Iraqi ambassador Lukman Faily gives students snapshot of life in the Middle East
By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily gave a firsthand account of the current state of the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, to students and faculty at the University of Mary Washington on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
Faily’s presentation, titled “Challenges of Iraqi Foreign Policy, Status and Prospective,” focused on recent events in the Middle East, including instability in Iraq and Syria due to the extremist group ISIS. Faily also covered the United State’s involvement with Iraq and their shared goal of confronting ISIS.
Faily has been Iraq’s ambassador to the U.S. since 2013 and was previously Iraq’s ambassador to Japan from 2010 to 2013. He was instrumental in opposing Saddam Hussein’s rule during the Hussein dictatorship and has urged for democracy in Iraq.
According to Associate Professor of History Nabil Al-Tikriti, he first met Faily in 2010 at a conference when Faily was Iraq’s ambassador to Japan.
“I found him very engaging, an engaging and involved personality,” said Al-Tikriti.
Al-Tikriti invited Faily to the university to offer students and faculty a new perspective on the current situation in Iraq and Syria.
“I hope that all students who come and listen to the presentation will gain a deeper appreciation of the challenges not only in Iraq but in the region and the Middle East as a whole, and get an Iraqi perspective, which is slightly different than an American perspective,” said Al-Tikriti.
Senior history major Lydia Phillips said she was not familiar with the current situation in Iraq, but she has learned about Turkish history through her classes and was interested in what Faily could discuss about the country during his presentation.
“I’d definitely be more interested in [hearing Turkish] history,” said Phillips.
Olivia Tatara, a sophomore computer science major, said she has heard others talk about Iraq’s current situation regarding ISIS but wanted to know more about it.
“I heard a little about it, but I don’t know as much as I want to,” Tatara said.
Tatara said she hopes Faily will describe the events that are taking place in Iraq now. Though Faily works to show others his country’s situation from his own perspective, Faily also walks in the shoes of others. Or more accurately, he runs.
Faily has trained to be a marathon runner and ran in both the 2012 and 2013 Tokyo marathons for tsunami relief. Faily has also taken part in the 2014 Boston Marathon to honor those who were affected by the 2013 Boston bombing.
Faily, who has also experienced terrorism in his country, identifies with the people in Boston who lost loved ones and their sense of safety. Faily wants to show the U.S. that both Iraq and the U.S. can use their shared experiences to work together and put a stop to the organizations behind the attacks.
“That’s where I can see a clear similarity, a clear sign that terrorism is a global phenomena and we need to have a global perspective and work with each other and understand the victimization terrorism is causing in the medium and long run,” Faily told the Boston Globe prior to the Boston Marathon.
Faily’s presentation took place in Monroe Hall 346 and was followed by a reception where students could speak with Faily in person.