With ISIS driven from its urban strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the urgent task of stabilizing the region – and preventing the return of terrorists – is underway. While Iraq and Syria face many internal challenges and tensions, Iran, Turkey, Arab Gulf State, the United States and Russia are advancing competing agendas. What are the stakes for Iraq, Syria, the region and the world as the struggle for leverage, stability, and reconciliation continues after ISIS? What is the U.S. role?

Please join U.S. Administration and military leaders, senior Iraqi representatives and regional experts as they explore one of the most complex and consequential conflicts of our time. USIP and guest experts will help navigate the key themes and provide insight on the terrain ahead in Iraq and Syria.

Panelists from the second discussion of the day discussed the region surrounding Iraq and Syria with a map displayed overhead

Panel 1, 10:00am - 11:00am
A PIVOTAL MOMENT FOR IRAQ

Following Iraq’s defeat of ISIS, the country must manage a web of internal challenges and conflicts, many deepened by the war. As the country prepares for a critical national election, its social fabric is torn by sectarian tensions, the ongoing displacement of over 2 million citizens, and the Kurdistan region’s 2017 independence referendum. The economy is stagnant; corruption is pervasive. Yet Iraqi pride in the military victory against the ISIS extremists has increased nationalist sentiments in many communities. Many hope the victory and the country’s energy shifting into politics would enable positive change. So what is the path ahead? Experts will discuss Iraq’s recovery from ISIS and the country’s future.

Panelists

Panel 2, 11:20am - 12:30pm
ENTERING THE POST-ISIS ERA: IRAQ AND ITS NEIGHBORS

Beyond Iraq’s domestic post-ISIS challenges, the region is faced with continued conflict and instability, particularly in Syria. This panel will explore developments among Iraq’s neighbors amid continuing tensions in the region. Regional experts will discuss developments in Syria, Turkey, the Arab Gulf states, Iran and Russia and their impact on the region’s post-ISIS landscape.

Panelists

  • Kevin Baron, Moderator
    Founding Executive Editor,  Defense One
  • Dr. Elie Abouaoun
    Director, Middle East and North Africa Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Dr. Mark N. Katz
    Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University
  • Alireza Nader
    Senior International/Defense Researcher, RAND
  • Mona Yacoubian
    Senior Advisor for Syria, U.S. Institute of Peace

Keynote Panel, 1:30pm - 2:30pm
FRAUGHT TERRAIN: STABILIZING IRAQ AND SYRIA AFTER ISIS

The role of the United States is seen as indispensable throughout the Middle East, and many are looking to understand new directions in U.S. policy in the region in the wake of the counter-ISIS military campaign. U.S. administration and military leaders will discuss the stakes, challenges and requirements of bringing stability to a region in which violence persists and gains against terrorists hang by a thread.

Panelists

Related Publications

Iraq’s Election Takes a Tone That’s Hopeful for Democracy

Iraq’s Election Takes a Tone That’s Hopeful for Democracy

Friday, May 11, 2018

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; James Rupert

As Iraq prepares to vote on May 12, the public debate has been just a bit unusual. Following the country’s war against the Islamic State extremists, candidates are seeking votes with appeals across sectarian lines and more discussion of issues than in any other election campaign. This change is incremental but is one of several that make this a moment to step back and measure Iraq’s evolution since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Despite what Iraqis have suffered over 15 years—or perhaps because of it—the will to democratize is alive and growing. A real meaning of these elections is this: If the United States and the international community can sustain their engagement, Iraq has a chance to stabilize, and to turn back the inevitable future attempts to revive extremist violence.

Democracy & Governance

Kurdistan Region’s Debt Crisis Threatens Iraq’s Economy

Kurdistan Region’s Debt Crisis Threatens Iraq’s Economy

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

By: Andrew Snow

As Iraq’s parliamentary elections approach this weekend, destabilizing disputes with the Kurdistan Region remain unresolved. Perhaps the most intractable, and least discussed, is how to address the insolvency of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). It’s a simmering crisis that threatens Iraq’s economic future and political unity, and one that the central government needs to step up and help defuse.

Economics & Environment

As Iraq Prepares for Elections, Iran's Influence Looms Large

As Iraq Prepares for Elections, Iran's Influence Looms Large

Monday, May 7, 2018

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Garrett Nada

Tehran’s interventions in conflicts throughout the Middle East have become a particular point of contention for detractors of the Iran Deal, which placed constraints on the country's nuclear program without addressing its role in Syria, Yemen, and across the region. There is no place Iranian influence has played a more conspicuous role than in neighboring Iraq.

Democracy & Governance; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications