ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING

Recent Milestones and Plans Underway

What a month!

We’ve been hard at work in October and early November, producing cutting-edge research, engaging policymakers and media, and building a new pillar of our work for 2022. Here are a few highlights of our recent work:

One-of-a-kind research

EPIC published the #TishreenReport, the product of a year-long study and countless in-depth interviews, including focus group discussions with Iraqi and Kurdish activists. Few publications offer this authentic, ground-level glimpse of Iraq’s national protest movement. It includes an account of the origins of the Tishreen movement, its commitment to reform through nonviolence, the challenges of militias and other obstacles to reform, and an analysis of social media’s role in the movement.

We also published the results of a nationwide public opinion survey of Iraqi voters. It correctly anticipated certain trends in the October election results that many outlets missed. The survey paints more of the picture of the Tishreen movement and its potential to create positive change.

Our new report completes a year-long study of the Tishreen movement and offers ground-level insights into the aspirations and realities of young activists pushing for fundamental change in Iraq. Download.

Making Iraqi voices heard

EPIC Program Manager, Omar Al-Nidawi, and Executive Director Erik Gustafson briefed the Democratic and Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the outcome of the October election and the failed assassination attempt on Prime Minister Kadhimi. They discussed what Congress can do to support human rights, democratic reforms, and anti-corruption efforts in Iraq.

Omar and Erik also published an October election analysis. Based on EPIC’s on-the-ground research, they argue that: “While Iraq’s next government may be ‘business as usual,’ the election has planted the seeds for change.”

Omar appeared on an episode of Iraqi Voices podcast, in which he discussed the Iraqi parliamentary elections, its significance, and how Iraqis view them in light of the 2019 protest movement.

He also contributed to a special briefing, alongside scholars from the Middle East Institute, about how the elections are reshaping the Iraqi political scene despite low voter turnout.

A woman speaks to protesters at a demonstration by public servants and teachers against salary cuts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Sulaymaniyah’s public park on June 25, 2020. (Photo: Winthrop Rodgers)

Adapting with Iraq’s changing needs

In June, Erik traveled to Iraq to meet with the country’s foremost environmental protection activists (@humatdijlah and @WaterkeepersIQ) and United Nations staff. They talked about what can be done to address the increasing problems caused by Iraq’s changing climate. At the invitation of the UNDP, Erik also attended an Iraqi ministerial meeting on combating climate change. As a result, EPIC now has plans underway to make community resilience to climate change a core part of our mission in 2022.

Nabil Musa of Waterkeepers Iraq is a leading environmental activist in Iraq. Erik Gustafson met with Nabil during his 2021 trip to talk about the ways EPIC and others can support Iraqis who are responding to the growing crises caused by climate change. (Photo: EPIC)

In addition to climate resilience, better governance and human rights, next year, EPIC will expand its peace and recovery programs in northern Iraq. Earlier this year, we completed a successful pilot project mentoring local community leaders in social change strategies and digital communication. The I Sinjar project was a major highlight of our work in 2021. In 2022, we will expand this community-led peacebuilding initiative to more conflict-affected communities in northern Iraq.

The I Love Sinjar YouTube channel is the result of EPIC’s collaboration with community activists in Sinjar. Click the image above to learn more about the project and to watch videos created by our local partners in Sinjar.

We can’t do this work without you! Nor would any of our work be possible without our field office and the amazing local partners and young activists who join us in our mission. Like you, we want to do everything we can to help our friends in Iraq achieve their aspirations for peace and a brighter future.

Thank you for being a part of our mission.

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