Peace picks, December 16-20

DC is beginning to slow down as the holiday season is fast approaching, but there are still some great events this week.  We won’t likely publish another edition until January 5, as the year-end doldrums will likely last until then:

1. The Middle Kingdom Looks East, West, North, and South: China’s Strategies on its Periphery

Monday, December 16 | 9:00am – 10:30am

Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Fifth Floor


China’s recent declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea and its territorial claims over 80% of the South China Sea are focusing renewed American attention on Chinese strategy.  To understand China’s policies, deployments, and ambitions in the Western Pacific, we must analyze China’s attitudes toward all of its 14 border States and Pacific neighbors, and toward its near and more distant seas.

The Kissinger Institute’s 2013 series of public programs will conclude with a talk by renowned author Edward Luttwak, who will lead a discussion of China’s strategy throughout its periphery, with an emphasis on the Diaoyu/Senkakus and other regional disputes.

2. The State of Conflict and Prospects for Peace in Africa

Monday, December 16 | 10:00am – 11:30am

Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Saul/Zilkha Rooms


Despite promising economic growth in much of Africa, the continent is still grappling with pockets of instability and violent conflict. In the Horn of Africa, Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has persevered against African Union military forces (AMISOM) and gained even greater notoriety for its terrorist attack in a Nairobi shopping mall. The Democratic Republic of Congo is still beset by violent insurgents despite the November surrender of its M23 rebel group, West Africa continues to witness attacks by Boko Haram and other armed groups in Northern Nigeria, and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic has United Nations officials warning of the potential for another Rwanda.

On December 16, the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) and the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence (21CSI) at the Brookings Institution will host a discussion on the current state of conflict and the outlook for peaceful resolutions in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Somalia. The panel will include: Ambassador John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; 21CSI Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown; and AGI Senior Fellow Amadou Sy. Michael O’Hanlon, director of research for Foreign Policy and senior fellow of 21CSI, will moderate the discussion.

After the program, the panelists will take audience questions.

3. Ambassador Series Luncheon: H.E. Lukman Faily, Embassy of Iraq

Monday, December 16 | 11:45am – 2:00pm

Hosted by the Diplomacy Matters Institute at DACOR Beacon House, 1801 F Street NW


You’re invited to this distinguished Ambassador Series Luncheon to hear from His Excellency Lukman Faily. The Ambassador will provide updates on Iraq with an emphasis on security challenges, defense partnering, and government commitment to infrastructure development and capital investments. With one of the fastest-growing economies, Iraq is positioned to be the world’s second-largest energy exporter by 2030. With an eye on the future, the reinvestment of energy revenues plays a significant role in reviving Iraq’s education and modernizing the healthcare system.

Take advantage of this opportunity to engage with Ambassador Faily and gain greater insights on:

  • Domestic and regional security challenges: Al Qaeda in Iraq, the conflict in Syria, and proliferation of WMDs.
  • Opportunities for public-private partnerships in rebuilding infrastructure and modernization.
  • Brief highlights from Prime Minister Maliki’s recent U.S. visit, and updates from the 22nd Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference.
Check-In:     11:30 am to 11:45 am 
Reception:   11:45 am to 12:15 pm
Luncheon:   12:30 pm to 1:45 pm
Conclusion:  by 2:00 pm  
LUNCH will start promptly at 12:30. A brief reception preceeds the event. The Ambassador will speak at approximately 1:15 and leave time for Q&A following his remarks.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Walk-ins will not be allowed—register now to reserve your space!
Digital Diplomacy is viewed as an increasingly essential communication tool for DC’s diplomatic community! And Ambassador Faily is one of those net-savvy diplomats! Take time to learn more about current issues in Iraq, meet the Ambassador, or see what’s trending by following @FailyLukman and@IraqiEmbassyUSA on Twitter!
4. Climate Security in Africa: Strategic Implications for the United States
Tuesday, December 17 | 8:30am – 10:00am
American Security Project, 1100 New York Avenue, Seventh Floor West Tower

Climate change acts as an accelerant of instability that the United States will have to respond  – both big and small. As ASP’s 2012 Climate Security Report found, “Africa is the continent most likely to suffer the worst effects of climate change due to its reliance on subsistence rain-fed agriculture, rapidly increasing population and the degradation of natural resources.” Dr. Josh Busby, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will discuss the specific impact climate change is having on Africa.

This discussion will be on the record.

Join us for a conversation on climate change and its contribution to political instability in Africa.

Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor of Public Affairs and a fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service as well as the Crook Distinguished Scholar at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. He originally joined the LBJ School faculty in fall 2006 as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer. Prior to coming to UT, Dr. Busby was a research fellow at the Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School (2005-2006), the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s JFK School (2004-2005), and the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution (2003-2004).

Busby is the author of several studies on climate change, national security, and energy policy from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the German Marshall Fund, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Busby is one of the lead researchers in the Strauss Center project on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS), a $7.6 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. He has also written on U.S.-China relations on climate change for CNAS and Resources for the Future.

