This week’s “peace picks”
Frighteningly busy week in DC. Experts bloom even before the cherry blossoms:
1. Chinese Heir Apparent, Xi Jinping and U.S.-China Relations, SAIS, rm. 806 Rome, 12-2 pm March 5
Since 2009, the Islamist insurgency known as Boko Haram has escalated its attacks across Nigeria, targeting the country’s security forces, politicians and innocent civilians – Muslims and Christians alike. The Nigerian government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan has demonstrated itself ill-equipped and unprepared to manage such a crisis, juggle economic woes, compounded by the country’s fuel crisis and political unrest.
Last summer, General Carter Ham, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, confirmed Boko Haram’s links to al-Qaeda. Only after Boko Haram bombed the United Nation’s headquarters in Abuja did Washington take notice of this emerging threat to international security. Not only is Nigeria the largest African oil exporter to the U.S. but its peacekeeping contributions are the largest on the continent, as is its population. In November 2011, the Sub-committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), released a report on Boko Haram’s threat to the U.S. homeland.
Join us as we assess Boko Haram’s threat to Nigeria, the region, and the United States.
Keynote Remarks by
The Honorable Patrick Meehan (R-PA)
Member, United States House of Representatives
Followed by a Discussion with
J. Peter Pham, Ph.D.
Director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council
Ricardo René Larémont, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
3. After Elections: Next Steps in Yemen’s Transition, IFES, 12-1:30 pm March 6
1850 K Street, NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Yemen’s February 21 presidential election resulted in the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule. While some questioned the purpose of a one-candidate election, many others hailed it as a crucial first step in Yemen’s transitional process.
As the country moves forward, please join for a conversation on the next steps in Yemen’s political transition that will address issues including:
- What are the priority issues for the constitutional committee?
- What will be the role of civil society, youth protesters and opposition groups?
- What challenges exist for reconciliation with entities such as Al-Hirak and the Houthis?
Elobaid Ahmed Elobaid, Head of the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South West Asia and the Arab Region
Grant Kippen, Chief of Party in Yemen, IFES
Ibrahim Sharqieh, Deputy Director of the Brookings Doha Center (invited)
Moderated by Michael Svetlik, Vice President of Programs, IFES
Please RSVP by registering online
NOTE: Lunch will be served.
4. Arab Spring or Islamic Winter? SAIS, Rome Auditorium, 2-3:30 pm March 6
A politically incorrect debate among Arab, US and European observers a year after the Arab uprisings.
A question and answer period will follow.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Rome Building Auditorium
Moderator: Kurt Volker, Senior Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations
Robbie Friedmann, Georgia State University
Karim Mezran, Johns Hopkins University
Daniele Moro, Visiting Scholar, Center for Transatlantic Relations
Pablo Pardo, Washington Correspondent, El Mundo
Daniel Robinson, Chief White House Correspondent, Voice of America
Samuel Tadros, Hudson Institute
5. Assessing the Implications of the Russian Presidential Election, Woodrow Wilson Center, 10-noon March 7i
Live Briefing from Moscow and DC
The Kennan Institute will sponsor a Moscow-Washington, DC seminar assessing the implications of the first round of the Russian presidential vote. U.S. commentators will be joined via video conference in Moscow with some of Russia’s leading political actors, including Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Ryzhkov.
Moderator: Blair Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute
Maria Gaidar, Founder, Democratic Alternatives (DA!), Russia
Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, Heritage Foundation
Henry Hale, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University
Stanislav Belkovsky, Director, National Strategy Institute, Moscow
By Videoconference from Moscow:
Moderator: Olga Bychkova, Journalist, Ekho Moskvy
Alexei Navalny, Attorney, Moscow Bar Association
Vladimir Ryzhkov, Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, and Chairman, Republican Party of the Russian Federation
Please note that seating for this event is available on a first come, first served basis. RSVP is required to attend. Please call on the day of the event to confirm. Please bring an identification card with a photograph (e.g. driver’s license, work ID, or university ID) as part of the building’s security procedures.
The Kennan Institute speaker series is made possible through the generous support of the Title VIII Program of the U.S. Department of State.
