The Kurds: Strategic Partners in the Fight Against ISIS? | Monday April 6 | 9:00 – 11:00 | Bipartisan Policy Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Although the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (or ISIS), has been the focus of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria, this is far from a monolithic war. Instead it is a patchwork of overlapping conflicts between myriad groups in which today’s tactical allies might be tomorrow’s enemies. The challenge for U.S. policymakers now is finding reliable partners amid this jumble of factions. In the long run, however, it will be how to help the region recover from both the humanitarian and political crises created by these internecine conflicts. In both these aspects, the region’s Kurds are emerging as important players. Kurdish groups, from the peshmerga of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, and even Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party, have been on the front lines in the fight against ISIS. Kurds are also playing an important role in sheltering refugees and protecting other minorities in the region. To learn more about the challenges facing the region, the role of the Kurds, and the implications for U.S. policy, BPC invites to remarks and a discussion with Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG representative to the United States, followed by an expert panel. The panel includes John Hannah, Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President and Member, BPC Turkey Initiative, Kenneth Pollack, Former Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs and Director for Persian Gulf Affairs, National Security Council, General (Ret.) Charles Wald, Former Deputy Commander, United States European Command and Vice Chairman Senior Advisor, Deloitte Services LP.
Tracking Arms In Conflict – Lessons From Syria And Iraq | Tuesday April 7 | 11:00 – 12:00 | The Stimson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Identifying and tracking weapons being used in armed conflicts is a dangerous but vital task. At times this is done by investigators on the ground, but often relies on footage and other evidence viewed from afar. On April 7, experts will discuss how they are tracking weapons used in Syria and Iraq, and share some of their recent findings. Jonah Leff, Director of Operations, Conflict Armament Research, will report on findings based on documentation of nearly 40,000 weapons and ammunition as part of field investigations and the new iTrace system. He’ll discuss the prevalence of U.S. weapons found among Islamic State fighters; findings of newly manufactured Russian, Iranian, and Sudanese ammunition; evidence of supply to Syrian rebels from Saudi Arabia; and large scale industrial production and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Syria and Iraq. Matt Schroeder, Senior Researcher, Small Arms Survey, will share examples of using YouTube and other footage to track the increasing complexity of use of MANPADS (aka shoulder-fired missiles) by fighters in the Middle East. The discussion will be moderated by Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate, Managing Across Boundaries, Stimson Center.
Ambassador Lukman Faily on the Future of Iraq | Tuesday April 7 | 3:00 – 4:30 | Johns Hopkins SAIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | As Iraq tries to re-take territory from ISIS, what are the challenges it faces? How are efforts to re-integrate Sunni fighting forces proceeding, and what steps have been taken toward a more inclusive government? Baghdad’s relations with Iraqi Kurdistan are still fraught. Oil prices are dramatically lower than once expected. The country’s most important friends – the United States and Iran – are trying to reach a nuclear deal even as they support opposing forces in Syria and Yemen. How will lraq manage in this turbulent and challenging environment? The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Conflict Management Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) are pleased to host the Ambassador of Iraq, His Excellency Lukman Faily, and Abbas Kadhim, Senor Foreign Policy Fellow, SAIS, in a discussion about Iraq and its future. The discussion will be moderated by Daniel Serwer, Senior Research Professor of Conflict Management, SAIS and Scholar, Middle East Institute.
Morocco’s Contribution to Countering Violent Extremism in Africa and the Middle East | Wednesday April 8 | 10:00 – 11:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The recent terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis underscores the growing danger extremist ideologies and violence pose to the North African region and beyond. Countries still unsettled by the tumult of the Arab Spring are now confronting the radicalizing influence of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other extremist organizations as thousands of North Africans flock to join the militants. The Kingdom of Morocco has not been spared the challenge of radicalization as one thousand or more of its citizens have joined terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria in recent years, but the innovative counter-radicalization program it launched in following terrorist attacks in the early 2000s and which it continues to expand, offers hope to the entire region. H.E. Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will provide insights into the political context that led to Morocco’s creation and continuing commitment to its program of combatting violent extremism at home and abroad. The Foreign Minister’s remarks will be followed by a panel discussion on the religious approach to deradicalization featuring Ahmed Abbadi, Secretary-General, Rabita Muhammadia of ‘Ulamas, Geneive Abdo, Fellow, Middle East Program, Stimson Center and Stephen Grand, Executive Director, Middle East Strategy Task Force, Atlantic Council. The panel will be moderated by Peter Pham, Director, Africa Center, Atlantic Council.
