The Kurds are topic for discussion series Friday


Delaware’s 2016 Great Decisions Community Discussion Series on U.S. Foreign Policy continues Friday with a lecture on the Kurds by Melinda McClimans, assistant director of the Middle East Studies Center at The Ohio State University.

All Great Decisions discussions will begin at noon in the Fellowship Hall of the William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch, organizers note. Complimentary coffee and tea will be provided.

The Kurdish people of the Middle East have long sought a separate state of their own, according to Great Decisions organizers. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the initial promise that they would have their own country proved unacceptable to the Turks.

Instead, the Kurds were divided across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and even into Armenia. The Kurds in Northeast Iraq were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein. Villages were razed, their culture was suppressed, chemical weapons were used against them, and murder and imprisonment were common.

Today the Kurds in Iraq have achieved considerable autonomy with the support of the United States, and have proved themselves as the best fighters in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist forces of ISIS.

Friday’s lecturer, McClimans, has been assistant director of the Middle East Studies Center at Ohio State since July 2003.

She has an master’s degree in Near Eastern languages and cultures. She has lived and studied in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and studied Arabic in Cairo and Tunis.

In 1994, she enrolled in Franklin College in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 1997. After graduating, she served as an intern at the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the Middle East Studies Center, she organizes the annual study tour to Turkey for teachers, taught a class on Egyptian culture and took the class to Egypt, has organized and taught the center’s institutes for teachers, and has co-taught online courses for teachers with Merry Merryfield. McClimans directs the teacher training program and creates or edits teacher-created instructional materials.

She has research ability in Arabic and French, and is fluent in Italian. She organizes the center’s outreach and engagement events, and oversees the center’s internship and volunteer programs.

Other speakers during the series are:

• Feb. 26, “Cuba and the United States,” featuring Miguel Martinez-Saenz, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Otterbein University.

• March 4, “Mexican Migration to the United States,” featuring Robert Gitter, Joseph A. Meek Professor of Economics at Ohio Wesleyan.

• March 11, “The Road to a Stable Climate: What’s Next After Paris?,” featuring Marianne Gabel, leader of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Delaware, with a CCL panel.

• March 18, “The Rise of ISIS,” featuring Michael Houlahan, Foreign Service Officer (retired), U.S. State Department.

Following each discussion, audience participants will have the option of completing a quick survey — prepared by the nonprofit Foreign Policy Association — to add their opinions to others across the nation. The survey results will be made available to federal decision-makers.

Local sponsors of the lecture series include the American Association of University Women, Kiwanis, League of Women Voters, International Studies Program at Ohio Wesleyan University, William Street United Methodist Church, Willow Brook Christian Communities, Cruise One and private donors.

The Great Decisions Discussion Program, a free community discussion series, is designed to encourage debate and discussion of the role of the United States in world affairs, organizers say.


Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by Corinne Lyman, professor emerita of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University.

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