Henry Hale//Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar, Kennan InstituteAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science and International Affairs, The George Washington University
Ariel Cohen //Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, Heritage Foundation
Director, National Strategy Institute, Moscow
Maria Gaidar //Founder, Democratic Alternatives (DA!), Russia
Journalist, Ekho Moskvy
Attorney, Moscow Bar Association
Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, and Chairman, Republican Party of the Russian Federation
Blair A. Ruble//Director, Kennan Institute and Comparative Urban Studies Project
6. The Saffron Revolution: Prospects for Democracy in Burma, Center for National Policy, noon-1:15 March 7
Former Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security CouncilMarvin Ott
Former Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on IntelligenceJennifer Quigley
Advocacy Director, US Campaign for Burma
*A light lunch will be served*
Center for National Policy
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
7. Time to Attack Iran? U.S. Policy and Iran’s Nuclear Program, Carnegie Endowment, 7-8:30 pm March 7
6:00 – 7:00 PM
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Participants: Elbridge A. Colby, CNA
Participants: Jamie M. Fly, Foreign Policy Initiative
Participants: Dr. Matthew Kroenig, Georgetown University
Moderator: Eli Lake
Moderator: Newsweek and The Daily Beast
To RSVP, click here.
Despite diplomatic negotiations, international condemnation, and harsh economic sanctions, Iran continues to violate its international obligations by pursuing nuclear weapons capability. While some are still holding out hope for a negotiated solution, a different debate has emerged in the United States over whether it is now time for the use of military force to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
Join the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) as it hosts a debate over the use of the military option against Iran’s nuclear program with Elbridge A. Colby (research analyst at CNA), Jamie M. Fly (FPI executive director), and Matthew Kroenig (assistant professor at Georgetown University) on March 7, 2012, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW). Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, will moderate the discussion.
- Dr. Matthew Kroenig, “Time to Attack Iran,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012.
- Elbridge A. Colby and Austin Long, “Why Not to Attack Iran,” The National Interest, January 11, 2012.
- Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt, “The Case for Regime Change in Iran,” Foreign Affairs, January 17, 2012.
8. Who Owns the Syrian Revolution? The Roles and Challenges of Women and Minorities in the Syrian Uprising, USIP, 9:30-12:45 March 9
As the Syrian uprising enters its second year, uncertainty about the challenges confronting women and minorities looms especially large. Women have played a critical role throughout the uprising, with activists like Suhair al-Attasi, Razan Zaitouneh, and others emerging as leaders of protest and resistance to the Assad regime. Yet their contributions have often been overshadowed. Questions persist about whether women’s concerns and perspectives will be fully addressed, either in the current uprising or in a potential post-Assad Syria. How can Syrian women ensure that their voices are heard as the revolution unfolds and a new Syria takes shape?
Tensions around the future of minorities in Syria are also escalating. While the opposition includes Christians, Alawites, Kurds, Druze, and other minorities, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the most widely-recognized coalition of anti-regime forces, has struggled with the perception that it is not truly inclusive. It is often seen as heavily influenced by Islamists whose outlook toward minorities is viewed as uncertain, despite the SNC’s commitment to pluralism and tolerance. The Syrian regime, meanwhile, has characterized the opposition as a terrorist movement led by Sunni extremists. It has played, with some effect, on the fears of Syrian minorities about what their future might hold should the Asad regime be overthrown. As violence in Syria has escalated, moreover, sectarian tensions have become apparent. Can the uprising succeed without full support from Syria’s minorities? Will it be possible to prevent Syria from falling into sectarian conflict, and potentially a sectarian civil war?
To address these and other issues concerning the roles and challenges of women and minorities in Syria’s revolution, on March 9, from 9:30 am – 12: 45 pm, the U.S. Institute of Peace will hold two moderated discussion panels, co-sponsored with United for Free Syria and the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
9:30 am – 11:00am | Panel 1: Women and the Future of the Syrian Revolution
- Ms. Rajaa Altalli
Ms. Altalli is a Syrian political activist who serves as Director of International Relations for the organization Syrian Christians for Democracy.” She is a also co-founder of the Support Center for Syrian Minorities based in Washington, D.C. Ms. Altalli is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics and geometric analysis at Northeastern University in Boston, and has taught mathematics at several universities in Syria.
- Ms. Farah Al Attasi
Ms. Al Attasi is a prominent author and commentator who appears frequently on Arab and American media to discuss Syrian affairs, as well as Middle Eastern issues and U.S. relations with Arab and Muslim worlds. She is currently Executive Director of the American Arab Communication & Translation Center (ACT), the founder and president of the Arab Information and Resource Center in Washington D.C., and owner of Zenobia Lounge, the first multicultural café and bookshop about the Arab and Muslim worlds. In addition, Ms. Al Atassi is the author of many publications in Arabic and English, including a collection of short stories titled “The Mask.”
