Day: June 7, 2015

Peace picks June 8-12

1. Water Pricing in an Age of Scarcity | Monday, June 8th | 2:00-3:30 | World Resources Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND | From California to Karachi, climate change, population pressures, and economic growth are exacerbating water stress conditions around the world. The IMF and World Resources Institute invite you to a timely dialogue of policymakers, economists, and water resource experts on new approaches to water pricing to manage rapidly increasing risks in an efficient, equitable, and sustainable manner. A panel discussion and questions and comments from the floor will follow. Speakers include: David Lipton, Deputy Managing Director, IMF, Charles Iceland, Director, Aqueduct Project, World Resources Institute, Helen Mountford, Director of Economics, World Resources Institute, and Kalpana Kochhar, Deputy Director, Asia and Pacific Department, International Monetary Fund. Moderated by Lawrence MacDonald, Vice President for Communications, World Resources Institute.

2. Asan Seminar: “The ROK-US Alliance: Facing Missile and Nuclear Threats on the Korean Peninsula” | Monday, June 8th | 3:00-4:30 | The Asan Institute for Policy Studies | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Speakers include: Choi Kang, Vice President for Research, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Thomas Karako Senior Fellow, International Security Program & Director, Missile Defense Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Woo Jung-Yeop Research Fellow and Director, Washington, D.C. Office, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

3. Public Forum with Dr. Saleem Al-Jubouri, Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament | Monday, June 8th | 3:15-4:30 | United States Institute of Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND |  Dr. Saleem Al-Jubouri will be visiting Washington to meet with U.S. officials and members of Congress at a critical time for Iraq and its international partners fighting ISIS. ISIS’ capture of Ramadi and its sabotage of the country’s largest oil refinery, at Baiji, underscore the threat the group poses to the Iraqi people and state. Amid the war, the Council of Representatives is considering legislation on topics–such as the National Guard and the federal court system–that are critical to addressing governance and security problems that gave rise to ISIS. After making public remarks, Dr. Al-Jubouri will respond to questions in a discussion moderated by USIP’s acting executive vice president, Amb. William Taylor. Opening remarks by Nancy Lindborg, the president of USIP.

4. Turkey: Parliamentary Elections and their Aftermath | Tuesday, June 9th | 9:30-11:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The June 7 Turkish elections are shaping up to be one of the most contested, if not critical, of recent times. At stake is whether the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will succeed in achieving the majority it needs to initiate a process to change the constitution and transform the country into a presidential system. Participants will discuss the election results and consider how these will affect Turkish domestic and foreign policy in the months to come. Speakers include: Henri Barkey, Bernard and Bertha Cohen Professor of International Relations, Lehigh University, Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, and Gönül Tol, Founding Director, Center for Turkish Studies, Middle East Institute.

5. Breaking Down Turkey’s General Election| Tuesday, June 9th | 12:00-1:30 |Center for American Progress | REGISTER TO ATTEND Turkey’s general election on June 7 is shaping up to be the closest in a decade. A few percentage points either way could determine if the governing AKP will secure another majority in parliament or be forced to form a coalition for the first time in its 13 years of rule. President Erdoğan’s quest to transform Turkey and strengthen its presidency also hangs in the balance. Finally, after years of increasing international concern about Turkey’s domestic political freedoms, and with the United States relying on Turkey in the effort to stabilize Iraq and Syria and combat ISIS, the outcome and conduct of the election is likely to heavily influence U.S. policy towards the region and determine the mid-term course of Turkish democracy. Welcoming remarks by Michael Werz, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress. Panelists include: Soner Cagaptay, Director, Turkish Research Program, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Alan Makovsky, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Nora Fisher Onar, Transatlantic Academy Fellow, German Marshall Fund, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, and Suat Kınıklıoğlu, Mercator Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.

6. Chairman’s Forum with Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba | Tuesday, June 9th | 12:30-1:30 | The Stimson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America, will join Stimson Chairman Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. to share his experiences and insights into U.S. foreign policy. This informal, strategic conversation will take place at the Stimson Center.

7. The Shoulder-Fired Missile Threat In The Middle East | Wednesday, June 10th | 10:00-11:30 | The Stimson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Despite a decade-long international campaign to reduce the threat from man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), terrorists and insurgents continue to acquire and use these highly effective, lightweight missiles. Among the most severely affected regions are the Middle East and North Africa, where armed groups have acquired MANPADS from looted government depots and international trafficking networks. The panelists will provide an overview of illicit proliferation of MANPADS in these regions, the threat that these missiles pose to military and civilian aircraft, and prospects for mitigating this threat. Speakers include: C.J. Chivers, Reporter, The New York Times Investigations Desk & The New York Times Magazine and Matt Schroeder, Senior Researcher, Small Arms Survey. Moderated by Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate, Stimson Center.

