Iraq

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has played a key role in promoting peaceful governance through collaborative civic engagement in Iraq since 2003. USIP’s core mission is to strengthen local capacities to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts peacefully by assisting Iraqis to develop the tools and institutions necessary to peacefully resolve disputes. We work across the community, provincial and national levels, and above all seek to provide Iraqis with the tools to act as citizens and peace builders. Our Iraqi partners in government and civil society have facilitated dialogue with multiple stakeholders across the country that address the roots of the conflict and propose concrete solutions.

Learn more about The Current Situation in Iraq and USIP’s work

Cultural Heritage: A Target in War, an Engine of Peace

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 08:45
Mon, 10/24/2016 - 17:30
Subtitle: 
Stories from Afghanistan and ‘Turquoise Mountain’ on Preserving Culture to Curb Violence

In 2001, Taliban fighters dynamited Afghanistan’s massive Bamiyan Buddha statues, carved into cliff faces, into rubble. Serb forces burned Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Sarajevo National Library in 1992 and ISIS extremists recently razed ancient temples in Palmyra, Syria. Such deliberate destruction of cultural heritage is so damaging to civilizations that the world recognizes it as a war crime. But the power of cultural heritage, so targeted in war, also can provide instruments to build peace. An October 24 symposium in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution will use recent experience, notably in Afghanistan, to examine the often unrecognized power of cultural heritage. The discussion will explore new ways that it might serve worldwide to prevent, or recover from, violent conflict.

Read the event coverage, Can Afghanistan Write New Future in Calligraphy?

Recent wars offer no greater example of cultural heritage turned to healing than the work in Afghanistan of the charity Turquoise Mountain, the subject of a stunning, 11-month exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution. “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan,” at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, shows how historians, artisans, young students and communities are preserving and renewing traditions, crafts, economic livelihoods and a historic district of Kabul. This symposium at the U.S.

The agenda is now available.

8:45 - Registration and Coffee in the atrium

9:15 - Welcome: Nancy Lindborg, President, USIP

9:20-9:25 - Hila Alam, Minister Counsellor, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.

9:25-9:35 - William Hammink, Assistant to the Administrator, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID

9:35-9:45 - Mark Taplin, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

9:45-10:45 Panel 1: What is Cultural Heritage and (Why) Does it Matter?
Moderator: Molly Fannon, Director, Office of International Relations and Global Programs, Smithsonian Institution

  • Dr. Julian Raby, Dame Jillian Sackler Director, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
  • Dr. Derek Gillman, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Art History and Museum Leadership, Drexel University

10:45-11:00 Break

11:00-12:15 Panel 2: Looking Back: 15 Years of Cultural Heritage Initiatives in Afghanistan
Moderator: Barmak Pazhwak, Senior Program Officer, Asia Center, USIP

  • Dr. Tommy Wide, Assistant Director of Special Projects, Freer and Sackler Galleries
  • Majeed Qarar, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.
  • Jolyon Leslie, Architect
  • Laura Tedesco, Cultural Heritage Program Manager, U.S. Department of State

12:15-1:15 Lunch
Calligraphy demonstration in the atrium with Sughra Hussainy, visiting Turquoise Mountain artist
Portal Installation

1:15-2:30 Panel 3: Looking to the Future: New Generation, New Technology, New Approaches
Moderator: Scott Liddle, Country Director, Turquoise Mountain Afghanistan

  • Amar Bakshi, Founder and CEO, Shared_Studios
  • Adam Lowe, Director, Factum Arte
  • Dr. Bastien Varoutsikos, Research Fellow, Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), Paris
  • Lina Rozbih, Managing  Editor, Ashna TV, Voice of America

2:30-2:45 Tea and Coffee

2:45-4:15 Panel 4: Looking Out: Comparisons, Lessons, Inspirations
Moderator: Katherine Wood, Senior Arts Adviser, USIP

  • Harry Wardill, Director, Turquoise Mountain Myanmar
  • Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Office, Smithsonian Institution
  • Tess Davis, Executive Director, The Antiquities Coalition
  • Joanna Sherman, Founder and Artistic Director, Bond Street Theater

4:15 Closing remarks:  Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution

4:30 Reception

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ISIS and Sex Slavery

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 14:00
Wed, 10/05/2016 - 16:30
Subtitle: 
How Can the International Community Move from Condemnation to Action?

