Please check back soon for the Speakers of the 3rd Annual Sulaimani Forum, to be held March 11th and 12th, 2015 at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Below, please find the 2014 list of speakers.
Adil Abd Al-Mehdi
Former Vice President of Iraq
Adil Abd Al-Mahdi is an Iraqi Shi'a politician and economist. He served as Vice President of Iraq from 2005 to 2011. He also served as finance minister in the government of Dr. Iyad Allawi in 2004 and has represented the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) in several countries.
Born in Baghdad in 1942, Abd Al-Mahdi received his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Baghdad in 1963. He is a trained economist who left Iraq in 1969 for exile in France, where he earned his master’s degree in 1970. He is fluent in Arabic, English and French.
Karen Koning AbuZayd
Commissioner on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, UNHCR
Since retiring to Chicago in 2010 from the United Nations where she was the Under Secretary General and Commissioner-General at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, based in Gaza, Karen has been engaged in a variety of refugee, human rights and humanitarian activities. In September 2011 she was appointed a Commissioner on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Before joining UNRWA in 2000, Karen had been with UNHCR for 19 years working in or on Sudan, Namibia, Sierra Leone, the Horn of Africa, Kenya/Somalia, South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Washington D.C. and as High Commissioner Ogata’s Chef de Cabinet in Geneva. Prior to UNHCR, she was a lecturer in Politics at Makerere University, Uganda and Juba University, Sudan.
Her B.Sc. is from DePauw University, Indiana (from which she also has an Honorary Doctorate and received the McNaughton Medal for humanitarian service) and her M.A. from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, Montreal. She received the Spanish UN/Catalonia Peace Prize in 2010 and the Republic of Austria’s Gold Medal with Star in 2011.
Former Iraqi Minister of Human Rights
Bakhtiar Amin was born 1959 in Kirkuk. He has served as Minister of Human Rights of Iraq, Alternate Member of Governing Council in Iraq, Refugee Councilor in Sweden and Secretary General of Paris Kurdish Institute, Adviser to Danielle Mitterrand Foundation France-Libertes, Director of Human Rights Alliance in Washington D.C. , Executive Director of the International Alliance for Justice (IAJ), which coordinated a network of 275 international non-governmental organizations from more than 120 countries. The IAJ called for the establishment of an International Ad Hoc Tribunal to investigate the former Iraqi leadership's crimes against humanity, crimes of war and genocide. He was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and has a master’s degree in international relations. He pursued doctoral studies in geopolitics and studied journalism in Sweden. He has over three decades' experience in the field of democracy, international human rights and humanitarian work. He has worked extensively on issues involving minorities, indigenous peoples, good governance, empowerment of youth and women, rule of law, water cooperation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, land mines, justice, peace, non violence, the International Criminal Court, genocide, crimes against humanity, mass graves, freedom of expression, cultural issues, federalism, refugees and IDPs, liberating prisoners and conflict resolution. He has participated in fact-finding missions in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, among others. He has testified before US Congress, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OSCE, NATO, various UN bodies in Geneva & New York, and spoken at many prestigious institutions, think-tank organizations and universities worldwide. He has been actively involved in G8's Forum for Future process in BMENA region, speaking at various international conferences and meeting regularly with heads of states and dignitaries from various parts of the world. He is currently the Chairman of the board of directors for the Foundation for the Future, which is carrying out over 200 projects in the field of democracy, civic participation and human rights in the broader Middle East & North Africa.
Lecturer at University of Lyon 2
Fabrice Balanche is assistant professor at the University of Lyon 2 and director of the GREMMO (Research Group on the Mediterranean and the Middle East). Since his first fieldwork in the Middle East in 1990, he has spent ten years living in Syria and Lebanon, which are the main areas on which his research focuses was frequently called upon as an expert in water issues and Syrian crisis. He has published in 2006 a work on contemporary Syria entitled La région alaouite et le pouvoir syrien (“Alawit region and Syrian power”). In 2012, he published an Atlas du Proche-Orient arabe (“Atlas of Arab Near East”).
Vice President of Studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Rachel Bronson is the Vice President, Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs where she is helping to create a nationally and internationally recognized foreign policy think tank in Chicago. Her previous position, Vice President of Programs and Studies included overseeing the more than 150 programs The Chicago Council runs annually. Prior to that, she served as Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Earlier positions include Senior Fellow for International Security Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. Her writings have appeared in numerous publications, and she has written a book Thicker than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (Oxford University Press, 2006). She has commented widely on foreign affairs in news outlets, has served as a consultant to NBC News and the Center for Naval Analysis, and has testified before Congress on many occasions. In 2012, Dr. Bronson was named by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine as one of 100 Women to Watch. She earned a B.A. in history at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 1997.
Dr. Bronson is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS).
