as the head of analysis and assessments for a range of security and oil companies, directing information collection teams in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. He earned his doctorate at King's College London.
Christopher Lockwood is the Middle East and Africa Editor at The Economist. Lockwood was the Deputy Head of Prime Minister’s Policy Unit at No.10, Downing Street from May 2013 to May 2015. He focussed on the competitiveness agenda including technology, universities and skills, innovation, small business policy, trade policy, energy policy and boosting STEM. Between September 2006 and May 2013 Lockwood was the US Editor of The Economist; responsible for the magazine’s US coverage. From September 2000 to September 2006 he was the Asia Editor for The Economist, performing the same role for China, India, Japan and the other 30 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Previous to that he had a range of roles at the Daily Telegraph, including South-East Asia Correspondent, EU Correspondent and Diplomatic Editor.
Mouayed Makhlouf is the MENA Director at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)joined the IFC in 1998 in the Central Asia, Middle East, and Northern Africa Department based in Washington, DC. He then joined the Central Asia, Eastern, and Southern department as an Investment Officer where he was part of the Central Asia transaction team and oversaw its growing portfolio in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In 2001, he relocated to Istanbul, where he processed transactions in different sectors for Turkey and Central Asia. In 2005, he relocated to the Dubai office as a senior business developer responsible for the Gulf Cooperation Council and Levant region.
David Miliband is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in 26 United States cities. From 2007 to 2010, Miliband served as the 74th Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom. In 2006, as Secretary of State for the Environment of the United Kingdom, he pioneered the world’s first legally binding emissions reduction requirements. Miliband also served as Member of Parliament for South Shields from 2001 to 2013.
Tarek Mitri is the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Tarek Mitri has a distinguished record of public service, having served in the Lebanese government as the Minister of Information (2008-2011), Minister of Culture (2005-2008), Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006-2008), Minister of the Environment (2005), and Minister of Administrative Reform (2005). Prior to this, he was also the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) from 2012 to 2014, as well as the Coordinator of Interreligious Relations and Dialogue and Program Secretary for Christian-Muslim Dialogue at the World Council of Churches, Geneva from1991 until 2005. Mitri holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Paris X.
Amre Moussa was the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (2001-2011) and Egypt’s Minister for Foreign Affairs (1991-2001). In 2013, he was elected Chairman of the 50-member Constituent Assembly tasked with amending Egypt’s 2012 Constitution. Throughout his career, Moussa served on numerous diplomatic missions, including as Egypt’s Ambassador to Switzerland and the United Nations. He also served as an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1974-1977), Director of the Department of International Organizations at the of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1977-1981 and 1983-1990), Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York (1981-1983) and Egypt’s Ambassador to India (1983-1986).
Aram Shaykh Muhammed
Aram Shaykh Muhammed is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the Government of Iraq.
Aram Shaykh Muhammed
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Government of Iraq
Denise Natali is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University (NDU). She also served on the Gulf Relief Crisis Project for the American Red Cross International Division in Washington D.C., as the Director of cross-border operations for a non-governmental organization. She is also an expert and part of the Senior Advisory Group for the strategic assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Natali is currently writing a book on regional energy politics in Iraq (Kurdistan Region and Turkey), the East Mediterranean Basin, and the Caspian Region. She is the author of numerous publications, op-eds, and short analyses on Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Kurds, and countering ISIL. Her books include The Kurdish Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq and The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Commander Karim Nouri
Commander Karim Nouri is a spokesperson for the Al Hashd Al Shabee, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Commander Karim Nouri
Spokesperson, Al Hashd Al Shabee, Popular Mobilization Forces
Ambassador Basat Ozturk is the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense of Turkey.
Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Government of Turkey
Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other nations of the Persian Gulf region. He is currently a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as the Director of the Center from 2009 to 2012, and its Director of Research from 2002 to 2009. His most recent book, Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy (2013), was named one of the "Best Books of 2013" by The Economist and one of the "100 Notable Books of 2013" by The New York Times. Pollack worked as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Iran-Iraq military analyst from 1988 until 1995. Pollack holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Amanj Raheem has been serving as the Cabinet Secretary at the Kurdistan Regional Government since October 2014, prior to which he was Cabinet Secretary to the KRG Prime Minister for two years. Raheem is a member of the National Committee for the Iraqi Accession to the World Trade Organization WTO. He also works on various public financial reform projects and is heading a coordination committee for promoting transparency in the Kurdistan Region oil and gas revenues and expenditures through an international independent auditing.
