The Woman Who Remade Iraq?

04/15/11 Emma Sky at an Institute for the Study of War panel discussion on “Iraq’s Fragile Transition” held at the Reserve Officers Association on Friday afternoon. As a British subject opposed to the war in Iraq, she volunteered as part of a Foreign Office team sent to help reconstruct the country after the US invasion and wound up years later as a top aide to General Odierno.

The Times of London: “Ms Sky, 41, was working for the British Council in Manchester when the US and Britain entered Iraq in March 2003 – a war she strongly opposed. Eager to let Iraqis know that many in Europe were against the invasion, she volunteered for a team being sent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help to administer Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

Armed with her pacifist ideals, she flew to Basra in June 2003, expecting to work for three months before the US-led coalition handed control of the country to a new Iraqi administration – a concept that seems laughable now. Within weeks she was made the senior civilian representative for the coalition in Kirkuk, an ethnically divided city close to Iraq’s northern border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Days into the job, her house came under rocket attack while she was in bed. She relocated to a US base.”

Sky is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. From September 2008 to September 2010, she served as the Political Advisor to General Odierno in Iraq, and as Special Advisor on Reconciliation to General Petraeus in the summer of 2008. She has worked at senior levels on behalf of the U.S. and U.K. governments, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jerusalem, across the fields of development, defense, diplomacy, and with multi-civilian and military agencies.

She is often compared to Gertrude Bell, “The Woman Who Made Iraq.

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