Day: February 5, 2017

Peace picks February 6-12

1. Missing OPEC? The Unwelcome Return Of Boom-Bust Oil Prices | Monday Feb 6 | 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm | Johns Hopkins SAIS – Rome Building | Register Here

Bob McNally will discuss his new book, Crude Volatility – The History and Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices. World oil prices have fallen drastically over the last two years, spurred partly by the rise of tight oil production in the US, and by OPEC’s failure to cut production.

Recently, in an effort to raise oil prices, OPEC is attempting to regroup and has agreed to lower its production. Will it succeed? This is one of the questions to be discussed at this energy forum which will also review the history of oil prices. Kevin Book, Managing Director at Clearview Energy Partners will serve as the commentator.

2. Rebuilding Syria: Reconstruction and Legitimacy | Tuesday February 7, 2017 | 10-11:30 AM | Atlantic Council | Register Here

Please join the Atlantic Council for a discussion on the technical and political challenges ahead for rebuilding Syria with country and development experts on February 7, 2017.

3. Media Consumption in Turkey | Wednesday, February 8, 2107 | 9-10 AM | Gallup World Headquarters | Register Here
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup invite you to attend a research briefing on media use in Turkey.

Despite the crackdown on opposition media over the past few years, most adults in Turkey (71.8%) say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the information provided by the country’s media. However, far fewer are very satisfied with media coverage in the country.

The widespread adoption of broadband connections and smartphones in Turkey has made the internet a major source of news for many residents. About two-thirds of adults (65.0%) currently say they go online for news at least weekly in Turkey, up from half (49.7%) in 2013. Among Kurdish speakers in Turkey, the rise has been even sharper, from 49.8% in 2013 to 70.8% in the current study. In conjunction with the growing use of online news, weekly audiences for TV and radio news have tapered slightly.

The speakers will share data on media trends in the country, and review attitudinal data from the Gallup World Poll. Speakers include Chris Stewart, Partner, Gallup, Ben Ryan, Research Consultant, Gallup, and William Bell, Research Director, Voice of America.

4. From Aleppo to Washington: Crisis in Syria | Thursday February 9, 2017 | 6-8 PM | AMIDEAST | Register Here

Join the Penn State School of International Affairs and AMIDEAST on Thursday, February 9, for a panel discussion on the conflict in Syria and what it means for the Syrian people, American foreign policy in the Trump administration, and the international community at large. “From Aleppo to Washington: Crisis in Syria,” features a panel of distinguished foreign policy experts and practitioners, all of whom are connected with the School of International Affairs

The speakers include Vice Admiral (Ret.) James W. Houck, retired judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy, Theodore Kattouf, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Flynt Leverett, professor of international affairs at Penn State, former Middle East analyst at the CIA, Rachel Sayre, senior disaster specialist for Iraq and Syria at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Scott Sigmund Gartner (moderator), director of the Penn State School of International Affairs.

5. NAFTA 2.0? | Thursday February 9, 2017 | 9-10:30 AM | Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center | Register Here

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Mexican President Carlos Salinas, and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1992. By 1993, the agreement was ratified by the legislatures of the three countries, and by December 8, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the agreement into law. NAFTA entered into force on January 1, 1994.    By 2014, the agreement reached it’s 20th year anniversary, acknowledged by the “Three Amigos Summit” in February of that same year. After the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign season, NAFTA once again was brought to the forefront of the political and economic discussions.   Please join WITA as we look at the future of trade in North American, and what  revisiting the 22-year old agreement might look like.

6. The Transatlantic Policy Symposium (TAPS) | Thursday February 9, 2017 | 10 AM- 8:30 PM | Georgetown University’s Copley Formal Lounge | Register Here

Georgetown University is hosting the Transatlantic Policy Symposium (TAPS) this Thursday February 9, 2017. The transatlantic relationship has flourished in the post-war era, becoming a cornerstone of both American and European foreign policy. In light of contemporary challenges, including issues of global security, humanitarian assistance and the re-emergence of populism in both Europe and the United States, it is imperative to evaluate the current state of the transatlantic relationship as well as speculate on its future.

