Raya Barazanji is a senior program officer responsible for the Institute’s grantmaking program focusing on the Middle East and Africa region. Prior to joining the Institute in 2010, she managed a counterterrorism program relating to Iraq and the Middle East for a private sector corporation. Prior to that, and for eight years, she served as the chief operating officer of the Iraq Foundation, a non-profit organization working for democracy and human rights in Iraq. In that capacity, she led the organization's team in implementing democracy-building and human rights training projects, as well the revitalization of Iraq’s education system, building the capacity of local civil society organizations and independent media in partnership with USAID. She has over 20 years of experience in the design and management of democracy and peacebuilding programs with NGOs, and is an avid advocate for women’s rights and gender equality in the Middle East and Muslim World.

Barazanji holds a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University, and a bachelor’s from the College of Arts, Al-Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad.

Publications By Raya

Iraqis Displaced by War: Rebuilding Trust for Reconciliation

Iraqis Displaced by War: Rebuilding Trust for Reconciliation

Thursday, June 18, 2015

By: Raya Barazanji

More than 3 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes in the sweep of the “Islamic State” extremist movement across northern Iraq in the past 18 months. As the group systematically targets other Muslims and minority religions, the massive displacement creates not only a humanitarian disaster but also the prospect that Iraqis may never be able to reconcile and rebuild. The Baghdad Women’s Association (BWA), with a USIP grant, is working with Iraqis in the capital who fled Nineveh Provin...

Reconciliation; Fragility & Resilience; Democracy & Governance

Citizens Mobilize to Improve Services in Iraqi Province

Citizens Mobilize to Improve Services in Iraqi Province

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

By: Raya Barazanji

In the summer of 2012, tensions rose between citizens and local authorities in Al-Muthanna Province, a largely tribal and conservative governorate in southwest Iraq. Frequent disputes over poor public services and funding for development projects, as well as corruption allegations, had stalled important initiatives such as a water-and-sewer upgrade and an effort to clear roads of trash. Similar frustrations had led to clashes, deaths and burning of government buildings in neighboring Wasit an...

Iraq: Islamic Militants, Breakup and Other Tough Questions on Twitter

Iraq: Islamic Militants, Breakup and Other Tough Questions on Twitter

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By: Steven Ruder; Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Khitam Al-Khaykanee; Manal Omar; Raya Barazanji; Sarhang Hamasaeed

Will Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki defy efforts to replace him? Will it break apart into several separate states? Should its neighbors do more to challenge the militants rampaging across the border with Syria? And are we giving this group legitimacy by acceeding every time their leaders change the organization's name -- "Islamic State" or their earlier moniker, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"?

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Violent Extremism; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Dialoguing for Reconciliation in Yemen

Dialoguing for Reconciliation in Yemen

Monday, June 16, 2014

By: Raya Barazanji

The National Dialogue is an important milestone in Yemen’s transition. Following the broad grassroots revolution in Yemen that began in January 2011 and continued throughout that year, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) facilitated the transition of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. As part of the agreement brokered by GCC, an inclusive "National Dialogue" was held to discuss constitutional reform, key political roadblocks such as the question of southern independence and adoption of l...

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