Peace picks May 12 – 16

1. Morocco’s Approach to Countering Violent Extremism

Monday, May 12 | 12:30pm

Webcast only

Webcast Reminder

Morocco’s traditionally strong counterterrorism efforts are now being challenged by the spread of terrorism to even the most stable parts of the region. At a time when al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is posing a formidable threat to the neighborhood, the crisis in Syria continues to serve as a magnet for aspiring jihadists, including Moroccans. Meanwhile, prisons in the region often facilitate radicalization rather than deter it, raising questions about how best to prevent and counter extremism and terrorism.

To discuss these and other aspects of Morocco’s threat environment, The Washington Institute is pleased to host a Policy Forum with Mohamed Salah Tamek.

Mohamed Salah Tamek is the delegate-general of Morocco’s Penitentiary and Reintegration Administration. Previously, he served as governor of the Oued Eddahab province, chief of staff to the interior minister, ambassador to Norway, and head of the security portion of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue.


2. Meet the Syria Opposition

Monday, May 12 | 3 – 4pm

New America Foundation, 1899 L Street NW Suite 400


The Syrian conflict just entered its fourth year and according to some estimates the death toll is approaching 150,000 killed. A revolution that began peacefully has morphed into one of the most violent wars in recent memory, creating not just bloodshed but an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. “Victory” for any party remains elusive, the Geneva talks proved fruitless and the UN’s Syria envoy is preparing to leave the task for someone else. So what possible solutions exist for Syria? After years of fighting, a fractured society, unspeakable brutality and a lack of commitment from the international community, is Syria’s future anything but bleak?

Join us for a conversation with members of the Syrian opposition delegation currently visiting Washington, DC for meetings with senior U.S. officials. They will discuss the opposition’s vision for a new Syria and what solutions, if any, exist for the current impasse. In addition, they will address the growing global concern over the rising power of extremists and what efforts are currently underway to counter these trends. Finally, the delegation will provide the latest updates and developments from the field as well as a blueprint for the future.

Hadi al-Bahra
Chief Negotiator and Secretary General of Political Committee

Monzer Akbik
Chief of Staff, Office of the President of the Syrian Coalition

Rime Allaf
Advisor to the President of the Syrian Coalition

Adnan Zulfiqar
Fellow, Truman National Security Project

3. Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Hospitality Under Pressure

Monday, May 12 | 3 – 4:30pm

Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium; 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW


In the last three years, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey seeking safety from their country’s civil war. The Turkish government responded generously, creating what The New York Times has called “perfect refugee camps” which provide not only shelter, but a wide range of services to the refugees. But after three years, Turkish hospitality is under strain. Only a third of the registered refugees live in the 22 camps; the rest are eking out an existence in border towns and on the margins of Turkish cities. With no end in sight to the violence in Syria and with hundreds more Syrians seeking to cross the border every week, Turkey faces enormous challenges in responding to the refugees.

On May 12, Kemal Kirişci, TUSIAD senior fellow and Turkey Project director in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, will present a new study examining the challenges that Turkey faces as close to a million Syrian refugees look more and more likely to stay on for a good while to come. Based on extensive field research, the study looks at Turkey’s strained hospitality from a humanitarian, political and international perspective. Following his presentation, comments will be offered by Daryl Grisgraber, senior advocate at Refugees International; Burcu Keriman Erdoğdu from the Turkish embassy; and Joseph Livingston of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the U.S. State Department. Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow and co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement will moderate the event and offer opening remarks.


4. Ivory Towers and Palace Guards: The Disconnect between Outside Expertise and Policymaking

Monday, May 12 | 4 – 5:30pm

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW


How does advice and information from outside experts and scholars reach top policymakers—or does it? Terms like “echo chamber” and “information bubble” are often employed to describe an environment where it is difficult for outside information to penetrate or influence the policy process. Author and consultant Suzanne Massie will share the inside story of her interactions with Ronald Reagan and how she provided him with an outside voice at a vital time. Reagan turned to Massie for her advice on understanding and dealing with Russians, and carried her suggestions — including the now famous Russian proverb, “trust but verify” — into his meetings with the new Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. You can read about her latest book here (


5. Energy and America’s Long War in the Middle East

Monday, May 12 | 5:30 – 7pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, CCAS Boardroom, ICC 241; 37th and O St NW


