What role does the United States and its allies have in addressing medical and mental health support for the Kurdish and survivor communities after the end of the combat mission in Kurdistan and Iraq?


When: September 16th 2021, 12:00pm EST / 7:00 Erbil


On July 26, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that American troops would end their combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021. The announcement left more questions than answers with many in fear about the political stability and the future of economic and infrastructure development in the region.

The Kurdish people have endured decades of genocide, rape, torture, forced religious conversion, and loss of loved ones to the Ba’ath Regime, ISIS, and multiple other terrorists. This panel will take a narrow look at how the United States and its allies can work with local governments to create programs that will provide necessary health, trauma, and mental care support for Kurdish people as they start to navigate post-conflict settings as a means of preventing future conflict in the region.

The psychotherapy and health programs at Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights address the root of post-conflict trauma and provide a roadmap to stability among various communities in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, and Syria. Today Jiyan supports 9 treatment centers, a clinic for Yazidi women and families, a Healing Garden and mobile teams helping survivors in 11 refugee and IDP camps and nine regions throughout Kurdistan, Iraq, & Syria. Since 2005 these programs have supported over 100,000 survivors of trauma, terror, domestic violence and human rights violations in the region.”

This panel discussion is hosted by the Washington Kurdish Institute

Moderator: Joshua Governale – Public Relations, Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights

Introduction by Salah Ahmad – Chair, Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights


Asmaa Ibrahim

Asmaa Ibrahim is Co-head of Trauma Care and Health at Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights and assistant lecturer at the Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychotraumatology at the University of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. Ibrahim is one of the first to graduate from the master’s degree program at the Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychotraumatology in Dohuk. After graduating, Ibrahim began to work in Jiyan Foundation’s clinic where women who had severe mental disorders, survived trauma and violations from war were treated. She has recently written on the need for continued and sustainable mental health and medical support by the United States for survivors in Iraq.

Dr. Michael M. Gunter

Dr. Michael M. Gunter is a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. He also is the Secretary-General of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) headquartered in Brussels. In the past he taught courses for many years during the summer at the International University in Vienna, as well as courses on Kurdish and Middle Eastern politics, among others, for the U.S. Government Areas Studies Program and U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C. Dr. Gunter is the author of 10 critically praised scholarly books on the Kurdish question, and editor or co-editor of five more books on the Kurds, among others. He has also published numerous scholarly articles on the Kurds and many other issues in such leading scholarly periodicals such as the Middle East Journal, Middle East Policy, Middle East Quarterly, Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, Orient, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Maghreb Review, American Journal of International Law, International Organization, World Affairs, Journal of International Affairs (Columbia University).

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and has also taught in the Security Studies Program of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (CSVE). Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980’s and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. She was the chair of the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research and Technology Experts Group (HFM-140/RTG) on the Psychosocial, Cultural and Organizational Aspects of Terrorism, served as the co-chair of the NATO-Russia Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group on Social Sciences Support to Military Personnel Engaged in Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism Operations and served on the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group Moral Dilemmas and Military Mental Health Outcomes. She is a member of the United Nations Roster of Experts for the Terrorism Prevention Branch Office on Drugs and Crime and was previously awarded a Public Health Service Fellowship in the United States Department of Health & Human Services where she served as a Research Fellow. She has provided expert consultation to European and Middle Eastern governments as well as the U.S. Department of Defense regarding programs for prevention and rehabilitation of individuals committed to political violence and militant jihad. In 2006-2007 she worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to design and pilot test the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq. She has interviewed over 200 ISIS defectors and prisoners and created the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project which counter messages against ISIS using insider voices to do so. Dr. Speckhard consults to governments and lectures to security experts worldwide and frequently appears in the national and international media.

Amb. Peter W. Galbraith

Peter W. Galbraith of Townshend, Windham County, Democrat, was elected to the Vermont Senate on November 2, 2010. He is an author and former US diplomat. From 1993 to 1998, he served as the fi rst US Ambassador to Croatia where he negotiated and signed the 1995 Erdut Agreement that ended the war in Croatia. From 2000 to 2001, he was the Director for Political, Constitutional and Electoral Affairs for the UN Mission in East Timor and a cabinet minister in East Timor’s fi rst transitional government. In 2009, he was an Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations serving in Afghanistan. From 1979 to 1993, he was a staff member for the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations where he managed the State Department authorization legislation and wrote laws to protect the global environment, prevent nuclear proliferation and promote human rights.