About the program

The Atlantic Council is leading a long-term initiative on Iraq led by Dr. Abbas Kadhim. The Iraq Initiative seeks to provide US and European policymakers with unique perspectives from within Iraq as well as impartial, pragmatic policy recommendations. The Iraq Initiative addresses the current security challenges Iraq faces as well as identifies policies that will unlock Iraq’s potential to develop the drivers of any successful society: inclusive politics, economic development, and a vibrant civil society. It is critical that international conversation about Iraq moves from being solely focused on security and military engagement to broader policy issues such as attracting investment, improving governance and service delivery, and the country’s unique geopolitical role. The Iraq Initiative also works to develop relationships with Iraqi officials to bring them together with the right US and European policymakers and influencers to discuss how to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Featured commentary & analysis

Featured in-depth research & reports


Advisory Committee

  • Ambassador Feisal al-Istrabadi, Founding Director, Center for the Study of the Middle East, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Ambassador Rend al-Rahim, Former Iraqi Ambassador to the United States
  • Mr. Stephen J. Hadley, Former US National Security Advisor
  • Mr. Majid Jafar, CEO, Crescent Petroleum
  • Ambassador Srood Najib, Former Head, Multilateral Department, Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Meghan O’Sullivan, Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Kennedy School, Harvard University
  • General David Petraeus, Chairman, KKR Global Institute
  • Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie, Former Iraqi Ambassador to the United States
  • Mr. Olin Wethington, Founder and Chairman, Wethington International LLC

Past events

Tue, Jun 9, 2020

A conversation with Iraq’s former foreign minister Dr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim

ONLINE EVENT — A discussion with Iraq’s most recent former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim moderated by Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative Director Dr. Abbas Kadhim.


Thu, May 14, 2020

A conversation with Iraq’s former Electricity Minister H.E. Luay Al-Khatteeb

ONLINE EVENT – An online discussion with Iraq’s former Electricity Minister H.E. Dr. Luay Al-Khatteeb.


Wed, Apr 29, 2020

What’s next for US-Iraq relations?

ONLINE EVENT – Nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff discusses his new report that analyzes the current challenges in US-Iraq relations and presents policy recommendations.


Fri, Mar 20, 2020

US-Iran tensions ratchet up in Iraq

ONLINE EVENT – A virtual event on escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, playing out in Iraq, the COVID-19 outbreak, and implications for the region.


Tue, Feb 11, 2020

Roundtable with Iraqi MP Sarkwat Shamsulddin

Iraqi MP Sarkawt Shamsulddin discusses the formation of the new government, US-Iran tensions, and the ongoing pro-reform demonstrations in Iraq.

1:00pm Washington DC

Thu, Jan 9, 2020

US-Iran tensions rising with Iraq in the middle

The Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative and Future of Iran Initiative hosted a conversation on US-Iran tensions and the impact on Iraq with Congressman Seth Moulton and Senator Chris Murphy.

2:00pm Washington

Thu, Nov 21, 2019

Roundtable with KRG Head of Foreign Relations Department Safeen Dizayee

The Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative hosted a private discussion with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s top diplomat to discuss recent events in Iraq.

10:00am Washington DC

Fri, Nov 1, 2019

Iraq’s political and energy outlook

On November 1, the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative and Global Energy Center hosted an event on what’s next for Iraq amidst historic protests.

9:00am Washington DC

Wed, Oct 2, 2019

Roundtable with Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih Al-Fayyadh

The Iraq Initiative hosted Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Al-Fayyadh for a conversation about US-Iraq relations and efforts to integrate the militias into the armed forces.

4:00pm Washington DC

Tue, Sep 10, 2019

A conversation with Iraqi Ambassador Fareed Yasseen

The Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative hosted a conversation with Iraqi Ambassador Fareed Yasseen.


Tue, Aug 6, 2019

A view from Iraq: A conversation with Iraqi MP Sarkawt Shamsulddin

On August 6, the Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative hosted Iraqi Council of Representatives Member Sarkawt Shamsulddin for a public event.