8. Building Self-Reliance and Prosperity in Afghanistan | Thursday, June 11th | 9:30-11:00 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Afghanistan has made enormous progress in reconstruction, development, and lifting per capita income. Despite steps taken to lay the foundation for economic stability and growth, reduce poverty, and achieve social and development objectives, political and security uncertainties weighed on economic performance in 2014. They weakened confidence and growth declined to 1.5 percent in 2014. Within this context, the IMF remains closely engaged in Afghanistan with a staff-monitored program to address vulnerabilities and help manage risks going forward, and to build self-reliance and prosperity. IMF Mission Chief Paul Ross will discuss Afghanistan’s economic prospects and challenges that must be addressed to ensure that the country continues to develop and grow its economy. Moderated by Amb. James B. Cunningham, Senior Fellow in the South Asia Center and the Zalmay Khalilzad Chair on Afghanistan, Atlantic Council.

9. Youth and Civil Society: The Missing Powers in Yemen | Thursday, June 11th | 12:00-1:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Mohammad Al-Shami, a youth activist and advocacy trainer from Yemen and a Leaders for Democracy Fellow at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, will discuss the different stakeholders and positions in Yemen and review what is happening on the ground. He will also draw attention to the struggles and consequences that Yemenis face if the conflict continues without an immediate solution. In addition, Al-Shami will highlight the importance of empowering youth movements and civil society in Yemen in order to mobilize the community to promote peace.


Contrasting perspectives on Yemen

The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington Thursday hosted a panel discussion on “The Conflict in Yemen: Searching for the Endgame.” Panelists included Fahad Nazer, a political analyst with the intelligence consulting firm JTG and formerly at the Saudi Arabian embassy in DC, as well as Abdul-Ghani Al-Iryani, the president of TAWQ (a democracy organization), the vice president of the Khobara Center (a Sana’a-based think tank), and an advisor for Human Rights Watch. The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Stephen Seche, Executive Vice President of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 2007-2010.

Fahad Nazer and Abdul-Ghani Al-Iryani presented different perspectives on the conflict. Nazer emphasized the Saudi view that the Houthis represent Iranian encroachment into Saudi Arabia’s backyard, while Al-Iryani expressed the view that the Houthis’ concerns are mainly domestic and that links between Iran and the Houthis are tenuous.

Nazer detailed Saudi Arabia’s history of conflict mediation in both Yemen and the Lebanese Civil War. The Kingdom has historically been reluctant militarily intervene in Yemen for fear of a repeat of Gamel Abdel Nasser’s disastrous decision to commit Egyptian ground troops there in the 1960s. The Arab Spring, Nazer asserted, caught Saudi Arabia by surprise. The fall of Mubarak, one of the Saudis’ closest allies, coupled with President Obama’s reluctance to intervene in Syria and increased Iranian influence in the Arab world, compelled the Saudis to take a more proactive foreign policy stance.

The combination of an unraveling Yemeni state, Zaidi militants in the north and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the south made Saudi military intervention in Yemen inevitable. Nazer does not view Saudi Arabia’s recent foreign policy shift as a product of Saudi Arabia’s new leadership, but argued instead that the evolution of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy has been more gradual. He cited Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Bahraini uprising of 2011 as foreshadowing the shift.

Al-Iryani detailed three factors that had prevented Yemen from descending into civil war between 2011 and 2014: the legitimacy of President Hadi’s regime, the balance of power between opposing forces in Yemen, and the international consensus that Yemen’s stability must be preserved. In a national dialogue that occurred from March 2013 to January 2014, Hadi only offered the Zaidis control over limited resource-poor territory. In Al-Iryani’s view, offering so little to the Zaidis, who comprised Yemen’s ruling elite for centuries, was a grave mistake. Unified and led by the Houthis, Zaidis took up arms against President Hadi, whose legitimacy was undermined. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh capitalized on the situation by allying himself with the Houthis.

According to Al-Iryani, the Saudi military intervention could have had the positive effect of restoring the balance of power in Yemen and bringing the Houthis to the negotiating table. But it has gone on too long. Yemenis increasingly resent the Saudi intervention. The conflict in Yemen is not wholly sectarian like most other regional conflicts, because some Sunnis aligned with Saleh are fighting alongside the Houthis. If the conflict continues, it could take on an explicitly sectarian dimension.

Al-Iryani believes that the Saudis should stop their military intervention as soon as possible and enter into negotaitions with the Houthis.   The Houthis would settle for dominance in the historic Zaidi strongholds of North Yemen. Their domestic demands can be accommodated through negotiations.

According to Al-Iryani, Iranian support for the Houthis is marginal and limited to intelligence sharing and the presence of some Houthi students in Qom. A Houthi delegation sent to Tehran to discuss economic assistance came back nearly empty-handed. The Saudi view that the Houthis are an Iranian proxy is exaggerated. This view damages the previous international consensus that preserving Yemen’s stability is paramount.

Nazer, by contrast, disputed Al-Iryani’s assertion that the Houthis would be willing to settle for control over the historic Zaidi lands. The Houthis are firing rockets into southern Saudi Arabia. According to Nazer, this fact–combined with bellicose Hezbollah-type rhetoric on the part of the Houthis–justifies the suspicions of the Saudi media that the Houthis are not interested in a power-sharing arrangement. Nazer also cited the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah personnel in Yemen as evidence of more substantial Iranian meddling in the conflict.

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