On April 19 and 20 in Rome, Italy, Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI) in partnership with Centro Studi Americani will be conducting a major international conference discussing the crisis in Iraq.
The Conference will examine the key problems in Iraq both politically and military; the fight against ISIS, the loss of the cultural heritage of Iraq, the urgent need for political reform, and the crisis of the Mosul Dam.
The Republic of Iraq stands as a divided nation, torn apart by civil war, sectarianism, and widespread government corruption. Daesh (IS) forces control or operate in territory inhabited by as many as ten million people; subjecting local civilian populations to unspeakable war crimes and extrajudicial executions. Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias advance unchecked throughout the country, free from government control they are exacting revenge killings on civilians and quickly becoming the dominant political powers in Iraq. The current government is rife with corruption and graft, has failed to mount an effective response to IS gains, and has exacerbated sectarian tensions with its divisive policies.. The country is practically bankrupt, thanks to the collapse of oil prices and rampant corruption that is said to have drained billions of dollars from the state. For months, the streets have often seen large crowds of protestors unhappy over the corruption and an accompanying lack of basic services, such as clean water and reliable electricity. Efforts to reshuffle the cabinet in Baghdad have fueled allegations of unconstitutional abuse of authority, leading to mass protests and calls for PM al-Abadi’s resignation. This panel will discuss the present situation in Iraq.
Iraq is the birthplace of civilization and home to some of the great cities of history. The Iraqi people are generally religious and conservative, however, there are strong secular tendencies int the country as well. With nearly 32 million people, Iraq is a Muslim nation speaking the official languages of Arabic and Kurdish. Iraqi culture places a high premium on family, generosity, and humility. Iraq’s cultural heritage has come under siege from IS terrorists who are responsible for destroying precious artifacts, ancient temples, and irreplaceable documents in the name of God. Furthermore, Tehran-sponsored militias have brought ruin to once iconic cultural centers like Ramadi. This panel will explore how to protect the rich cultural heritage that has been a part of Iraq’s history for generations.
The Mosul Dam has been classified by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers as “the most dangerous dam in the world.” Providing critical irrigation, flood control, and hydropower to northwest Iraq, leaks were discovered within months of initial operation and the dam is now considered a “high risk” for failure. The dam is the fourth largest in the Middle East, holding back 11 billion cubic meters of water. The consequences of the dam’s collapse would be catastrophic. In addition to submerging entire cities and towns under water, the loss of life is estimated by the U.S Embassy to be between .5 – 1.47 million people. The initial wave will peak at 55m (180 ft) and reach Mosul within four hours; it will reach the capital city within 38 hours after having caused an “enormous loss of life and property.” This panel will discuss the Mosul Dam Crisis in depth.
PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN IRAQ: NEXT STEPS
Iraq is at a crossroads in its history, facing an uncertain future with deep challenges and promising opportunities. The choices made by the Iraqi people, government, and the international community will define the country and the region for generations. The consequences of those decisions will affect the lives of millions of people and the larger peace and security of the Middle East. An indispensable part of the peace and reconciliation process is the work we are striving towards at this symposium: gathering key leaders and experts to discuss and address these problems in order to promote international attention and dialogue. This panel will offer insight on the key steps Iraq must take in the years ahead to achieve the dream of a successful Iraqi.