Day: June 17, 2012
We are down to four-day weeks, but lots of interesting events anyway:
1. Egypt’s Elections: The End of the Revolution, or a New Beginning? Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, 9:30 June 18
A Conversation with Khairi Abaza, Steven Cook, John Hannah and Oren Kessler
Monday, June 18
9:30 am-11:00 am
Breakfast and registration will begin at 9:15 am
Egypt has reached an historical crossroads. The two presidential candidates, Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, present very different visions for Egypt. Shafik represents the old guard of the Mubarak era. Morsi represents the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood. In the wake of this momentous election, what direction will Egypt take? Why, after months of analysis, did scholars and Washington officials alike, incorrectly estimate the will of the Egyptian people? Will the elections lead to additional chaos and disorder, or will the results of this election bring closure and help Egypt move toward greater stability?
To assess these questions and others, FDD is pleased to host a breakfast conversation with:
Khairi Abaza, a scholar at FDD, noted for his focus on democratic reform in the Arab world, the spread of terrorism, and the influence of the media on politics. His columns appeared in various publications such as International Herald Tribune, The New Republic, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, and The Weekly Standard. He is also a commentator on several American and international television stations such as Fox, BBC, France 24, Al-Jazeera and CBC. Before coming to Washington, Mr. Abaza worked for ten years in Egyptian politics. He served as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and secretary of the Cultural Committee of the Egyptian Wafd Party. Mr. Abaza recently returned from Egypt where he had an up close look at the unfolding developments. Read his full bio here.
Steven Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Cook is the author of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. He has published widely in a variety of foreign policy journals, opinion magazines, and newspapers including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Democracy, The Weekly Standard, Slate, The New Republic Online, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, and Survival. Dr. Cook is also a frequent commentator on radio and television. He currently writes the blog, “From the Potomac to the Euphrates.” Prior to joining CFR, Dr. Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (2001–2002) and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1995–96).
John Hannah, who brings almost two decades of experience at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy to his work as Senior Fellow at FDD. From 2001-2009, Mr. Hannah served as one of Vice President Dick Cheney’s most trusted aides on national security issues. He served as the Vice President’s deputy national security advisor for the Middle East, where he was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the peace process, and the global war on terrorism and later as the Vice President’s national security advisor, where he served as the Vice President’s top advisor on the full panoply of international issues from the Middle East to North Korea to Russia. Previously, Mr. Hannah worked as a senior advisor on the staff of Secretary of State Warren Christopher during the administration of President William J. Clinton, and as a senior member of Secretary of State James A. Baker’s Policy Planning Staff during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Mr. Hannah writes and speaks widely on issues related to American foreign policy. His articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He blogs regularly at ForeignPolicy.com and National Review Online. Read his full bio here.
Oren Kessler, a Tel Aviv-based journalist covering Israel and the Middle East. Oren is the former Middle East affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, and previously worked as an editor and translator at Haaretz. His articles have appeared in Foreign Policy, Middle East Quarterly, the Journal of International Security Affairs, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs and other publications, and he is a frequent guest on international news programs discussing Israel and the Arab world. Oren holds an Hon. BA in History from the University of Toronto and an MA in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. Fluent in Hebrew and Spanish, he has studied literary and colloquial Arabic in the United States, the Diwaan center in Tel Aviv and Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.
Open press coverage. Advance RSVP required. Camera setup at 8:30 am
Washington, DC 20036
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2. Getting serious on Syria: Can we close the Assad era without opening a can of worms? AEI, 1-3 pm June 18
|Date / Time||
Monday, June 18 / 1:00pm Register with host
American Enterprise Institute 1150 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
|Speakers||John Mccain, Ammar Abdulhamid, Brian Fishman, David Schenker, Lee Smith, Michael Rubin|
|Description||As the Syrian uprising approaches its sixteenth month, any remaining hope that Assad will end the bloodshed has evaporated. Neither international condemnation nor the dispatching of United Nations monitors has reduced violence in the country. Moreover, Russia and Iran continue to arm the regime. While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared that the ‘Assad regime’s brutality against its own people must and will end,’ neither she nor the White House has outlined a strategy to meet that goal. While the Obama administration invoked a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine to justify military action in Libya, it has pointedly refused to do so in Syria. Do any options short of military force remain to end bloodshed in Syria? Is the Syrian opposition ready to govern, or would Assad’s fall unleash a sectarian and ethnic civil war? What would regime change in Syria mean for Iran, Lebanon, Israel and the U.S.? Join a panel of seasoned Syria experts as they debate these issues and more.Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will open the discussion with a keynote address.If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.12:45 PMRegistration1:00 PMKeynote Address
John McCain, U.S. Senate (R-Ariz.)
