January 16, 2006

HARRISONBURG—Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States, will speak at James Madison University on January 24, 2006. Talabani’s lecture on “The Future of Iraq” will take place at Grafton-Stovall Theater at 6:00 p.m. and will be sponsored by the Muslim Students Association with support from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies ( and JMU’s Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs (

In the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Qubad Talabani served for one year as Senior Foreign Relations Officer for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a leading Kurdish political party responsible for administering the eastern part of Iraqi Kurdistan, working out of Baghdad and Suleimani. In that capacity, he worked closely with the U.S.-led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) and was subsequently the PUK’s top liaison with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). In addition, he was a key PUK negotiator during the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), Iraq’s first post-Saddam constitution. He also acted as a liaison officer between the PUK and U.S. military forces in Iraq.

Previously, from 2001 until 2003, Talabani served as the Deputy Representative of the PUK in Washington, and, from 2000 to 2001, he was a special assistant to then PUK Representative Dr. Barham Salih, currently Iraq’s Minister for Planning and International Development Coordination and a leading Iraqi political figure.

Talabani is frequently interviewed by the media and has appeared on major television networks—including CNN, BBC, and FOX News—to discuss Kurdish and Iraqi issues. His family has been involved in Kurdish politics for decades and his father, Jalal Talabani, is President of Iraq and Secretary-General of the PUK.

Talabani’s visit to JMU is being organized by JMU students Samier Mansur ( and David Centofante (, who are undergraduate fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan public policy organization that researches terrorism and national security. Nelson Institute director Dr. J. Peter Pham is an academic fellow of the Foundation.

The public lecture qualifies as a wellness passport event.