Big surprise is no surprise

The Middle East Institute published my piece this evening:

The Iran nuclear deal has only one big surprise: it is consistent with the April 2 “parameters”  that preceded it and contains no surprises. No one caved. Nothing got walked back.

But there are some interesting additions. One is this: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” This is a written confirmation of the Supreme Leader’s controversial “fatwa” against nuclear weapons. It was not so long ago that Iran’s critics in the United States were complaining that the fatwa was only oral and not written. I have not noticed anyone welcoming the written version.

The “reaffirmation” wouldn’t be worth the paper it is printed on except for the detailed limits and intrusive inspections that the agreement provides. No softie on Iran, Dennis Ross confirms that these fulfill previous Iranian commitments to limit centrifuges, enrichment, and enriched uranium; end all plans for separating plutonium; and no longer engage in any research and development related to a nuclear explosive device. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring will be more comprehensive and intrusive than for other countries. While no system is foolproof, nuclear weapons have never been developed within an IAEA safeguarded program.

That leaves the possibility of a clandestine nuclear program outside the purview of the IAEA. There is reason to believe that Tehran had such a program until 2003, when it was allegedly stopped. Iran, which previously stonewalled IAEA inquiries on this subject, has now committed in the nuclear deal to clarifying its past nuclear activities with “possible military dimensions” by October 15, with a final assessment due from the IAEA on December 15. This will be an important early milestone in implementation (or not) of the nuclear deal. It is not the first time the Iranians have promised clarification. Beyond that date, the IAEA can request access to locations of concern. Iranian objections can be overridden by five of eight members of a joint commission overseeing implementation of the agreement. That joint commission includes five Western members (the United States, the UK, France, Germany, and the EU) as well as Russia, China, and Iran.

The agreement provides for sanctions to be lifted once Iran implements its obligations or passes certain time limits in compliance with the agreement. No sanctions get lifted without implementation, and some—like the arms embargo—remain in place for five or eight years (depending on the weapons involved). While most restrictions are lifted within 15 years, some remain in place in perpetuity, including strict IAEA safeguards and the prohibition on nuclear weapons research and development.

The question is what happens if one or another obligation is breached. There is an elaborate, but quick-paced (I count 35 days), dispute resolution mechanism. At that point, UN Security Council sanctions would be reinstated, unless the Council votes within 30 days to continue lifting them. This is a “snapback” mechanism, unprecedented so far as I know in the Security Council. It would give the United States (and other permanent members) a veto over sanctions lifting. Iran has stated that it would treat reinstatement of sanctions as grounds to cease performing its commitments.

So, is this agreement a good thing or a bad thing?

It depends on what you think the alternative might be. At worst, it would be no constraints on the Iranian nuclear program, no IAEA monitoring, and no multilateral sanctions, as the EU and China are champing at the bit to do business with a cash, oil, and gas-rich Iran. At best we might in the absence of an agreement be able to sustain the sanctions for a while but not likely the IAEA monitoring and technological constraints, giving others in the region reason to initiate their own programs to produce weapons-grade uranium or plutonium. War might set back the Iranian nuclear program for a few years, but it would also give them incentive to finish the job and unleash even more chaos than the region is currently enduring.

Relief from sanctions will unquestionably provide the Iranians with resources. Tehran is owed upward of $100 billion that will flow into its coffers, in addition to whatever its renewed exports will bring in today’s bearish oil market, likely to go down further because of Iran’s reentry into it. The Islamic Republic is a profoundly anti-Western regime that even without much available cash has managed to contribute to instability in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Its anti-Americanism may sound hollow after this agreement, which engages Iran in a continuing process involving the United States and three of its allies as well as the European Union, but unless there is a dramatic and unexpected change of heart at the top in Tehran we can anticipate more trouble from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies in the region and even beyond.

America’s friends in the Gulf will therefore be nervous about the implications of this agreement, though the United Arab Emirates was quick to say it welcomed it. Israel denounced it even before the ink was on the page. But soon enough both the Gulf states and Israel will become keen about insisting on fulfilling its every letter, as they have with the interim agreement currently in effect.