Head of MED Ingegneria's International Division and Iraq operations; Experienced consultant with Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Irrigation
Andrea Cattarossi is head of the international division at MED Ingegneria s.r.l. in Italy as well as head of all MED Ingegneria’s operations in Iraq. For the past 6 years, Cattarossi has been heading the hydrology team during the preparation of the New Eden Master Plan for Integrated Water Resources Management in the Marshlands of Southern Iraq. He is presently managing the design of 3 large dams in northern Iraq. Cattarossi has also worked throughout Europe and America on consultancy work Including climate change impacts assessment, hydrological modeling, flood hazard and risks assessment.
Cattarossi is a civil engineer by training with over 10 years of experience in the field of water resources planning matured while working on several international assignments including South America, the USA, Africa, China and the Middle East. Specifically, he has considerable experience of working in Iraq where, since 2003, he has consulted extensively for various private and public bodies including the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Irrigation.
Iraq Analyst at International Crisis Group
Maria Fantappie is an Iraq Analyst for the International Crisis Group. She was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut specializing in state building in the Middle East. Fantappie has written extensively on Iraq’s domestic political development and on the evolution of the Kurdish issue in the Middle East. She received her BA from the University of Florence, her Masters from Sciences-Po in Paris, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at King’s College, London.
Maria 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.
Project Director for the Middle East Program at International Crisis Group
Peter Harling is Project Director with the Middle East Program of the International Crisis Group. His research at Crisis Group is focused on Iraq, where he lived and worked over 7 years. He also conducts and supervises research in Lebanon and Syria. Harling's areas of expertise include the Iraqi insurgency, the Sadrist movement, tribalism in Iraq, and Syrian foreign policy
Prior to ICG, Harling has served as an independent Consultant for both the French public and private sectors including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Institute of International Affairs (1998 - 2004). He also worked as a Political Science Researcher a the Paris at the Higher School for Social Science Studies (2001 - ), and a Research Fellow a Sorbonne University Centre for International Studies (Centre de Recherches Internationales de la Sorbonne - CRIS) (2005 - ).
Ashti Hawrami (Abdullah Abdulrahman Abdullah)
Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq
Dr Ashti Hawrami was appointed Minister for Natural Resources in May 2006, and reappointed in the six cabinet on 28 October 2009 following the July 2009 Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections. He was reappointed in the seventh cabinet, on 5 April 2012.
Before joining the KRG cabinet, Dr Hawrami held several senior oil executive positions in the private sector. Born in Suleimaniah in 1948, Dr Hawrami gained a bachelors degree in oil engineering from Baghdad University in 1971 and worked as an engineer in the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) in Basra from 1971 to 1974.
After moving to the UK, Dr Hawrami worked as an engineer on the North Sea in Scotland for the British National Oil Company from 1975 to 1982. In 1978 he was awarded a PhD in Reserve Oil Engineering in Scotland, and from 1982 to 1985 worked as a senior oil engineer for the company Intera in London. He was a senior engineer for an exploration consultancy from 1985 to 1988, and from 1988 to 1999 he was the proprietor and director of DUK, a limited liability UK engineering and services firm. In 1999 he became Chairman and CEO of ECL Group Plc. After retiring from ECL, he was appointed Minister of Natural Resources in 2006.
Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore
Fanar Haddad is a Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore. He previously lectured in modern Middle Eastern politics at the University of Exeter and at Queen Mary, University of London. Prior to obtaining his DPhil, Haddad was 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 are identity, historical memory, nationalism, communal conflict and minority politics. He is the author of Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity (London/New York: Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2011). His current research focuses on historical memory and narratives of state in the Middle East.
Chief of Staff to the President, Kurdistan Region
Dr. Fuad Hussein is the Chief of Staff to the President of the Kurdistan Region. He holds the rank of minister and plays an active role in the KRG Council of Ministers. Hussein earned his PhD from Amsterdam University in the Netherlands, where he also served as a lecturer. In 1985, he published his influential work, “The Legal Concept of Self-Determination and the Kurdish Question”.
President of Gryphon Partners LLC
Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad is President of Gryphon Parners LLC, an international advisory firm. From 2007 to 2009, he served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Prior to that, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (2005-2007) and U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (2003 to 2005). He also served as U.S. Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan (2001 to 2003).
Amb. Khalilzad sits on the boards of the National Endowment for Democracy, Atlantic Council, the RAND Corporation's Middle East Studies Center, and the American University of Afghanistan. He is also a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Amb. Khalilzad maintains close ties with high-level leadership throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, and is regularly called upon to provide strategic advice to numerous heads of state. He appears frequently on US and foreign media outlets to share his foreign policy expertise.
Executive Director of the Iraq Energy Institute (IEI)
Luay al-Khatteeb is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, focusing on the geopolitics and political economy of the GCC and Iraq. He is the founder and director of the Iraq Energy Institute (IEI) and serves as senior advisor to the Federal Parliament of Iraq for energy policy and economic reform. His experiences in the private sector span more than 20 years, and he is a frequent commentator on issues related to energy security, economic, and politics in the Gulf region.