Chief of Staff, Council of Ministers, Kurdistan Regional Government
Nir Rosen has been writing and consulting on humanitarian and political issues in the Middle East since 2003. He has also worked as a humanitarian consultant for more than nine years, for a variety of organisations including for Refugees International in Iraq, for Human Rights Watch in Yemen, for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Iraq, and for the International Crisis Group on Syria. In addition, Nir has authored two books: In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, a study of the first two or years of the US war in Iraq; and Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World, on sectarianism, civil war, refugees occupation, resistance and counter-insurgency from Iraq to Lebanon and Afghanistan.
Louis Raphael Sako
His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako is the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Patriarch Sako held the office of Rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad before being elected as Archbishop of Kirkuk in 2003. As archbishop, he promoted religious tolerance and cooperation, along with other religious leaders in Kirkuk. Patriarch Sako has published several articles and books on the Fathers of the Church. Patriarch Sako delivered a keynote address at the December 2013 conference in Rome, held as part of the Christianity and Freedom Project headed by the Berkley Center's Religious Freedom Project. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Oriental Institute and in History from the University of Paris-Sorbonne.
Louis Raphael Sako
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church
Paul Salem is the Vice President for Policy and Research at the Middle East Institute. He focuses on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East. Prior to that, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013. From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989-1999 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. Salem is also the author of a number of books and reports including Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (1994), and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World (1997). He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Dr. Barham Salih is the Founder and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He is a veteran Kurdish politician with years of public service and leadership in both the Kurdish Region and Iraq. Salih served as Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government most recently from 2009-2012. Dr. Salih became Deputy Prime Minister of the Interim Iraqi Government in mid-2004, Minister of Planning in the Transitional Government in 2005, and then Deputy Prime Minister in Nouri Al-Maliki’s cabinet after the 2005 elections. In addition to his role as Deputy Prime Minister, he was also in charge of the economic portfolio and Head of the Economic Committee. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and Construction at the University of Cardiff, graduating in 1983 and a doctoral degree in Statistics and Computer Applications in Engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987.
Founder & former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
Based in Baghdad for the last ten years, Zaab Sethna has worked for the Government of Iraq on financial, trade, and energy policies from 2003 to 2007. Since then, Sethna has represented a number of international companies involved in Iraqi oil and gas, banking, insurance, aviation, and construction projects among others. His assignments in Iraq have included: acting as strategic business adviser to Iraq's leading bank; public affairs and government relations consultancy for the world's largest insurance group; business development and government relations for various international oil companies; market entry advice for a Fortune 500 telecoms equipment maker; an in-depth study of the Iraqi oil sector for a European market researcher; and strategic advisory and relationship management for one of the world's leading alternative-investment managers.
General Talib Shaghati
General Talib Shaghati is the top commander of Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), or Special Forces.
General Talib Shaghati
Commander, Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)
Haydar Shesho is a Yazidi military commander in Iraq. He is the founder and supreme commander of the Yazidi self-defense militia Yezidkhan Protection Forces (HPÊ).
Commander, Yezidkhan Protection Forces
Randa Slim is Director of the Track II Dialogues initiative at The Middle East Institute and an adjunct research fellow at the New America Foundation. A former vice president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Slim has been a senior program advisor at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a guest scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, and a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. A long-term practitioner of Track II dialogue and peace-building processes in the Middle East and Central Asia, she co-founded in 2007 the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy. She is a member of the advisory committee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's Peace building program and a member of the board of the Project on Middle East Democracy.
Kirk H. Sowell
Sowell is a political risk analyst based in Amman, Jordan, and the principal of Uticensis Risk Services, the publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics. A licensed attorney and published author, Sowell is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Cornell Law School, and has also studied at the University of Jordan in Amman.
Christos Stylianides was elected European Commissioner of Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management in 2014. During his career as a member of the European Parliament, Stylianides served as EU Ebola Coordinator, member of the Committee on Budgets, substitute member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, member of the delegation for relations with the United Stated, and substitute Member of the delegation for relations with Israel. He previously served as Member of the Parliament and the Government Spokesperson of the Republic of Cyprus (2006-2013). Stylianides is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and co-founded the Movement for Political Modernization and Reform in 1995.
Dr. Elena Suponina is the Advisor to the Director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. Prior to that, Suponina was the Director and Creator of the Middle East and Asia Center in the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. She was also a member of analytic and press groups belonging to the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry traveling with Russian Presidents and several Russian Foreign Ministers during their trips abroad.She published over 10 research papers,and several articles. Suponina provides commentaries for various Russian, Western and Arab TV channels and radio stations as a political analyst. Suponina has received International and Russian awards for best publications for her work about Islam in Russia, Russian-Arab cooperation, and International Policy. Suponina holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy.
Advisor to the Director, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies
Qubad Talabani was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s eighth Cabinet in June 2014. In the seventh Cabinet, Mr. Talabani served as Minister and Head of the Department of Coordination and Follow-up, a newly formed governmental department designated as the KRG’s principal policy unit. From 2006 to 2012 Deputy Prime Minister Talabani was the KRG representative to the United States of America, advocating the government’s position on a wide array of political and economic matters and promoting coordination and partnership between the Kurdistan Region and the United States. Prior to the KRG cabinet unification, Mr. Talabani served as the representative of the KRG–Slemani administration to Washington.
