Just back from a trip to Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he attended the “Suli Forum,” a significant annual meeting of regional and international stakeholders, as well as academic and policy experts, FPRI’s Sam Helfont was able to take the pulse of participants in conflicts and tensions in progress – between the Kurds and ISIS, the Kurds and the government of Iraq, and among the different factions of the Kurds themselves. The Kurds are perhaps the world’s largest ethnic group without its own nation-state. What does the future hold for the Kurds? For ISIS? And what can the United States do to move the region forward?
Samuel Helfont is a Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s interdisciplinary International Relations Program. In May 2015, he completed a PhD in Princeton University’s Near Eastern Studies Department, where he used Iraqi state and Baa’th Party records to write a dissertation on religion and politics in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, The American Interest, and Orbis. He is author of the FPRI e-book The Sunni Divide: Understanding Politics and Terrorism in the Arab Middle East.