Peace Picks March 17 -21

There were a few cancellations and postponements today due to the weather. Nevertheless, here are our picks for DC events this week:

1. Peace and Stability in the Central African Republic

Tuesday, March 18 | 9:30 – 11am

Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium; 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Register for the live webcast

The Central African Republic has become one of the most challenging humanitarian, security and political crises on the African continent since the coup that unseated President Francois Bozizé one year ago. Violence along community and religious lines has claimed thousands of lives, and more than one million people remain displaced. Strong domestic and international efforts are needed to address the humanitarian and security crisis as well as restore state authority and consolidate peace in the country.

On March 18th, the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at the Brookings Institution will host a conversation with Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Imam Omar Kabine Layama and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyamé Gbangou, the Central African Republic’s highest-ranking Catholic, Muslim and Protestant leaders, respectively. Their work to prevent violence and promote interreligious tolerance has won national and international praise. AGI Senior Fellow Amadou Sy will moderate the discussion, which will include questions from the audience.

2. This Is Egypt: New Voices, Untold Stories

Tuesday, March 18 | 10am

Atlantic Council, 12th Floor (West Tower); 1030 15th Street, NW


Since January 2011, those young activists who were so instrumental in driving the revolution are divided on how to stabilize Egypt and spur democratic reform. The country is grappling with political malaise and polarization, economic and energy crises, and threats to freedom of expression. The Hariri Center’s EgyptSource blog is at the forefront of tracking these developments, offering a diverse range of opinions and analysis from external contributors, newsmakers, and opinion leaders. Join us for a discussion on the major challenges facing Egypt featuring unique on-the-ground perspectives from select EgyptSource contributors.

Sarah El Sirgany is an award-winning, Cairo-based independent journalist and a nonresident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Mohammad Tolba is a Salafi political activist from Cairo and the founder of Salafyo Costa. Basil Dabh is a journalist working for The Daily News Egypt, the country’s first independent English language daily. Mohamed Abdelfattah is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Cairo and the founder of Abajoura Productions, a multimedia company. Mosaab El Shamy is an award-winning freelance photojournalist based in Cairo. Mirette F. Mabrouk is the deputy director for regional programs at the Hariri Center.

The event will be webcast. 

3. Japan’s “Swing State” Diplomacy in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, March 18 | 10:30am – 12pm

Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW


In an unprecedented display of proactive foreign policy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all ten ASEAN nations during his first year in office and hosted a special ASEAN leadership summit in Tokyo. Tsutomu Kikuchi and Tomotsu Fukuda will examine Japan’s evolving foreign policy vis-à-vis ASEAN and consider whether it constitutes a new diplomatic strategy preoccupied with China or a policy more focused on the rise of ASEAN. The speakers will also consider implications for the U.S. rebalancing to Asia and Japan-China relations. James L. Schoff will moderate.

4. Should the United States Give Up on Arab Democracy?

Tuesday, March 18 | 12pm

Georgetown University, Copley Hall, Copley Formal Lounge; 37th and O St. NW


The unhappy results of what was once known optimistically as the “Arab Spring” have led many analysts to suggest that the United States should stop supporting democracy in the Arab world. It doesn’t work, the argument goes, and things end up worse rather than better. In this view, President Obama was right to dump the Bush “Freedom Agenda” because the end of the regimes in Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia have resulted only in violence and instability. Moreover, our policies have offended many of our friends in the region.

But are these arguments correct? Can the United States be indifferent to the effort to build democracy in the Arab world? Are there ways for the United States to help those struggling for democracy, more effectively and at lower cost? The topic of the lecture is the current condition and future prospects of democracy in the Arab world, and the challenge this presents to American foreign policy.

Elliott Abrams is Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is an adjunct in the Program for Jewish Civilization.

A light lunch will be served.

5. Securing America’s Future in the New “Interwar Years”

Wednesday, March 12 | 9am – 4pm

Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium; 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW


The fifth annual Military and Federal Fellow Research Symposium, hosted by the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings, will feature the independent research produced by the members of each military service and federal agencies who have spent the last year serving at think-tanks and universities across the nation. Organized by the fellows themselves, it is intended to provide a platform for building greater awareness of the cutting-edge work that America’s military and governmental leaders are producing on key policy issues.

