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.
- The Path to Power in Brazil | Wednesday, July 6th | 12:30 pm | The Atlantic Council | Click HERE to RSVP. | Brazil’s current political earthquake makes projecting the future of power and politics in the country a very risky enterprise. But, we’re going to try anyway. The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center has engaged Brazil’s best thinkers and behind-the-scenes players to place their bets and analyze what current trends tell us about the next months and years. The event will include input from the former Brazilian Minister of Finance, former Governor of Ceará State and former presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, as well as Nonresident Senior Brazil Fellow, Ricardo Sennes, and Brazilian pollster Mauricio Moura. During the event, the Atlantic Council will also launch results of its exclusive opinion poll questions about the direction of Brazilian politics and our latest policy brief, The Path to Power in Brazil.
- Delivering on the Future of Submarine Warfare | Friday, July 8th | 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM | Center for Strategic & International Studies | Click HERE to RSVP | The Maritime Security Dialogue brings together CSIS and USNI, two of the nation’s most respected non-partisan institutions. The series is intended to highlight the particular challenges facing the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, from national level maritime policy to naval concept development and program design. Given budgetary challenges, technological opportunities, and ongoing strategic adjustments, the nature and employment of U.S. maritime forces are likely to undergo significant change over the next ten to fifteen years. The Maritime Security Dialogue provides an unmatched forum for discussion of these issues with the nation’s maritime leaders. Panelists include Rear Admiral Charles A. Richard, USN, Director of the Undersea Warfare Division (N97) and Rear Admiral Michael E. Jabaley, USN, Program Executive Officer for Submarines. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and Director of the International Security Program, CSIS.
- How to Defeat Terrorism in Iraq | Monday, July 11th | 1:00 PM | The Institute for World Politics | Click here to RSVP | Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari will share his vision for his country: a political re-crafting of the existing government structure away from sectarianism and towards a new constitution based on Iraqi national citizenship and inclusive of participation from all sectarian communities. HE Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari is the Chairman of the Iraq National Project and President of Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI). One of the leaders of the al-Zoba tribe in Iraq, he is the nephew of the late Islamic scholar and religious leader Sheikh Harith al-Dhari. Jamal was born in the Abu Ghraib district of Iraq on July 16, 1965. He grew up within the al-Zoba tribe and in the 1970s he attended the Hafsa School. In the 1980s, Jamal was conscripted into the Iraqi Army to fight in the Iran- Iraq War. During his time on the frontline, he fought alongside both Sunni and Shia officers and friends, in the Iraqi Republican Guard. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by coalition forces, Jamal was a strong proponent of Iraqi nationalism and self-rule. In 2005, he and his family fought against al-Qaeda’s occupation of Iraqi territory and, as a consequence, Jamal lost 70 members of his family in the struggle. In 2014, Jamal helped to establish the nonprofit think tank Peace Ambassadors for Iraq, whose purpose is to advocate for a renewed system of government in Iraq, to determine the best policies to fully eliminate ISIS/Daesh and other terrorist forces from Iraq, and to build international support for an all-inclusive Iraq. Presently, Jamal is working for a renewal in Iraq by forging a non-sectarian and inclusive settlement for all Iraqis.
- Blasphemy Laws and Censorship by States and Non-State Actors: Examining Global Threats to Freedom of Expression | Thursday, July 14th | 2:00 PM | Room TBD, click HERE for event details | The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission | The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will hold a hearing that will examine blasphemy laws, state censorship, actions by non-state actors, and other threats to freedom of expression around the world. This hearing will examine these issues, while seeking to provide concrete recommendations for how U.S. policy makers can most effectively encourage the protection of freedom of expression around the globe. This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. The event will be hosted by Joseph R. Pitts, M.C. and Co-Chairman, TLHRC. James P. McGovern, M.C. and Co-Chairman, TLHRC.
