Tag: Egypt

Or else what?

Hassan Hassan ( ) offers this Twitter-published translation of what purports to be the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and Egyptian demands of Qatar (I’ve made a few minor editorial adjustments to ease readability):

1. Qatar must reduce diplomatic representation with Iran, shut down attaches, expel IRGC elements, limit commercial ties to UNSC-compliant.

2. Qatar must immoderately [quickly?] shut down the Turkish military base that is being established, and halt any military cooperation with Turkey in Qatar.

3. Qatar must announce severance of ties with terrorist, ideological & sectarian orgs: MB, ISIS, AQ, HTS, Hizbollah; designate as terrorists

4. Qatar must cease any funding activities to extremist and terrorist individuals, entities & orgs, including US/international designation lists.

5. Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists, wanted by the four countries; freeze their assets; stop hosting others in the future.

6. Qatar must shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels

7. Qatar must stop interference in these countries’ domestic+foreign affairs; stop naturalization of their citizens; extradite such citizens

8. Qatar must provide reparations to these countries for any opportunity costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies.

9. Qatar must become in sync with its Gulf & Arab neighborhood on all levels, and to activate Riyadh Agreement 2013 + 2014

10. Qatar must provide all databases related to oppositionists that it provided support to & clarify what help was provided.

11. Qatar must [close?] all media outlets backed by it directly or indirectly, like Arabi21, Rasd, New Arab, Middle East Eye, Mkamlin, Sharq etc

12. These demands must be agreed within 10 days, otherwise they would be invalidated.

13. Agreement will involve clear goals and mechanism, monthly reports in the first year, every three months the next & annually for 10 years

Here is the Arabic, for those who want to check the translation:

While I suppose this is subject to negotiation, both its tone and contents suggest that the gang of four is not looking for an agreement.

So what is this about?

First it is about asserting preeminence. The Saudis in particular want to make it clear that they lead the Gulf (and more: the Sunni Arab countries). Qatar’s relationship with Turkey, in particular the recently reinforced Turkish base in Qatar, challenges the Kingdom’s preeminence and limits what Riyadh can do, hence its position as number 2 demand.

Second, it is about Iran, which the Emirates and the Kingdom view as a mortal enemy. Qatar has to maintain good relations with Iran, with which it shares a natural gas field. But the diplomatic and security relationship is something its Gulf partners want reduced.

Third, it is about reducing internal threats, especially from the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamist groups as well as non-compliant media and other “oppositionists,” a term that could cover a lot of ground. The demands to stop naturalization and to extradite non-citizens should be read in this context.

Fourth, but only fourth, it is about cutting off support to terrorists, defined to include the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al Sham, and Hizbollah. The Saudis don’t come to this last demand with clean hands, as their Wahhabi clerics have certainly inspired some of the terrorists, and many think private funds have flowed from Saudis to terrorist groups.

Qatar will be tempted to reject this list of demands in its entirety. That I think would not be so wise. There is a whiff of regime change surrounding this document, especially the 10-day ultimatum. It seems to be saying “do these things or else.” What? The cut-off of transport and trade is already painful, but things could get worse. The bloodless coups of 1972 and 1995 in Qatar are certainly not forgotten.

Better would be to sit with the antagonists and review each point, agreeing where possible and making clear why Doha cannot agree to other points. The more Qatar can indicate cooperation on terrorism, the more backing it can expect from the United States (or at least from Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis–the President is erratic and seems to be conducting a distinctly different foreign policy). The US is unlikely to care much about Turkey’s small military presence in Qatar or to want media shut down without good cause. But the Americans will want Qatar to make all commerce compliant with UN Security Council requirements as well as renounce ties with, and end funding of, designated terrorists.

