Apologies to Khulood Fahim, who prepared this piece in a timely way. It got stuck in my queue:
On November 20, Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute, Mohammed Alyahya of the Atlantic Council, and Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies attempted with moderator Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute to answer the question, “Is Lebanon Saudi Arabia’s New Zone of Confrontation with Iran?” The event took place at the Hudson Institute and was live-streamed online, which is how I accessed the discussion. The question, timely in light of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s recent resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia, was answered from a Saudi perspective (Alyahya), a Lebanese perspective (Badran), and an American perspective (Doran), all three of whom agreed with each other on several issues.
That the media has falsely portrayed recent events and Saudi Arabia’s intentions was a common theme presented by the speakers. Alyahya stated that there were two important issues at hand. First, Prime Minister Hariri cited several reasons for his resignation, including the dysfunctional nature of the Lebanese government and Hezbollah’s political control. The media’s narrative, however, has assumed that Hariri had been detained and placed under house arrest by Saudi Arabia, and has disregarded the reasons that Hariri himself put forth for his resignation. The second issue is the fear mongering efforts about strikes against Hezbollah by Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel, when no such intentions are present in any of those countries. These tactics, Alyahya maintained, are efforts to distract from “real problems” in Lebanon. The image of Saudi Arabia as an aggressor is one that the US media has been perpetuating as well, Doran added. The popularity of this image is due to two factors: persisting Obama foreign policy views that support Iran’s influence in Lebanon, and efforts to contradict President Trump, who is close to Saudi Arabia.
Badran also offered American policies from the Obama administration as reasons for the negative light in which Saudi Arabia is portrayed. In 2013, when Hezbollah began its military involvement in Syria, causing retaliation in the form of attacks in Beirut, Obama’s policy was to share intelligence with the Lebanese Armed Forces and to work with Hezbollah to limit such threats. The American goal of preserving Lebanon’s stability actually served to maintain Hezbollah’s power, Badran commented. In 2015, the basis upon which the US was supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces changed from UN Resolution 1701 to the portrayal of the Armed Forces as partners in counterterrorism efforts directed primarily at “Sunni jihadism,” a category in which the Obama administration also included Saudi Arabia. Such a narrative, then, made of Saudi Arabia an enemy, and further allowed for a “pro-Iran policy” in Lebanon.
Continuing to present an alternate picture, the speakers discussed the true extent of the power possessed by Prime Minister Hariri and Hezbollah. The initial idea that Hariri’s return to power in 2016 could limit Hezbollah’s power was erroneous, Alyahya began, and Saudi Arabia had opposed it from the beginning. Badran agreed, saying that the lesson learned in the last few weeks is that there are no strong Lebanese actors opposing Hezbollah, and that the government can be considered an “accomplice” to the organization. Echoing the Saudi stance, Badran opined that their original mistake was to allow Hariri to return to power in the first place, and that their recent push for his resignation was needed, albeit a “year too late.” Hezbollah’s power can be best imagined when seen in a regional context, as the organization is not merely a Lebanese problem. Hezbollah’s influence can be seen in multiple countries and on many levels, including in logistical planning on the behalf of Houthi rebels in Yemen, and in military involvement in Syria and elsewhere as Iranian proxies.
Saudi policy, Doran contended, is a message to Washington that there is no Lebanese alternative to Hezbollah’s power, and that, like Iran and Russia in Syria, Hezbollah has been building its power in Lebanon through the establishment of “red lines”- boundaries that it forces everyone to respect. Despite this, Doran explained that American policy so far has adopted an indirect approach, avoiding confrontation with Iranian proxies and instead supporting its own proxies, such as the Abadi regime in Iraq and the Lebanese Armed Forces. This approach has not been effective, as American proxies “never win” in clashes.
Badran stated that there is a desire in Lebanon to maintain the status quo, encouraging Saudi Arabia to deal with the Hezbollah by confronting Iran elsewhere and not Lebanon. Badran criticized this by saying that Lebanon is critical to Hezbollah’s activities, as it is a training ground and a base for its actors. “Lebanon,” he maintained, “is an exporter of destabilization to the region.”
Most pertinent in the discussion was what the panelists considered widespread misrepresentation of the situation, which has resulted in harmful misinterpretations, but Badran thought conflict or a “proxy war” in Lebanon unlikely.
- Lebanon in Crisis? The Impact of the Hariri Resignation and the Saudi-Iranian Cold War | Monday, November 13 | 11:00 – 12:00 pm | Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (event held by phone) | Register Here | The resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri is threatening again to plunge Lebanon into political and economic crisis or worse. A number of developments, including longstanding but growing tensions between Iran and Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia may well presage a deteriorating regional situation that could draw Lebanon as well as Israel into the fray. Join us BY PHONE as three veteran observers of Lebanese and regional politics analyze these developments and others as we enter yet another period of potential turbulence in Middle Eastern politics. Jane Harman of the Wilson Center will deliver opening remarks, after which Aaron David Miller will moderate a conversation featuring Hanin Ghaddar of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute, and Bassel F. Salloukh of the Lebanese American University.