Ammar Abdulhamid, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Brian Fishman, New America Foundation
David Schenker, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Lee Smith, The Weekly Standard
Michael Rubin, AEI
3. Threats to Nigeria’s Security:Boko Haram and Beyond, Jamestown Foundation at Carnegie Endowment, 9-12 June 19
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Root Conference Room
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
8:45 A.M. – 9:00 A.M.
Glen E. Howard
President, The Jamestown Foundation
Domestic Factors of Instability in Nigeria
9:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.
“Instability in Northern Nigeria: The View From The Ground”
Analyst for West African Affairs
The Jamestown Foundation
“Beyond Boko Haram: The Rise of Militant Islam in Nigeria & Cameroon”
Journalist & Blogger on Nigerian Security Issues
Dr. Andrew McGregor
“Central African Militant Movements: The Northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon Nexus”
Editor in Chief, Global Terrorism Analysis
The Jamestown Foundation
“The Niger Delta & The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)”
Analyst, The Jamestown Foundation
Q & A
10:30 A.M. – 10:45 A.M.
Nigerian Security Issues and US-Nigeria Relations
10:45 A.M. – 12:00 A.M.
Lauren Ploch Blanchard
“US – Nigeria Relations and the United States Response to Boko Haram”
Specialist in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service
“The Political Basis for Demilitarization and Dialogue in Nigeria”
Assistant Professor of African Politics, American University
Colonel Gene McConville
“Will Nigeria Develop A Counter-Terrorism Policy?”
Senior Military Advisor, Africa Center For Strategic Studies
Ambassador Eunice Reddick
“U.S.-Nigeria Engagement on Regional Security”
Director of the Office of West African Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Q & A
Lauren Ploch Blanchard
Mrs. Blanchard provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of the United States Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. She has written extensively on security issues on the continent, and has testified before Congress on U.S. military engagement and counterterrorism efforts in Africa. Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. Previously, Mrs. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. She holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida. Her publications include: Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa; Piracy off the Horn of Africa; Countering Terrorism in East Africa: The U.S. Response; Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy; and Nigeria: Issues for Congress; among others.
Carl LeVan is an Assistant Professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C., where he is Africa Coordinator for Comparative and Regional studies. His articles on power-sharing in East Africa, democratization and civil society in Nigeria, the U.S. military’s Africa Command, and comparative authoritarianism have appeared in journals such as Governance, Africa Today, Democratization, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, and Journal of African Elections. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California—San Diego, he worked as a legislative director on Capitol Hill, and then as the National Democratic Institute’s first Country Director in Nigeria. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, democratization, and political development. He recently finished a book manuscript on Nigerian government performance, and his new project (with the distinguished Latin Americanist, Todd Eisenstadt) explores the consequences of constitutional reform. He publishes the blog Development4Security at carllevan.com.
Colonel Gene McConville
U.S. Army Colonel Gene McConville joined the Africa Center in October 2010 for a three-year assignment as Senior Military Advisor, Academic Affairs. Colonel McConville oversees curriculum and program development in the area of International Crisis Response and Management. Prior to joining the Africa Center, Colonel McConville was a Staff Officer, International Security Assistance Force/U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Colonel McConville has significant experience in Africa having served as the Army Attaché to the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1991-1994.
Andrew McGregor is Director of Toronto-based Aberfoyle International Security and Managing Editor of the Jamestown Foundation’s Global Terrorism Analysis publications. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations in 2000 and is a former Research Associate of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. He has worked as a consultant to New Scotland Yard’s SO15 Counter Terrorism Command and provided expert witness for the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service. His latest book is A Military History of Modern Egypt, published by Praeger Security International in 2006. Dr. McGregor has written over 300 articles on international security issues for organizations including Jane’s Intelligence, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies. He is the author of an archaeological history of Darfur published by Cambridge University in 2001 and provides frequent commentary on military and security issues for international newspapers, radio and television, including the New York Times, Financial Times, and the BBC.