There seems to be a growing Trumpization infecting negotiating styles worldwide. Making your position clear is desirable. Ignoring the fact that your adversary has alternatives to a negotiated agreement is not. Iran stepped in quickly to help Doha, as did Turkey. The net result of these overblown demands could be to drive Qatar further in their direction. That would be counter-productive. A coup is likewise a risky idea. Better to reach some sort of negotiated outcome.

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Concerned and uncertain

Pantelis Ikonomou, a former IAEA nuclear safeguards inspector who holds a PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Vienna, writes:

Nuclear capability is a key factor in global alignments and strategic balances. President Trump has upset both:

  1. He has failed to block North Korea’s nuclear program or insist on its adherence to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
  1. He has encouraged US friends such as Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to obtain nuclear weapons, in breach of the NPT, which could initiate such efforts by other middle powers, including Turkey and Egypt.
  1. During his visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump did not refer to a Middle East Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone, a goal set by UN Security Council Resolution 687 (April 1991) and reinforced in the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Neither did the US president urge the Saudis to abandon the notion of a possible nuclear capability under “certain circumstances,” as often expressed by Saudi Arabian officials.
  1. The US president has suggested abandoning the P5+1 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which would end the related International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring mission that provides unprecedented transparency for the Iranian nuclear program.
  1. President Trump additionally disrespected basic international commitments (NPT article VI and the New Start Treaty) by planning to extend and upgrade the US nuclear arsenal.

These moves cast a shadow over the NPT, which is the cornerstone of global arms control and non-proliferation efforts. Lack of US adherence dramatically weakens the treaty, since universality is already its Achilles heel.

The May 2015 NPT review conference in New York failed to produce conclusions, which demonstrated the gap between the nuclear weapons states (and their allies) and the rest of the world. Most UN member states have now joined an effort to produce this year a legally binding global treaty to make nuclear weapons illegal. The objective is to pressure the nuclear powers to eliminate nuclear weapons.

German chancellor Angela Merkel at the Munich Security Conference this year questioned the President’s understanding of the UN and EU. She wondered “will we be able to act in concert together or (will we) fall back into parochial policies?”

Trump has not offered a clear vision of a new world order. Nor does he (and the rest of the Western world) appear ready to accept the ongoing redistribution of power and international realignments. Aristotle defined the “final cause” as “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done.” Trump’s purposes remain obscure. The world remains concerned and uncertain.

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Peace picks, May 1-5

1. Journalism In Hostile Environments: Perspectives From The Field | Monday, May 1st |9:30-11:00 AM | New America Foundation | Register Here |

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and the International Reporting Project (IRP) are pleased to present a panel discussion with the honorees of the 2017 James Foley Freedom Awards, hosted by New America.

Emma Beals, Arwa Damon and Delphine Halgand were chosen by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation as this year’s awardees for their exemplary reporting on important stories from conflict zones, commitment to protection and security for journalists, advocating for Americans held hostage abroad, and dedication to covering human rights. These awards honor the legacy of James Foley, the journalist and humanitarian who was killed in Syria in 2012

2. Key Elements For A Stable Pakistan | Monday, May 1st | 2:30- 4:00 PM| USIP | Register Here |

Terrorism, stagnant economic growth and a population in which two-thirds of citizens are under 30 contribute to an array of complex issues facing Pakistan. Despite some political and economic progress, these factors hinder the ability of leaders to focus on long-term regional questions such as broader security and shrinking natural resources. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace on May 1 for a discussion on economic, demographic, climate and security challenges in Pakistan featuring experts Tricia Bacon, Assistant Professor, School of Public Affairs, American University; Shahid Javed Burki, Chairman, Advisory Council, Institute of Public Policy and former Finance Minister of Pakistan; Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University; Adil Najam, Dean at Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University; Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace.

