Event description

The Atlantic Council hosted a two-day Iraq Initiative Conference which took place on October 25-26, 2022.

The two-day conference brought together a select group of leading experts and senior-level group of American and Iraqi former, current, and future policymakers to explore Iraq’s past two decades of change and upheaval and the key challenges and opportunities confronting future generations in Iraq. In the lead up to the twenty-year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, the conference presented a series of dynamic panel discussions, fireside chats, and keynote speeches, each exploring the ways in which Iraq, the United States, and the international community can engage with the political, economic, security, climate, and social changes facing the country.

The program took place at the Atlantic Council Headquarters at 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor in Washington DC in a hybrid format with both an in-person and virtual speakers and audience members.

Conference agenda

Day one

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

In English

باللغة العربية

8:30 a.m. Registration and networking coffee begins

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. Welcoming remarks  

William Wechsler, Senior Director, Rafik Hariri Center & the Middle East Programs, Atlantic Council   

9:15 – 9:45 a.m. Keynote speech 

Jennifer Gavito, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq, Iran, and Public Diplomacy, US Department of State

9:50 – 11:05 a.m. Panel one: Iraq’s armed forces, security, and counterterrorism

This panel will examine the security landscape across Iraq, including the threats the country has faced over the last two decades, and discuss actionable steps to alleviate the security challenges in the country.

Gen. Abdel-Wahab Al-Saadi, Head of Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, Republic of Iraq (via Zoom)
Gen. Michael D. Barbero, US Army Lieutenant General (Ret.), United States of America

Moderator: Kirsten Fontenrose, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, Atlantic Council

11:10 – 11:55 a.m. Fireside chat

Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim, Former Foreign Minister, Republic of Iraq

Moderator: C. Anthony Pfaff, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Research Professor for the Military Profession and Ethic, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), US Army War College

12:00 – 12:55 p.m. Lunch break

1:00 – 2:15 p.m. Panel two: Iraq in the region

This panel will spotlight Iraq’s regional role, including its ongoing mediation efforts, relations with Arab countries, and the trajectory of its foreign policy decision-making.

Abbas Kadhim, Director, Iraq Initiative, Atlantic Council
Manal Radwan, Counsellor, Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Aydın Selcen, Former Consul General of Turkey in Erbil, Republic of Turkey
Sanam Vakil, Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House (via Zoom)

Moderator: Andrew L. Peek, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

2:15 p.m. Program Close

Day two

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

In English

باللغة العربية

8:30 a.m. Registration and networking coffee begins

9:15 – 9:30 a.m. Welcoming remarks  

Olin Wethington, Board Director, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Asia Security Initiative, Atlantic Council; Chairman, Wethington International LLC

9:50 – 11:05 a.m. Panel three: Energy, economy, and the environment

This panel will focus on Iraq’s hydrocarbons sector, efforts to manage the impacts of climate change, and its aims to create a healthy, resilient, and diversified economy.

Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer, Crescent Petroleum
Luay Al-Khateeb, Former Minister of Electricity, Republic of Iraq (via Zoom)
Sara Vakhshouri, Founder, SVB Energy International and SVB Green Access

Moderator: Jennifer T. Gordon, Director, Nuclear Energy Policy Initiative, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council

11:10 – 11:55 a.m. Keynote speech 

H.E. Hassan Nadhem, Minister of Culture, Republic of Iraq (via Zoom)

12:00 – 12:55 p.m. Lunch break

1:00 – 2:15 p.m. Panel four: Iraq’s democratic experience

This panel will explore the numerous challenges Iraq has faced in its democratic transition, and steps to improve its democratic and governance institutions.

Feisal Al-Istrabadi, Founding Director, Center for the Study of the Middle East; McRobbie Professor in Global Strategic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
Laith Kubba, Independent Advisor on Iraq (via Zoom)
Sarkawt Shamsuddin, Former Member of Iraqi Parliament, Republic of Iraq
Shamiran Mako, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

Moderator: Vivian Salama, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

2:15 p.m. Program close

The Iraq Initiative provides transatlantic and regional policy makers with unique perspectives and analysis on the ongoing challenges and opportunities facing Iraq as the country tries to build an inclusive political system, attract economic investment, and encourage a vibrant civil society.