The debate in Congress will be vigorous. Most Republicans and a good number of Democrats will oppose the deal on the grounds that it licenses Iran to become a nuclear threshold state, ignoring the Obama administration’s conviction that this would happen faster and with fewer controls in the absence of an agreement. But the opponents are unlikely to muster the two-thirds majority in both houses required to override a presidential veto. The Supreme Leader is thought to have given the green light for this deal, but he has not yet pronounced on it. Assuming he says a dramatically reluctant “yes,” the Iranian Majlis will not block it.

The saga of implementation has not yet begun. It will last 10-15 years. If the agreement holds and prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, it will have made an enormous contribution to peace and stability. If it fails, we will have to deal with the ugly consequences: war or a nuclearized Middle East.

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Here’s what I say to Iranians

Here is how  I responded to PressTV (Iran’s English service) this morning (I’ll appreciate it if someone lets me know if they publish it in full, or not):

Q: How do you evaluate the deal? Does it cover US or West interests on Iran nuclear activity?

A: I am still reading it, but it appears to me to meet the April 2 parameters and covers the main US interests in preventing Iran from seeking or obtaining nuclear weapons.

Q: [The] Iranian foreign minister calls nuclear deal a ‘win-win solution’ and ‘new chapter of hope.’ Do you agree with this view?

A: It is certainly a win on the US side. He speaks for the Iranian side, so I guess I do agree that it is a win-win.

The question of hope is different. Americans hope for Tehran to end support for terrorism, behave differently in the region and respect the human rights of its own people. I don’t yet see much that gives hope on these issues.

Q: Does this deal lead to more cooperation between Iran and West especially US in regional and international issues?

A: Perhaps, but it doesn’t guarantee it. We’ll have to wait and see. Hostility to the US is one of the pillars of the Iranian regime. I don’t expect that to change, though the hostility may sound hollow in the wake of this agreement. Real cooperation will require an end to that hostility, to jailing of journalists, to support for Bashar al Assad, and to funding of Hizbollah and Hamas. What are the odds of that?

Q: What do you think about US Congress reaction especially Republicans to this deal? [Will] these act [to] help implement nuclear deal or harmful to it?

A: Some people in Congress are opposed to any deal. But I don’t think they have the votes to overcome the President’s veto. It will be a good thing if the deal is thoroughly examined in Congress and in the Majles.

Q: [Will] this deal have any effect on US presidential election or does it help Democrats in upcoming elections?

A: No, I don’t think it helps the Democrats. Implementation is likely to be controversial in the US.

Q: What do you think about Israel’s next approach or activity toward Iran after nuclear deal?

A: Best to ask them, but my guess is that they will protest, seek stronger US security cooperation, and then learn to live with the deal, as they did with the interim arrangement. If Iran violates the deal, they will be the first to protest, even though they say they don’t like it.

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Radio is great

One of my occasional pleasures is doing a first-rate radio program called “Encounter” with Carol Castiel at Voice of America. Here is the latest edition, with Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation. We talked about Greece’s euro problems and the Iranian nuclear program last Thursday, before either deal was done:

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Iran’s return to oil markets

Thursday, the Wilson Center focused on “Middle East Energy: Beyond an Iran Nuclear Deal,” which explored the oil and gas sectors’ future given Iran’s possible sanctions relief. Speakers included David Goldwyn, President of Goldwyn Global Strategies LLC, David Gordon, Senior Advisor of the Eurasia Group, Julia Nanay, Principal at Energy Ventures LLC and Jean-Francois Seznec, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The event was moderated by Jan H. Kalicki, Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow and Energy Lead.

Gordon talked about potential energy market responses with the entry of Libya and Iran into the market. Libya’s entry last year put downward pressure on oil prices. The country is currently in the process of building up its export volumes, but the political and security fragility remains. Iran’s market impact is also uncertain. There may be competition between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states for market share. Iran’s success is far from assured. The current uncertainty ends up being bearish for energy markets, which will lead to the strengthening of the US dollar. Only the risk of supply disruption and failure of nuclear talks could be bullish for markets.

If sanctions are lifted, Nanay thinks Iran’s key goal is to become the second largest producer in OPEC. Saudi Arabia’s oil production amounts to 10.3 million barrels a day, while Iran is at 2.8 million barrels a day. Iraq’s is a bit higher. Iran might bring back 700-800,000 barrels a day, with 20 million barrels released quickly and efficiently. Sanctions have also prevented oil revenues from flowing back to Iran. There may be as much as $100 billion that could be released quickly, possibly half from China. International oil companies (IOCs) also owe large sums to Iran.