3. Change and Consequences: Is Saudi Arabia at the Dawn of a New Era? | Monday, May 1st | 3:30-5:30 PM| Wilson Center | Register Here |

Saudi Arabia finds itself facing a series of new challenges: declining oil prices, the rise of ISIS, and the nearby conflict in Yemen, among others. The kingdom’s leadership has taken some short-term steps to address these issues while also putting together a long-term plan—Saudi Vision 2030. This panel featuring Fatimah Baeshen, Visiting Scholar, Arabia Foundation; Kristin Smith Diwan, Senior Resident Scholar, The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington; David Ottaway, Middle East Specialist and Former Washington Post Correspondent; Abdulaziz Sager, Chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Jeddah, will explore these changes, their impact, and the policy proposals.

4. National Security & the White House: An Insider’s View with Rumana Ahmed | Monday, May 1st |6:00-8:00 PM| Elliott School | Register Here |

Join the Elliott School for a conversation with alumna Rumana Ahmed about her experiences working in the Obama, and briefly, the Trump Administrations. This event is part of the “Why Ethics Matter” series, which is devoted to telling the stories of inspiring figures who in the face of opposition demonstrated extraordinary moral and ethical courage.

Rumana Ahmed joined the Obama Administration in 2011, where she served for over 5 years. Her most recent role was as the Senior Advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in the National Security Council (NSC). During her time at the NSC, her work supported advancing relations with Cuba, Laos, and Burma, promoting global entrepreneurship among women and youth, and advising the President’s engagements with American Muslims. She organized President Obama’s visit to a mosque in 2016 and engagements with Cuban Americans around his historic trip to Cuba, among other things. Prior to her position at the NSC, she was the interim liaison to American Muslim, Arab and Iranian communities in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement. She also led the White House Champions of Change initiative to work across communities on various domestic issues such as health care enrollment and gun violence prevention.

5. Screening of Tickling Giants | Monday, May 1st |7:00-9:30 PM | Elliott School | Register Here |

Please join The GWU/Corcoran New Media Photojournalism Program together with the Corcoran Association of Photojournalists, The GW Arab Student Association, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, DC Visual Collective and Women Photojournalists of Washington for a special screening of Tickling Giants.

Tickling Giants is a documentary released in 2016 about the Bassem Youssef, a cardiologist turned comedian, and The Arab Spring in Egypt. Called the Jon Stewart of Egypt, his program, “The Show” united the country and tested the limits of free press.

6. New Terrorism Threats And Counterterrorism Strategies | Wednesday, May 3rd | 9:30-11:00 AM | Center for a New American Security| Register Here |

In the post-9/11 era, the international community has made significant progress in the struggle against terrorism and terrorist financing. However, in the last several years, terrorist groups, notably ISIS, have innovated both in their operational tactics and strategic aims, as well as in their methods of fundraising.

This CNAS public conference on new terrorism threats and counterterrorism strategies, co-hosted with the Center on Law and Security, at NYU School of Law, will feature an overview on the strategic terrorism threat landscape and on the Trump administration’s counterterrorism strategies. The event will also coincide with the release of a CNAS report on emerging terrorism financing threats. The distinguished panel of experts will explore such questions as: How are terrorist groups innovating and evolving in their tactics, strategies and fundraising today? Where are some areas were U.S. policymakers are falling short on addressing terrorism threats? What should the Trump administration prioritize in the fight against terrorism?

7. Addressing Lebanon’s Refugee Crisis and Development Challenges | Thursday, May 4th |12:00-1:30 PM | MEI | Register Here |

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Foreign Policy Institute (SAIS-FPI) are pleased to host Philippe Lazzarini, the United Nations deputy special coordinator in Lebanon. He will discuss opportunities and challenges for shifting the international response to Lebanon’s Syrian refugee crisis beyond short-term humanitarian and stabilization efforts to a more sustainable economic growth strategy.

Lebanon is facing overwhelming socioeconomic, security, and demographic challenges as the civil war in neighboring Syria enters its seventh year. Since the start of the crisis, Lebanon has received $4.9 billion in assistance, but demands on the country’s resources, services, and civil order remain heavy. Without a political solution to the Syrian conflict, humanitarian and development aid cannot deliver and sustain sufficient results for the refugees or for the Lebanese people. How will Lebanon continue to deal with these conditions?

