Event description

Join the Atlantic Council for its upcoming Iraq Initiative Conference on October 26, 2023.

The conference will convene a community of leading experts and policymakers, comprised of Americans and Iraqis, and including senior-level, former, and current officials, and scholars. This year, the conference will focus on two pertinent themes: Iraq’s rising role in the international arena and the dire impact of climate change on the country. The conference will present a series of dynamic panel discussions each exploring the ways in which Iraq, the United States, and the international community can positively engage Iraq as it faces unique sociopolitical, economic, security, and environmental shifts.

The program will be in a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual participation. In-person sessions will be held at the Atlantic Council Headquarters at 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor in Washington DC.

Agenda subject to change.


8:30 a.m. ET Registration and networking coffee/breakfast begins

9:15 a.m. Welcoming remarks  

Abbas Kadhim, Director, Iraq Initiative, Atlantic Council

9:20 a.m. Opening remarks  

Olin WethingtonFounder and Chairman, Wethington International LLC  

10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Panel one: Building a climate-resilient Iraq: Health, water, and food security

This panel will explore Iraq’s vulnerability to climate change and the urgent need to address its health-related challenges, exploring strategies to mitigate and combat the impacts of rising temperatures, water scarcity, and extreme weather events that threaten the country‘s economic output, electricity supply, food security, and result in climate refugees and the destruction of natural and cultural heritage.

Elfatih Eltahir, Professor, H.M. King Bhumibol Professor; Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Virtual)
Majid Jafar, Chief Executive Officer, Crescent Petroleum
Mishkat Al MouminExecutive Director, Envirolution; Former Iraqi Minister of Environment
Fareed YasseenClimate Envoy, Republic of Iraq (Virtual)

Moderator: Ahmed Al QabanySenior Climate Change Specialist, Climate Change Group, The World Bank

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Panel two: A Dynamic Mosaic: Youth Perspectives on Socio-Political Realities in Modern Iraq

This panel will explore the multifaceted interplay of cultural diversity, historical legacies, contemporary challenges, and the unique perspectives of youth that collectively shape the ever-evolving socio-political landscape of Iraq in its current form.

Marsin Alshamary, Assistant Professor, Boston College
Hamzeh Hadad, Adjunct Fellow, Middle East Security Program, Center for a New American Security

Moderator: Hezha Barzani, Assistant Director, empowerME, Middle East Programs, Atlantic Council

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch 

1:45 – 3:15 a.m. Panel three: Iraq’s role in the region: Foreign policy and its economic trajectory

This panel will shed light on Iraq’s increasing prominence in the region, its evolving foreign policy decision-making, as well as its economic development prospects.

H.E. Nazar Al-Khirullah, Iraqi Ambassador to the United States
David Mack, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs & US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates
Douglas Silliman, President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington; Former US Ambassador to Iraq

Moderator: Abbas Kadhim, Director, Iraq Initiative, Atlantic Council

3:15 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.

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

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