The Erbil Exchange

Upcoming virtual event organized by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and The Exchange Foundation

October 29-November 4, 2017

* Application Deadline I September 30/Deadline II October 15, 2017

* 25 slots only/Rolling acceptance

The Erbil-Sulaymaniyah Exchange is co-hosted by the French Association Noria (, Nicholas Noe and Monica Marks. During the six days of the conference, participants from around the world will listen and engage local politicians, civil society figures and analysts. The aim is to provide direct and intensive insight from several differing perspectives into Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Iraqi Kurdistan in general, as well as disputed areas between the Islamic State, Erbil and Baghdad. As such, the Exchange rests on two tracks:

Professional & Academic - Participants will attend a series of lectures led by prominent academics, analysts and activists from Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and the wider region. Themes will include, among others:

- The status of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) & Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK);

- KDP-PUK relations in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG);

- The rise of the political opposition parties and movements;

- The relationship between the KRG and Baghdad;

- Kirkuk and the disputed territories;

- The political game around the Islamic State;

- The September referendum;

- Gender and politics in Kurdistan;

- NGO and the clientelist game;

- The place of Minorities in KRG and the Kurdish sectarian system;

- Shi'i militia structures;

- The PKK and the Struggle for Sinjar;

- Kurdish Iranian parties in KRG;

- The Kurdish political parties and the Syrian Civil War.

Dialogue with Leaders - Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Iraqi Kurdistan.


Accepted applicants will receive the full list of confirmed speakers one month prior to the opening of the Exchange, as well as readings pertinent to the sessions.

Sunday, July 9

6:00PM - Opening Introductions, Schedule & Security Briefing8:00PM - Comments by Monica Marks, Oxford University & Nicholas Noe,

Monday, July 10

9:30AM - Arthur Quesnay, Panthéon-Sorbonne

11:30AM - Robin Beaumont, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

1:00PM - LUNCH

2:00PM - Maria Fantappie, International Crisis Group

4:00PM - Belkis Wille, Human Rights Watch

5:30PM - Patrick Cockburn, The Independent

6:30PM - Scott Bohlinger, The International NGO Safety Network

Tuesday, July 11

9:30AM - Wladimir van Wilgenburg, Journalist

11:30AM - Muhammed Ihsan, Ex Minister of Disputed Territories & President, Erbil University

1:00PM - LUNCH

2:30PM - Hemin Hawrami, Senior Advisor to the President

4:00PM - Aram Qaradakhy, Journalist

6:00PM - Kamal Chomani, Political Analyst

Wednesday, July 12

8:00AM - Jabar Yawar, General Secretary, Ministry of Peshmerga

9:30AM - Choman Hardi, The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

11:00AM - Arthur Quesnay, Panthéon-Sorbonne

12:15PM - Sarbast Lazgin Senory, Deputy Minister of Peshmerga and Deputy Interior Minister

2:30PM - LUNCH

4:00PM - Hakim Khaldi, Doctors Without Borders

6:00PM - Dr, Mohammad Orfin, Ninevah Voluntary for IDP

Thursday, July 13

9:30AM - Hemin Baban, Journalist

11:30PM - Group Discussion

1:00PM - LUNCH

2:15PM - Amar al-Kaya, Special Advisor to Ibrahim al Jafari

4:00PM - Arthur Quesnay, Panthéon-Sorbonne

6:00PM - Khaled Chwani, MP, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

Friday, July14

8:30AM - Gevara Zaya, Assyrian Democratic Movement Military Wing Coordinator, Ninevah Protection Unit; Kaldo Ramzi, Political Bureau Member, Assyrian Democratic Movement

10:00AM - Adham Juma, Political Analyst

11:30AM - Rokkan Jaf, Journalist

12:30PM - LUNCH

2:30PM - Zana S. Rostae, Komal Islami

4:00PM - Abu Bakr Karwani, Kurdistan Islamic Union

6:00PM - Rabun Marouf, MP, Goran Movement

7:30PM - Khalil Ibrahim Mohammad, Kurdistan Islamic Union

8:30PM - Soran Omar, MP, Komal Islami

Saturday, July 15

9:30AM - Falah Mustafa Bakir, KRG Foreign Minister

10:30AM - Trip to PDKI Base in Koya, Mustafa Hijri, Secretary General of the PDKI

3:30PM - LUNCH

4:30PM - Liza Hido, President, Baghdad Women's Association

6:00PM - Christine M. van den Toorn, Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies, AUIS

Sunday, July 16

10:00AM - Rebin Fatah, Journalist

12:00PM - Omed Khoshnaw, MP and Head of the KDP Bloc and Hiva Haji Mirkhan, MP and Head of the Finance Committee @ The Parliament

2:00PM - END


Program Format:

The Erbil-Sulaymaniyah Exchange will open at 7pm on Sunday, October 29 in Erbil at the Classy Hotel. On Wednesday, November 1, the group will travel to Sulaymaniyah where sessions will be held until the close of the Exchange at 5pm on Saturday, November 4 (note that bus travel back to Erbil on Saturday will be provided for those participants flying out of Erbil). In order to promote small group dynamics, the number of participants will be capped at 25. Sessions themselves will be conducted on an individual rather than a panel basis for all speakers and will generally allow ample opportunity for question time (translation into English will be provided when necessary). All sessions will also be held under strict Chatham House rules, although we customarily work with our speakers to approve any quotes/references that participants may need for their own work.