Wed, Jun 26, 2019

Arab Barometer Polling Data Event

On June 26, the Hariri Center, in collaboration with Arab Barometer, held a public event to release Arab Barometer’s latest public opinion survey data from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Following their presentation, Arab Barometer experts Mark Tessler and Kathrin Thomas joined Iraq Initiative Director Abbas Kadhim and Nonresident Senior Fellow Faysal Itani for a panel […]

Event Recap by Atlantic Council

Iraq Middle East

Sat, Jun 1, 2019

Private Roundtable on Iraq with DASD Mick Mulroy

On May 7, the Iraq Initiative hosted Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Michael “Mick” Mulroy for a private, off-the-record discussion on Iraq. Middle East Programs Director William F. Wechsler moderated the conversation.

Insights & Impact

Iraq Middle East

Fri, Jul 19, 2019

Private virtual roundtable with Al-Bayan Center on US-Iraq relations

On July 19, the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative hosted a roundtable with Al-Bayan Center, a think tank based in Baghdad. Iraq Initiative Director Dr. Abbas Kadhim moderated the conversation. The participants from Al-Bayan joined by videoconference.

Event Recap by Atlantic Council

Economy & Business Energy & Environment

All content

Thu, Jul 2, 2020

How to fix the “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran

The Trump administration’s strategy suffers from internal tensions and inherent contradictions that have undermined its effectiveness from the beginning.

IranSource by Colonel Udi Evental

Iran Middle East

Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Just how happy are Iranians with their lives?

Iran ranks 118 out of 153 countries on the UN’s 2020 World Happiness Index (WHI), slightly above the lowest quintile—the least happy.

IranSource by Nadereh Chamlou

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 23, 2020

The United States needs an Iran strategy, not a ‘campaign’

The United States’ policy towards Iran has reached an impasse. The Trump administration will have gone a full term without a meaningful strategy towards this historic rival.

Blog Post by Alma Keshavarz

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 23, 2020

Iranian officials’ hypocritical support of #BlackLivesMatter

Over the past few weeks, Iranian officials have not shied away from condemning the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.

Blog Post by Rebecca Stryer

Iran Middle East

Thu, Jun 18, 2020

Iran’s muddled relationship with cryptocurrency is self-inflicted

On an institutional level, Iranian policymakers are having a very difficult time understanding how blockchain technology works.

Blog Post by Steven Terner

Iran Middle East

Wed, Jun 17, 2020

A tale of two Americas, a tale of two Irans

The murder of Neda Agha-Soltan in 2009 continues to be a rallying cry among protesters in Iran, much like the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has become for protesters in the United States today.

IranSource by Maryam Nayeb Yazdi

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 9, 2020

The United States needs to preserve the UN Security Council snapback for the future

The United States, for its part, will need to be careful not to undermine one of its most powerful diplomatic tools developed since World War II: the ability to use the unique authority of the UN Security Council to get Russia and China—sometimes—to agree on what needs to be done.

IranSource by Thomas S. Warrick

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 9, 2020

Post-embargo, Iran arms purchases would be limited and selective

Iran’s purchases will likely be limited, by both economic and geopolitical constraints, including the impact of US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic and caution on the part of potential suppliers.

IranSource by Barbara Slavin

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 9, 2020

Moscow is not buying Pompeo’s Iran snapback sanctions logic

Moscow made clear months ago that, once the United Nations arms embargo on Tehran expires in October, Russia intends to resume selling weapons to Iran.

IranSource by Mark N. Katz

Iran Middle East

Tue, Jun 9, 2020

Lifting the UN arms embargo on Iran: Insights into Turkey’s options

A particular issue of concern to Turkey is whether Moscow might choose to supply advanced weapons systems to Iran, which Tehran has long sought.

IranSource by Şaban Kardaş

Iran Middle East