Mark McNamee is an Intelligence Analyst for Sub-Saharan Africa at an international risk consulting firm in the Washington, D.C. region as well as a contract employee for the U.S. Army Combating Terrorism Center. He has an M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), with concentrations in Russian & Eurasian Studies and International Economics, and studied Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia for two years.
Eunice S. Reddick
Ms. Reddick is a career diplomat in the Senior Foreign Service, currently assigned to the State Department’s Africa bureau as Director of the Office of West African Affairs. She was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe from 2007-10. Prior to her current assignment, Eunice was Diplomat in Residence at Howard University. She has worked at U.S. embassies in Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, and China. During her more than 30 years of diplomatic service, she has also been assigned to the Bureaus of Population, Refugees and Migration Affairs; International Organization Affairs; East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and the Secretary’s Operations Center as Senior Watch Officer. She was awarded a Dean and Virginia Rusk Fellowship and spent a year at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Born and raised in New York City, Eunice received a BA in history and literature from New York University, and a Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
Dibussi Tande is the leading Cameroonian blogger who publishes the award-winning blog, Scribbles from the Den. A former Associate Editor of Cameroon Life Magazine and Cameroon Today, Tande writes for a variety of print and online journals, and has contributed to a variety of publication such as the BBC’s Focus on Africa magazine, The Rhodes Journalism Review and Pambazuka, the authoritative pan-African electronic weekly newsletter. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Law from the University of Yaounde, and Masters Degrees in Political Science and Instructional Technology from Northeastern Illinois University and Northern Illinois University respectively. He recently published a book on politics and collective memory in Cameroon.
Dibussi Tande’s interests include the use of social media for political activism and social advocacy, the role of citizen journalism in Africa, and the rise of Radical Islam in West Africa with a focus on Cameroon and Nigeria.
Jacob Zenn is an Analyst for West African and Central Asian Affairs at The Jamestown Foundation and author of the upcoming book “Boko Haram in West Africa: Al Qaeda’s Next Frontier?,” which is based on his field research in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger in May and June 2012. Mr. Zenn earned a J.D. from Georgetown Law as a Global Law Scholar and a Certificate in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Nanjing Center for Chinese-American Studies in Nanjing, China. At Georgetown Law he carried out a fellowship in Yemen sponsored by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s Middle-East North Africa Team during which time he also observed elections in Somaliland. Formerly a political risk consultant, he writes regularly for the Jamestown Foundation’s Militant Leadership Monitor and Terrorism Monitor publications focusing on Nigeria and Central Asia and contributes articles for Asia Times, SAIS Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst and the CTC Sentinel. Jacob has been a charter member of the National Language Service Corps since 2011 for Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic (MSA) and was a State Department Critical Language Scholar in Malang, Indonesia in 2011.
4. Arms racing in Asia? Who’s winning, who’s losing
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
(Two blocks from Farragut North Metro)
This year, Asian military spending is expected to exceed Europe’s military spending for the first time in history. Moreover, Asian nations are funding the development of significant new capabilities. China’s first aircraft carrier embarked on its maiden voyage last year; Japan announced its intention to acquire F-35s; and India tested a long-range missile capable of striking Beijing, China.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is implementing a new operational concept called AirSea Battle. What factors are propelling this widespread military modernization? What are the implications for the military balance in Asia? Is Asia in an arms race? At this AEI event, two expert panels will examine major trends in Asian military modernization to assess their impact on power dynamics in the region.
If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Panel I: The Asia-Pacific Poles
Dan Blumenthal, AEI
Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution
Chuck Jones, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Thomas Donnelly, AEI
Question and Answer Session
Panel II: U.S. Allies and Partners
Michael Auslin, AEI
Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State University
Michael Mazza, AEI
Mark Stokes, Project 2049 Institute
Gary J. Schmitt, AEI
Question and Answer Session
For more information, please contact Lara Crouch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.862.7160.
For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at email@example.com, 202.862.4871.