Oil and war have a deeply entangled history. Nowhere has this been truer than in the oil rich Persian Gulf, where oil producing states and outside powers, especially the United States, have struggled sometimes violently to secure their primacy over what has become a global energy regime. While it is commonly posited that wars in the region can or should be understood as struggles for control over oil, “Energy and America’s Long War in the Middle East” encourages a new way of seeing the relationships between oil, energy, war, and global capitalism. In particular, by examining the techno-political and militarized relations that came into being around oil and its distribution in the 1980s, Professor Jones argues that the distinction between energy and war were erased, collapsed in a new material order of militarized-energy networks with its epicenter in the Persian Gulf.

Toby Jones
Associate Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University


6. Drug Trafficking and Colombia’s Peace Process

Tuesday, May 13 | 9am – 12:30pm

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW


Peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are continuing in Havana, focused now on the issue of a “solution to the problem of illicit drugs.” The formal agenda for the negotiations includes crop substitution, participatory rural development, and more broadly, a “solution to the phenomenon of the production and commercialization of narcotics.” What is the overall situation of drug cultivation and trafficking in Colombia? What is the FARC’s role in various aspects of the drug trafficking chain? If an agreement is reached, how will the dynamic of drug trafficking in Colombia change in the post-conflict era? How does the regional debate over alternatives to the so-called “war on drugs” affect potential outcomes at the peace table?

An agenda of the event can be found here 


7. Thailand in Crisis: Scenarios and Policy Responses

Tuesday, May 13 | 9am – 12pm

Loews Madison Hotel, Montpelier Room; 1177 15th St NW


Thailand is working through a historic political crisis, which will likely shape the future of how political power is organized and used in the country. Thailand plays an integral role in the region and it is important for the United States to sustain engagement with a stable Thailand as part of its rebalance to Asia. This all-day conference will provide a much needed discussion that will focus on possible scenarios for Thailand’s volatile political situation and the implications for U.S. policy.

An agenda for the event can be found here


9. Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Pakistan

Tuesday, May 13 | 3:30 – 5pm

Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW


Pakistan is currently facing failed negotiations with the Taliban, increased jihadi terrorist attacks in its major cities, and an uncertain presidential transition in neighboring Afghanistan. While these developments have major implications for U.S. policy in the region, they pose near-existential threats to Pakistan, as well as fundamental challenges to the transition in Afghanistan. Samina Ahmed and Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group will introduce a discussion on these challenges and what can be done to address them. Carnegie’s Frederic Grare will moderate.


10. The Success and Failures of the Arab Revolutions: A Discussion With Gilles Kepel

Wednesday, May 14 | 12:30 – 2pm

Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW


Renowned French scholar Gilles Kepel will assess the shifting dynamics of the Arab revolutions and their potential future trajectory. The Brookings Institution’s William McCants will serve as a discussant. Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour will moderate.


11. India, China, and Russia: Prospects for Cooperation

Wednesday, May 14 | 1 – 5:15pm

Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW


India, China, and Russia are all set to play a major role on the global stage throughout the rest of the twenty-first century. The relationships between the three nations are complex, however, with opportunities for cooperation in areas of convergent interests often being hamstrung by long-standing disputes and rivalries. This half-day conference will explore how New Delhi, Beijing, and Moscow are likely to cooperate—or clash—on major questions of international order, including energy security, defense cooperation, and regional dynamics. It will also consider the likely implications for the West.

An agenda for the event can be found here 


12. Religion and Foreign Policy: A Transatlantic Dialogue

Thursday, May 14 | 10 – 11:30am

Carnegie Endowment, Root Room, 2nd Floor; 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW


On May 15, the religion, policy and politics project at Brookings will co-host an event with George Mason University and City University London to discuss how and when religion is relevant to foreign policy. Featuring remarks from State Department Special Advisor Shaun Casey and Merete Bilde, advisor at the European Union’s External Action Service, participants will explore various approaches to religious engagement in diplomacy, international religious freedom, and differences between U.S. and European approaches to these issues.

Brookings Senior Fellow E.J. Dionne will offer opening remarks. George Mason’s Peter Mandaville and City University London’s Sara Silvestri will present the findings of recent transatlantic conferences on the topic. The event will be moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow William Galston.

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