Details

When

June 6, 2016, 10:00 am - December 12, 2018, 5:02 pm

Where

National Press Club
529 14th St. NW- 13th Floor
Washington, District of Columbia 20045 (Map)

Click the Playlist button in the upper-left corner to select other panel videos.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Provide Comfort (OPC), the U.S.-led effort to provide protection and assistance to millions of Iraqi Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein's reprisals in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. OPC combined a no-fly zone over northern Iraq with deployments of ground troops and aid experts who protected civilians and delivered humanitarian relief.

The Middle East Institute (MEI) convened the operation's senior decision makers, military and humanitarian aid practitioners, and Iraqi Kurdish leaders for a conference examining the lessons learned from OPC and their relevance to current challenges in the region, particularly in Syria.

Conference Recap

Welcome Remarks (Podcast)
Ambassador (ret.) Wendy Chamberlin
President, Middle East Institute
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Representative to the United States of America, Kurdistan Regional Government
General Anthony Zinni, United States Marine Corps, Retired
Chief of Staff of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort; Honorary Chairman of the Board, Middle East Institute

Opening Keynote Address (Podcast)
H.E. Falah Mustafa Bakir
Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government

PANEL 1- The Enduring Lessons of OPC (Podcast)
Ambassador (ret.) Robert M. Kimmitt

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during OPC
Lieutenant General Jay M. Garner, U.S. Army, Retired
Commanded the OPC field operation in Northern Iraq from Zahko and Dahok
Andrew Natsios
Director of USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance during OPC 
Khaled Salih
Independent Scholar
Karen DeYoung (Moderator)
Senior National Security Correspondent and Associate Editor, The Washington Post

Keynote Remarks (Podcast)
General Anthony Zinni, United States Marine Corps, Retired
Chief of Staff of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort; Honorary Chairman of the Board, Middle East Institute

PANEL 2: Lessons Learned for Today's Crises (Podcast)
Sarhang Hamasaeed
Senior Program Officer, Middle East & Africa, U.S. Institute for Peace
Ambassador (ret.) James Jeffrey
Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Denise Natali
Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Colonel Richard H.M. Outzen
Senior Military Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Paul Salem (Moderator)
Vice President for Policy and Research, The Middle East Institute
 

Speaker Biographies:
Bayan Sami Adbul Rahman
Representative to the United States of America, Kurdistan Regional Government
Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) representative to the United States. In this capacity, she strengthens ties between Kurdistan and the United States, advocates on a wide array of political, security, humanitarian, and economic matters, and promotes coordination and partnership. Prior to her appointment in 2015, she was the KRG’s high representative to the United Kingdom. Abdul Rahman worked as a journalist for 17 years before her career in public service. She won the Observer Newspaper’s Farzad Bazoft Memorial Prize in 1993, which led her to work at The Observer and later at the Financial Times in Britain and Japan. Her late father, Sami Abdul Rahman, was a veteran of the Kurdish freedom movement who played a critical leadership role in the opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime; he served both as deputy prime minister of the KRG and general secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

H.E. Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir
Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Kurdistan Regional Government
Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir was appointed as the first head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) in September 2006. He administers the KRG’s foreign policy and bolsters the Kurdistan Region’s relations with the international community. Minister Bakir has led the department for four successive cabinets and has been part of the rapidly expanding relations between the KRG and foreign governments. He previously served as the KRG’s liaison officer to the Multi-National Forces’ Korean Contingent in 2004 and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2003. He was also a senior adviser to the prime minister of the KRG from 2002- 2004, when he was appointed minister of state. Earlier in his career, Minister Bakir was the deputy minister of agriculture and irrigation from 1999-2002 and the deputy head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) public relations office from 1996-1999.

Ambassador (ret.) Wendy Chamberlin
President, The Middle East Institute
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin has been president of the Middle East Institute since 2007. As deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2004- 2007, she supervised the administration of the U.N. humanitarian organization. A 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, she was ambassador to Pakistan from 2001- 2002, when she played a key role in securing Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11.

Karen DeYoung (Moderator)
Senior National Security Correspondent and Associate Editor, The Washington Post

Lieutenant General Jay M. Garner, U.S. Army, Retired
Commanded the OPC field operation in Northern Iraq from Zahko and Dahok, Iraq
Lieutenant General (Retired) Jay M. Garner served his final active duty assignment as the assistant vice chief of the U.S. Army. He began his military service with the Florida Army National Guard, continued as an enlisted Marine, and in 1962 was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Garner was commanding general of the U.S. Army Space & Strategic Defense Command (USASSDC); deputy commanding general, V Corps, Frankfurt, Germany; commanding general, Joint Task Force Bravo, Operation Provide Comfort, Northern Iraq; and deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Air Defense School. He commanded at brigade and battalion VII Corp in Europe and served two tours in Vietnam from 1967-68 and 1971-72. In 2003, he was appointed by the secretary of defense to organize and direct the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for post-war Iraq and was later awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service by then President George W. Bush.

Sarhang Hamasaeed
Senior Program Officer, Middle East and North Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace
Sarhang Hamasaeed is a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), where he works on program management, organizational development, and monitoring and evaluation. He also provides political and policy analysis on Iraq and Syria to USIP and other peace-building actors, including U.S. government and congressional audiences. He writes on Iraq and provides analysis on issues related to peace and conflict resolution in Iraq and Syria, including ISIS, for Voice of America, NPR, Al-Jazeera America, Fox News, and Al-Hurra TV, among others. Hamasaeed was a refugee on the Iranian border when Operation Provide Comfort was declared in 1991; he now works as a peace-building professional on preventing and resolving the kind of conflicts that may require intervention.