5. Israeli National Security Strategy in the Expanded Coalition, 3:30-5 pm June 19
Also available in العربية
A Conversation with Shaul Mofaz, vice prime minister of Israel
Shaul Mofaz’s victory in the Kadima primary election and subsequent decision to bring his party into the governing coalition sent shockwaves through Israel, changing the dynamics of regional politics. To discuss his strategy for security and peace, and ways in which the expanded coalition can promote these goals, The Washington Institute invited Lt. Gen. (res.) Shaul Mofaz to address a late-afternoon Policy Forum on June 19, 2012, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. EDT.
Shaul Mofaz is vice prime minister of Israel, minister without portfolio, and head of the Kadima Party. Previously the deputy prime minister, he has also served as minister of defense and, in his distinguished military career, as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. He is a former military fellow at The Washington Institute.
Watch live via webcast here Tuesday, June 19, 2012, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. EDT.
6. Afghanistan after NATO: An Afghan Perspective on Security and Development, 4:30-6 pm June 19
Albert Santoli (Moderator)
Founder and President of Asia America Initiative
General Hillaluddin Hilal
Member of the Afghanistan Parliament
General Ahmad Rahmani
CEO, IBEX Corporation, Afghanistan
Amb. Omar Samad
Former Afghan Ambassador to Canada
Co-Founder and Chairman, Afghan Business Network
President and CEO, Electro Imaging Systems
Javid Ahmad (Invited)
Program Coordinator, German Marshall Fund’s Asia program
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATO is now concluding a costly presence in Afghanistan, and the withdrawal of troops is gradually being conducted. The country, however, will remain a critical platform for international peace and stability for many decades to come. A resurgent Taliban would create a haven to inspire and train local and international terrorist groups. The production of opium would continuously fuel instability, crime, and corruption across Central Asia, the Balkans, Russia, and parts of Western Europe. Rivalries for influence and competition over Afghanistan’s natural resources could intensify competition between Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India. Endemic humanitarian crises for the Afghan people could be unbearable.
We often hear the opinions of commentators from the West. But what is the perspective of Afghan citizens who have devoted their lives to the freedom and rebuilding of their homeland? What will Afghanistan, the region, and the world look like in 2014-2015? Inside of Afghanistan, what type of post-occupation regime will take shape? What will be the influence or interference of Afghanistan’s neighbors? Can the narcotics trade be curtailed? Can civil war supported by Afghanistan’s neighbors be avoided? What effective options do the West, and above all, the Afghan people, still have?
Important components to peace and development are not only credible politics and economic development, but also effective transportation and logistical systems. Without road or air access into Afghanistan through Pakistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (under Russian influence or control), can a stable economy be built and sustained? Can humanitarian stability involving food and basic human needs for survival be achieved? Can struggling communities or a cohesive government be defended from attacks by well-supplied radicals? We will seek perspective on these questions from a panel of knowledgeable Afghan leaders who are dedicated in the fields of politics, economics, humanitarian issues, logistics and security.
This event is co-sponsored by The Institute of World Politics and Asia America Initiative.
General Hillaluddin Hilal
General Hilal is a Member of the Afghanistan Parliament representing Baghlan Proivince from 2005 to present. He served as a former Deputy Minister of Interior for Security from 2003-05 and a former senior advisor to the legendary Afghan Freedom Fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud during the resistance war against the Taliban/Pakistan from 1998-2001. He was a three-star General in the Afghan Air Force, and was senior advisor to the Defense Minister of Tajikistan and during the mediation between President Rahmanov and Abdullah Nuri, leader of the strongest opposition group. From 1996-98, he was Minister of Transportation, Avaiation and Tourism. From 1993-95, General Hilal was Commandant of Afghanistan’s Northern Border Force.
General Ahmad Rahmani
General Rahmani is CEO of IBEX Corp in Afghanistan which provides security, air and ground transportation for international organizations, including NATO and UN agencies, and secure warehousing, logistics support, transportation and humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees. He was Transportation Minster of Afghanistan during 1992-1997 under the transitional post-Soviet government. He was a General in the Afghanistan Air Force until retiring from the military in 2000.
Amb. Omar Samad
Amb. Omar Samad served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to France from June 2009 to July 2011, while also accredited to Monaco. He served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada (2004-2009) and non-resident Afghan Ambassador to the Republic of Chile. From 2001 to 2004, he was the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul in capacity of Director General. He is currently a Senior Expert on Afghanistan at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.
