1. Teleconference: Gaza Conflict Resumes After Ceasefire Ends Monday, August 11 | 10:00 am – 11:00 am Wilson Center Teleconference, Toll-free Conference Line: 888-947-9018, Conference Line: 517-308-9006, Passcode: 13304. REGISTER TO ATTEND The breakdown in the 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and the resumption of the conflict between Israel and Hamas threatens to take the Gaza crisis to a new level. What are the prospects for escalation and/or for negotiations to de-escalate the situation? Can the requirements of the parties somehow be reconciled? What is the role of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt going forward? And what is the American role? Join the Wilson Center BY PHONE as two veteran analysts of Israeli-Palestinian politics and security strategy discuss these and other issues. SPEAKERS: Jane Harman, President, Wilson Center, Giora Eiland, Former Head of Israel’s National Security Counci, Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, and Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives and Distinguished Scholar, Wilson Center.
2. Laying the BRICS of a New Global Order: From Yekaterinburg 2009 to eThekwini 2013 Tuesday, August 12 | 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The meteoric rise of the BRICS group has led to an unprecedented increase in partnership, trade, and investment among some of the world’s most dynamic economies. Yet this increase in cooperation should not be allowed to obscure the complexities and contradictions inherent within this cohort of emerging global actors. The Africa Program invites you to the launch of “Laying the BRICS of a New Global Order,” a book edited by Francis Kornegay, Global Fellow, Wilson Center, with contributions from Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute as this seminal compilation on the emergence of a new global order is discussed.
3. South China Seas Crisis Negotiation Simulation Tuesday, August 12 | 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm Johns Hopkins SAIS – Bernstein-Offit Building, 1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., Room 500 REGISTER TO ATTEND The International Peace and Security Institute will host an interactive simulation exploring the South China Seas Crisis.
4. Holy Icons of Medieval Russia: Reawakening to a Spiritual Past Tuesday, August 12 | 6:45 pm – 8:15 pm Smithsonian Institute, at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Scott Ruby, associate curator of Russian and Eastern European art at Hillwood Museum, examines how the appreciation and understanding of medieval icons developed, as well as some of the aspects of medieval iconography that differentiate it from the work of later centuries. Focusing on the great treasures of the period, Ruby looks at some of the superlative icons of Andre Rublev, a Russian monk who some consider the greatest icon painter. He also discusses how icons function in the context of public and private devotions.
5. Taiwan’s Maritime Security Wednesday, August 13 | 10:30 pm – 12:00 pm Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Taiwan’s security is inextricably linked to the sea. Indeed, the nation’s economic livelihood, as well as its national security, requires that Taipei secure the surrounding waters and have access to global sea-lanes. The Taiwan Strait is a key international waterway, and preserving its stability is in the American interest. Furthermore, per the Taiwan Relations Act, America is legally obligated to help this democratic island provide for its maritime security. Join Heritage as their panelists discuss how Taiwan’s maritime security issues are linked with the continuing East China Sea/South China Sea territorial and political disputes, Chinese naval developments, and U.S. Navy strategy in the Pacific. SPEAKERS: Bernard Cole, Ph.D., Captain, USN (Ret.), and Professor, National War College, Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, and Cortez Cooper, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND
6. Africa Development Forum Event: A New Strategy for Civil Society Development for Africa Wednesday, August 13 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm Center for International Private Enterprise, 1155 15th Street NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND A number of challenges face civil society organizations in developing markets in general and in Africa in particular. Now, however, strategies are emerging to address some of these issues. As part of SID-Washington’s Africa Development Forum, the Civil Society Workgroup will host a panel discussion entitled A New Strategy for Civil Society Development for Africa to examine these new approaches to civil society capacity building and how they should influence development strategies in how to engage and support CSOs. SPEAKERS: Lars Benson, Senior Program Officer for Africa, Center for International Private Enterprise, Jeremy Meadows, Senior Democracy Specialist, Bureau for Africa, USAID, Natalie Ross, Program Officer, Aga Khan Foundation, USA and Richard O’Sullivan (moderator), SID-Washington Civil Society Workgroup co-chair.
7. Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War Wednesday, August 13 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Middle East Institute, 1761 N Street, NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Middle East Institute hosts Christine Fair, assistant professor of peace and security studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, for a discussion of her book, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014). Based on an unprecedented analysis of decades’ worth of the Pakistan army’s defense publications, Fair concludes that the army’s perception is that its success depends on its resistance to India’s purported drive for regional hegemony and the territorial status quo. Fair argues that because the army is unlikely to abandon these preferences, Pakistan will remain a destabilizing force in world politics for the foreseeable future. Hosted by Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, President, Middle East Institute.