- Marah Bukai
Ms. Bukai is a Syrian American author, academic researcher, and journalist who has dedicated her professional life to building bridges between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds through cultural dialogue. She has worked as senior media adviser at Vital Voices, a lecturer at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University, and is currently Public Diplomacy Program Specialist at FSI. Ms. Bukai is also the founder and chair of the Alwatref Institute for Humanitarian Studies, which aims to bridge the gap between East and West and increase the knowledge of the Middle East among American people. Bukai has five publications of poetry, including, most recently, a volume of poems titled “O,” that was published by Waref Publishing House in Washington, D.C.
- Rasha Alahdab, Esq.
Ms. Alahdab is a founding partner of Syrian Women for Syria, and a founding board member of Syrian Expatriates for Democracy. She is also a member of the Secretariat in the Syrian National Assembly and a member of the law office of the Syrian National Council, as well as a member of the law office of the National Change Current, a Syrian opposition organization.
- Ms. Rafif Jouejati
Ms. Jouejati is the CEO of a Virginia-based management consulting firm, and has been supporting the Syrian Revolution since March 2011. She currently serves as the English-language spokesperson for the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, the National Consensus Movement, and Activists for a Free Syria. She also supports the SNC’s Media Office by writing, translating, and editing press releases, statements, and other communiqués. Ms. Jouejati is also the Program Manager for the SNC-sponsored “A Thousand Years for Syria” initiative.
- Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D. (Moderator)
Director, Center of Innovation on Gender and Peacebuilding
U.S. Institute of Peace
11:00 am- 12:45 pm | Panel 2: The Roles and Challenges of Minorities in Syria’s Revolution
- Abed Alo, M.D.
Born in a Kurdish village north of Aleppo, Syria, Dr. Alo is a Surgeon and Fellow of The American College of Surgery. Dr. Alo has been active in the Syrian Kurdish Diaspora in the United States, and an active participant in and supporter of the Syrian pro-democracy movement since it’s inception. Dr. Alo will be speaking on behalf of the Syrian Kurdish community. Dr. Alo is also a member of United for Free Syria.
- Mr. Oudei Abouassaf
Born in Damascus, Syria, Mr. Abousassaf’s family is originally from the Druze-majority city of Sweida, in the south of the country. He is a member of the board of Syrian Expatriates in Support of the Syrian Revolution, Sweida. From 2009 – 2011 he held a position in the Department of Defense. Mr. Abouassaf was last in Syria in January 2011 and saw first-hand the situation on the ground in Syria. Mr. Abouassaf will speak on behalf of the Syrian Druze community.
- Mr. Oubab Khalil
Mr. Khalil, an Alawite, grew up in Lattakia province, Syria. He received a B.A. in law from Beirut Arab University in 2001, and he joined the Syrian Law Society Damascus Bar in 2003. Mr. Khalil immigrated to the United States in 2006, where he has been an outspoken critic of the Syrian government, and involved in promoting freedom and democracy in Syria; efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Syria; and raising awareness about the importance of establishing a secular and pluralistic state in Syria. Mr. Khalil is a member of the board of Syrian Expatriates Organization.
- Najib Ghadbian, Ph.D.
A Syrian academic and member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Professor Ghadbian is associate professor of political science and middle east studies at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of several books and articles in English and Arabic. His Arabic book, “The Second Assad Regime: Bashar of Lost Opportunities,” was published in 2006. Dr. Ghadbian was a signatory to the Damascus Declaration and is currently active within the Syrian opposition abroad.
- Ms. Dima Moussa, Esq.
A Syrian-born attorney and member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Ms. Mousa has been affiliated with the Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University, focusing on Arab women’s rights. She has also volunteered with an organization that assisted Iraqi refugees in adjusting to life in the United States. In recent months, Ms. Moussa has been active in the Syrian-American community, serving as a media spokesperson for a key grassroots movements in Syria, in addition to independently working with activists inside and outside Syria. Ms. Moussa is fluent in Arabic and English, in addition to speaking Assyrian.
- Steven Heydemann, Ph.D. (Moderator )
Senior Adviser for Middle East Initiatives
U.S. Institute of Peace