- David N. Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
- Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Ms. Vanessa Tucker, Vice President for Analysis, Freedom House
- Ms. Nina Shae, Director, Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom
- Dr. Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America
- Dr. Courtney C. Radsch, Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
- Mr. Wael Aleji, Spokesperson, Syrian Network for Human Rights
- The “Pitiless” War: A Strategy After the Paris Attacks | Monday November 23rd | 10:00 – 11:15 | German Marshall Fund | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In the aftermath of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris committed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS), French President François Hollande declared that “….we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless.” What is the proper military, intelligence, and diplomatic response to counter to these recent brutal attacks against Western targets? What role will the United States play going forward? What does Europe need to do differently to meet this threat? What should the transatlantic alliance do about Syria and Iraq? With Hollande scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on November 24, and with these questions in mind, The German Marshall Fund of the Unites States (GMF) is pleased to invite you to an on-the-record discussion. Speakers include: Ambassador James Franklin Jeffrey, Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Matthew G. Olsen, Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC); Derek Chollet, Counselor and Senior Advisor for Security and Defense Policy, The German Marshall Fund of the United States; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
- The Deteriorating State of Human Rights in China | Monday, November 23rd | 12:00 – 1:30 | CATO Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Since assuming the presidency of China in 2013, Xi Jinping has become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, centralizing his authority over the Communist Party, the military, and the government. Eminent scholars and civil rights activists from China will describe the deterioration of human rights under Xi’s rule, citing the rise of arbitrary arrests and detentions; a crackdown on academic freedom; the persecution of some ethnic groups; and increasing restrictions on journalists, the internet, religious organizations, and other groups in civil society. The speakers will discuss those developments within the context of other policies, including a new national security law, an anti-corruption campaign, and economic measures in the face of a significant growth slowdown. Speakers include: Chen Guangcheng, Visiting Fellow, Catholic University; Teng Biao, Associate, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; and Wei Jingsheng, Chairman, Wei Jingsheng Foundation; with comments by Xia Yeliang, Visiting Fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute; moderated by Ian Vasquez, Director, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute.
- Understanding ISIS: Paris, Beirut, and U.S. Policy Webinar | Monday, November 23rd |4:00 – 5:00| Institute for Policy Studies | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Terrorism survives wars, people don’t. Last week’s attacks in Paris left over 100 people dead. In Beirut, car bombs killed 43 people. Shortly before these attacks, President Obama defended his “war on terror” and said that ISIS was contained. As the civilian death toll rises and the refugee crisis grows, the U.S. global war on terror continues — and continues to fail, ultimately because you can’t bomb terrorism out of existence. In this 1-hour webinar, IPS Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis will discuss the new developments in Paris and Beirut, in the refugee crisis in Europe and the U.S., and discuss solutions that promote true diplomacy over military action.
- A New Cold War? The West and Russia | Monday, November 23rd | 5:30pm | Foreign Policy Research Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the prospect of protracted confrontation between Russia and the West has so far met with an uncertain response on the part of the West. Has a new Cold War begun, and how should America and its allies respond? Nikolas Gvosdev, a frequent commentator on Russian and Eurasian affairs will explore these issues. He was the Editor of The National Interest magazine and a Senior Fellow at The Nixon Center in Washington, D.C. He received his doctorate from St Antony’s College, Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes Scholarship. His work has appeared in such outlets as Foreign Affairs, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Orbis, and he has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and BBC.
- Global Security Forum 2015| Monday, November 16th | 9:30 – 10:45 | CSIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Join the Center for Strategic and International Studies at their 2015 Global Security Forum. Panels include: The Geopolitical Implications of Europe’s Migration Crisis, Russia’s Strategic Vision, Counter-Coercion Strategies: Assessing U.S. Next Steps in Maritime Asia, and The Human Crisis in Syria and Iraq: What Can be Done? Speakers include: Philipp Ackerman, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Geoff Dyer, Financial Times Correspondent, Washington Bureau, Catherine Wiesner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
- Countering Terrorism In Tunisia: Prospects For Security Sector Reform | Monday, November 16th | 12:00-1:30 | Project on Middle East Democracy | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Despite the immense progress Tunisia has made in its transition since the Jasmine Revolution, significant challenges—both internal and external—threaten the future of Tunisia’s democracy. As major terrorist attacks have negatively affected the country’s security and economic stability, Tunisia’s government has struggled to find an appropriate and effective response to counter the threat of terrorism.The Legatum Institute’s upcoming publication Tunisia at Risk: Will counter-terrorism undermine the revolution? analyzes successive Tunisian governments’ responses to terrorism and considers the relation between these responses and the future of the country’s democratic transition. Speakers include: Fadil Aliriza, visiting senior fellow, Legatum Institute, Daniel Brumberg, co-director, Democracy & Governance Studies, Georgetown University, and Querine Hanlon, president, Strategic Capacity Group.