8. U.S.-Korea-Japan Triangle: A Korean Perspective Wednesday, August 13| 10:00 am – 12:45 pm Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC REGISTER TO ATTEND Please join CSIS for a special roundtable event with Dr. Park Jin, Chair Professor at the Graduate School of International and Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, to discuss issues in the U.S.-Korea-Japan relationship and South Korean view toward the trilateral cooperation.
9. Inside the World of Diplomacy Thursday, August 14 | 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Smithsonian Institute, at the American Foreign Service Association, 2101 E St NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Members of the U.S. Foreign Service are the face of America in countries around the globe. From ambassadors to embassy staffers, their post s are demanding, important, and often difficult ones. How does someone enter the world of diplomacy—and what do they find there? Take a rare opportunity to get answers from men and women whose careers are spent in diplomatic Washington as you go inside the American Foreign Service Association and the U.S. Department of State.
10. Preventing Violence in the Name of God: The Role of Religion in Diplomacy Thursday, August 14 | 10:00 am – 11:30 am Middle East Institute at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In his remarks at the launch of the State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, Secretary of State John Kerry admonished, “We ignore the global impact of religion…at our peril,” and told Foreign Service officers “to go out and engage religious leaders and faith-based communities in our day-to-day work.” At a time when religious violence inflames much of the Middle East, the question of how diplomacy and religion can interact takes on high operational importance. What is the Department of State doing to fulfill Secretary Kerry’s instructions? What are the scope and limits of cooperation? These are among the questions to be addressed in presentations by Jerry White (Conflict and Stability Operations, Department of State) and Arsalan Suleman (Organization for the Islamic Conference, Department of State), followed by comments from Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (former Undersecretary of State). MEI Scholar and retired Foreign Service officer Allen Keiswetter will moderate the panel.
11. Which Poses the Bigger Threat to U.S. National Security—Iran or Non-State Sunni Extremism? Thursday, August 14 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street, N.W. 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Administration’s current policies throughout the region suggest that the White House no longer sees Iran as the key problem. Rather, it views the clerical regime as a potential partner, particularly when it comes to combating Sunni extremists like al Qaeda and ISIS. The Iranian regime, while problematic, represents a real nation-state and rational actor that looks out for its interests and responds to incentives—which is not the case for non-state actors. The White House has re-prioritized American strategy in the Middle East, with groups like al Qaeda and ISIS—rather than Iran—seen as the key threat to American interests. The question is whether the Obama administration has got it right. And if it’s wrong, what are the likely consequences? Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate an expert panel featuring Michael Doran, Hillel Fradkin, and Brian Katulis to discuss whether non-state Sunni extremism or Iran constitutes the major strategic threat to American interests in the region.
12. They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else: A History of the Armenian Genocide Thursday, August 14, 2014 | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Starting in early 1915, the Ottoman Turks began deporting and killing hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the first major genocide of the twentieth century. By the end of the First World War, the number of Armenians in what would become Turkey had been reduced by ninety percent—more than a million people. A century later, the Armenian Genocide remains controversial but relatively unknown, overshadowed by later slaughters and the chasm separating Turkish and Armenian versions of events. In this definitive narrative history, Professor Ronald Suny cuts through nationalist myths, propaganda, and denial to provide an unmatched account of when, how, and why the atrocities of 1915–1916 were committed.Drawing on archival documents and eyewitness accounts, Professor Suny’s book is a vivid and unforgettable chronicle of a cataclysm that set a tragic pattern for a century of genocide and crimes against humanity.
- Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa Monday, August 4 | 9:30 am – 11:00 am Atlantic Council of the United States; 1030 15th Street, NW, Twelfth Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND H.E. Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Mohamed El Kettani, Hajji, and Nabil Habayeb will discuss how Morocco has emerged not only as a significant US political and strategic partner in Africa, but also as an attractive portal for investment and business headed to the continent. They will discuss US interests and the opportunities to deepen economic and commercial cooperation with Morocco and other African countries.
- Tunisia’s Democratic Successes: A Conversation with the President of Tunisia Tuesday, August 5 | 11:00 am – 12:15 pm Atlantic Council of the United States; 1030 15th Street, NW, Twelfth Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND With both presidential and parliamentary elections due late this year, Tunisia once again faces imminent milestones in its political history. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki will join the Atlantic Council’s Hariri Center and Africa Center for an exclusive engagement to discuss successes to date and how the country can address pressing economic and security challenges as its democratic transition continues.