- Religion and Foreign Policy: Exploring the Legacy of “Mixed Blessings” | Monday, November 13 | 2:00 – 3:00 pm | Center for Strategic and International Studies | Register Here | Please join the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs for a discussion marking the 10th anniversary of CSIS’s groundbreaking report, “Mixed Blessings: U.S. Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict-Prone Settings“. This report analyzed how religion affects international affairs, including through the faith and religious beliefs of politicians and elites; the belief structures that underlie national and international views; and the impact of religious organizations. At this event, Shaun Casey, former director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, will interview Liora Danan, lead author of Mixed Blessings and former chief of staff for the Office of Religion and Global Affairs, to discuss the report’s goals and relevance in diplomacy today. Following their interview, Shannon N. Green, director and senior fellow of HRI, will moderate an expert panel to assess the impact of religion on foreign policy over the decade since the report’s release. Panelists include Rebecca Linder Blachly of Episcopal Church and Eric Patterson of Georgetown University.
- 2017 Transatlantic Economic Forum – Day 1 | Monday, November 13 | 8:30 am – 5:30 pm | Center for Transatlantic Relations (held at SAIS Kenney Auditorium) | Register Here | The 5th annual Transatlantic Economic Forum will bring together government and business community leaders from 20 countries of the larger Mediterranean, including the Gulf and the Middle East, and is organized in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The first day will consist of four panels and three keynote addresses. The first panel, titled “Doing Business in Maghreb,” will include Mahieddine Taleb of Sonatrach (Algeria), Adel Mohsen Chaabane of AmCham (Tunisia), Mustafa Sanalla of the National Oil Corporation (Libya), Omar Mohanna of the Suez Cement Group of Companies (Egypt), and Asmaa El Mkhentar of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy (Morocco). Greg Lebedev of CIPE and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will moderate. The second panel, “Doing Business in The Balkans,” will consist of a conversation between Mujo Selimovic of the CTR-SAIS Mediterranean Basin Initiative Corporate Advisory Board and moderator Michael Haltzel, a CTR – SAIS Senior Fellow. The panel “Security and Military Cooperation: Safeguarding the Mediterranean part 1” will feature Mitar Klikovac of the Embassy of Montenegro to the United States, Dragan Galić of the Embassy of Serbia to the United States, and Khaled Shawky and Ayman Aldesouky Youssef of the Embassy of Egypt to the United States. Hans Binnendijk of CTR – SAIS will moderate. The final panel of the day, “Security and Military Cooperation: Safeguarding the Mediterranean part 2” will include Michael Barbero of the United States Army, Fahrudin Radoncic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ambassador of Croatia in the United States Pjer Simunovic, Michael MacQueen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and moderator Don Jensen of CTR – SAIS.
- Sectarianism and Conflict in the Middle East | Tuesday, November 14 | 9:00 am – 12:15 pm | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Register Here | What’s driving the spread of Sunni-Shia identity politics in today’s Middle East? How is sectarianism contributing to the region’s instability and conflicts? The authors of a new edited volume, Beyond Sunni and Shia: The Roots of Sectarianism in a Changing Middle East, will discuss how geopolitics, governance, media, and other factors are fueling sectarianism. This event will consist of two panels. The first, titled, “Regional Cases and Geopolitical Sources of Sectarianism: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria” will feature Cole Bunzel of Princeton University, Fanar Hadad of the National University of Singapore, Afshon Ostovar, of the Naval Postgraduate School, and Heiko Wimmen of the International Crisis Group. The second panel, moderated by Marc Lynch of Carnegie’s Middle East Program and titled “Domestic and Institutional Sources of Sectarianism: Governance, Political Economy, Clerics, and Social Media” will include Joseph Bahout of Carnegie’s Middle East Program, Justin Gengler of Qatar University, Alexander Henley of the University of Oxford, and Alexandra Siegel of New York University.