Al-Khatteeb has served in an executive capacity with various international oil companies, including Shell E&P and Crescent Petroleum. Through the IEI he has also worked with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the Iraqi Federal Parliament, and Iraqi regional governments to debate vital issues on economic and legislative topics, with a focus on federalism, revenue-sharing, hydrocarbon policy, fiscal regimes, power-sharing, and national reconciliation.
In addition to his professional commitments, al-Khatteeb is an active participant at the Brookings Doha Center, the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), and the Revenue Watch Institute. He is a frequent commentator for the Middle East Economic Survey, MEED, Interfax, the Petroleum Economist, and the Financial Times.
Managing Director at Impera Capital
Philip has been involved in emerging markets for 20 years as a central banker, investment banker, equity analyst and portfolio manager. In 2009 he co-founded Impera Capital, a portfolio management company specializing in frontier markets, where he manages the Impera Iraq Opportunities Fund. Between 2002 and 2008, he was head of research and a member of the executive committee at EFG-Hermes and was part of the team that built the firm into the MENA region’s leading investment bank. In 2000, he founded an independent research firm providing macroeconomic, strategy and banking research, that was subsequently sold to EFG-Hermes. Prior to that, Philip was an equity research analyst and investment banker in London at Robert Fleming and Merrill Lynch. He began his career in 1993 at the Central Bank of Lebanon as assistant to the Vice Governor. Philip holds a an M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics (1993) and an M.A. in Economics (1991) from Trinity College, Cambridge
Washington Bureau Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel
Hisham Melhem is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily. For four years he hosted "Across the Ocean", a weekly current affairs program on US-Arab relations for Al-Arabiya. He writes a weekly column for Al-Arabiya English Web.
Mr. Melhem's writings appeared in publications ranging from the literary journal Al-Mawaqef to the LA Times, as well as in magazines such as Foreign Policy, Middle East Report, Middle East Insight, and Middle East Policy. He is the author of Dual Containment: the Demise of a fallacy, published by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
Mr. Melhem has interviewed many American and international public figures, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen among others.
President Emeritus of the American Uniersity of Iraq, Sulaimani
Athanasios (Thanasi) Moulakis was born in Athens. He studied Classics and Political Science at the Universities of Munich, Heidelberg and Bochum where he received his PhD and Habilitation. He taught at German Universities, the London School of Economics, and the European University Institute in Florence. Coming to the US he taught at UCSD and St John’s College, Annapolis before becoming Herbst Professor of Humanities and Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He later assumed the direction of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies at the University of Lugano, Switzerland. He was then Chief Academic Officer and Acting President of the American University of Afghanistan and subsequently President of the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. In 1997 he was Fulbright Professor of Philosophy at the University of Jena. He has published widely on political thought, educational policy and international affairs, his book Beyond Utility. Liberal Education for a Technological Age receiving the AAC&U’s Frederick Ness award for best book on liberal education.
Director of NIFA Investment and Consultancy Services; Former: Undersecretary of Public Order and Security, Ambassador to Baghdad, Special Envoy of the Turkish Government for Iraq, Head of Cabinet to the late President Turgut Özal
Ambassador Özçelik served as a member of the Turkish Foreign Ministry for over 30 years. His foreign assignments included postings to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Turkish Permanent Representation to the then-European Economic Community in Brussels and Washington D.C., and Turkey’s first Consul General to Shanghai, PRC, in 1997 and 1998. He was also stationed in Houston as Deputy Consul General between 2001 and 2005. Mr. Ozcelik held several executive positions within the Foreign Ministry including as Head of Balkans Department, Deputy Spokesperson and as Turkey’s Special Envoy to Iraq between 2007 and 2009. He was assigned as Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq in 2009. After completing his tour in Iraq, he was assigned to be the Undersecretary for Public Order and Security in November 2011. He retired from Foreign Service in 2013.
Having acted as the Vice-Chairman responsible for Overseas Business Development at the MNG Holding Co. between 1999 and 2001, Özçelik also has private-sector experience.
Baghdad Bureau Chief for Agence France-Presse
Prashant Rao is the Baghdad Bureau Chief for Agence France-Presse, the world’s oldest news agency and one of the three big international news wires. He has been based in Iraq since June 2009, and leads a team of nearly 40 journalists and photographers nationwide, stationed in all but one of Iraq’s provinces. Along with Iraq, he has reported for AFP from Jordan, Turkey and Syria. Prior to his posting in Baghdad, he was a reporter for AFP in London. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the London School of Economics.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS)
Barham Salih is the founder of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He is a veteran Kurdish politician with years of public service and leadership in both the Kurdistan Region and in Iraq. Dr. Salih served as Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region most recently from 2009-2012. He was elected to leadership at the first conference of the Political Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party after the liberation of Kurdistan from dictatorship in 1992, and was also chosen to head the PUK office in the United States. Following the first parliamentary elections in the same year, he became the representative of the newly-formed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to the US. During his time in America he was very active in improving Kurdistan’s relations with the West and his vigorous campaigning against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial Ba’ath regime helped to influence decision-makers in Washington. The PUK leadership asked Barham Salih to take over as Prime Minister of the KRG from 2001 to 2004.
