Blog Archives

Iraqi novelist, Ahmed Saadawi, won the Literary Booker Prize for his novel, “Frankenstein in Baghdad.”

Read the Arabic article, here.



In 2009, the 17-year-old Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan from Baghdad realized a dream to unite the youth of her country. Her vision involved bringing together young Kurds and Arabs by offering a program of peace through music.  Thus, the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq was born.

Every year, the musicians audition via YouTube and 48 musicians between the ages of 18 and 29 are selected. They overcome ethnic, religious, language and gender barriers, to form this unique and vibrant orchestra.

Despite many hurdles, every year the young musicians go abroad to attend an intensive, three-week summer camp where they receive private and group coaching, perform for local community groups and receive standing ovations in sold-out concerts. Since 2009 these inspiring young people have successfully performed in Iraq, at Beethovenfest in Bonn, Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and this year, the Grand Theatre in Aix-en-Provence.  Subsequently they return to Iraq with new hope and skills to rebuild their country’s musical culture creating their own ensembles and passing their newly developed skills onto others.

In 2014 they hope to attend another intensive summer program at the Aaron Copland School of Music in Queens, New York, with the newly formed National Youth Orchestra of the USA. Concerts are also planned for Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq is asking for your support. As the only Iraqi group spreading the message of tolerance, respect and reconciliation they need your help to continue empowering these creative young peoples’ vision of peace through music.

Contributions may be made to the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq through the Friends of the British Council here.

Or write a check made out to the Friends of the British Council/National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, and post to:

Friends of the British Council

1025 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1000

Washington, DC  20036

From November 2-5 2011, IF held a four-day National Meeting in the Erbil province for the 15 Integrity Monitoring Groups (IMGs) established as part of the Provincial Accountability and Governance Project (PAG). A total of 90 participants from across Iraq attended the National Meeting, including officials from the Commission of Integrity, IMG members, provincial officials, and IF staff.  The goal of the National Meeting was to provide participants with a networking opportunity and spur the creation of a formal national network to advocate for good governance and fight corruption at the national level based on a unified, national Agenda for Change.  Over the last two years, IMGs have created and implemented Agendas for Change at the provincial level.  Based on these groups’ individual experiences, participants have agreed on a draft version of a National Agenda for Change during the National Meeting.  In addition to this success, a national network has emerged from the meeting and is currently in the process of registering with the Iraqi Council of Ministers as a legal Iraqi NGO.

Participants also received extensive training on networking and the use and maintanance of the newly created PAG Website during this meeting.

Selected photos from the event:

The Baghdad town-hall meeting was held in Al-Zafarania Youth Forum on May 15, 2011. Tribal leaders, government officials, NGO members and people from different sectors of the Iraqi society attended the meeting, total of 79 participants. Among the dignitaries who attend the meeting and responded to the inquires and concerns of the general public were, Ms. Basma Abdul Ammir, a Baghdad Provincial Council Member and Shaik Mohamed Al-Kadiry, Chief of Al-Zafarania  Support Council. The meeting was covered by the following media channels: Al-Ahad satellite TV channel, Al-Rusheed TV Channel, Al-Rai Newspaper, Al-Taaki Newspaper. 





Al-Manara Network (Wasit Province, October 22, 2010)

Wasit news network  (Wasit province, October 21, 2010)

Al-Nasiria electronic newspapers (Thi-Qar province, October 27, 2010)

Nasiria news network (thi-Qar province, October 28, 2010)

Al-Shabiya electronic newspaper (Th-Qar province, October 28, 2010)

During the month of August, IF Staff worked hard to promote transparency and accountability in Iraq. As part of the Provincial Accountability and Transparency Project (PAG), IF formed 15 Integrity Monitoring Groups (IMGs) to promote a dialogue on transparency, identify areas that need improvement, and work with local officials to implement an agreed upon Agenda for Change. To facilitate the IMGs’ work, IF arranged meetings in each of the 15 province to discuss difficulties encountered, work updates, and coordinate with local provincial councils. In addition, the IMGs conducted visits to their local provincial council to discuss the draft Agenda for Change in their provinces. Each IMG also conducted a local radio talk show with provincial council officials. During these programs, IMGs described the steps that need to be taken to fight corruption in their local province.

In addition to this exciting work, IF PAG staff in Baghdad met with new U.S. Embassy anti-corruption officials on August 9th. The next day, IF staff in Baghdad participated in a U.S. Embassy strategy meeting to discuss Iraqis anti-corruption policy.

On October 9, 2012, IF hosted a screening of the film, “Interfaith Dialogue in Mesopotamia,” at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. The screening was held in cooperation with the Global Politics and Religion Initiative and the Middle East Studies Program of SAIS.

Dr. Leila Austin, Co-Director, Global Politics and Religion Initiative, SAIS provided opening comments and welcomed attendees to SAIS. Rend Al-Rahim, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation provided an introduction of the Iraq Foundation (IF), the film and welcomed Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Mr. Posner discussed the importance of freedom of religion and religious diversity in Iraq and in the Middle East region. His Excellency,Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie commented on the history of religious coexistence in Iraq.

