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The Kurds: Strategic Partners in the Fight Against ISIS?

Bipartisan Policy Center
1225 Eye Street NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
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Although the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (or ISIS), has been the focus of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria, this is far from a monolithic war. Instead it is a patchwork of overlapping conflicts between myriad groups in which today’s tactical allies might be tomorrow’s enemies. The challenge for U.S. policymakers now is finding reliable partners amid this jumble of factions. In the long run, however, it will be how to help the region recover from both the humanitarian and political crises created by these internecine conflicts.

In both these aspects, the region’s Kurds are emerging as important players. Kurdish groups, from the peshmerga of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, and even Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party, have been on the front lines in the fight against ISIS. Kurds are also playing an important role in sheltering refugees and protecting other minorities in the region.

BPC hosted a discussion with Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG representative to the United States, to examine the challenges facing the region, the role of the Kurds, and the implications for U.S. policy.

Keynote remarks and moderated discussion with:

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
KRG Representative to the United States

Panel discussion with:

John Hannah
Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President
Member, BPC Turkey Initiative

Kenneth Pollack
Former Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs
Director for Persian Gulf Affairs, National Security Council

General (Ret.) Charles Wald
Former Deputy Commander, United States European Command
Vice Chairman Senior Advisor, Deloitte Services LP


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