Ambassador (ret.) James Jeffrey
Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Ambassador James F. Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute, where he focuses on U.S. diplomatic and military strategy in the Middle East, with emphasis on Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. One of the nation's most distinguished diplomats, Amb. Jeffrey has held numerous posts in Washington and abroad. In addition to his service as ambassador in Ankara and Baghdad, he served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration, with a special focus on Iran. He previously served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State, where his responsibilities included leading the Iran policy team and coordinating public diplomacy. Earlier appointments included service as: senior advisor on Iraq to the secretary of state; chargé d'affaires and deputy chief of mission in Baghdad; deputy chief of mission in Ankara; and, ambassador to Albania.

Ambassador (ret.) Robert M. Kimmitt
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during OPC
Ambassador Robert Kimmitt is senior international counsel at WilmerHale.  From 2005-2009, he served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His previous government positions include U.S. ambassador to Germany and under secretary of state for political affairs under President George H.W. Bush, general counsel to the U.S. Treasury, and deputy assistant to the President for national security affairs at the White House.  He has also worked in the private sector as the executive vice president at Time Warner and vice chairman and president of Commerce One. Ambassador Kimmitt has served on the National Defense Panel and the Director of Central Intelligence’s National Security Advisory Panel.  He graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in combat with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, and received his law degree from Georgetown University.

Denise Natali
Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Denise Natali is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), where she specializes on trans-border Kurdish issues, regional security, and post-conflict state-building. Natali joined INSS in January 2011, following more than two decades of researching and working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. She is the author of numerous publications on Kurdish politics, economy, and energy, including The Kurdish Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq (Syracuse University Press, 2010). Natali also specializes in post-conflict relief and reconstruction, having worked on the Gulf Relief Crisis Project for the American Red Cross International Division, as director of cross-border operations for a non-governmental organization in Pakistan, and as an information officer for USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort II, 1992-93.

Andrew Natsios
Director of USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance during OPC
Andrew S. Natsios is an executive professor and director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Natsios was previously a distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He served as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under President George W. Bush, managing reconstruction programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. He also served as U.S. special envoy to Sudan from 2006-2007. Retired from the U.S. Army Reserves at the rank of lieutenant colonel, Natsios is a veteran of the first Gulf War. From 1993-1998, he was vice president of World Vision US, the largest faith-based nongovernmental organization in the world. Earlier in his career, Natsios served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as the chief financial and administrative officer of Massachusetts.

Colonel Richard H.M. Outzen
Senior Military Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Colonel Rich Outzen joined the Institute for National Strategic Studies faculty at the National Defense University in July 2014. He previously served as the deputy chief of staff for training and development for the U.S. security coordinator in Jerusalem. A U.S. Army foreign area officer, he has helped shape interagency discussion and national policy options for transitions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. Colonel Outzen spent a decade overseas in military and diplomatic posts, including assignments in Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Afghanistan, and Iraq. From 2014-15, he re-established the Defense Attaché Office in Kabul, Afghanistan. Colonel Outzen has served policy assignments in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff and is on orders to join the Policy Planning office in the Department of State after his current NDU tenure.

Paul Salem
Vice President for Policy and Research, The Middle East Institute
Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research at The Middle East Institute. He focuses on issues of political change, democratic transition, and conflict, with a regional emphasis on the countries of the Levant and Egypt. Salem writes regularly in the Arab and Western press and is the author of a number of books and reports on the Middle East, including Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (Beirut: Dar Annahar, in Arabic, 2013) and Iraq's Tangled Foreign Relations (Beirut: Carnegie Middle East Center Report, December 2013). Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank.

Khaled Salih
Independent Scholar
Khaled Salih is an independent scholar who researches the politics and international relations of the contemporary Middle East. From 2012-May 2016, Salih was the vice chancellor of the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr. Previously, he served as a senior advisor to the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan, KRG spokesman, and senior advisor to the KRG minister of natural resources, where he advised on power sharing, state reconstruction, confidence-building, and coalition formation. Salih assisted in drafting three constitutions: the Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq, approved in March 2003, Iraq's constitution, approved October 2005, and Kurdistan's Constitution, not yet approved. Additionally, he helped to draft and secure adoption of legislation on oil and gas and worked with the minister of natural resources to conclude 35 contracts with international oil companies. Salih has also been a senior lecturer at the University of Southern Denmark and a visiting research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he researched Iraqi federalism, constitutional negotiations, and implementation strategies.

General (ret.) Anthony Zinni, United States Marine Corps
Chief of Staff of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort; Honorary Chairman of the Board, Middle East Institute
The Middle East Institute’s honorary chairman, Anthony (Tony) Zinni, is a retired four-star United States Marine Corps general. He served in numerous diplomatic roles, as the U.S. special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and in missions to Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. General Zinni’s distinguished 39-year career took him to over 70 countries in many command assignments. In his final tour of duty, from 1997-2000, he was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). He was later chairman of the board of BAE Systems Inc. and a member of the board of Dyncorp International before being appointed an executive vice president. General Zinni is the author of several best-selling books on his military career and foreign affairs including, The Battle for Peace (St. Martin's Press, 2006), Leading the Charge (St. Martin's Press, 2009), and Before the First Shots are Fired (St. Martin's Press, 2014).

This conference is made possible through the generous support of:

OPC Photo Gallery:
To see a collection of photos taken by General Anthony Zinni during his tenure as Chief of Staff of the Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq, please click here.