The theme of this symposium will be “Securing America’s Future in the New Interwar Years,” reflecting post-Afghanistan security priorities, fiscal austerity and burgeoning challenges. Panel discussions will focus on fellows’ independent research findings in the areas of emerging grand strategy, enduring regional issues, opportunities and challenges for unmanned systems and developing the force for the future. Dr. David Kilcullen, author and president of Caerus Associates, a global strategic design consulting firm, will deliver opening remarks, and Lieutenant General Edward C. Cardon, commander U.S. Army Cyber Command, will give a keynote address.

Lunch will be provided.

6. 2014: A Critical Year for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Thursday, March 20 | 9:30am

Atlantic Council, 12th floor; 1030 15th Street, NW


Political and military transitions make 2014 a pivotal year in Afghanistan. Foreign troops are drawing down, but Afghanistan’s social and economic problems and a tough and persistent insurgency remain. This pivotal transition year will give Americans fresh indications of how well the twelve-year, more than $102 billion US reconstruction effort may have succeeded. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, will report on his recent trip to Afghanistan and provide his assessment of how the reconstruction effort can move forward in spite of the challenges facing Afghanistan post-2014. Sopko will also discuss the progress made so far, the progress yet to be made, and the prognosis for the future in the areas of security, elections, governance, narcotics, corruption, the economy, and guardianship of international assistance funds.

7. The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid

Friday, March 21 | 12pm – 1pm

Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium; 214 Massachusetts Ave NE

Register for the webcast

One of the great unanswered questions after the massive and violent changes that hit the Middle East in 2011 – known to some as the “Arab Spring” and to others as the “Islamist Winter” – is how the West failed to predict both cataclysmic seasons in world affairs and to meet their challenges. The so-called spring didn’t last long, quickly unraveling into a collection of civil wars, civil unrest, and secessions. Walid Phares argues that Washington is too hesitant to take action when necessary, that U.S. policy is highly disoriented on counterterrorism efforts, and that the effects of these errors have already proven costly. In Benghazi, U.S. foreign policy failed to see the explosions coming, didn’t meet the challenges of political transformation where and with whom it should, and failed in isolating the Jihadi terrorists worldwide. Too many strategic errors were committed. In his newest book, The Lost Spring, Phares examines the fallout from the 2011 upheavals and posits that a major demise of U.S. and Western policies will occur in the area, unless deep changes in strategies and policies are made in Washington and around the world.

Dr. Walid Phares is a noted terrorism and Middle East expert and serves as an advisor to Congress and to members of the European Parliament. He is the Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism and is a frequent guest on U.S. and Arab media. Phares served as an MSNBC Terrorism analyst beginning in 2003 and has been a Fox News Middle East expert since 2007. His columns have appeared in many publications including The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Le Figaro.

8. Breaking Taboos: Youth Activism in the Gulf States

Friday, March 21 | 12pm

Atlantic Council, 12th Floor; 1030 15th St


Though Gulf rulers were not toppled in the wave of Arab uprisings that swept across the region in 2011, many of the Gulf countries face existential pressures that can no longer be ignored, with youth voices calling for reform on social media platforms and declining economic resources insufficient to sustain the social contract.

Exploring these issues, nonresident senior fellow Kristin Smith Diwan will discuss her new issue brief “Breaking Taboos: Youth Activism in the Gulf States,” with a particular emphasis on youth movements in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Diwan contends that although the political achievements of youth movements have been meager and youth activists have suffered setbacks under the onslaught of government restrictions, the political implications of a growing youth population will intensify, especially as an aging Gulf leadership faces its own generational transition. Marc Lynch will comment on Diwan’s issue brief and offer perspective on the regional and domestic politics that impact Gulf youth. Please join us for a discussion on the future of youth activism in the Gulf as well as the prospects for reform in these countries.

Kristin Smith Diwan
Visiting Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council 

Marc Lynch
Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
The George Washington University

Moderated by
Danya Greenfield
Acting Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

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