“Preemptive Peace” in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Situation: In the pro-democracy uprisings of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, peaceful protesters in Tunisia and Egypt demanded democracy and ended a combined 54 years of authoritarian rule. The protests spread to Iraqi Kurdistan in early February. Militias turned violent, but the protests continued. In Kurdistan, opposition political parties were involved, and partisan media outlets attacked and defamed each other. Just a few years prior to these protests, thousands were killed when disputes between the two major political parties erupted into civil war. People were afraid another civil war would break out.

The Rapid Response: The Kurdish women’s organization Asuda believed that Kurdistan needed an independent voice for peace. With an Urgent Action Fund grant, Asuda convened a meeting of women from diverse political parties, media outlets, and community organizations. The women formed a peace group to work with media outlets and launch a peace campaign.

The Impact: Asuda reported: “The grant activities helped in building bridges between various diverse groups and reestablishing communication and trust amongst those parties. They also assisted in alleviating the aggressive language used by the politically affiliated media against their rivals. Opposition and ruling parties agreed to meet and settle political differences using dialogue and peaceful negotiations.”