As lines across the Middle East continue to be redrawn, a group of national security professionals and regional experts recently gathered to discuss national reconciliation in Iraq and Syria. “This is both the best and worst time to attempt reconciliation,” said the New America Foundation’s senior national security fellow, Douglas Ollivant. The former director for Iraq at the National Security Council under both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, Ollivant was moderating a panel during a conference held by the Middle East Institute, the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the New America Foundation.
The first panel, exploring national reconciliation in Iraq, included Harith Al-Qarawee of Harvard’s Radcliff Institute; SAIS Senior Policy Fellow Abbas Kadhim; Director of the Initiative for Track II Dialogues at the Middle East Institute Randa Slim; and Bilal Wahab of the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani; and was moderated by Ollivant. Although panelists brought different experiences and insights on the matter, several themes were consistent throughout the conversation.