8. Nurturing People-to-People Ties with Iran | Friday, May 5th | 7:00- 10:00 AM | Atlantic Council | Register Here|

The Future of Iran Initiative invites you to a discussion on the history and importance of people-to-people ties between the United States and Iran. US cultural diplomacy programming and other exchanges have a long history of helping to improve US relations with adversaries and are an inexpensive and often overlooked element of US foreign policy that brings benefits to US citizens and people all over the world. Americans and Iranians have maintained mutually beneficial relations for nearly two centuries. These ties are especially important at a time of continuing tensions between the two governments. Cultural exchanges deepen mutual understanding and can result in discoveries with global significance in public health, environmental, and other important fields.

Join the Atlantic council for a conversation on these issues featuring Kamiar Alaei, Associate Dean at the State University of New York at Albany; Stan L. Albrecht, Former President of Utah State University; Bahman Baktiari, Executive Director at the International Foundation for Civil Society; Shahrzad Rezvani, Attorney and Board Member of the Iranian-American Bar Association.

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Mil asks, civ responds

Military colleagues (same ones who produced this fine piece) recently asked some good questions. I replied:

  1. How could DoD and DoS be better postured to address regional and world conflicts to ensure a whole of government approach to identify and synchronize lines of effort in both planning and execution?

While intellectually DoD and DoS are more in agreement on a whole of government approach than any other time I can remember in the past 20 years, there is a gigantic imbalance in the capacities and cultures of the two institutions. State persists with a “sink or swim” culture fundamentally opposed to planning, which is still honored more in the breach than the observance. It also lacks appropriate personnel and resources. That is about to get worse, not better, due to budget cuts.

Ideally, State Department officers should train with military units with which they might deploy in the future. That would vastly increase mutual esteem and communication. But it is mostly impossible today. The best that can be hoped for is some commonality in the training materials for both, though State is likely to be doing precious little training for stabilization operations in the next few years. I fear we are back to where we were 20 years ago: our military instrument is far more potent than our civilian instruments, and there is a yawning gap between them.

2. What does a successfully concluded campaign against ISIS look like? Considering costs, reputation, and balance of influence, how should the U.S./Coalition define success?   Is the defeat of ISIS a success if it causes the balance of power in the region to shift towards Iran, Assad, or Russia?

Success in Syria should be defined in terms of sustainable peace and security. That won’t be possible under Assad or with the Russians and Iranians playing the roles they play today in propping up a minority dictator and repressing the majority Sunni population. So long as Assad is there, Syrians will be fighting him. The longer it lasts, the more those Syrians will be extremist.

After a successful campaign against ISIS, Syrians in different parts of the country should be able to govern themselves, repress terrorist activity with forces that do not oppress or attack the rest of the population, begin to return economic activity to prewar levels, and return to their homes or resettle freely without fear of persecution. We are a very long way from that, even in the most stable parts of the country (some Kurdish-controlled areas and parts of the south).

3. Does U.S. foreign policy strike the right balance in supporting U.S. interests and its role as a global power? Or, should the U.S. consider a more isolationist approach to foreign policy?   What impact could an isolationist policy have on Middle East security and stability, balance of influence by regional and world actors, and U.S. national interests?

It is a mistake to ask foreign policy experts about isolationism, which they will all condemn, but I’ll go this far: U.S. interests in the Middle East are not as salient as they once were and we should be thinking and planning about reducing our commitments and burdens there.

The main U.S. interests in the region apart from counter-terrorism are generally defined as these: non-proliferation, oil, maintenance of alliances, and human rights/democracy. The only significant proliferation risk in the region (Iran) is on hold for 10-15 years or so, the U.S. is far less dependent on Middle East oil than once it was, our allies are mostly interested in military assistance, and we appear to have mostly given up on human rights and democracy in the region.

