FPI Conference Call: Iraq in Turmoil

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Michael Pregent, Washington, D.C.
Adjunct Lecturer, College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University

Vance Serchuk, New York City
Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security

Bilal Wahab, Washington, D.C.
Professor of International Studies, The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani

Speaker Biographies

Michael Pregent is currently an adjunct lecturer for the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. He is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and a senior analyst with over 25 years experience working security and political issues in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. Michael’s career includes military and civilian liaison and advisory roles with both U.S. and host nation security and political entities. He has advised and embedded with host-nation security organizations and written extensively for senior U.S. military and civilian leadership on their capabilities and vulnerabilities. Michael is a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm and served as a liaison officer between the Egyptian and Israeli Military during the Intifada in 2000.

After the 9-11 attacks, Michael spent the next 12 years supporting U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan both in uniform and as a civilian. His primary focus in uniform centered on building the security capability of both the Afghan National Army and the Iraqi Security Forces. He served on military tours in 2002-2003 in Afghanistan and 2005-2006 with the Peshmerga forces in Mosul, Iraq. As a civilian, Michael worked as an advisor with Iraq’s security and intelligence apparatus and with the Iraqi Government on Sunni reconciliation efforts from 2007-2010. From 2011-2013 he advised and wrote extensively on Al Qaeda and affiliated groups and the impact of the Arab Spring on foreign fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, primarily those drawn to fight in Syria. 

Vance Serchuk is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He previously served for six years as senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and as a professional staff member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Prior to working in the Senate, Vance was a research fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

During the first half of 2013, he was a Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi International Affairs Fellow based in Tokyo and wrote a monthly column on foreign affairs for the Washington Post. Vance’s writings have also appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, holds a JD from Yale Law School, and was a Fulbright scholar in the Russian Federation. He is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Bilal Wahab is from Iraqi Kurdistan where he is a faculty member at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). At AUIS, he teaches classes on petroleum policy and international politics. He was AUIS’s first research fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies. He is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s (GMU) School of Public Policy where he studies patronage networks, economic and political transition, and Iraq’s petroleum policy. While at GMU, he was the managing editor of Foreign Policy Bulletin. He received a Master's Degree from the American University in Washington, DC on a Fulbright Scholarship. He also taught at Salahaddin University's College of Law and Political Science and College of Education in Iraq, and has spoken at numerous campuses and think tanks across the United States, Europe and Iraq. He has made frequent media appearances, including on Aljazeera, National Public Radio, and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He worked at the World Bank, the United Nations, and in numerous USAID programs. His latest publication is on the Iraqi-Kurdish dispute over the management of the country’s petroleum resources. The report can be viewed at http://auis.edu.iq/sites/default/files/WahabIRISReport.pdf.

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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