- A Look at the Policy Options in War-torn Syria | Monday, November 16th | 2:00 – 3:30 | Brookings Institute | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Syria continues to dominate headlines as the country approaches the fifth anniversary of the beginning of a civil war that has taken some 300,000 lives and displaced half the country’s population. To date, international strategy in addressing the conflict has largely failed. But the war shows few signs of burning out on its own. As such, a new strategy is needed. Ideas that have yet to be fully explored include standing up a better and newly formed Syrian opposition army, working harder to contain the violence there with regional states and partners, and pursuing an “ink spot” approach aiming to create a confederal Syria with multiple autonomous zones. Which of these may be most realistic and promising for protecting core American security interests, U.S. allies, and humanitarian interests? Panelists will include Daniel Byman, research director in the Center for Middle East Policy; William McCants, director of theProject on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World; Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Center for Middle East Policy.
- Twenty Years After the Dayton Peace Accords | Monday, November 16th – Tuesday, November 17th | Johns Hopkins SAIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) cordially invites you to our major conference “Prospects for Progress in Reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina” to be held at the SAIS campus. This conference is part of the Center’s 20th Anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords and intends to support socio-economic reforms effort launched recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina and supported by the International Community. Speakers include: Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Fadil Novalic, Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs).
- The Central African Republic: The Situation On the Ground, Women, and Peacekeeping | Wednesday, November 18th | 12:00 – 2:00 | Women’s Foreign Policy Group | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Barrie Freeman joined the United Nations as political affairs director for the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in September 2014. From 2011-2014, she served as director for North Africa at the National Democratic Institute, managing a wide range of political development programs in response to the political upheavals of the Arab Spring. Prior to that she served as a senior advisor to the institute and as deputy regional director for Central and West Africa, managing a diverse portfolio of country programs across the region that included support to electoral processes, civil society development, legislative strengthening, and political party development. Brown bag lunch will be supplied.
- Televising The Waves Of Political Change in Yemen | Wednesday, November 18th | 6:30 – 8:30 | Atlantic Plumbing Cinema | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Award-winning producer and journalist, Nawal Al-Maghafi, takes us on a journey into Yemen during the two most pivotal periods in the country’s modern history. Yemeniaty’s founder and director, Sama’a Al-Hamdani, will join Al-Maghafi to provide insight and analysis into the political and social dynamics that contributed to Yemen’s Revolution in 2011 and the failures of the transitional period that helped contribute to the regional proxy war. In this special screening of two mini documentaries, Al-Maghafi sheds light on one of the most unknown and complex countries in the Middle East. The first documentary takes place during the Arab-Spring inspired revolution of 2011, while the second film investigates the current humanitarian crisis facing the citizens of Yemen during this war. The screenings will be The President’s Man and His Revolutionary Son and Yemen: The Forgotten War.
- The Movement Of Women and Girls In Conflict: A Discussion On Protection, Reintegration and Migration | Thursday, November 19th | 9:00-10:30 | International Foundation for Electoral Systems| REGISTER TO ATTEND | “The Movement of Women and Girls in Conflict” will focus on the flight of women and girls in and from Central America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s headlines are filled with the harrowing journeys of refugees traveling to Europe and warnings about a global migration crisis. Less visible is the enduring plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) desperate for resources amid limited and dangerous movement. Women and girls in both groups, and particularly those in forgotten conflicts, are burdened by rampant gender-based violence, lack of health care and services, and little social and economic agency to lead their families, their communities and themselves to better and safer lives. Speakers include: Joan Timoney, Senior Director of Advocacy and External Relations, Women’s Refugee Commission, Reem Khamis, Protection/Gender Based Violence Technical Advisor, American Refugee Committee, and Shilpa Nadhan, Senior Program Specialist, International Organization for Migration.