Born in Kabul in 1961 and son of a diplomat, he attended primary and secondary schooling in Kabul, Paris and London. Compelled to leave Afghanistan in 1979 following the Communist coup d’état, he settled in the United States, where he helped promote the cause of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan. For several years, Mr. Samad worked in the field of information technology, while pursuing a second career in media. In 1996, after achieving an MA at the Fletcher School, he launched Azadi Afghan Radio and website as part of the Afghanistan Information Center based in Virginia. He returned to Afghanistan in December 2001 and joined the Foreign Ministry. For many years, he has been a contributor and commentator for the international media, including CNN, the BBC, Al Jazeera and others. Most of his writings are published on the Foreign Policy blog.
Qasim Tarin is the co-founder and Chairman of the Afghan Business Network and the President and CEO of Electro Imaging Systems. He is also the interim President of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, Northern California Chapter. He has worked with large corporations such as Toshiba America, IBM, Cannon USA, Xerox Corporation, Hewlett Packard, and Ricoh Corporation USA. He is a member of Rotary International and the CEO Alliance Group.
Javid Ahmad (Invited)
Javid Ahmad is a Program Coordinator with German Marshall Fund’s Asia program where he works on a range of initiatives, including the India Forum, workshops on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Young Strategist Forum, Global Swing States, and the Brussels Forum. Prior to joining GMF, Ahmad worked in the Political and Legislative Section of the Embassy of Afghanistan and the Public Affairs Office of Voice of America. He previously worked for the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) in Kabul and served as an International Elections Observer during Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Elections. Ahmad has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, The National Interest, Newsweek’s Daily Beast, The Diplomat and is also a regular contributor to Foreign Policy magazine’s AfPak Channel.
Albert Santoli, Panel Moderator
Al Santoli is Founder and President of Asia America Initiative, an international NGO dedicated to grassroots development, intercultural reconciliation, terror deterrence and peace building. From 1997-2001, he coordinated the only American program of non-governmental assistance to the anti-Taliban resistance in Afghanistan during the Taliban/al Qaeda reign of terror, while working as a foreign policy advisor in the US House of Representatives. His AAI Development for Peace project in Muslim Mindanao received a rare Philippines Presidential Citation for peace mediation and deterring terrorism in one of the most impoverished and conflict-plagued regions of Asia. He is a New York Times best selling author of military history and a long-time associate of the Institute of World Politics. In 1982, he was among the first international journalist to write for a major publication about the Soviet use of bio-chemical weapons in Afghanistan.
7. Dictatorship 2.0: Modern Authoritarian Regimes, Carnegie Endowment, 12:30-2 pm June 20
Amid the Arab Spring uprisings, the global war between freedom and repression is often perceived as a battle that pits tech-savvy, globalized democrats against out-of-touch, dim-witted dictatorships. In his acclaimed new book The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, William Dobson, Slate politics and foreign affairs editor, takes us behind the scenes in both camps, and explores how authoritarian regimes are increasingly employing twenty-first century techniques to protect the twentieth century status quo.
Srdja Popovic, founder and leader of the Serbian student movement that brought down the Milosovic regime, will discuss how “people power” can prevail, and George Washington University professor Marc Lynch will discuss these dynamics in the context of today’s Middle East. Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour will moderate.
8. When Iran Gets the Bomb: What Will It Do? What Will Others Do? What Will Be the Costs?, Hudson Institute, 9:30 am-12:30 pm June 21
As the world debates whether a steep price should be paid to stop prospects of an Iranian nuclear weapon, there remains little understanding of what consequences might flow from Iran’s possession of such weapons.
Hudson Institute will host a conference to analyze a world in which first Iran, and then some of Iran’s neighbors, become nuclear weapons states. The conference does not seek to prejudge whether Iran will be stopped from reaching its nuclear goals, but to explore in greater depth the kinds of problems that the free world may encounter over time if Iran is not stopped. This discussion may help illuminate the costs of failure and show how the United States can prepare for a world that includes a nuclear-armed Iran.
The conference will consist of two sessions held between 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM. They will be conducted in an interactive workshop fashion. The first session will discuss a world in which Iran has a small nuclear arsenal, and the second session will discuss a poly-nuclear Middle East.