Join the expert and graduate student panelists as they discuss and explore these issues in relation to the future of the transatlantic relationship.

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Rewriting social contracts in the Middle East

Authors and experts convened last Wednesday to launch of the report Carnegie Endowment Arab Fractures: Citizens, States, and Social Contracts and the future of Arab regional order. The first panel included Amr Hamzawy, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and Bassma Kodmani, Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Arab Reform Initiative. Perry Cammack, Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment acted as moderator. The second panel included Hafsa Halawa, an independent political analyst and lawyer, Mehrezia Labidi, member of the Tunisian Assembly of the Representatives of the People, and George Abed, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the International Institute of Finance. Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment acted as moderator.

Cammack discussed the broad themes of the report, which aims to understand the Middle East based on the experiences of people in the region expressed in a survey of more than 100 Arab intellectuals. They assessed the top regional challenges to include authoritarianism and corruption. Cammack said that the report operates within three main frameworks—the citizen, state, and institutions to better examine these challenges. The authoritarian bargain and prevailing social structures have collapsed post-Arab Spring, and new social contracts must be developed for the future.

Kodmani commented on Arab resilience and institutions as well as Syria in particular. She sees the onus of leadership in Syria now falling on society, especially youth, to manage diversity and unify the country after conflict. Local governance within communities works well, so she advocates negotiating a decentralized political system (not de facto partition). By grooming national leaders at the local level, government can be reconstructed with greater transparency and accountability. Kodmani sees the new social contract and a new balance with the army and security forces, so people feel protected by trusted security forces.

Hamzawy discussed the situation in Egypt, in which deep distrust of institutions and lack of social services have led to a revival of pockets of activism in unions and associations, universities, and among Egyptian youth. Although many have lost faith in the formal political arena, Hamzawy expressed hope in the new wave of activism and demands for a new social contract in which government is held accountable and citizens participate in the decision-making process.

Asked to assess what went wrong in Syria and Egypt respectively, Kodmani said that opposition figures failed to incorporate the younger generations into the movement, so the vision of the initial protests was never realized. The opposition was subsequently radicalized and militarized while youth turned to civil society organizations. She believes democracy could make government accountable to the people and incorporate mechanisms to combat corruption. In Egypt, Hamzawy said that an obsession with identity politics obscured the need to build democratic institutions and effect substantive policy change, resulting in an empowered military apparatus taking the reins in 2013.

In the second panel, Labidi discussed the progress Tunisia has made in building trust between the state and citizens. Many citizens feel ownership in the new system and do not want to abandon it or give it up. This translates into a spirit of consensus and participation. Although there are still difficulties, such as economic development and infrastructure building, Tunisian youth and previously marginalized regions now have a stake in the system.

Abed suggested that in states such as Saudi Arabia, oil revenue allows the government to pay its citizens in exchange for carte blanche political power, but with declining oil prices the people will start to ask questions and demand more accountability. Similarly, countries with a history of anti-colonial struggle and failed industrial nationalization must reckon with what Abed called a second Arab awakening as more people demand liberty, dignity, and transparency.

Speaking about Egyptian youth, Halawa said that civil society must balance conversations about governance with debates over identity and visions for Egypt’s future. Egyptians underestimated the entrenched nature of the country’s institutions and do not trust them. Thus, the problem is not political engagement but rather the disconnect between civil society and politics, called “the trust deficit,” which deprives Egypt of any real drivers of change.

The panelists were asked how best to engage the next generation in a way that will create change and how national and civic identity might play into this dynamic. Halawa said that there is only a bottom up approach, getting civil society actors to buy into the system and further explore what civic engagement means and how it’s expressed. Labidi said Tunisians must still define a unifying national identity that prevents fighting among themselves. Abed remained doubtful that regional governments recognized human rights as natural rights, and hoped that governments could be built to protect these rights for their citizens.

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