- Afghanistan in 2015: A Survey Of The Afghan People | Thursday, November 19th | 9:30 – 11:30 | United States Institute of Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Asia Foundation’s series of annual surveys in Afghanistan provides an unmatched barometer of Afghan public opinion over time. Taken together, the surveys are a resource for policymakers in government, the international community and the broader Afghan public as they navigate a difficult landscape, seeking a more peaceful and prosperous future for Afghanistan and the region. Speakers include: David D. Arnold, president, The Asia Foundation, Timor Sharan, Program Management Director in Afghanistan, Andrew Wilder, Vice President, Asia Prorams, U.S. Institute of Peace.
- Ukraine: How to Build Social Peace Amid Displacement? | Thursday, November 19th | 10:00- 11:30 | U.S. Institute of Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Ukrainian civil society and women’s rights leader Natalia Karbowska and refugee specialist Dawn Calabia will examine the displacement of Ukrainians and ways that civil society and displaced people can foster social cohesion and resilience. Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and the former ambassador for global women’s issues, Melanne Verveer, will discuss Ukraine’s situation in light of other current migration crises, and ways in which it might unfold. Natalia Karbowska Board Chair of the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, Advisor at the Global Fund for Women, Dawn Calabia Senior Advisor at Refugees International, Ambassador William Taylor Executive Vic e President, U.S. Institute of Peace, and Melanne Verveer Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.
- Justice Mechanisms in the Syrian Conflict: Impunity under Scrutiny | Thursday, November 19th | 12:00 – 1:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | After four and a half years of civil war and more than 200,000 civilians killed, the Syrian conflict is seeing yet another escalation with Russia’s open military engagement. The lack of an international response to the humanitarian catastrophe affects not only Syria but Europe and the United States as well, where hundreds of thousands of Syrians seek refuge and returning foreign fighters present an increasing security threat. Please join the Atlantic Council, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the Commission for International Justice and Accountability for a discussion as our panel considers and evaluates practical methods for addressing both impunity and broader international security threats in the absence of a united international stance on the Syrian conflict. Speakers include:Ambassador Stephen Rapp has been a war crime diplomat and advocate of international criminal justice. Dr. William Wiley is a former infantry officer and a practitioner in the field of international criminal and humanitarian law who has investigated cases in former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, DRC, and Syria. Dr. Rolf Mützenich has extensive foreign policy and arms control expertise with a special focus on the Middle East, Russia, Afghanistan, and transatlantic cooperation. Mr. Faysal Itani focuses on US policy in the Levant, with an emphasis on the conflict in Syria and its regional impact.
- Ukraine: Public Opinion Amid War | Monday March 9 | 11:00 – 1:00 | USIP | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The survey of 2,000 Ukrainians, led by political psychologist Steven Kull at the University of Maryland and administered by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, was conducted Feb. 13-22, beginning one day after the latest ceasefire was to take effect and spanning the fall of Debaltseve to Russian-backed separatists. Conducted primarily through face-to-face interviews (telephone was used in some of the conflict areas), the poll also queries Ukrainians on how they think the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the EU are handling the crisis. Speakers will include Dr. Steven Kull, Director, Program for Public Consultation, and Senior Research Scholar, Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, Dr. Catherine McArdle Kelleher, College Park Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Representative to NATO and Amb. William B. Taylor, Acting Executive Vice President for USIP and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Christian Caryl, Contributing Editor, Foreign Policy will act as moderator.
- A Conversation on the Middle East with Stephen Hadley| Monday March 9 | 1:00 – 2:00 | SAIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | A conversation on the Middle East with Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, senior fellow, Foreign Policy Institute. Stephen Hadley served as the National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009. From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Hadley served as Deputy National Security Advisor. In addition to covering the full range of national security issues, he had special responsibilities in several areas including a U.S./Russia political dialogue, the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, and developing a strategic relationship with India.