Possible losers from sanctions relief are the Saudis, Russians, Nigerians and Kuwaitis. The Saudis and Russians have been able to capture some exports to China. Sanctions relief would decrease the market share of all oil exporting countries that have benefited from having Iran off the oil market.

Iran has several stalled projects with significant market potential in the oil and gas sectors. A South Pars project requires 24 phases to develop fully, of which 11 phases have already been done without sanctions removal. Iran is looking to complete more phases by next year. Iran has also planned three big Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects. Iran can ship this LNG to Europe and supply its neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but politics may complicate partnerships. The only neighbor Iran has a good relationship with is Oman. An Iran-Oman gas pipeline is possible, but the countries may disagree on price.

Seznec disagreed with Nanay on Iran’s potential in the oil market. Iran will require technology and investment that would make it dependent on IOCs. Instead, Iran can emphasize natural gas, which both Iran and the Gulf states need. The GCC states—especially Saudi Arabia—could partner with Iran in the gas sector. The Saudis have the technology and money to help the Iranians redevelop their gas fields. The Kingdom is seeking to avoid overdependence on crude oil. Instead, it wants to add value by building capacity for refined products and chemicals. Their vision is eventually to get out selling crude and leave Iran and Iraq as the “third world countries” that produce raw materials.

Goldwyn commented on Iraq’s position in the oil market. He believes Iraq might increase production by completing the revamp of the Al Faw Peninsula, but that is an $8-10 billion dollar project.

On the Baghdad-Kurdistan Regional Government deal, Goldwyn pointed out two reasons for the unraveling:

  1. Baghdad hasn’t paid Kurdish forces what it owes.
  2. The Kurds are not exporting the agreed-upon average of 550,000 barrels per day.

If Iraq is unable to increase production much and Iran produces an additional 500-800,000 barrels a day, there is no need for OPEC quota renegotiation, Goldwyn said. There is room for rapprochement on economics between Iran and the Gulf states. But first there must be rapprochement on security. If Iran reduces its involvement in Yemen and Iraq, there is potential for détente with the Saudis, who would also have to do their part in reducing the flow of funds to Al Qaeda and ISIS. If both parties deliver, an economic deal is on the horizon. Otherwise, the current situation will continue, with the Saudis better financed and more competitive than any other player in the Gulf.

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What I’ll be looking for

I’ve pledged a piece on the Iran nuclear deal to the Middle East Institute, once it is done. I claim some competence in the matter, as I earned a master’s degree in physical chemistry at the University of Chicago (and a doctorate on the history of radiation protection at Princeton) and spent seven years as a science counselor in American embassies working on non-proliferation issues.

Here are some key things I’ll be looking for:

1. Does the deal meet provisions laid out in the April Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program?

The parameters were unprecedented in what they would require a potential bomb-building country to do. The Americans published them, but the Iranians in the end did not formally object to their contents (and the Iranian Foreign Minister implied the document was accurate). Does the new agreement (presumably called a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) faithfully reproduce and implement its provisions?

2. Are the verification mechanisms sufficiently intrusive to ensure that we will know if Tehran cheats?

This is in some respects the most important issue. The parameters promised inspections at uranium-producing facilities for 25 years and surveillance of centrifuges (and their production) 20. How will these provisions be implemented? What provisions have been made to ensure access to suspicious military sites? There is no history of nuclear nonproliferation using facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Can we be reasonably certain of discovering if Iran initiates a clandestine nuclear program outside the purview of the IAEA?

3. How are sanctions to be lifted?

Does lifting of sanctions follow verified implementation? Which sanctions are to be lifted and how? Will the architecture of sanctions remain in place, as pledged in the parameters?

4. What provisions have been made for “snap-back” of sanctions in the event of violations?

Who decides when there is a violation? How is it decided that sanctions will be reimposed? What is the promised “dispute resolution mechanism”?

5. Will the arms embargo on Iran be lifted?

The parameters promised lifting of all UN Security Council resolutions “on the nuclear issue.” Does this mean the arms embargo, which among other things has blocked Russian sales of advanced air defenses to Tehran, will be lifted and if so how and when?