After the fall of the Baathist regime, he 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. Dr. Salih earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and Construction at the University of Cardiff, graduating in 1983, and went on to receive a doctoral degree in Statistics and Computer Applications in Engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987. He is married to Dr. Sarbagh Salih, a women’s rights activist, and they have a son and a daughter. He is fluent in Kurdish, Arabic and English.
Chairman of Rabee Securities; Founder of Melak Investments
Shwan Taha has over ten years of experience in managing money in the MENA region, including Turkey, Greece and Pakistan. From 1997 to 2006 Shwan worked for Franklin Templeton as part of Mark Mobius's emerging markets team. Responsible for investments in the MENA region, he established two research and investment offices: one in Dubai and the second in Istanbul. In 2006 Shwan joined a two-man team to manage a hedge fund that was funded and sponsored by George Soros. Mr. Taha has left the partnership with Soros and founded Melak Investments, an investment advisory firm concentrating on opportunities in Iraq. Mr. Taha is also the chairman of Rabee Securities, a premier Iraqi Stock Exchange Firm founded in Baghdad in 1995 and regulated by the Iraq Stock Exchange. Rabee Securities maintains offices in Baghdad, Erbil, Sulaimani, and Istanbul. Mr. Taha obtained an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from George Washington University.
CEO of the Nature Iraq Foundation
Virginia Tice, CEO of the Nature Iraq Foundation, is the attorney for Nature Iraq, an Iraqi non-profit organization. Virginia has spent the last ten years working for conservation and human rights organizations, and specializes in the intersection of international and environmental law. She holds a Bachelor's and Master’s degree from Florida State University, a Juris Doctorate from University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and is bar certified in Hawai'i and New York.
Christine van den Toorn
Analyst of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region
Christine van den Toorn has over ten years of professional and academic experience in the Middle East region, including five in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). During her four years as a lecturer in Middle East History at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), she was heavily involved in student services and conducted on the ground research in many parts of the country with a particular focus on Bashiqa and other disputed territories in Ninewa. She has published articles in Niqash and openDemocracy, consulted and written reports for a variety of leading news and policy outlets, and delivered talks and moderated panels on Iraq. Ms. van den Toorn has also conducted baseline reports and social impact assessments for major international oil companies. She is currently continuing her work on higher education issues in Iraq, and recently founded The Primary Source, a news outlet and consulting group made up of former and current AUIS students. Ms. van den Toorn received her M.A. in Middle East History from the University of Virginia and was in the United States Peace Corps in Morocco. She has studied Arabic at Middlebury College and Georgetown University, as well as at the University of Damascus and the French Institute of Near East Studies, also in the Syrian capital.
Lecturer at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS)
Wahab joined AUIS in September 2012 as a Lecturer in the Social Sciences Department. He is also currently a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia and will soon defend his dissertation titled Iraqi Oil Policy Since 2003. Wahab has written widely on energy policy, transnational crime, illicit trade, good governance and transition to democracy. Before AUIS, he taught at Salahaddin University in the Political Science and English Language Departments. He was also previously the managing editor of Foreign Policy Bulletin.
Wahab received his M.A. in International Affairs from the American University in Washington D.C. as a Fulbright Fellow and received his Bachelor’s degree in the English Language from Salahaddin University. Click here to see Wahab’s master’s thesis titled How Iraqi Oil Smuggling Greases Violence, which has been quoted by the New York Times.
Bilal Wahab is an IRIS Faculty Fellow. His research aims to study KRG petroleum policy, and to identify and analyze the key factors that contributed to shaping that policy since 2003. His study will also analyze the interactions among international oil companies (IOCs), the government and the public.
Turkey Correspondent for "The Economist"
Amberin Zaman is the Istanbul-based Turkey correspondent of the UK weekly The Economist. Zaman, who is Turkish, also writes a column twice a week for the mass circulation Turkish daily Haberturk. Educated in New York and Switzerland, Zaman has covered Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Armenia for a wide array of international titles including The Daily Telegraph of London, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Her fields of interest are minority rights, the Kurds, and Turkish Armenian reconciliation.
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Iraq
Mr. Zebari was born in 1953 in Aqra, Iraqi Kurdistan, and educated in the Iraqi city of Mosul, 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. He participated in the armed national resistance campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein from 1980 -1988 and became an elected member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Political Bureau and Chief Representative of the Kurdistan Front in Europe in 1989. Mr. Zebari held the post of the KDP’s Chief Foreign Representative from 1988-1991 and acted as a spokesman during the 1991 Gulf War.
