To stabilize Iraq following ISIS’ rule, and to prevent new violence that religious extremists can exploit, the broad inclusion of minority groups will be vital. Nowhere in Iraq is that imperative more essential or complex than around Mosul, with its communities of Christians, Yazidis, Turkoman, Shabak, and other groups. ISIS’ atrocities—including genocide and the sexual enslavement of women—destroyed local communities and traumatized victims from all groups. On August 1, USIP held an examination of the work required to protect and include minorities, and the roles that can be played by Iraq’s national government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the United States.

Three years after ISIS shocked the world with its genocidal assault of the Yazidi community at Mount Sinjar, many minority communities of the Nineveh Plain remain displaced and fearful for their safety. Protecting minorities is not only a democratic value, it is a practical step to stabilizing conflict zones and reducing the dangerous, global burden of uprooted and refugee populations. U.S. policy on Iraq has emphasized “the need for full inclusion of religious minorities and protection of their rights.” USIP and the Kurdistan Regional Government gathered a panel from disparate sides of this problem to discuss how to help Iraq’s minority groups rebuild their communities and contribute to a more secure Iraq.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #IraqMinorities.

Speakers

Ambassador William Taylor (ret.), Opening Remarks
Executive Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Ambassador Fareed Yasseen, Remarks
Ambassador to the United States, Republic of Iraq

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Remarks
Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States

Vian Dakhil
Member, Council of Representatives, Republic of Iraq

Knox Thames
Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia, U.S. Department of State

William Warda
Chairman, Board of Directors, Alliance of Iraqi Minorities

Sarhang Hamasaeed
Director, Middle East Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

Naomi Kikoler, Moderator
Deputy Director, Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Related Publications

A Year After Elections, Iraq May Finally Be Set to Form a Government

A Year After Elections, Iraq May Finally Be Set to Form a Government

Thursday, October 20, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Iraq hit two anniversaries this month. Three years ago in October, Iraqis rose up to protest the failure of the Iraqi government and political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption and more. One of the outcomes of those protests was early elections, which were held on October 10, 2021, but have yet to yield a government. The last year witnessed crippling political gridlock, as the winner of the 2021 national parliamentary elections, Moqtada al-Sadr, eventually withdrew from the political process after failing to form a government.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

The Latest @ USIP: Iraq’s Immense Climate Challenges

The Latest @ USIP: Iraq’s Immense Climate Challenges

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

By: Zena Ali Ahmed

Iraq is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Amid a protracted political crisis, sweltering temperatures, water scarcity and other climate-related challenges threaten the country’s stability and add to Iraqis’ grievances. Zena Ali Ahmad, the United Nations Development Program’s resident representative in Iraq, analyzes how climate change impacts Iraq and its stability and discusses solutions to address these impacts.

Type: Blog

Environment

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

After recent episodes of violence, Iraq’s political stalemate continues. “Bottom line … this is a fight over power” and differing views on foreign influence, says USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed. “The Iraqi people are actually fighting for democracy. It is just the political class … that makes that a longer fight.”

Type: Podcast

What’s Behind Moqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Shake up Iraq’s Politics?

What’s Behind Moqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Shake up Iraq’s Politics?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Over the weekend, followers of the powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed and occupied Iraq’s parliament in protest over a rival bloc attempting to form a government. The move comes less than two months after al-Sadr’s bloc in parliament resigned after its failure to form a majoritarian government following its victory in the October 2021 elections. Nearly 10 months after those elections, there is still no new government and the stability of the country is at stake as this showdown between al-Sadr’s supporters and his political rivals continues to play out.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

View All Publications