I think it is arguable that a) deterring Iran could be (maybe better be) accomplished with a much reduced U.S. presence in the Gulf, b) we should not be spending as much American treasure as in the past or risking American lives for oil flowing out of the Gulf to China and Japan (which should share that burden more than in the past), c) our allies should be taking on more of the burden of defending themselves with the enormous amount of kit we’ve sold them, and d) human rights and democracy will gain traction in the region better with less U.S. military presence.

4. What are the competing national interests of the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East and what are the options for alleviating U.S. / Iranian tensions to mutual satisfaction and improved regional stability?

Iran is a revolutionary power looking to extend its security perimeter into neighboring states and to burnish its Islamist credentials by resistance to Israel. It will be impossible to overcome these problems exclusively in a bilateral U.S./Iran context, though increased communication between Tehran and Washington (including diplomatic representatives at some level in each of their capitals) is highly desirable.

Regional stability would also benefit from some sort of regional security architecture—think OSCE in Europe or ASEAN in Asia. This would aim at de-escalating Sunni/Shia, Saudi/Iranian, Turkish/Iranian, and other regional conflicts and tensions. There are few places on earth today with less regional cooperation and connectivity than the Middle East and North Africa.

5. What are the respective national interests of the U.S. and Russia in the Middle East and what are the options for alleviating U.S./Russian tensions to mutual satisfaction and improved regional stability?

Read more

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Bait, switch and fold

It is approaching 100 days since Donald Trump took office. He is getting applause in Washington for a cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base responsible for launching a chemical attack, and I suppose he’ll get some tomorrow for using the biggest conventional bomb ever in Afghanistan, but he has yet to clarify his goals or enunciate strategy for achieving them in either country, or anywhere else.

Here is a summary of the incoherent foreign policy of a president who is playing golf more often than any in recent memory and spending more money on security and travel for himself and his family:

  1. Threats to do something about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles if China doesn’t, but it is clear what. Promised concessions on trade to China if it will and backed off his pledge to designate Beijing as a currency manipulator, which in any event hasn’t been true for a couple of years. The guy is one tough negotiator: carrots up front.
  2. Warm greetings to Egyptian autocrat Sisi, who continues to hold US citizens in prison on trumped up charges (pun half-intended) and has vastly increased repression over and above his predecessors’ already draconian measures, not to mention his cozying up to the Russians and making a peace settlement in Libya impossible by supporting a would-be strongman.
  3. A plea to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to pause settlements, which Netanyahu is pointedly ignoring with the authorization of the first brand-new settlement in many years.
  4. An unfriendly meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, during which Trump pointedly refused to shake the hand of Europe’s de facto leader and strong US ally.
  5. Increased air strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen that have caused a notable bump in civilian deaths, as well as increased (but now unannounced) US deployments to all three.
  6. Revelations of a web of contacts between the Trump campaign (and eventual appointees) and Russian businesspeople, spies, and government officials. If there is no fire beneath all this smoke, it will be a miracle.
  7. Delegation of major responsibilities to son-in-law real estate heir Jared Kushner, who at various times has appeared to be entrusted with Israel/Palestine negotiations, China, Iraq, reducing the Federal bureaucracy, and countering the opioid epidemic.
  8. Initial efforts to build a pointless wall on the Mexican border that would cost many billions the American taxpayer will need to pay, despite the years of decline in illegal immigration from Mexico. I’d guess no more than a few miles of this wasteful project will ever be completed, as Congress will not provide the funding required for more.
  9. A travel ban that courts are consistently finding violates the US constitution by singling out Muslim countries that have not in fact sent terrorists to the US.
  10. Decisions on coal that will make it impossible for the US to meet its commitments under the Paris climate change agreement.