Cyber Risk Wednesday: The future of Iranian cyber threat | Wednesday April 8 | 4:00 – 5:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Few other events have so far dominated 2015 as the P5+1 negotiations to limit Iranian nuclear capabilities. Against the backdrop of the negotiations, it is likely that Iran, Israel, and the United States are gathering their strength for a renewal of cyber conflict of the past several years. The confrontations include attacks both from Iran, such as disruption of the US banking sector and against Gulf energy companies, and against Iran, such as Stuxnet and the Wiper worm. Should the talks fail, what are the chances of an escalating cyber conflict? The moderated panel discussion will analyze the latest developments in Iranian cyber capabilities and discuss the chances of larger cyber conflict. The panel will feature Neal Pollard, Director, Forensics Technology Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.), Founder, Jones Group International, David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, New York Times, Barbara Slavin, Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council and Andretta Towner, Senior Intelligence Analyst, CrowdStrike. The discussion will be moderated by Paul Kurtz, CEO, TruSTAR Technology.
The Search for International Consensus on Syria and Beyond | Thursday April 9 | 10:00 – 12:00 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In 2013, the international community came together to protect the Syrian population by committing to the elimination of Syria’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons, a feat achieved the following year. Together, the United Nations and the Nobel Prize-winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are credited with achieving one of the few breakthroughs in containing the ongoing crisis in Syria. What lessons can be learned for application in other conflict areas, especially as OPCW continues its work destroying chemical weapons facilities in Syria this year? On April 9, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and The Hague Institute for Global Justice will host OPCW Director General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü for a discussion about the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and implications for peace, security, and accountability. Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk will introduce Ambassador Üzümcü. Deputy Mayor of The Hague Ingrid van Engelshoven will provide brief opening remarks, and Abiodun Williams, president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, will moderate the discussion. Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute Robert S. Ford (U.S. ambassador to Syria, 2010-2014) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mallory Stewart will join the discussion with Ambassador Üzümcü, following his keynote address. After the program, the speakers will take audience questions.
Burma’s Peace Potential: Portraits of Diversity | Thursday April 9 | 2:00 – 3:30 | USIP | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Every day in Burma, monks, doctors, teachers, even a popular reggae singer from Yangon, set examples of unity and cooperation, in contrast to headlines about violence between Buddhists and Muslims. U.S. Institute of Peace, in partnership with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, invites to a screening of a film series highlighting such stories, Portraits of Diversity, followed by a discussion of how these examples can inform support for the country’s transition. The question-and-answer session following the screening will feature Venerable Tayzar Dipati, a monk portrayed in the film whose chief role is to care for patients with HIV and to run the monastery of young monks. He will be joined by Dr. Emma Leslie, Executive Director of the Cambodia-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies who has led and supported initiatives for conflict transformation, peace and development throughout Asia since 1993. The Rev. Susan Hayward, Interim Director for Religion and Peacebuilding, USIP, will act as moderator.
Israel and the EU: Perceptions in a Complex Relationship | Friday April 10 | 12:00 – 1:00 | The Middle East Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Middle East Institute is pleased to host Professor Sharon Pardo for a presentation on Israel’s vital relationship with the European Union (EU). With over half a billion people in its 28 member states, the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner. EU countries and Israel enjoy rich cultural exchanges as well as close security cooperation treating the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, the EU is a significant donor to the Palestinian Authority, and public sentiment in Europe regarding Israel’s settlement and occupation policies is broadly negative. Pardo and co-author Neve Gordon recently examined the complexities of the relationship in an article published by MEI in The Middle East Journal. He will discuss Israeli perceptions of the EU and paths the relationship may take in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new term. Kate Seelye, Senior Vice President, Middle East Institute, will serve as moderator.