Other issues

US representation in Tehran: This deal is so far-reaching and complex, it is difficult to see how it can be implemented effectively without an official US presence in Iran. Are provisions being made for return of US diplomats and technical experts? Does this mean re-opening of a US office (if not an embassy), or will the Americans work out of the embassy of Switzerland, which has represented the US there since we broke diplomatic relations in 1980?

Iran’s behavior in the region, support for terrorism and human rights record at home. Both Democrats and Republicans will raise these issues during the 60-day Congressional review period. The Obama Administration has been reluctant to press those concerns as hard as it might while the nuclear negotiations were ongoing. Will that policy now change? Will the US be more prepared to push back against Iran’s forces or their proxies in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon? Will Iran use the funds it gains from sanctions relief to make even more trouble, and how will the Administration react to that.

Regional security: Wars are currently raging in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran and the US are both directly or indirectly implicated in all of them. Can the nuclear deal somehow lead to a regional accord that includes Saudi Arabia and Turkey and enables a more effective effort against ISIS as well as restoration of state integrity and effective governance?

I look forward to getting some answers, maybe tomorrow.

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Peace picks July 13-17

1. The Future of the U.S.-India Partnership: Ten Years After the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative | Monday, July 13th | 8:15-5:00 | Carnegie Endowment | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Join the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Confederation of Indian Industry for a conference on the future of the U.S.-India partnership, ten years after the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative. Speakers include: William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment, Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, Arun K. Singh, Ambassador of India, Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian and Central Asian Affairs, Condoleeza Rice, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, R. Nicholas Burns, Professor, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, Shyam Saran, Chairman, National Security Advisory Board, Indian Government, Philip D. Zelikow, Professor, University of Virginia, Sumit Mazumder, President, Confederation of the Indian Industry, Rajiv I. Modi, Chairman, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, Deep Kapuria, Chairman, Hi-Tech Gears Ltd., Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank, Stephen J. Hadley, Chairman, Board of Directors, USIP, M.K. Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal in India, Shivshankar Menon, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, Thomas E. Donilon, Vice Chair, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Robert M. Scher, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, Eliot A. Cohen, Professor of Strategic Studies , School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Vikram J. Singh, Vice-President, National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress and Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and CEO, Tata Advanced Systems. Moderators include: Stephen E. Biegun, Corporate Officer and Vice President of International Governmental Affairs, Ford Motor Company, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, Research Fellow, Cato Institute, William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment and David E. Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, New York Times.

2. Why Human Rights Matter in Policy toward North Korea | Monday, July 13th | 12:00-2:00 | National Endowment for Democracy | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The 2014 report of the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in North Korea successfully brought international attention to the severity of the Kim regime’s human rights violations and the plight of the North Korean people, and highlighted the need for the international community to do more to address human rights in the isolated country. At the same time, the impact of the COI report on the attitude of the international community is yet to be seen, while nuclear issues remain the primary focus of U.S. policy toward North Korea. In his presentation, Yoshihiro Makino will describe the little understood political situation inside North Korea and discuss how the repression of basic rights is fundamental to the regime’s grip on power. Mr. Makino will base his analysis on information gathered through extensive interviews with North Korea specialists, diplomats, and direct sources with first-hand knowledge. He will then offer suggestions on how the US and the international community can use this knowledge to more effectively address human rights issues in North Korea. His presentation will be followed by comments by Bruce Klingner. Speakers include: Yoshihiro Makino, Expert on East Asian Security, National Endowment for Democracy, Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia, Heritage Foundation and Lynn Lee, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for Democracy.

3. Oil Price Trends and Global Implications | Tuesday, July 14th | 9:00-10:15 | Carnegie Endowment | REGISTER TO ATTEND The sharp drop in oil prices is one of the most important global economic developments over the past year. While oil’s long term price outlook remains highly uncertain, a substantial part of its decline is expected to persist into the medium term. Aasim M. Husain will discuss implications of these developments for the global economy and financial markets, as well as recommended policy responses for key country groups. He will be joined by Mark Finley and Uri Dadush to discuss market trends as well as their economic and political implications for oil-exporting and oil-importing countries. Carnegie’s Michele Dunne will moderate. A light breakfast will be served. Speakers include: Aasim M. Husain, Deputy Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund, Uri Dadush, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment, Mark Finley, General Manager, Global Energy Markets and U.S. Economics at BP. Moderators include: Michele Dunne, Senior Associate, Carnegie’s Middle East Program.