I could go on, especially with respect to domestic policy: utter failure so far to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, a Supreme Court nominee so extreme his approval required the Senate to nuke the long-standing requirement for 60 votes in the Senate, and a budget proposal that cuts everything but Defense and Homeland Security, including crippling cuts to the State Department and USAID (not to mention the zeroing out of the UN Population Fund).

There is one reason to hope that things might improve on the international front. National Security Adviser McMaster, who is a serious expert himself, is hiring serious people with real expertise. He has already gotten Trump to reverse direction on NATO, which the President is now praising. But the State Department is still a wasteland, with no appointees to any of the sub-cabinet positions and a Secretary of State who seems not to understand or care for the public affairs part of his job. He was initially laconic to a fault. Now he talks but contradicts himself. I’m not sure which is worse.

Yes, I too would have thought Americans up in arms at this wholesale betrayal of their values, but I’m afraid it is no longer clear what those values are. Are we prepared to play a leadership role in moving the world towards liberal democracy, or are we content to cut deals with the worst autocrats on earth? Are we going to rely on real facts and knowledge, or are we going to try to scam the world, just as Trump has scammed his investors and contractors as well as the students at his “university”? Are we going to pursue a foreign policy that relies at least in part on diplomacy and international assistance, or are we going to use only the military?

Our current course is clear: towards a more militarized, less honest, and more illiberal foreign policy. I’m not seeing anything on the horizon that will turn us in a better direction.

For those who doubt that things are so bad, here is Trump’ April 12 interview with Fox Business, in which he remembered the cake he was eating when he ordered the missile strike but not the country targeted (at 27:30-29:30):

Never mind that he forgets that he opposed an attack on Syria while President Obama was in office and fails to credit his predecessor for the military technology used, not to mention that the meeting with Xi Jinping he claims went well the Chinese think went badly, especially with respect to Syria and North Korea.

