2nd Kurdish Conference in Washington Starts



The New Kurdish Reality in the Middle East: Perils, Prospects and Possibilities

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Representative Office in Washington, DC

 Friday, September 26, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The National Press Club, Holeman Lounge

529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045

 The optimism of the Arab Spring has too rapidly been replaced by a dramatic wave of violence throughout the Middle East. The whole geography stretching from Iraq to Libya has become a battlefield. The war in Syria alone has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties with no promise of peace in sight. Iraq is now fully a part of the Syrian war. While a process of Lebanonization has never been so imminent for Syria and Iraq, Lebanon, too, may be pulled into active warfare if no settlement is secured in these two countries. The latest violence in Israel-Palestine exacerbated the region’s tense political climate. The changing regional order presents opportunities as well as dangers: They carry a potential for instituting democratic citizenship while simultaneously planting the seeds of even more violent and dictatorial regimes.

Within this regional setting, Kurdistan is home to multiple perils, prospects and possibilities. The peace process in Turkey is underway, even if with complications and slow pace. The attacks of the so-called Islamic State on the Kurds in Syria and Iraq have motivated major Kurdish parties to act in relative unity. The “Kurdish problems” in the four Middle Eastern states have become further interconnected and more globalized, rendering the provision of justice for the Kurds essential for securing and sustaining regional peace and stability. Although regional powers and the West have typically viewed the Kurds as a “problem” people, there is now increasing awareness that Kurdish struggles for justice, democracy and sovereignty may, in fact, have much to offer for regional peace in the twenty-first century.

With such a vision, we invite you to our second Washington Conference, which brings together academics, experts and politicians from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the US to discuss the situation of the Kurds in a rapidly transforming Middle East and to foster dialogue among conference participants as well as with policy makers and the general public in the United States.

Opening Remarks by Mehmet Yuksel, HDP Representative in Washington, DC


Session I:  Future of Ezidis and Christians in Iraqi Kurdistan? 

8:30 – 9:45am

              Moderator: Kirmanj Gundi, Prof. at Dept. of Educational Administration and Leadership, Tennessee State University

  • Vian Dakheel, Ezidi MP in Iraqi Parliament
  • Karwan Zebari, Director of Congressional & Academic Affairs at KRG Washington Office
  • Dakhil Shammo Elias, Director of American Ezidi Center – Washington, DC
  • Abraham Miksi-Sahdo, Director of Political Affairs, American Syriac Union

Question & Answer Session


Role of Syrian Kurds in Fighting against ISIS    9:45 – 10:15

Introduction by Natsumi Ajiki, Human Rights Activist

Keynote Speaker: Salih Muslim, Co-Chairman of Democratic Union Party (PYD) (via Skype)

Question & Answer Session


Session II: The Kurdish Situation in Syria: A Democratic Model for the Future   

10:30 am – 12:00pm

                     Moderator: Gonul Tol, Founding Director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies

  • Alan Shemo, Foreign Affairs Committee Member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)
  • Rusen Cakir, Political Analyst on Turkey and the Middle East
  • Mutlu Civiroglu, Kurdish Affairs Analyst
  • Ruken Isik, PhD Student Concentrating on Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Maryland (UMBC)


Question & Answer Session

Session III: The Peace Process in Turkey

1:00 – 2:50pm

Moderator:  Hisyar Ozsoy, Assistant Prof. of Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Michigan-Flint

  • Kadir Ustun, Research Director at SETA Foundation, Washington, DC
  • Henri J. Barkey, Professor, Lehigh University, Department of International Relations
  • Nazmi Gur, Deputy Chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

Question & Answer Session


Session IV: The United States, the Kurds, and the Future of the Middle East

3:00 – 5:00pm

Moderator: Luqman Barwari, President of Kurdish National Congress of North America

  • Selahattin Demirtas, Co-Chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)
  • Sezgin Tanrikulu, Deputy Chairman of Republican People’s Party (CHP)
  • Najmaldin Karim, Governor of Kirkuk
  • Michael Werz, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

 Question & Answer Session