Manal Omar is head of United States Institute of Peace’s office in Baghdad, Iraq. Previously, she was regional program manager for the Middle East for Oxfam – Great Britain, where she responded to humanitarian crises in Palestine and Lebanon. In 2007, Islamic Magazine named her one of the ten young visionaries shaping Islam in America. She holds an M.A. in Arab studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in international relations from George Mason University.

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After a long seven years of war and bloodshed, the national elections in Iraq this Spring 2010 took place in relative stability. The resulting government, when it is announced, will offer the first real indication of whether Iraqis intend to use democracy to empower conservative religious leaders, or whether they will turn to secular …

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