The screening aimed to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding among a U.S.-based audience of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished. To achieve this goal, the event showcased a film, produced in cooperation with AlSumaria, based on documentaries produced by the participants of the Interfaith Cooperation Project (ICP), which aims to deepen public knowledge and promote dialogue about Iraq’s diverse religious heritage and to enhance religious freedom, interfaith cooperation, trust and mutual respect among faith communities. As part of this project, IF sponsored a nationwide documentary film competition and selected teams of young Iraqi men and women from different religious backgrounds and provinces who came together to produce 15 documentaries on significant historic religious sites across Iraq. The 5 best documentaries were edited and broadcast on national television. Documentaries cover historic shrines of all religions and a special emphasis on religious sites that are ‘shared’ by many different faiths and religious sites in close proximity, demonstrating how different faiths can live and worship side by side. Project participants held 63 discussion-based screenings of the documentaries in 15 provinces, reaching an audience of over 8,000 people. Documentaries were broadcasted on five national Iraqi TV stations. It is estimated that one in four Iraqis has seen at least one of the documentaries.

Selected photos of event:

Dr. Leila Austin, Co-Director of SAIS’ Global Politics and Religion Initiative, welcomed audience to SAIS.

Rend Al-Rahim, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation, provided introductory comments.

Assistant Secretary of State, Michael Posner, discussed religious diversity in Iraq and the region.

His Excellency, Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie, Former Ambassador of Iraq to the United States discussed the film’s themes.

The screening aimed to capture Iraq’s thriving belief cultures and foster understanding of Iraq’s long history as a country where religious diversity has flourished.

In July 2012, IF implemented 7 documentary screenings of ICP-teams.  After each screening of these documentaries, an overview about the Iraq Foundation and its projects was presented. Descriptions of each screening can be found below.

Baghdad Team-3 presented 4 of these screenings to showcase their documentary, “Atter Al-Sama’a (Fragrance of the Sky)”. A total of 310 audiences attended the 4 screenings, and 201 of them answered the questionnaires.  Audience members included: university professors, students, engineers, journalists, artists, and civil society activists.  These screenings took place in Baghdad Province at the following locations: Authors Union’s Hall, the Hall of Assyrian National Movement, Al-Bayt Al Thakafi (The Culture House), and at the Hall of the Socialist Party.  These screenings were implemented on July 13, 18, and 28.

On July 7, Kirkuk Team implemented the 4th screening of their documentary, “Hatharatun Tarwyha Judran Samiytah (A civilization narrated by silent walls)”.  About 100 audience members attended, including college students, film-directors, theater experts, members from the Journalists Union, members of the Cultural House, actors, media persons, and community members. The screening was held at Nawrouz Hall in Kirkuk Province. 39 audience members answered the screening questionnaire.  A discussion on the film followed the screening.

On July 18, Baghdad Team-1 implemented a 5th screening of “Hamamaton Hatat Huna (A pigeon landed here)”. 150 audiences attended the screening, including: Mr. Liwa’a Samisem (The Tourism Minister), Mr. Kais Hussein Rasheed (Head of the Archeological Committee), employees, journalists, Contracts-Supervisor of IRD, authors, students, and civil society activists.
All audience members expressed their admiration for the documentary.  They expressed their appreciation towards the Iraq Foundation and the documentaries, which aim to reject sectarianism and spread peaceful coexistence among religions in Iraq. In an expression of gratitude, Mr. Rasheed (the Head of the Archeological Committeepresented a word of praise and thanks to the Iraq Foundation and to Ms. Rend Al-Rahim (The Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation).  As an expression of his gratitude, Mr. Rasheed presented a gift to Ms. Rend Al-Rahim, which is a plaque showing the famous Malwiya Minaret of Samara in addition to four books issued by The Archeological and Heritage Committee.  The Tourism Minister also presented a gift to the coordinator of Baghdad Team 1.

On July, 18, the Salah Al-Deen Team implemented a 4th screening of their documentary, “Afya’a Wtan (In the Country’s Shadow)”.  This screening was held in The Sports and Youth Directory in Salah Al-Deen Province, and was attended by more than 130 audience members, which included members from Salah Al-Deen Province, media experts, writers, and students.  130 audience members answered the screening questionnaire. Q&A Session followed the screening.  The screening was also well-covered by the media, specifically Al-Rasheed Satellite Channel and Salah Al-Deen Satellite Channel.

Selected Photos:

Baghdad Team-3 pictures of screenings:

Kirkuk Team-screenings:

Baghdad 1 Team-screenings:

Salah Al-Deen Team-screenings:


IF is now accepting applications for youth to participate in the newly awarded Interfaith Cooperation Project (ICP) documentary film contest!  Interested youths group teams between the ages of 18 – 25 from throughout Iraq are encouraged to submit video proposals that highlight religious and locations with religious or spiritual significance for more than one faith in their local communities.  IF will select 15 winning teams based on the quality of the proposals submitted by mixed religious and ethnic youth groups comprised of 4 – 5 members.  Winning teams will have the chance to produce their documentaries, screen them throughout Iraq, and the top five entries will be produced and broadcast on Iraqi television!


ICP Application Form

ICP Recommendation Form





The“Women Leaders in an Era of Change” conference was held by IF in collaboration with Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS) at the Marriot Hotel in Amman/ Jordan from May 30 to June 1, 2013. The conference how Iraqi and other women parliamentarians in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) can take advantage of opportunities given the regional changes resulting from the Arab Awakening. This conference, organized by the Iraq Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was the second to pair Iraqi women parliamentarians (IWPs) with women members of parliament (MPs)from the region, following the “Women’s Political Participation” conference in June 2012.

These reports were shared on December 31, 2013 with all Iraqi and regional women MP participants in the 1st and 2nd Regional Meetings.

On December 31, IF shared by email, the “Women In The Council Of Representatives Lessons Learned and Case Studies Report” with all Iraqi, Regional Women MPs participants in the Incoming Women Parliamentarians Program (IWPs) of the PEDP and with participants in the 1st and 2nd Regional Meetings for Women MPs from the MENA Region.  The report serves as a best practices and case study report.