Mr. Zebari became Head of KDP’s International Relations Bureau in 1992, a position he held until his most recent appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs. 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 Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Mr. Zebari was elected to the Executive Council of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). He became Head of International Relations of the Iraqi Opposition in 1992. He was elected as a member of the INC Leadership Council in 1999 and in 2002. Mr. Zebari was first appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad on September 3rd 2003. He has been sworn in five consecutive times as the Foreign Minister, under the Iraqi Interim Government, the Iraqi Transitional Government, and each constitutional government after Saddam Hussein.
Founder and CEO of Nature Iraq
Azzam Alwash is the recipient of the 2013 Goldman Prize for excellence in protecting the environment. He was also named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers in 2013. Born in Kut, Alwash is the founder and CEO of Nature Iraq, a nongovernmental agency that works to protect, restore, and preserve Iraq’s natural environment. After earning a postgraduate degree and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Southern California, he spent 20 years working with Pacific Soils Engineering, a consulting firm specializing in geologic, geotechnical, and environmental services in Southern California. He has served on the board of directors of the Iraq Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization promoting democracy and human rights in Iraq. In 1998, Alwash started Eden Again, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, to bring attention to the environmental disaster caused by Saddam Hussein’s destruction of the marshlands in southern Iraq. He gives speeches to international audiences and continues to promote the restoration of Iraq’s southern marshlands, as well as education reform in Iraq.
Iraq Country Manager for the International Finance Corportation
Ziad Badr, a Lebanese national, joined the World Bank in 1993 and worked in the Africa and MENA regions. He assumed various responsibilities including as Senior Economist in the Africa Knowledge and Learning unit where the concepts of "Knowledge Bank", and "Monitoring and Evaluation tools" were pioneered. In 2003, he became the Head of the World Bank mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In that responsibility, Mr. Badr managed to expand the Saudi Reimbursable Technical Assistance (RTA) program and transformed to a multi-year program. In 2006, he relocated to Jordan as Head of the World Bank Iraq Interim office in Amman. Mr. Badr has been instrumental to establish the World Bank presence in Baghdad, and nurture the relation with the Iraqi government. He also lead the first 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.
In July 2011 Mr. Badr joined IFC, and became their first manager in Iraq responsible for setting up the new IFC office in Baghdad. developing and executing IFC's strategy in the country, and leading IFC's dialogue and coordination with the Iraqi government, private sector, donors, and other stake-holders
Henri J. Barkey
Chair of the Department of International Relations at Lehigh University
Henri Barkey is the Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor in International Relations and International Relations Department Chair 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. Respected worldwide as an authority in the field, he has provided expertise and opinion editorials in all forms of media, invited lectures, and conferences including the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, C-SPAN, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. His most recent interviews have focused on Turkey’s status as one of America’s regional allies amidst the uncertainty of the Arab Spring and also on the escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel, and the effects of the Syrian crisis. 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.
Dr. Barkey is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS).
Journalist and Former War Correspondent; Al-Monitor Columnist
Cengiz Çandar is an expert on the Middle East and the Balkans and has worked for the leading Turkish newspapers. Currently, he is the senior political columnist for the daily Radikal in Istanbul. He served as special adviser to Turkish President Turgut Özal between 1991 and 1993. He was a lecturer on "History and Politics in the Middle East" at Bilgi University in İstanbul from 1997 to 2011. Between 1999 and 2000, he did research work on "Turkey of the 21st century" as a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government
Nechirvan Barzani was appointed Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on 7 March 2012. He has previously served as Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in two successive cabinets from 1999 to 2009.
Prime Minister Barzani was born in 1966 in the mountain village of Barzan. He is the grandson of Mustafa Barzani, the legendary Kurdish leader and founder of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). His father, Idris Barzani, was also a senior member of the KDP.
In 1975, Barzani and his family, along with tens of thousands of Kurds from Iraq, were forced to flee to Iran in search of safety from Iraq’s former Ba’ath regime. Following the example of leadership set by his father and grandfather, he became actively involved in political affairs and rose rapidly through the ranks of the KDP.
Barzani was first elected to the leadership of the KDP at its 10th Congress in 1989 and re-elected at its 11th and 12th Congress in 1993 and 1999 respectively. In 1996 he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which was established following the 1992 regional elections that resulted from the Kurdish Uprising in the Spring of 1991.
In 1999, Barzani was appointed Prime Minister of the Regional Government, and in March 2006, he was elected the first Prime Minister of the unified Government of the Kurdistan Region, where he served until 2009. Barzani was elected Vice President of the KDP at its 13th National Congress in December 2010.
Barzani is married and has three sons and two daughters. He is fluent in Kurdish, Persian, and English, and has a working knowledge of Arabic. He is fond of Kurdish and Persian poetry. He has travelled widely in the Middle East, Europe, the United States and Asia, meeting with heads of state and senior government officials.