5. The al-Shabab Threat After Westagte

Tuesday, December 17 | 12:00pm – 1:45pm

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW


The Somali terrorist group al-Shabab catapulted onto the international stage after its September attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. The group remains a dynamic and adaptive threat that has confounded efforts to eliminate its influence. A panel of experts on al-Shabab will examine the evolving threat in Somalia and beyond, identifying policy prescriptions for African governments, the United States, and the international community.


Stig Jarle Hansen is an expert on al-Shabab with extensive field experience inside Somalia. He has published widely and is the author of the book Al-Shabaab in Somalia (Oxford University Press, 2013). Hansen has been an expert commentator for media outlets including CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera.


Clint Watts is a consultant with Miburo Solutions in New York and editor of the national security blog SelectedWisdom. Additionally, Watts performs counterterrorism research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies. He is a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University and at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.


Bronwyn E. Bruton is an expert on the conflict in Somalia and author of articles including “In the Quicksands of Somalia” for Foreign Affairs. Bruton was an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to her fellowship, Bruton managed the National Endowment for Democracy’s grants portfolio in East and southern Africa, and led post-conflict political transition programs in Africa for USAID.

6. Iran, Oil, and the Geneva Agreement & Changing Iran’s ‘Great Satan’ Narrative

Wednesday, December 18 | 9:00am – 12:00pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor


Panel One:

A discussion with

Sara Vakshouri
SVB Energy InternationalGuy F. Caruso
Senior Advisor
Center for Strategic and International StudiesIntroduced and moderated by
Barbara Slavin
Senior Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic CouncilWith the signing of an interim accord providing limited sanctions relief in return for restraints on  Iran’s nuclear program, attention has focused on whether Iran will be able to increase its currently depressed oil and natural gas exports and whether multinational oil companies will again be willing to invest in Iran’s energy sector. Meanwhile, the President Hassan Rouhani’s administration is altering Iran’s energy policies in an effort to attract new buyers and investment. The panel will discuss the impact of these changes on Iran’s economy and on world oil supplies and prices.

Panel Two:
A discussion with
Bijan Khajehpour
Managing Partner
Atieh InternationalTrita Parsi
National Iranian American CouncilReza Marashi
Research Director
National Iranian American CouncilIntroduced and moderated by
Barbara Slavin
Senior Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council

Since the signing of the interim accord on Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian hardliners are trying to undermine the agreement by reiterating their core tenet: the West is inherently opposed to Iran’s technological advancement. Panelists will launch a report proposing seven areas of scientific collaboration between Iran and the West that have no proliferation risk but can help strengthen and consolidate the positive-sum outlook of the Hassan Rouhani government.

7. Private Gulf Donors and Extremist Rebels in Syria
Thursday, December 19 | 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Falk Auditorium

The Syrian uprising began as a broad-based, nonviolent movement against the Assad regime but it has become more sectarian as the conflict drags on and intensifies. According to several recent media reports, the sectarianism is fueled by private “bundlers” living in the Gulf who raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Syria’s extremist rebel groups. Although many of these funders publicly solicit contributions using social media, their agendas and their ties to one another and to the Syrian armed opposition have received little scrutiny.

On December 19, the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World will host a panel discussion on private Gulf fundraising for Syria’s Islamist rebels. Brookings Fellow William McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, will discuss the project’s recent paper, “Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home,” with its author, Elizabeth Dickinson, Gulf correspondent for The National, and with Kristin Diwan, assistant professor of Comparative and Regional Studies at American University. The panel will also explore the challenge of regulating private fundraising for foreign extremist groups with Tom Keatinge, a former J.P. Morgan managing director who writes on counter-terrorism financing.

8. The US and Saudi Arabia: Is a 70-year Strategic Alliance on the Rocks
Friday, December 20 | 10:00am – 11:30am
Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, Sixth Floor

Refreshments will be provided.

This event is being streamed

Live on Hudson’s website:

Submit Questions on Twitter to: @HudsonInstitute

The Obama administration’s outreach to Iran over its alleged nuclear program has Washington’s traditional Middle East allies concerned—perhaps the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia above all. An alliance that began in 1944 when President Roosevelt met with the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Saud, the U.S.-Saudi partnership, despite many ups and downs, has remained a cornerstone interest of both countries for nearly 70 years. Now, however, this bilateral relationship appears suddenly troubled—if  if not outright endangered. The White House and the Kingdom have diverged on several key Middle East policies—Syria, Egypt, and most importantly Iran—leading Riyadh to consider other strategic options. Will the partnership survive? Or is it merely taking a new shape, long overdue?

On December 20, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate a panel discussion with Elliott Abrams and Brian Katulis about recent upheavals in U.S.-Saudi relations.

Elliott Abrams was Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy during the George W. Bush administration. He is currently a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author, most recently, of Tested By Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. He is co-author of The Prosperity Agenda: What the World Wants from America—and What We Need in Return.

Lee Smith is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and a Senior Editor at the Weekly Standard.

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