On March 11th and 12th, 2015, the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani's (AUIS) IRIS hosted its 3rd Annual Sulaimani Forum, "The Fertile Crescent in Turmoil: Challenges and Opportunities".

This year's forum, "Fertile Crescent in Turmoil: Challenges and Opportunities" convened prominent scholars, policy makers, business leaders, government officials and journalists from around the world to discuss complex and pressing issues in the region. We built on the success of two previous forums that saw the participation of the foreign ministers of Iraq and Turkey, and were joined by General David H. Petraeus this year, in addition to a number of other distinguished guests and officials. The Forum convened at a pivotal time, amidst upheaval not seen before in the modern history of the Middle East. Focusing on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, panels examined causes and explored solutions for the profound challenges facing the region through dialogue about the realigning geopolitical alliances, energy, combatting Daesh, humanitarian issues, and intra-kurdish affairs. 

The theme of this year’s Forum, “Fertile Crescent in Turmoil,” reflects the upheaval and uncertainty – caused by the rise of ISIS, the drop in oil prices and geopolitical tensions – that have affected the Middle East over the past year. Diverse panels tackled both the humanitarian and political sides of the crisis surrounding the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), internal Iraqi politics – particularly regarding oil and finances – regional transitions, and the new levels of Kurdish cooperation in the region. Discussing the changing situations within Iraq, participants noted the historic, external and internal dynamics that created the environment in which ISIS, also known by its Arabic acronyms DAESH, was able to flourish. Though historically the Fertile Crescent has been diverse and tolerant, nationalism and lack of economic opportunity, basic freedoms of expression and minority rights created tensions between different religious groups and ethnicities. 

To download the full proceedings from the 3rd Annual Sulaimani Forum, please click here.