Director of Columbia Global Centers in Turkey
Ipek is a Turkish businesswoman, journalist and a leading member of several community-based and international organizations. Until recently, she was producing and hosting 'Global Leaders,' a television program, in association with NTV networks, a leading news channel. The show consisted of one-on-one interviews with political, business and other opinion leaders who shape our world today, including Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Madeleine Albright and Pele. Ipek had been a columnist commenting on international trends, politics and economics for major Turkish daily newspapers including Milliyet, Sabah and Yeni Yuzyil for eight consecutive years.
She is a founding member and active participant in several non-profit organizations in Turkey and abroad including Women Entrepreneurs of Turkey (KAGIDER), International Competitiveness Council (URAK), Initiative to Support Contemporary Art (SAHA), the Center for Mediterranean Integration in Marseilles (CMI) and the Eisenhower Foundation in Philadelphia. Ipek Cem is also an Eisenhower Fellow as of 2003. She has also been named an Honorary Professor in the Department of Public Relations and Communications of T.E.I. (Hellenic Republic Technological Educational Instıtute of Ionian Islands) for her scientific and humanitarian work including the consolidation of friendship, peace and cooperation between the neighboring countries of Greece and Turkey.
Hassan B. Diab/
Vice President for Regional External Programs at the American University of Beirut (AUB)
Dr. Diab received his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Bath, U.K. in 1985 and his M.Sc. (with Distinction) in Systems Engineering from the University of Surrey, U.K. in 1982. He is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at AUB. He has over 130 publications in internationally refereed journals and conferences. He refereed over 300 papers for over 55 international journals and conferences. He received 13 international and regional awards including the Fulbright research award (1988), and the 1992 Young Arab Scientists Shuman prize in Engineering.
Dr. Diab was seconded as Founding President of Dhofar University and Dean of Engineering (2004-2006). He was an external reviewer for the Oman Accreditation Authority charged with assisting in the development of the Omani higher education, and was a member of the Scientific Research Council of Oman (2005-2006). In 2006, Dr. Diab was appointed as VP for REP, the external consulting and corporate relations arm of AUB. He was Minister of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon (2011 – 2014), and he is currently MEHE caretaker pending the formation of a new cabinet.
Dr. Diab is a registered Chartered Engineer in the Engineering Council, UK, and a Chartered Professional Engineer in the National Professional Engineers Register, Australia. He is a fellow in IEE & IEAust and a Senior Member in IEEE
Anchor, News Presenter at BBC World News
Pooneh Ghoddoosi is one of the few multilingual presenters on the BBC. She presents programs in both English and Persian. During her 14 years with the organization, she has produced and presented news, current affairs, and interactive programs on BBC World News, BBC Persian Television, and BBC World Service Radio. She presented the award-winning Interactive program, "Nowbat-e-Shoma" (Your Turn) on BBC Persian Television. She is also a guest presenter on "World Have Your Say", “Outlook”, and “The Fifth Floor” and “Newsday” on BBC World Service Radio.
Pooneh is currently a Senior Trainer with the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism, teaching program producing and presenting techniques, as well as social media and editorial guidelines.In 2009-2010, Pooneh managed a project that examined and promoted the effective utilization of social media and user-generated content across BBC Global News. The project resulted in the creation of a new set of editorial guidelines for social media and UGC, currently being used across BBC Global News.
She began her journalism career 23 years ago in her birthplace, Iran, working for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She has worked with several other media organizations including, PBS, USA Today, The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, and The Washington Post.
Associated Researcher at the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS), Newcastle University
Dr. Hashemi gained his PhD in water resources engineering and management in 2012 and MSc in Hydraulic Engineering in 1995 at Newcastle University. He is a visiting lecturer at University of Kurdistan, Iran, a water resources management consultant and an IWRM specialist working with major international and national projects in Iran and the Middle East providing consultancy services on IWRM plan, Decision Support Systems (DSSs), wetland ecosystem management, conflict resolutions, trans-boundary waters, and institutional analysis. He has extensively studied the role of ethics, religion and culture as well as institutional aspects (water policy, law and administration) in water management in the West Asia and North African (WANA) region. He is a member of IAHS, Gender Water Alliance (GWA), and Iran’s Engineering Council, Farmers House of Iran and Kurdistan as well as the editorial board of Iran Water Research Journal.
Former French Minister of Foreign & European Affairs
Over the last 18 years, Bernard Kouchner, an influential person in the French political scene, has served as France's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs until November 2010, and before that as minister in charge of both health and humanitarian action. He was also the professor of public health at the Health and Development Department of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM). He is the author of several books and the co-founder of the news magazines L'Evénement and Actuel. He is the recipient of several human rights awards, including the Dag Hammarskjold Prize and the Prix Europa.
A medical doctor by training, Bernard Kouchner is known as the co-founder and former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization made up of voluntary medical personnel who contribute their time and expertise to assist in situations of emergency or inadequate medical care in the developing world. He has organized humanitarian operations in Somalia, El Salvador, Lebanon, and Vietnam, as well as led field operations in Cambodia, Thailand, Uruguay, Peru, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Communication (STRATIM) and Former Member of Turkish Parliament
Suat Kınıklıoğlu is the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Communication (STRATIM) and columnist for Today’s Zaman, an English-language daily. He is also member of European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). He served as Member of Parliament from 2007 to 2011. He was AK Party Deputy Chairman of External Affairs and member of the AK Party Central Executive Committee. Mr. Kınıklıoğlu also was spokesman of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Turkey-US Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.