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is committing horrific crimes, including sex slavery, against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy a religious community of 400,000 people, according to United Nations investigators. Women who escaped have recounted their torture and rape to the public, Congress and U.N. officials. ISIS uses the popular Whatsapp instant messaging to advertise enslaved girls for sale. Secretary of State Kerry says these ISIS crimes, with others, amount to genocide. Yet U.N. investigators say the “path to accountability” through international justice systems is “blocked.” So what can the international community do to halt this impunity? The McCain Institute for International Leadership and U.S. Institute of Peace on October 5th hosted an urgent discussion on how to move from condemnation to action.

Read the event coverage, ISIS Makes Sex Slavery Key Tactic of Terrorism.

 

A prominent voice against ISIS’ sex slavery has been Sierra Leone’s Zainab Hawa Bangura, a former war refugee who is now the United Nations’ chief campaigner against sexual violence in conflict. As a special representative of the U.N. secretary general, Ms. Bangura has met survivors of this ISIS campaign and heard their stories. 

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How to Stabilize Iraq: A Marine in Congress Speaks

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 15:00
Tue, 09/13/2016 - 16:00
Subtitle: 
Seth Moulton, Armed Services Committee Member, on a Study of U.S. Policy

As U.S. troops help Iraqi armed forces in their offensive against ISIS militants, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton recently made a recent fact-finding visit to Iraq and returned to Washington arguing that the United States should broaden and energize its efforts in the country. Moulton-a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former Marine infantry officer in Iraq-has urged a broader U.S. policy of support for political reforms and political rapprochement among Iraq's communal factions. USIP hosted a discussion with Congressman Moulton and USIP President Nancy Lindborg on Iraq, ISIS and the broader Middle East.

Read the event coverage, Ex-Marine Lawmaker Seeks Diplomatic ‘Surge’ in Iraq.

After months of reviewing U.S. policies in Iraq, Congressman Moulton wrote in a June 2016  opinion piece in The Washington Post that U.S. policies "have yet to articulate a political plan to ensure Iraq's long-term stability." The congressman, who represents northeastern Massachusetts' Sixth District, released a set of recommendations that he argues are critical to defeating ISIS and helping stabilize the Middle East in September at a public event at USIP. He has urged greater support U.S.

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Iraq: Can Good Governance Erode Support for Militants?

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 13:00
Wed, 01/06/2016 - 14:30

Extremist groups like ISIS have seized control in swaths of Iraq and Syria in part because they tout themselves as an alternative to corrupt and inept government at all levels. USIP hosted a discussion on January 6, 2016 highlighting new research by the global humanitarian and development organization Mercy Corps on the connection between citizens’ perceptions of governance and public support for armed opposition.

Read the event coverage, Iraq Research: Sense of Injustice Is Key to Violent Extremism

Panelists explored how good governance may erode the pull of sectarian identity politics, and showcase instances when governance successes have appeared to reduce support for armed opposition and violence. USIP experts discussed the research results in light of what the Institute’s staff and partners on the ground have learned in the course of their conflict mitigation and peacebuilding work. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #GovernanceIraq.

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President Barzani of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:00
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:45
Subtitle: 
Ties With U.S., Baghdad, and the War Against ISIS

On May 6, 2015, the Atlantic Council and the U.S. Institute of Peace welcomed H.E. Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on his first visit to the U.S. in three years. The President discussed on the challenges and priorities of Iraqi Kurdistan in the war against ISIS, the Kurdistan region’s relations with the U.S. and the future of the broader Middle East.

Read the event coverage, Iraq Kurdistan Region President Barzani Stresses Unified Fight Against ISIS.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is fighting a full-fledged war against ISIS, while at the same time grappling with a refugee crisis and severe financial difficulties. The regional government’s complex relations with Turkey and Iran, as well as with the Iraqi central government, are problematic as well. The region has significant oil and gas wealth, yet has struggled to benefit from it because of disagreements with Baghdad over energy development strategy, revenue sharing, export policy, and other issues of state sovereignty.

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Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 04/28/2015 - 15:30

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion and launch of "Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace," a book that tells the extraordinary stories of "ordinary" people from eleven conflict zones. This event included a moderated discussion with the book's author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews, followed by a reception and book-signing session.

