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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Recap on the VCWA Ambassador Series: "U.S. and a Region in Conflict"

Panelists and moderator Peter Calvelle discuss U.S. and a region in conflict*
Last week’s VCWA Ambassador Series, The United States and a Region in Conflict: on Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Kurds was a success by all means. Speakers on the panel included Ambassador Robert Ford, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the U.S., and Abdülhamit Bilici, journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, currently living in exile in the U.S.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman*     
Ambassador Robert Ford*
The event was moderated by VCWA board member Peter Clavelle; the night’s discussion revolved around the protracted conflict in Syria and Iraq, U.S. foreign policy in the region, the potential of a Kurdish state, and the meaning of the rise of Turkish authoritarianism to the U.S., as well as to Turkey’s neighbors.

Peter Clavelle*
Abdülhamit Bilici*
With over 100 in attendance, it was no surprise that there were many rich questions for the speakers, some of which touched on Iraqi Kurdistan’s sentiments on the PKK in Turkey, predictions of how the current administration will address the war in Syria compared to the previous one, and tensions between Turkey and the U.S. in regards to U.S. support of the Kurds’ fight against ISIS.


The evening closed out with a reception where speakers and attendees had the opportunity to mingle over Turkish hors d’oeuvres, and ask any final burning questions of the experts. This panel presented a unique opportunity for Vermonters to get more than a soundbite on a topic that affects all of us in a greater capacity than we may realize.

A reception following the panel featured the opportunity to meet speakers and Turkish food!*

After the panel finished Thursday evening, it may have been the end of the excitement for Vermonters in attendance, but activities continued the following morning as the VCWA met once again with Ms. Rahman and Mr. Bilici at the Center for Media & Democracy to record two programs, featuring interviews with the speakers by Peter Calvelle. These interviews allowed a more in-depth discussion on each of the speakers’ respective backgrounds and more country-specific information. Be sure to keep an eye out on social media and your e-newsletters for these programs-- we’ll update with links as soon as they’re available!

VCWA Executive Director Patricia Preston (right), Abdülhamit Bilici, and I at the CCTV studio*

We sincerely hope that the programming provided expanded your knowledge and perspective on the topics discussed during the event and that you found value in attending because, well, this is what we do: the VCWA brings Vermont to the world and the world to Vermont by curating opportunities for Vermont community members such as yourselves to listen to, and engage in, civil discourse with leaders, experts, and influencers from all over the world in order to build a stronger, more globally aware community.


We thank Champlain College for providing an excellent space, the Center for Media & Democracy for covering the event and interviews, our speakers and moderator, the VCWA Board of Directors for sponsoring the event, and of course, all of the Vermonters who attended and who support our organization. We couldn’t have done it without you!

This post was written by Chelsea Beaulieu, VCWA Program Assistant

*All photos taken by Kathryn Ashley McNeish

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