4. The Struggle for Democracy in Myanmar/Burma Tuesday, July 14th | 9:30-11:00 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Myanmar/Burma is in the fourth year of a historic transition out of military rule that began after the junta dissolved itself in March 2011, replaced by an elected parliament and the government led by President Thein Sein. New elections are expected in November for its second government under the 2008 constitution. While expressing commitment to holding a free and fair election, the Thein Sein government has left in place a constitutional obstacle to allowing Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), from becoming the country’s next president. The NLD seems likely to emerge from the new elections with the most seats in the legislature, but may fall short of its landslide victory in the 1990 election, which was not accepted by the ruling military junta.On July 14, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings will host a discussion of Myanmar’s progress over the past four years and the prospects for strengthening democratic rule under the next government. Delphine Schrank, a former reporter with The Washington Post, spent four years among dissidents in Myanmar/Burma and has written a narrative nonfiction account about their epic multi-generational fight for democracy. Her book ‘The Rebel of Rangoon; A Tale of Defiance and Deliverance’ (Nation Books, 2015) will set the stage for the discussion. Speakers include: Ted Piccone, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, Lex Rieffel, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, Priscilla Clapp, Former Chief-Of-Mission, U.S. Embassy in Burma and Richard Bush, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for East Asia Policy Studies.

5. Hearing: Implications of a Nuclear Agreement with Iran (Part III) Tuesday, July 14th | 10:00-1:00 | Rayburn House Office Building | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In announcing the series of hearings, Chairman Royce said:  “As we anticipate a congressional review of the Administration’s possible nuclear agreement with Iran, we’ll be looking to see how the Administration has done on Congress’ red lines.  Did we get anywhere, anytime inspections?  Full Iranian transparency regarding its past nuclear activities? No large-scale, immediate sanctions relief; but guaranteed, workable sanctions snap-backs? Meaningful restraints on Iran’s nuclear program that last decades?  This hearing will be the first in a series the Committee will hold should the Administration strike what might be one of the most significant agreements in decades.  As I have said, no deal is far better than a bad deal.” Speakers include: Joseph I. Lieberman, Co-Chair of the Foundation, Defense of Democracies, General Michael V. Hayden, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency and R. Nicholas Burns, Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.

6. Can the IAEA Effectively Verify an Agreement Between Iran and the P5+1? Wednesday, July 15th | 9:30-11:00 | The Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Atlantic Council Iran Task Force and Search for Common Ground invite you to a discussion on the capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor a nuclear agreement with Iran. A key issue arising during nuclear negotiations with Iran is the international community’s ability to verify Iran’s compliance with its non-proliferation obligations.  Former IAEA Safeguards Official Thomas Shea will discuss a new paper on the evolution of techniques used to verify a country’s compliance with nuclear safeguards and other non-proliferation obligations. Panelists will also discuss other potential methods to detect – and thus deter – Iran from violating the terms of an agreement.  Speakers include: William Green Miller, Senior Advisor, US-Iran Program, Search for Common Ground, Thomas Shea, Former Safeguards Official, International Atomic Energy Agency, Jim Walsh, Research Associate, Security Studies Program, MIT. Moderators include: Barbara Slavin, Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.

7.  The Kuwait Crisis 25 Years Later Wednesday, July 15th | 10:00-11:30 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Twenty five years ago this summer, Iraq provoked a crisis with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, demanding debt cancellation and higher oil prices. It proved to be a ruse for a far more daring plan. On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. Around the world, people feared that Saddam Hussein’s armies would move on to Saudi Arabia. In response, President George H. W. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of American troops to the Kingdom, recruited an international alliance to support them, and gained United Nations and U.S. congressional support to liberate Kuwait. The Gulf War fundamentally altered American policy toward the Middle East and laid the foundation for the many successes and failures that followed. Today, Americans continue to wrestle with the legacy of the Gulf War and the dilemma that the Middle East has posed to U.S. foreign policy in the years since. On July 15, the Brookings Intelligence Project will host Brookings Senior Fellows Kenneth Pollack and Bruce Riedel to reflect on the Kuwait crisis a quarter century later, looking back on 1990 and forward from 2015. They will discuss this crucial turning point and its significance for the region and the United States. Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project, will moderate the discussion. Following their remarks, Pollack and Riedel will take questions from the audience. Speakers include: Kenneth M. Pollack, Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution and Bruce Riedel, Director, Intelligence Project, Brookings Institution.