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother -- from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

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Using the Arts to Promote Human Rights in Peacebuilding

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 14:00
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 16:00

Genesis at the Crossroads, a Chicago-based organization that uses the arts in peacebuilding, joins the U.S. Institute of Peace on April 22, 2015 to host an interactive panel discussion on building peace and human rights—and the role that the arts and artists can play.

Genesis at the Crossroads uses education and the arts — including innovative performances of music, dance and other genres — to creatively promote human rights, inter-ethnic dialogue and the building of peace. Join us April 22 for a conversation with academic, artistic and human-rights specialists about this intersection of human rights and the humanities. As part of a “new conversation for human rights in peacebuilding,” panelists will discuss how to mesh human rights concerns with the reconstruction of societies and governments following war or other violent conflict.

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Religion and Gender in Extremist Violence: A Discussion with Human Rights Defenders

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 13:30
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00

Former President Jimmy Carter calls discrimination and violence against women and girls one of the most serious and pervasive -- yet ignored -- violations of human rights. Escalating violent religious extremism fuels this pattern. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Carter Center were pleased to host this event, which addressed ways in which human rights defenders in Libya and Iraq are working to build peace with particular attention to the role of religion and gender. 

Manal Omar, Welcoming Remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

Karin Ryan, Remarks
Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Project Director, Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative, The Carter Center

Panel Discussion: 

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
  • Mubin Shaikh
    Counterterrorism, CVE and De-radicalization Expert in Canada
  • Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
    Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  • Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
    Director, Al-Firdaws Society, Iraq
  • Susan Hayward, Moderator
    Interim Director, Religion & Peacebuilding Center, USIP

Q&A with audience

carter center logoReligion often is used to justify violence and the unequal status of women. More than ever, these problems are interrelated, and efforts that address them in isolation fail to produce comprehensive, long-term strategies.

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Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Local and Regional Dimensions

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:00
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion analyzing factors that have contributed to sectarian tension in Pakistan and the surrounding region.

Sectarian divisions are growing in Pakistan. Contemporary public opinion surveys suggest these religious communal identities are hardening and violent militant organizations – drawn primarily but not exclusively from the Sunni Deobandi tradition – are increasingly targeting rival religious minorities, killing thousands across the country in attacks over the past decade.

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Ending Wars to Build Peace

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:30
Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:45
Subtitle: 
Conflict Termination Workshop

Designing a conflict termination strategy is an essential but often overlooked component of warfighting. Improperly planned or incorrectly implemented, a failure to effectively terminate a conflict will leave open the original issues that brought on the war and likely create the conditions for future conflict.

Experts: 

The famous British military theorist, B.H. Liddell-Hart, observed after World War I that the logical conclusion of any war is peace.  In his 1976 commentary to Clausewitz's On War Bernard Brodie wrote "… war in all its phases must be rationally guided by meaningful political purposes."  In the last century the United States has fought many wars and not one has resulted in its intended outcome or the establishment of a peaceful world order, but in reality has left us to deal with many unintended consequences.

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Articles & Analysis

Two weeks into Iraq’s offensive to recapture Mosul from ISIS militants, the government and its fractious allies have not agreed on how to stabilize and govern the disputed region in the aftermath...

By:
James Rupert

Iraqi government troops and allied Kurdish forces opened their assault on the city of Mosul before dawn today, fighting to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city from guerrillas of the Islamic State...

By:
USIP Staff

The sexual violence committed against women and girls by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can only begin to be addressed with a multipronged response from the global to the local level,...

By:
Fred Strasser

Videos & Webcasts

Iraqi government troops and allied Kurdish forces opened their assault on the city of Mosul before dawn today, fighting to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city from guerrillas of the Islamic State...

The recent U.S. designation of genocide to describe the ISIS extremist group’s killings and persecution of minorities as well as Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria highlighted the long history of...

Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has been crucial for containing the Islamic State’s rampage and sheltering Iraqis fleeing the extremist group’s brutalities, urgently needs greater engagement from the...

Learn More

Publications

In January 2016, the Marrakesh Declaration was issued by Muslim scholars and politicians as a concerted response to the persecution of and violence against minorities in Muslin-majority countries....
By:
William J. Burns, Michèle Flournoy, Nancy Lindborg
The new administration, a coming change in leadership at the United Nations, and an emerging global consensus about the fragility challenge make this an opportune moment to recalibrate our approach....