- The Gaza Crisis: No Way Out? Policy Options and Regional Implications Tuesday, August 5 | 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host a discussion examining the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. handling of the crisis, and the regional implications. Brookings Vice President for Foreign Policy and former U.S. Special Envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk will share his observations and insights. He will be joined by fellows Natan Sachs and Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team.
- Putting the South Caucasus in Perspective Tuesday, August 5 | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have been independent states for more than 23 years. Although geographically contiguous, they differ in language, religion, and political and security orientation. How is each country faring in state building, developing democracy, and improving economic performance? Two prominent academic experts of the South Caucasus, Professors Ronald Suny and Stephen Jones, will discuss the historical experience and current developments of the region.
- Overcoming Obstacles to Doing Business in Sub-Saharan Africa Wednesday, August 6 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm Atlantic Council of the United States; 1030 15th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In the context of the inaugural US-Africa Leaders Summit, the Atlantic Council’s will launch a new study about barriers to doing business in sub-Saharan Africa and how they can be overcome. Visiting Fellow Aubrey Hruby will discuss the inadequate infrastructure, lack of market data, and poor policy implementation in Africa. The publication will also focus on innovative solutions for surmounting such obstacles and how companies who have successfully entered African markets can provide lessons learned for future investors.
- Loved? Liked? Respected? The Success and Failure of U.S. Public Diplomacy Wednesday, August 6 | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Washington Institute-Near East; 1828 L Street, NW, #1050, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Washington Institute will host a debate on the value of U.S. public diplomacy. It will analyze the role of public diplomacy in the Middle East with particular attention to the crisis in Gaza, the ISIS campaign in Iraq, the ongoing conflict in Syria, and escalating terrorist threats in the region. Institute’s Executive Director Robert Satloff will stand off against the former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq, James Jeffrey in a debate moderated by Viola Gienger of the United States Institute of Peace.
- Statesmen’s Forum: His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of the Republic of Mali Thursday, August 7 | 9:00 am – 10:15 am Center for Strategic and International Studies; 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali will discuss the progress and challenges of Mali’s post-crisis recovery, as well as the broader regional prospects for security, development, and good governance in the Sahel region. He will share his perspective on the ongoing peace process and the role that neighboring countries and the U.S. government can play in tackling insecurity and fostering reconciliation.
- President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso Thursday, August 7 | 5:00 pm National Press Club, 13th Floor; 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND President Blaise Compaore will give his assessment of the results of the US-Africa Leaders Summit taking place in Washington, D.C. from August 5th to 6th. He also plans to speak on his role as a regional mediator to resolve conflicts in West Africa.
- A Batkin International Leaders Forum with the President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Friday, August 8 | 10:00 am – 11:30 am Service Employees International Union; 1800 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, president of the Federal Republic of Somalia, will explore the future of democracy in Somalia and its many challenges and promises. Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director for Foreign Policy at Brookings, will hold a question and answer session with the president.
- Beyond North Waziristan Friday, August 8 | 10:30 am – 12:00 pm Atlantic Council of the United States; 1030 15th Street, NW, Twelfth Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND As the Pakistani army wages a long-awaited operation, Zarb-e-Azb, against militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan, there are questions about how effectively it confronts the long-term challenge of terrorism in the region. How is the North Waziristan operation impacting militant groups operating in the region, and the overall stability of Pakistan? Can the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan work together to address sanctuaries for insurgents on both sides of the border? Major Ikram Sehgal and Hassan Abbas will highlight the progress, pitfalls, and implications of Pakistan’s strategy in North Waziristan.
Though events have moved quickly, it is already apparent that there is little the United States can do to get Russia to leave Crimea any time soon. The proposals from left and right for action are nowhere near sufficient to get Vladimir Putin to reverse his successful military seizure of the province’s vital security and governance installations. American military action is not in the cards. While the West notes Russia’s inconsistency in violating the principle of sovereignty, Putin even claims legal justification: the province’s prime minister asked for help, which he says is permissible under Russia’s security agreements with Kiev.
The most immediate requirement is not to push Russia out of Crimea, which may take a decade or more. Washington lacks non-military means capable of doing it, and no one is advocating war with Russia over Ukraine. But Moscow, successful in Crimea, may well be thinking of similar takeovers in other southern and eastern provinces with large Russian-speaking populations that voted for Viktor Yanukovich: Read more
The news is full of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s release from jail of former rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. All concerned were due to be released soon anyway. Their early release signals that Putin is feeling confident. Neither Khodorkovsky nor Pussy Riot is likely to mount a serious challenge to his position and power anytime soon. Russia’s pro-democracy protest movement has withered in the years since it fielded large crowds in Moscow.