Husain Haqqani, Boston University
Ali Alfoneh, American Enterprise Institute
David Wurmser, Delphi Global Analysis
Samantha Ravich, Former Deputy National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President
Bruno Tertrais, Senior Research Fellow, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique
Lee Smith, The Weekly Standard
Christopher Ford, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Betsy and Walter Stern
1015 15th St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
This event will be streamed online here: http://www.hudson.org/watchlive.
Questions can be submitted via Twitter: @HudsonInstitute.
Uncertainty is breaking out all over the Greater Middle East.
With Crown Prince Nayef’s death in Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud will soon have to look past its octogenarian leadership to the next generation, with all the uncertainties that implies. Will the next generation be as attached to religious and social Wahhabi conservatism as the current one? Will it open an era of serious reform?
The suspension of the UN monitoring effort in Syria presages an increase in violent conflict with a highly uncertain outcome. Russia seems determined to keep Bashar al Assad in power, though its Foreign Minister denies it. Iran will certainly exert itself in that direction. I doubt the armed rebellion can beat the Syrian security forces any time soon, but we could see a lengthy insurgency fed by Saudi and Qatari arms shipments through Turkey.
The only real certainty in Egypt is that the military is trying to hold on to power. Whether it can and what the consequences will be is highly uncertain, as are the results of today’s presidential election. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has arrogated to itself legislative power, which means it now has to deal with Egypt’s economy and social problems along security and law and order. I don’t know any military establishments equal to that task, but the risk of new parliamentary elections may be greater than the SCAF wants to run. It could end up forced to rule Egypt, likely badly, for some time to come.
Iraq‘s Prime Minister Maliki has faced down a parliamentary rebellion but Al Qaeda has renewed its murderous attacks against the country’s Shia. If they succeed in reigniting Iraq’s sectarian warfare, the promise of a relatively democratic society that produces a lot of oil will evaporate, leaving a bitter residue.
Iran‘s Supreme Leader Khamenei has concentrated power as rarely before in the Islamic republic’s history, but American and Israeli threats of military attack against it nuclear program make prediction even a year out difficult.
After ten years of rule by Hamid Karzai, even Afghanistan faces the uncertainty of an election (to be held no one knows when in 2013 or 2014) in which he will not be running and an end to the NATO combat role shortly thereafter.
I needn’t mention next month’s elections in Libya or the aging leadership in Algeria, where military success in repressing Al Qaeda in the Maghreb seems to have pushed the militants into the Sahel, where they are destabilizing several other countries.
A region that enjoyed decades of stability–some would say stagnation, much of it autocratically imposed–now registers high volatility. Of course volatility can move in either direction: there are possible positive developments as well as negative ones. Tunisia has pushed the envelope in the positive direction. Yemen seems to be making progress against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and affiliates, though some think the government offensive and U.S. drone attacks are creating more extremists than they are killing. Morocco and Jordan have attempted some modest reforms that seem unlikely to suffice, but they may stave off open rebellion.
It is not easy to deal with uncertainty. Most experts would recommend triage and prioritization. Triage happens naturally. There are only a few Middle East problems that will make it to the President’s desk: Iran and Egypt most frequently, Afghanistan because of the American troops, and we can hope Syria when Obama meets with Putin this week at the G-20 in Moscow.
Prioritization of issues is harder. Even those who recommend it muddle exactly what they mean. Colleagues at the Carnegie Endowment recommend in a recent overview of the situation in the Middle East:
international actors should focus on a few, very specific issues for special emphasis, such as international human rights standards, the maintenance of existing treaty relationships, and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes.
But then they go on to recommend economic cooperation aimed at job creation, a non sequitur virtually guaranteed to disappoint expectations given limited U.S. resources and a track record of failure. Not to mention the difficulty of meeting human rights standards, since these require equal gender treatment not readily available in the workplace in many of the countries in question.
Shifting sands will make navigation in the Middle East difficult for a long time to come. I recommend to all my international affairs students that they learn Arabic, or another of the regional languages (Farsi most of all). Even if American oil production continues to reduce already low U.S. dependence on the Middle East, the global oil market and the extremist movements the region has spawned will ensure we remain engaged there for a long time to come, triage and prioritization notwithstanding.