About the speaker
In 2014, Sarwah won a seat in the Iraqi Parliament as a member of the Goran (Change) party. Defending women’s rights and democracy in Kurdistan and the Iraqi Parliament, Sarwah recently became the head of the Goran party bloc in parliament. She will talk about the Kurdish independence referendum, women’s rights, and suffering under ISIS.
Robert R. Reilly:
As you know, our speaker tonight, Sarwah Abdulwahed Qadir, is going to speak on the future of Iraqi Kurdistan, women’s rights and what happened under ISIS in Iraq.
However, I’m going to cede the privilege of introducing Sarwah to an old friend of mine, Entifadh Qanbar, who I’ve known for many years, who is himself an Iraqi. He’s an Iraqi Army veteran. He was also a veteran of Saddam Hussein’s prisons. I first met Entifadh in his capacity as the Washington director of the Iraqi National Congress. Now those of you who worked on this issue will know that that was the group that had pulled together so many sectors of Iraqi society, planning for what we had all hoped then would be a better future for Iraq.
So I will surrender the floor now to Entifadh with the introduction. He will also be helping with the translation for Sarwah’s introduction. I will say one thing about her of which I’m very proud. We both are veterans of the Voice of America because Sarwah has a rich background as a journalist. Entifadh?
Good evening. Thank you, Bob. I’ve known you now for a decade and a half. And me and Bob were working on the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the good old days. Some of the things turned to be bad. Some of [the] things turned to be good. One of the goods we have a young woman who is a member of Parliament of Iraq. By the way the Iraqi Parliament 25% are women. And she’s a voice of civil society Iraq and a voice of a secular Iraq and she’s a very active and rising star in the Iraqi Parliament. Sarwah – I have known when she was the- she was the Voice of America and Al Hurra correspondent in Kurdistan. She was my colleague.
Every time I go to Erbil I- We are bringing Sarwah through a foundation that I have started recently. My wife, Hiba, is also a member of this foundation and we have people in Iraq also. The foundation’s called Future Foundation. We are trying to build bridges between Iraqi seculars and Iraqi civil politicians, non-Islamist, there’s underline to come to Washington, meet and connect to the American people, to the U.S. government, to the U.S. Congress and to empower the seculars in Iraq versus the Islamists who believe they have basically destroyed the dream of democracy in Iraq, not totally but for a big part of it.
Therefore- So my first client per se is Sarwah. We invited her. She came to Washington and we are honored to have her and you are going to see flow of Iraqi politicians coming. We are [at] the same time, simultaneously convening a conference in Iraq of more than 105 parties of seculars and civil parties, non-Islamist, to again to empower parties, including Dr. Iyad Allawi who Bob knows very well. He’s Prime Minister of Iraq and now he’s the Vice President of Iraq. And by the way my wife Hiba works as an advisor to the Vice President of Iraq, Dr. Iyad Allawi.
So I’m honored to have Sarwah here and I hope she will give you an important perspective. You know you’re- Kurdistan now is going through a very, very dangerous and critical juncture. There is supposed to be a on the 25th of this month a referendum on the independence of Kurdistan. It’s not independence. It’s a referendum on independence. Sarwah belongs to a party which is Gorran, which is basically established a few years ago and it’s a rising party. It has gained huge popularity among young men and women in Kurdistan. And she is one of those people who are opposing this referendum. So she is going to focus a good time of her presentation on why she is opposing this referendum and why she thinks this referendum is not timed in a wise way.
And I would just like to also emphasize that the opinions and the things that Sarwah is going to mention tonight is- has nothing to do with the opinions and political ideas of the Future Foundation and her views represents herself and her party. Welcome, Sarwah.