Less noticed is the sentencing in Egypt of human rights activists, including my friend Ahmed Maher, to three years hard labor and substantial fines for organizing a demonstration defying a decree issued by the military-backed government that took over after this summer’s coup. The tough sentences indicate that the military is not confident of its power and position. It needs high turnout and high approval in the January 14-15 referendum on its recently proposed constitution before it can be certain the secular activists won’t be able to mobilize large protests. Once their political edge is removed, they too may be released early or even pardoned. Read more
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) survey of prevention priorities for 2014 is out today. Crowdsourced, it is pretty much the definition of elite conventional wisdom. Pundits of all stripes contribute.
The top tier includes contingencies with high impact and moderate likelihood (intensification of the Syrian civil war, a cyberattack on critical US infrastructure, attacks on the Iranian nuclear program or evidence of nuclear weapons intent, a mass casualty terrorist attack on the US or an ally, or a severe North Korean crisis) as well as those with moderate impact and high likelihood (in a word “instability” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq or Jordan). None merited the designation high impact and high likelihood, though many of us might have suggested Syria, Iraq and Pakistan for that category. Read more
This makes sense of course. Why bother paying the high price resolution usually entails if the cost of continuing in conflict is relatively low? We see this happening today in many places: Israel/Palestine, Macedonia/Greece, Armenia/Azerbaijan, Cyprus/Turkey. How should the international community behave in such instances?
Generally the approach has been to continue efforts at resolution, almost no matter what. Depending on how you count, the Israel/Palestine conflict is 65 years old, Macedonia’s conflict with Greece over its name has been subject to mediation for more or less 20 years, the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been working on Armenia and Azerbaijan’s dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh for as long, and UN peacekeepers have been in Cyprus for almost 40 years. It makes economic sense to continue because the international community efforts are relatively cheap compared to the potential consequences of ending them.
But does it make sense in terms of getting to yes? Is the international community’s willingness to continue mediation or peacekeeping efforts inhibiting a solution rather than encouraging one?
That is a difficult judgment to make, but I have my suspicions, especially in the Macedonia/Greece dispute. On the surface, it is a fairly simple one: Greece refuses to accept what it prefers to call “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (or the FYROM) by its constitutional name (Republic of Macedonia). This wouldn’t make much difference except that Greece can (and does) block the FYROM from entering NATO or getting a date to begin negotiations on EU membership, in violation of a 1995 “interim agreement.” The International Court of Justice has found Greece in violation of that agreement but it does not have the ability to enforce its decisions.
For almost 20 years, now UN envoy Matt Nimetz has tried to find a solution. Greece has appeared at times ready to accept a modifier (for example, “North Macedonia”) but wants the agreed name used in all circumstances, including every time it is mentioned in the Macedonian constitution. This isn’t very attractive to Skopje, which already enjoys a world in which everyone but Greece and international organizations call the country Macedonia. Skopje doubts that even if it accepted the Greek parliament would ratify membership in NATO, much less the EU.
This is one spat the world could do without, but nothing the committed and inventive Nimetz has done in 20 years has gotten rid of it. So the question is, should we get rid of the UN envoy, hoping that will give Athens and Skopje ample incentive to cut a deal directly with each other?
I don’t know. There is little likelihood of a solution unless they do, but that is no guarantee they would.
Macedonia’s prime minister has enjoyed a great deal of popularity as a result of his nationalist rhetoric and building program. The only people in Macedonia really unhappy with the current situation are ethnic Albanians, who regard NATO membership as the ultimate guarantee of security and would like to end a dispute that has nothing to do with their own ethnic identity. But Albanians represent close to a quarter of the population. Macedonia is a fragile state that cannot afford to alienate its largest minority.
The Greek prime minister, who was one of the originators of the dispute in the 1990s, has likewise little political incentive to settle it. While there are certainly some Greeks who would like to see the issue resolved, if only to stabilize a neighborhood in which the country has significant investments, they are relatively few. Most Greeks regard ancient Macedonia as quintessentially Greek and are unwilling to see the label hijacked by Slavs.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of this dispute to those most directly involved. Macedonians and Greeks alike regard the issue as profoundly important, as it affects their identities. But is this something the rest of the world should be investing to solve? There is not risk of armed confrontation over this issue. After 20 years, it seems to me the UN would be more than justified to pack in the effort and let the parties to the conflict try to resolve it themselves, or not.
More on other well managed conflicts in future posts.