Participation Fee - $900; Note that participation fee discounts are available for participants who wish to attend multiple Exchanges. For more information, please email Furthermore, all our programs are funded on the basis of fees paid by the participants themselves: There is no government, private or non-profit support, an aspect that we believe provides a relatively neutral platform for dialogue and understanding.

Accommodation - $75, for a single room per night under our group booking only (breakfast and taxes are included). Shared double rooms are also available upon request and are priced at $50 per participant (we will arrange for sharing with other participants).

Airfare - $500, approximate from the European Union.

About the Co-Directors:

Arthur Quesnay is Assistant Researcher and PhD Research Fellow in Political Science at the ERC-funded Sociology of Civil Wars program at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1) since 2015. He was previously (2010-2014) a Junior Research Fellow in Iraq at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO). His doctoral thesis focuses on sectarian conflicts in Northern Iraq, where he conducted extensive fieldwork since 2009. He has also conducted parallel fieldwork in Libya (2011-2012) and Syria (2012-2013 and 2016) with insurgent groups. Taken together, his work highlights social and political transformation through the Middle East Civil Wars. As co-director of Noria MENA Programme, Mr. Quesnay calls for social scientists to adopt new methodological and conceptual approaches to understanding these extreme situations and for combining micro and macro analyses.

Robin Beaumont is a PhD candidate in Political Studies at the Paris-based École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). A former student at École Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris), he joined the European Research Council-funded program WAFAW in 2014, and is currently based in Amman, Jordan, as an associate to the French Institute for Near Eastern Studies (Ifpo). His research explores the reconfigurations of Shia political authority in post-2003 Iraq through a study of the structure of, and relationships between, the religious field (marja'iyya), the Iraqi State, and the various Shia militias.

Monica Marks is a Rhodes Scholar and PhD Candidate at Oxford University, and a doctoral fellow with the European Research Council's WAFAW program. Her work, which focuses on politics, institutional reform, and Islamist movements in Tunisia and Turkey, has appeared in peer-reviewed books and journals, news outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and The Washington Post, and for think tanks including the Carnegie Endowment, the Brookings Institute, and The Century Foundation. A former Fulbright Scholar to Turkey, Ms. Marks has taught as a Visiting Professor in the Politics and International Relations Department of Istanbul's Bogazici University. Recently she has been a Visiting Fellow at Columbia University's SIPA school and at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). She speaks Arabic and Turkish.

Upcoming Exchanges

The Exchange Foundation is an effort by the non-profit, 501 (C)3 Foundation for Global Political Exchange to promote professional and academic enrichment through a variety of small group, direct engagement conferences in Western Asia and North Africa.

During their stay, typically lasting five days to one week, participants from around the world listen to and question leading intellectuals, activists and politicians representing an array of different points of view in a specific country.

The first Exchange was launched in June 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, thirteen years on, more than 850 people from 51 different countries have attended 40 different Exchanges in the region.

Crucially, all funding for the Exchange comes from only two sources: The participants themselves who pay the participation fee or scholarship recipients who benefit from individual, charitable contributions designed specifically to broaden the social, political and geographic diversity of each Exchange table. As such, there is no government, commercial or non-profit support, an aspect that we believe provides a relatively neutral platform for dialogue and understanding.

Listen to and question leading intellectuals, activists and politicians from the Arab world

Broad social, political and geographic diversity of speakers

Creating a neutral platform for dialogue and understanding

More than 850 participants, 51 countries, 40 different Exchanges

The best immersion course on a country in transition I’ve seen.

Dr. Alfred Stepan

Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University

Time-tested technique and tactful diplomacy enables The Exchange to achieve an environment conducive to attention, dialogue and reflection.

Dr. Jalel Harchaoui

Research Fellow of the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute

There could not exist a more thorough and intensive immersion into Lebanese history and politics than The Exchange.

Nathan Wexler

Phd. candidate at UC Berkley

A well-oiled program that brings you an impressive number and selection of speakers from across the spectrum. Worth every penny!

I learned more in my 10 days at the Beirut Exchange than in any university course! This was a wonderful experience filled with fascinating speakers.

Oliva Holt-Ivry

Nicole Sganga

Senior Programs Advisor on Women, Peace, and Security, U.S. Department of State

CBS News reporter

Illuminating and life changing experience. I will recall the Exchange as one of the most authentic educational experiences of my life.

Sahar Rizvi


Who should register?

NGO Practitioners

& Officers

Foreign Diplomats
& Analysts

& Faculty

Journalists & Media Professionals

Past Exchanges

Intensive & Immersive Courses on Western Asia & North Africa

Unique access to information, perspectives, updates and analysis.

Access to information

Gain direct insight and rare first-hand knowledge about the country from a wide range of perspectives.

First-hand knowledge

Engage with speakers during the sessions and connect with them after the Exchange.

Connect with speakers

Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Western Asia and North Africa

Dialogue with Leaders

  • June 9-16, 2024
  • Application Deadline I: April 15, 2024
  • Rolling acceptance

Co-founder, Nicholas Noe: +961.81.797.943 (Beirut/WhatsApp)

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