Yaroslav Trofimov is a columnist and senior correspondent at the Wall Street Journal. He writes a weekly column, Middle East Crossroads, about the region stretching from West Africa to Pakistan. He joined the Journal in 1999 and previously served as Rome, Middle East and Singapore-based Asia correspondent, and as bureau chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trofimov is the author of two books, Faith at War (2005) and Siege of Mecca (2007).
Christine van den Toorn
Christine van den Toorn is the Director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at AUIS, where she has taught Middle East history for four years. She has over 10 years of academic and professional experience in the Middle East, 6 of which have been spent in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). She has conducted fieldwork all over the KRI, with a particular focus on disputed territories in Ninewa, Diyala and Salahddin, and has published articles and reports in leading publications, as well as delivered talks on her research. She holds an MA in Middle East History from the University of Virginia, and taught the subject at AUIS for 4 years.
Director of the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at AUIS
Dr. Bilal Wahab is Bilal Wahab is a 2016-2017 Soref fellow at The Washington Institute, where he focuses on governance in the Iraqi Kurdish region and in Iraq as a whole. Prior to this, he was the Founding Director of CDNR and AUIS Social Science Department faculty member. He was AUIS’s first Research Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies, where he published a report,"Iraq and KRG Energy Policies: Actors, Challenges and Opportunities", on the Iraq-Kurdish dispute over the management of petroleum resources. Before AUIS, he taught at Salahaddin University and American universities, and was managing editor of Foreign Policy Bulletin. In 2005, Wahab was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and has a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.
Tamara Cofman Wittes
Tamara Cofman Wittes is a the Director of and a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where her research focuses on US-Israeli and US-Arab relations. Wittes previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs (2009-2012). She also oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East transitions. Wittes is a co-host of Rational Security, a weekly podcast on foreign policy and national security issues. joining the State Department, Wittes was a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, where she directed the Middle East Democracy and Development (MEDD) Project. Wittes published in November 2016 a Brookings report titled Politics, Governance, and State-Society Relations on the interdependence of governance and stability in the Arab world.
Nils Wörmer is the Syria/Iraq Head of Office at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
Head of Syria/Iraq Office, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Robin Wright is an American foreign affairs analyst, journalist and author. She currently is a joint fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Wright has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the most notable outlets. She won the National Magazine Award for her work with The New Yorker. Her book, Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World, won the 2012 Overseas Press Club award for best book on international affairs. She also won the United Nations Correspondents Association Gold Medal for coverage of foreign affairs, the Overseas Press Club Award, and the National Press Club Award. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and was awarded an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters from her alma mater.
Lieutenant General Jabar Yawar
Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar is the Secretary-General of the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and the Spokesperson of the Region’s armed forces
Lieutenant General Jabar Yawar
Spokesman, Ministry of Peshmerga, Kurdistan Regional Government
Nussaibah Younis a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. She is a Middle East expert who specializes on Iraqi politics and ISIS. Prior to that, Younis was senior research associate at the Project on Middle East Democracy where she directed research programs as well as conducted her own research. She also served as an international security program research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2015, Younis published Invasion to ISIS: Iraq, State Weakness and Foreign Policy. She holds a Ph.D. in international relations of the Middle East from the University of Durham.
Dov S. Zakheim currently is as a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Military Sciences, a senior fellow at the CNA Corporation, and a member of the Aspen Strategy Group. He also is Co-Vice-Chair of Global Panel America (Global Panel Foundation) with Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former UK Foreign Secretary and Minister of Defense. He served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Defense. From 2002 to 2004 he was also the Department of Defense (DOD)’s coordinator of civilian programs in Afghanistan. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he was a senior foreign policy advisor to then-Governor Bush. From 1985 to 1987, Zakheim was Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). He earned his D.Phil. in economics and politics at St. Antony's College, Oxford University.
Hoshyar Zebari was first appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad in 2003. Then, starting in 2014, he has assumed the responsibilities of Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and Minister of Finance. Zebari held the post of the KDP’s Chief Foreign Representative from 1988-1991 and acted as spokesman during the 1991 Guld War. Zebari became Head of KDP’s International Relations Bureau in 1992. In 1994, he became the principal negotiator in the Kurdish peace process and participated in peace talks held in Paris, Ireland, Ankara, London and Washington which produced the 1998 Washington Peace Agreement between the KDP and the PUK. Zebari was educated at the University of Jordan, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and the University of Essex in the UK, obtaining a Master of Arts in Sociology of Development.