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Peace picks April 10-14

  1. A Panel Discussion on Debating the Merits of the Trump Administration’s New Travel, Immigration, and Refugee Ban | Monday, April 10 | 11-12:30pm | SAIS | Register Here | “Debating the Merits of the Trump Administration’s New Travel, Immigration and Refugee Ban,” will be hosted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The panel discussion is a part of the Human Security Forum by the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Panelists include T. Alex Aleinikoff, Director of The Zolberg Institute of Migration and Mobility at The New School, George Biddle, Chairman of World Connect and former Executive Vice President of the International Peace Committee, James Jay Carafano, Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, and Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Eterprise Institute
  2. Where Will Turkey’s Referendum Lead? | Tuesday, April 11 | 1-2:30pm | Middle East Institute | Register Here | Turkish voters on April 16, 2017 face a referendum to shift to a presidential system and further empower Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Whether Erdogan succeeds in his long-sought consolidation of authority or suffers a reversal, Turkish policies on the economy, domestic issues, the Kurdish question, regional security, and engagement with the U.S. and NATO are all apt to be affected by the referendum’s outcome. The Middle East Institute (MEI) Center for Turkish Studies is pleased to host Kemal Kirisci (Brookings), Omer Taspinar (Brookings), and Amberin Zaman (Wilson Center) for an analysis of the plebiscite, its political context, and potential consequences of the impending vote. Gonul Tol (MEI) will moderate the discussion.
  3. Militancy and Conflict in the Sahel and Maghreb | Tuesday, April 12 | 8:30-3pm | Carnegie Endowment | Register Here | Crises and upheaval in the Maghreb and the Sahel have altered the regional security terrain. Security challenges are increasingly becoming entwined, and many are becoming more pronounced amongst at-risk border communities in marginalized peripheries and rural communities. This day-long conference brings together leading scholars from around the world to address the key security and governance challenges in the Maghreb and Sahel. Panelists will examine the interaction of the expanding horizon of insecurity with conflicts, political vacuums, and Western response policy. They will also discuss the broader ramifications of the trends for peace and development in both regions. Panelists include Rasmus Boserup, Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, and Claire Spencer to discuss the security complexes in the Maghreb and Sahel; Bruce Whitehouse, Jimam Lar, Joel Nwokeoma, and Amy Niang to discuss violent extremism in West Africa and Sahel; and Frederic Wehrey, Faraj Najem, and Manal Taha to discuss the potential spillover from Libya into the Sahel.
  4. Russia’s Gambit: Moscow’s Plans and the Trump Administration | Tuesday, April 11 | 4-5:30pm | The Institute of World Politics | Register Here | You are cordially invited to a lecture on the topic of Russia’s Gambit: Assessing Moscow’s Plans in the First Months of the Trump Administrationwith Nikolas K. Gvosdev, Professor of National Security Affairs, Captain Jerome E. Levy Chair in Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
  5. Book Launch: Al-Qaeda’s Revenge: The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings | Wednesday, April 12 | 10-11:15pm | Wilson Center | Register Here | Al-Qaeda’s Revenge: The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings tells the story of “3/11”—the March 11, 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800. It runs from the development of an al-Qaeda conspiracy in Spain in the 1990s through the formation of the 3/11 bombing network beginning in March 2002, and on through the fallout of the attacks. Fernando Reinares’s account draws on judicial, police, and intelligence documents to which he had privileged access, as well as on personal interviews with officials in Spain and elsewhere. The book’s full analysis links the Madrid bombing to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership and unveils connections between 3/11 and 9/11. Speakers will also include Bruce Hoffman, Professor at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Jytte Klausen, Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation at Brandeis University, and Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution.
  6. What’s Next for Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations? | Wednesday, April 12 | 10:30-12pm | Wilson Center | Register Here | The fragile Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship is in crisis. Each country has accused the other of harboring terrorists, and border closures have caused hardship for people on both sides. A recent British-led mediation has defused some of these tensions. However, the relationship remains troubled, and longstanding irritants—such as a disputed border and the treatment of Afghan refugees in Pakistan—continue to fester. What is next for Afghanistan-Pakistan relations? Will the new détente be sustained or short-lived? Additionally, what are the implications of all this for U.S. policy? Can or should Washington play a role in trying to help ease these bilateral tensions? This event, which is co-hosted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, will address these questions and others. Panelists include Daud Khattak, Senior Editor at Radio Mashaal, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Omar Samad, Former Afghan Ambassador to France, and Joshua White, Associate Professor of Practice and Fellow at SAIS.
  7. 2017 IMES Annual Conference: Restless Matters: the Socio-Political Lives of Historical Sites and Objects in the Middle East | Friday, April 14 | 9am-3pm | Elliott School | Register Here | Historical sites and objects are a focal point of socio-political contestation in the Middle East today. Whether it be the destruction and looting of the Egyptian Museum, Palmyra, or the Buddhas of Bamyan, or it be the renovation and rebuilding of Mecca, the Eyup Sultan complex, or heritage districts in Doha, Cairo or Beirut, the ways in which these historical sites and objects are intertwined with political projects and political-economic processes have drawn increasing scrutiny in recent years. While popular discourses and news media accounts often portray these matters in terms of the actions of religious zealots, crass developers, or enlightened preservationists, this glosses over a far more textured socio-political terrain this conference seeks to explore. A day-long event that brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who focus on the Middle East and the region’s past and present connections to other parts of the world, this conference explores the myriad socio-political work historical sites and objects do. Speakers include Esra Akcan, Associate Profess in the Department of Archaeology at Cornell University, Azra Aksamija, Associate Professor in the Art, Culture, and Technology Program at MIT, Farah Al-Nakib, Director of the Center for Gulf Studies at American University of Kuwait, Amin Alsaden, PhD Candidate at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Luna Khirfan, Associate Professor at University of Waterloo School of Planning, Michele Lamprakos, Assistant Professor at University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Amal Sachedina, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University.
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