He was founding director of the German Marshall Fund of the US office in Turkey and the Ankara Center for Turkish Policy Studies. He was also editor of the English-language quarterly journal Insight Turkey. He worked as Turkey & Caucasus representative of CIDA, Senior Research Officer at the Australian Embassy in Ankara, Communications Officer in the Turkish Air Force and columnist at Turkish Daily News. Mr Kınıklıoğlu has earned his B.Sc. in Electronics from the Turkish Air Force Academy (Istanbul, Turkey), B.A. in Political Science from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) and his MA in International Relations from Bilkent University, Ankara. Besides his mother tongue, he speaks English, German and Russian, is married and is the father of two children.
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State
Brett McGurk serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. His previous assignment was Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs with a focus on Iraq and other regional initiatives. In the Obama administration, McGurk has served as a special advisor to the National Security Staff and as Senior Advisor to Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Christopher Hill, and James Jeffrey in Baghdad. In these capacities, McGurk participated in President Obama’s 2009 review of Iraq policy and helped manage the transition from military to civilian lead in the wake of the U.S. military drawdown. During the Bush administration, Mr. McGurk served as Director for Iraq and then as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2008, Mr. McGurk served as a lead negotiator and coordinator during bilateral talks with the Iraqi Government on both a long-term Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement to govern the temporary presence of U.S. forces and the normalization of bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States. For these assignments he received the State Department's Distinguished Honor and Superior Honor Awards. He was also one of the chief architects with President Bush of the strategy known as the surge, which contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq and set the conditions for the responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces.
McGurk had earlier served as a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority and then the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad under Ambassador John Negroponte.
Columnist for "Hurriyet Daily News"
Nuray Mert is a Turkish journalist and political scientist. She is a columnist for Hurriyet Daily News and was previously a TV talkshow host. After graduating from Fevziye Mektepleri Işık College, she studied political science and history at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, where she obtained the master's degree on a thesis entitled Prens Sabahaddin ve Terakki Mecmuası ("Prens Sabahaddin and Terakki Magazine"), and the doctorate on a thesis entitled Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde Laik Düşünce ("Secular Thought in the Early Republican Period"). She worked for some time as a research assistant at Boğaziçi University, after which she became lecturer at the Department of Economics of Istanbul University. In 2012-3 she was an International Scholar in Residence at the Stanford Humanities Center.
Senior Fellow on Foreign Policy at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings
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 Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as the director of the Saban Center from 2009 to 2012, and its director of research from 2002 to 2009. His most recent book is Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy.
Pollack began his career as an Iran-Iraq military analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was an employee from 1988 until 1995. During that time, he was the principal author of the CIA’s classified post-mortem on Iraqi strategy and military operations during the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. Pollack received the CIA’s Certificate of Distinction for Outstanding Performance of Duty for work before and during the Persian Gulf War. He also twice received the CIA’s Exceptional Performance Award, also for work related to the Persian Gulf War.
Pollack has twice served on the staff of the National Security Council. In 1995-1996, he was director for Near East and South Asian affairs, and in 1999-2001 he served as director for Persian Gulf Affairs. In this latter capacity, he was the principal working-level official for U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council States at the White House.
Esra Pelitozu Kuday
Director of Karo Dis Ticaret Ve Sanayi Ltd. Sti.
Esra is a Turkish businesswoman with experience in the trading of petroleum products and manufacturing of petro-chemical products. Since 2006 she has been working in the family business and since 2010 she has been overseeing Karo’s investment in a petro-chemical manufacturing plant in Baghdad, Iraq. Prior to joining Karo in 2006, she worked on strategy and project management at the World Bank’s Social Development Network in Washington, DC. During her time at the World Bank, she worked on improving the efficiency of the World Bank’s response to HIV/AIDS. Esra holds an undergraduate degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a masters degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Faruk Mustafa Rasool
Chairman of Faruk Group Holding
Faruk Mustafa Rasool is an entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the business world. He built one of the country’s first wireless networks, Asiacell, which was recognized by the French market research firm Altai as being Iraq’s leading brand in 2012 – not only in the mobile telecommunications market but across all industry sectors.
He is the chairman of Faruk Holding, which is comprised of 27 companies operating across 12 separate sectors vital to Iraq’s reconstruction: telecommunications and information technology, cement, construction, industry, energy, insurance, medical services, hospitality, real estate, agriculture, project management, commerce and trade.
He graduated from the University of Baghdad with a degree in economics and accounting in 1964.
Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Karim Sadjadpour is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, prior to which he worked as the chief Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group in Washington and Tehran. He is a regular contributor to BBC TV and radio, CNN, National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, and Al-Jazeera, as well as publications such as the Economist, Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and Foreign Policy. He regularly testifies before Congress, has lectured at Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford Universities, and has been the recipient of numerous academic awards, including a Fulbright scholarship. In 2007 Sadjadpour was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is a board member of the Banu Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting grassroots organizations that are empowering women worldwide.
Professor at American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
Slater is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction with interests in oral history, personal narrative, Arab society, and conflict. His fiction has appeared in Epiphany: A Literary Journal and the anthology Fire and Forget by Da Capo Press. His non-fiction writing has appeared in The Daily Beast and The New York Times, and he has appeared as a guest on Anderson Cooper 360 and NPR’s Here and Now.
As an educator he ran the Veterans’ Writing Workshop at Columbia University from 2010 to 2012. His current research project is a collection of personal narratives from deserters from the Syrian army and their families during the ongoing civil war.
Political risk analyst and the principal of Uticensis Risk Services (publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics)
Kirk is a political risk analyst based in Amman, Jordan, and the principal of Uticensis Risk Services, the publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics. He is an expert in online Arabic-language research with several years experience working on a variety of Arab countries. A licensed attorney and published author, his 2004 book,The Arab World: An Illustrated History, was published by Hippocrene Books. Kirk 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.
Non Resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings
Ömer Taşpınar is professor of National Security Strategy at the U.S. National War College and the director of the Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution. Taspinar was previously an assistant professor in the European studies department of the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he is still teaching as adjunct professor. He has held consulting positions at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Washington, and at the strategic planning department of TOFAS-FIAT in Istanbul.
Taşpınar's research focuses on Turkey-EU and Turkish-American relations; European politics; transatlantic relations; Muslims in Europe; Islamic radicalism; human development in the Islamic world; and American foreign policy in the Middle East. He is the author of two books: Political Islam and Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey (Routledge, 2005) and Fighting Radicalism with Human Development: Freedom, Education and Growth in the Islamic World (Brookings Press, 2006), as well as numerous publications.
Charles R H Tripp
Professor of Middle East politics at SOAS, University of London
Charles Tripp is Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East and a Fellow of the British Academy. His research interests include the nature of autocracy, state and resistance in the Middle East, the politics of Islamic identity and the relationship between art and power. He is currently working on a study of the emergence of the public and the rethinking of republican ideals across the states of North Africa. Together with other colleagues in the department he has been one of the founders of the Centre for Comparative Political Thought at SOAS.
His publications include Islam and the Moral Economy: The Challenge of Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 2006); A History of Iraq (Cambridge University Press, 2007) His most recent book is The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Author, analyst and award-winning journalist
Robin Wright has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, TIME, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times of London, CBS News, Foreign Affairs and many others. Her foreign tours include the Middle East, Europe, Africa and several years as a roving foreign correspondent worldwide. She has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions. Until 2008, she covered U.S. foreign policy for The Washington Post.
Wright’s most recent book is “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic world.” Her other books include “Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East” (2008), which The New York Times and The Washington Post both selected as one of the most notable books of the year. She was the editor of “The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy” (2010). Her other books include “The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran” (2000), which was selected as one of the 25 most memorable books of the year 2000 by the New York Library Association, "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam" (2001), "Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World" (1991), and "In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade" (1989).
Wright has also been a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as well as Yale, Duke, Stanford, and the University of California.
Senior Fellow at CNA Corporation;
Senior Adviser at Center for Strategic and International Studies
Dov Zakheim is Senior Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton. From 2001 to April 2004 he was Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Defense. From 2002-04 he was DOD’s coordinator of civilian programs in Afghanistan. He also helped organize the 2003 New York (UN) and Madrid Donors conferences for Iraq reconstruction. From 1987 to 2001 he was both corporate vice president of System Planning Corporation, a technology and analysis firm based in Arlington, VA and chief executive officer of its subsidiary, SPC International Corp. During the 2000 president campaign, he served as senior foreign policy advisor to then-Governor Bush. From 1985 until March 1987, Dr. Zakheim was Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources. Earlier, he was principal analyst in the National Security and International Affairs Division of the Congressional Budget Office.
Dr. Zakheim has served on numerous government, corporate, non-profit and charitable boards. His government service includes the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (1991-93); the Task Force on Defense Reform (1997); and the Board of Visitors of the Department of Defense Overseas Regional Schools (1998-2001). He chairs the National Intelligence Council’s International Business Practices Advisory Panel, and is a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan; the Defense Business Board, which he helped establish, the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel, the Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. A 1970 graduate of Columbia University, Dr. Zakheim also studied at the London School of Economics. He holds a doctorate in economics and politics at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Dr. Zakheim is a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was an adjunct Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct Scholar of the Heritage Foundation. He has been an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College (CT). He is the recipient of the Defense Department’s highest civilian award in 1986, 1987 and 2004.