- The Future of U.N. Peace Operations | Tuesday March 10 | 9:00 – 11:30 | USIP | REGISTER TO ATTEND | U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created the High-level Independent Panel on U.N. Peace Operations on October 31, 2014, to undertake a comprehensive review of peace operations. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace on March 10 for a discussion with a delegation from the U.N. panel co-hosted with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Better World Campaign. The independent panel is charged with reviewing the broad range of issues, including the changing nature of peacekeeping environments, evolving mandates, good offices and peacebuilding challenges, managerial and administrative reforms, planning, partnerships, human rights, and protection of civilians. Participants in the discussion at USIP will include Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta, who chairs the panel, and many of the panel’s 17 distinguished members. A U.S. government official will give a keynote address.
- Combatting Terrorism: Looking Over the Horizon | Tuesday March 10 | 12:30 – 1:30 | SAIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Recognizing that a military approach alone is insufficient for eradicating terrorism, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall will outline the United States government’s broad-based strategy to address violent extremism. Her remarks will explain why non-military foreign policy tools, such as development, stabilization efforts, humanitarian assistance, and peacebuilding are essential to current counterterrorism efforts and to prevent the rise of future threats. Under Secretary Sewall will also discuss the successful White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, convened by President Obama in February 2015, and the vision for a multi-institutional approach – inclusive of governments, civil society, and the private sector – to operationalize the prevention strategy.
- Israel’s Upcoming Elections: What to Watch, What to Expect | Wednesday March 11 | 2:00 – 3:30 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Israelis go to the polls on March 17 to elect the 20th Knesset, and with it a new government. The Israeli electorate is divided over national security, economics, and the public role of religion, and as many as ten parties are expected to win seats in the next Knesset. The elections also come at a pivotal moment in Israel’s foreign relations: nuclear negotiations with Iran are approaching a decisive moment, Israeli-Palestinian relations are tense, and the Netanyahu and Obama administrations are squabbling. How important are these elections? What might the results mean for Israel’s future, U.S.-Israeli relations and Israel’s foreign policy? On March 11, the Center for Middle East Policy will convene a panel of Brookings experts to preview Israel’s coming elections and their broader significance. Speakers include Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy, Itamar Rabinovich, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, Natan B. Sachs, Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Director, Center for Middle East Policy.
- Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions | Wednesday March 11 | 3:00 – 4:00 | Woodrow Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In shaping the institutions of a new country, what interventions from international actors lead to success and failure? Elton Skendaj’s investigation into Kosovo based on national survey data, interviews, and focus groups conducted over ten months of fieldwork, leads to some surprising answers. Dr. Skendaj will discuss his book, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions, which highlights efforts to build the police force, the central government, courts, and a customs service. Speakers include Elton Skendaj, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Miami and John R. Lampe, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park.
- Between the Millstones: The Status of Iraq’s Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul | Thursday March 12 | 9:00 – 10:30 | POMED | REGISTER TO ATTEND | POMED, the Institute for International Law and Human Rights, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, No Peace Without Justice, and Minority Rights Group International invite to a public panel in conjunction with the release of a new report, Between the Millstones: The State of Iraq’s Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul. This report offers a detailed account of the humanitarian crises and abuses suffered by Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities, women, and children since June 2014. It also provides an analysis of these atrocities within an international legal framework, as well as recommendations to various communities and stakeholders. Speakers include Johanna Green, Program Manager, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Sarhang Hamasaeed, Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace, Mark Lattimer, Executive Director, Minority Rights Group International, William Spencer, Executive Director, Institute for International Law and Human Rights.
- Israel’s Periphery Doctrine and Search for Middle East Allies | Thursday March 12 | 2:00 – 3:30 | Brookings Institution | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Israel’s objectives of national security and stability amidst a complex geopolitical environment led it to pursue, shortly after the founding of the nation in 1948, an overarching foreign policy strategy known as the “periphery doctrine.” Author Yossi Alpher outlines this doctrine in his new book, Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). On March 12, the Intelligence Project at Brookings will host Alpher, a former Israeli intelligence officer, for a discussion of the components, successes, and failures of the periphery doctrine; the strategy’s recent revitalization; and how the doctrine should be adapted to meet new global challenges. Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project, will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion.