8. Considerations and constraints for U.S., EU and Turkish Engagement in the South Caucusus Wednesday, July 15th | 10:30-12:00 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Harsh geopolitical realities and historic legacies have pushed the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia back onto the foreign policy agendas of the United States, the European Union (EU), and Turkey, at a time when all three have pulled back from more activist roles in regional affairs. Western disengagement has exacerbated some of the more negative regional trends by signaling disinterest and a lack of commitment toward resolving ongoing conflicts and challenges. These current dynamics create several policy challenges for the region and beyond, including whether the festering crises in the Caucasus will feed into broader conflagrations; whether the United States, EU, and Turkey re-evaluate their involvement in the region in light of Russia’s assertive new foreign policy; and whether given other priorities, can the West muster sufficient political will to re-engage, within limits, in high-level regional diplomacy?

On July 15, the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) will host a panel to discuss a new report, Retracing the Caucasian Circle, co-authored by Fiona Hill, Kemal Kirişci, and Andrew Moffatt. In the paper, the authors provide an overview of the geopolitical and security issues facing Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia and their consequences for relations with the West. The report advocates that in spite of major challenges these three actors should not give up on their engagement of the region and should adopt realistic approaches which can be sustained. Speakers include: Fiona Hill, Director, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution, Eric Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. State Department, Unal Cevikoz, President, Ankara Policy Center and Klaus Botzet, Head of the Political, Security and Development Section, Delegation of the European Union to the U.S. Moderators include: Kemal Kirisci, Director, Turkey Project, Brookings Institution.

9. Religious Freedom: Rising Threats to a Fundamental Human Right| Thursday, July 16th | 9:30-4:15 | Copley Formal Lounge | REGISTER TO ATTEND | According to the Pew Research Center, governmental and social restrictions on religion continue to rise. Today 77 percent of the world’s population lives in religiously repressive countries. This conference will examine the severe and growing challenges facing minority religions around the world—including in the Middle East, Western Europe, Myanmar, and Russia—and will give special attention to how religious persecution affects women and girls. A central question will be whether and how US international religious freedom policy can improve conditions for religious minorities abroad and the societies in which they live. Speakers include: Ken Starr, Baylor University, 

Congressman Keith Ellison,  House of Representatives (D-Minnesota), Katrina Lantos Swett, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Engy Abdelkader, Rutgers University and American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC

Thomas Farr, Religious Freedom Project, Georgetown University

, Brian Grim, Religious Freedom and Business Foundation

, Elizabeth Cassidy, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Aisha Rahman, KARAMAH, Jacqueline Rivers, Harvard Kennedy School, Frank Wolf, Baylor University and retired House of Representatives (R-Virginia)

, Mark Schickman, American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Timothy Samuel Shah, Religious Freedom Project
. Moderators include: 

Richard Foltin, American Jewish Committee (AJC) and American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities

 and Claudia Winkler, Religious Freedom Project, Georgetown University.

10. Civil Resistance and Peacebuilding: How They ConnectThursday, July 16th | 10:00-11:00 | United States Institute of Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The rise of nonviolent, people power movements around the world has become a defining feature of the 21st century. While some have deteriorated into violent conflict, organized citizen campaigns using nonviolent methods are challenging formidable opponents: unaccountable governance, systemic corruption, institutionalized discrimination, environmental degradation, dictatorship, foreign military occupation, and violent extremism. Their “weapons” are not guns or bombs, but rather protests, boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience, building of alternative institutions, and hundreds of other nonviolent means. Combined with the use of traditional political and legal approaches, these movements continue to shape political, social, and economic change across the globe.

This panel will explore how nonviolent civil resistance and peacebuilding reinforce each other. How does civic mobilization fit into the larger peacebuilding agenda? How have nonviolent campaigns and movements contributed to long-term peace and stability? What are the theoretical and practical linkages that might prevent violent conflict and advance a “just peace”? Speakers include: Nancy Lindborg, President, USIP, Kerri Kennedey, Associate General Secretary for International Porgrams, American Friends Service Committee, Manal Omar, Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP. Moderators include: Maria Stephan, Senior Policy Fellow, USIP.

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