The Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) is an independent research center based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and housed at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. IRIS provides in-depth analysis of the political, socioeconomic, and security issues facing the KRI, Iraq and the Middle East.

Issue Areas

IRIS aims to solve complex policy challenges across four key areas of governance:

  • Peace and Security
  • Economic Reform and Development
  • Governance and Democracy
  • Social Relations and Civil Society


Our Approach

Understand. IRIS aims to cultivate fresh insights and a deeper understanding of complex policy challenges through rigorous research and analysis. IRIS’s research capacities are unique because of our access to local communities, government and other local stakeholders.

Engage. IRIS brings policymakers, practitioners and affected communities to the same table. Through open dialogue via panels, roundtables and workshops, we unpack complex issues and offer insight drawn from both technical expertise and lived experience.

Act. We synthesize the insights from research and dialogue into actionable policy solutions. In doing so, we aim to ground academic insights in the realities faced by practitioners.


Our Team

Our core team is based in Sulaimani and represents diverse disciplinary backgrounds. We work with a broad network of Iraqi researchers who enable us to carry out fieldwork and collect reliable insights from all corners of Iraq. In addition, collaborations with our circle of Visiting Fellows are central to our way of working. Fellows include senior academics, policy experts, journalists and industry professionals.


Institutional Partnerships

IRIS has partnered with leading institutions such as the London School of Economics, Stanford Law School, Exeter University, Chatham House, the Global Public Policy Institute, the International Organization for Migration, and UN Women on a variety of programs and projects.


Sulaimani Forum

The Sulaimani Forum is the signature annual event hosted by IRIS at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. The event is designed to engage to bring in meaningful prominent dialogue leaders, and intellectuals tackle the most and practitioners complex issues facing the region. The 2017 Forum provided a venue to plot the course ahead on key issues in the region including the war against ISIS, its ideology and the aftermath; migration and refugee crisis; the political economy of the region; and sovereignty and a new order in the 21st century.


Research and Policy

IRIS regularly undertakes short-term research and analysis projects for policy and operational actors in Iraq. It also publishes its own “IRIS Iraq Report,” which addresses Iraq’s most pressing issues. The Reports aim to provide decision-makers and experts with timely and reliable research and analysis based on in-country fieldwork.


Public Engagement

IRIS convenes workshops, roundtables and lectures throughout the year, all of which aim to engage leaders from various sectors in the KRI, Iraq and the international community, together with academics, analysts, practitioners and the general public.