Munqith Dagher Wednesday presented at CSIS his latest findings on Iraqi public opinion concerning ISIS. A pioneer in public opinion polling in Iraq and CEO of the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, Dagher challenged common narratives about ISIS as well as more conventional wisdom about terrorism and radicalization.
CSIS Fellow Anthony Cordesman reminded the audience that the Arab world plays the primary role in the campaign against ISIS. Arabs also remain the primary ISIS casualties: State Department data show an exponential increase in terrorist attacks in recent decades, from 300 major attacks yearly between 1998 and 2008 to 4700 in 2013. Neo-salafist extremist groups have been growing rapidly, by 60% in the last two years. Moreover, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) suffers social and economic deterioration, including rapid population growth and high unemployment – particularly among youth. These challenges must be overcome if ISIS and similar groups are to be defeated.
June 9, 2014 was a benchmark in the history of terrorism, Dagher argued. The takeover of Mosul and eventually 40% of Iraqi territory by ISIS was not entirely unexpected – in fact public opinion data had indicated deep problems in the Mosul area for years. In order to understand these problems more thoroughly, Dagher began a careful study of public opinion in Iraq and Syria, relying on a combination of nationwide face-to-face polling and in-depth interviews with opinion leaders from ISIS-controlled areas. The data provide tests for three alternative explanations of ISIS expansion: religion, poverty and lack of services, and political and social factors.
The first proposition is that ISIS represents Sunni religious sentiment in Iraq and Syria. Polling data however, point to disharmony between Sunni populations and ISIS: while 90% of respondents describe religion as important to their lives, only 13% of Syrians support ISIS, whereas 94% of Iraqi Sunnis describe it as a terrorist organization. There is also a strong ideological contradiction between the local population and ISIS: 81% of Iraqi Sunnis want separation of religion from politics. Dagher also pointed to the strong pride that Mosul Sunnis have for their history, which stands in contrast to ISIS’ destruction of cultural heritage. These recent actions may be less ideological imperative than ISIS response to recent controls put in place along the border that make smuggling historic artifacts more difficult.
A second explanation for the growth of ISIS is that it corresponds to high levels of poverty and failure of the state to provide services. This is often put forward as an explanation of radicalization more generally. However, Dagher could find no statistically significant differences between areas controlled by ISIS and areas outside of ISIS control in terms of unemployment. There is also no significant difference between Shia and Sunni household incomes. Dagher also pointed to the growth of ISIS in Libya, a country that has long enjoyed a relatively high level of development, according to UN Human Development Reports.
Instead, Dagher suggested that political and social factors are key to explaining ISIS’ growth. A number of indicators point in this direction. In the months leading up to the takeover of Mosul, 83-91% of Sunnis believed that Iraq was going in the wrong direction, registering high levels of discontent, insecurity and distrust of the state and the justice system. Sunnis also reported a drastic decline in national sentiment: while 80 percent saw nationality as the primary basis for their identity in 2008, only 40 percent did the same in 2014. Distressingly, similar results of growing insecurity and distrust were found in recent opinion polls in Libya and Yemen.
While these numbers paint a somber picture of the political situation in Iraq and the region more generally, there are also hopeful indications. Since the Maliki government was removed, trust in government made a tremendous jump, from 4% to 47%. There is also significant support for the international anti-ISIS coalition. These figures should give impetus to Iraq’s allies to focus on tackling the underlying political and social factors that have contributed to the rise of ISIS.
Dagher cautioned about the destabilizing role of Shia militias and the influence of Iran in the current fight against ISIS. Among Sunnis, the view of the Shia militias is extremely negative. This is hardly a surprise – Shia militias have displaced, killed and imprisoned Sunnis throughout the areas they have conquered. There is good reason to be highly critical of the use of Shia militias to defeat ISIS. The current offensive against Tikrit is one example – according to Dagher the embattled Tikritis would prefer ISIS over the Shia militias. If we want Sunni communities to fight ISIS, we must help them overcome the pervasive political and social problems they are facing and persuade them there is in fact hope at the end of the tunnel.
Dagher’s slide presentation is available here.