- Afghanistan 2017: A Survey of Public Perceptions | Tuesday, November 14 | 10:00 – 11:30 am | United States Institute of Peace | Register Here | The recent escalation of attacks in Kabul underscores the crucial questions of security, economic stability and reconciliation that still confront President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, despite the significant progress Afghanistan has made. Those questions and other pressing issues facing the country are the subject of the Asia Foundation’s 2017 Survey of the Afghan People. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace on Tuesday, November 14, for the foundation’s presentation of the findings and a discussion of the trends in citizens’ views over time. Speakers will include Dr. Tabasum Akseer of the Asia Foundation, Ambassador Daniel F. Feldman of Akin Gump, Dr. Zach Warren of The Asia Foundation, and Mr. Scott Worden of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
- 2017 Transatlantic Economic Forum – Day 2 | Tuesday, November 14 | 8:30 am – 6:45 pm | Center for Transatlantic Relations (held at SAIS Kenney Auditorium) | Register Here | The second day of the Transatlantic Economic Forum will consist of five panels. The first, “Working Through Reforms: What’s Next?” will feature Marinko Cavara, President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bruce Berton, OSCE Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Dejan Vanjek, Foreign Policy advisor to Dragan Covic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Daniel Serwer of CTR – SAIS will moderate. “Diversifying Economies: The Private Sector As The Key To Building Prosperity” will include panelists Dalibor Milos of Aluminij d.d. (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ali Haddad of ETRHB Haddad Group (Algeria), Hisham Fahmy of AmCham Egypt, Inc., and moderator Andras Simonyi of CTR – SAIS. Participating in the panel “Macedonia: Turning New Page” will be Kocho Angjushev, Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Lilica Kitanovska of Voice of America, and Edward Joseph of CTR – SAIS. The fourth panel, titled “The Gulf Countries: Strengthening Transatlantic Cooperation,” will include participants Omar A. Bahlaiwa of the Committee for International Trade (Saudi Arabia), Bilal Sabouni of the American Business Council in Dubai (UAE), and moderator Khush Choksy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mehdi Bendimerad of the Algerian Business Association, Jasmin Mahmuzic of the Banking Agency of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and moderator Steve Lutes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will participate in the final panel, “Regional and Transatlantic Cooperation: A Key To Growth and Prosperity.”
- 71st Annual Conference: Conflicts, Costs, and Policy Pathways | Wednesday, November 15 | 9:00 am – 5:00 pm | Middle East Institute (held at The Capital Hilton) | Register Here | The Middle East Institute’s (MEI) 71st Annual Conference will convene innovative leaders, foreign policy practitioners, and analysts from the Middle East and the United States to explain the challenges and opportunities facing the region and assess current policies. The conference will feature four expert discussions that will delve into U.S. Middle East priorities, paths for resolving the region’s civil wars, the humanitarian outlook in countries plagued by conflict, and the growing impact of women’s activism. Amb. (ret.) Wendy J. Chamberlin of MEI will deliver opening remarks. Participants will include Gen. (ret.) John Allen of The Brookings Institution, Fawziah Bakr al-Bakr of Al Jazeera, Wafa Ben Hassine of Access Now, Amb. (ret.) Gerald Feierstein of MEI, Amb. (ret.) Robert Ford of the Middle East Institute, Philip Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations, Simon Henshaw of the U.S. Department of State, Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, Hind Aboud Kabawat of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee, Michael Klosson of Save the Children, Nancy Lindborg of USIP, Clare Lockhart of the Institute for State Effectiveness, Rania A. Al‐Mashat of the International Monetary Fund, Hideki Matsunaga of the World Bank, Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute, Randa Slim of MEI and Johns Hopkins SAIS, Nafeesa Syeed of Bloomberg News, Jonathan Winer of the Middle East Institute, and Juan Zarate of the Financial Integrity Network.
- Water Security in the Middle East – Source of Tension or Avenue for Peace? | Wednesday, November 15 | 9:00 – 11:00 am | Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars | Register Here | In the Middle East, water scarcity is a source of tension. But some innovative leaders in the region have approached better water management as a shared priority that transcends borders and politics—and that could even serve as a potential platform for peace. For more than 20 years, EcoPeace Middle East has worked across the Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli borders to promote practical solutions to transboundary water scarcity and pollution. Join us for a unique conversation with EcoPeace’s three co-directors—representing Jordan, Palestine, and Israel—who will share their experiences using water diplomacy to improve livelihoods, create healthy interdependencies, and enhance regional stability. The discussion will also identify opportunities for progress on water issues within the peace process and the important role of the United States in fostering regional water security and stability. Speakers include Sherri Goodman, Former U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Roger-Mark De Souza of the Wilson Center, Aaron Salzberg of the U.S. Department of State, and Gidon Bromberg, Nada Majdalani, and Yana Abu Taleb of EcoPeace Middle East.
- Deconflicting in Syria: Turkey’s Idlib Operation | Wednesday, November 15 | 2:30 – 4:00 pm | Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research (SETA) | Register Here | In early October, Turkey deployed its forces to establish a presence in Syria’s Idlib province. The deployment aims to establish a de-conflict zone in Idlib as part of a deal reached at negotiations in Astana between Turkey, Russia, and Iran. In addition to limiting conflict between the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army in Idlib and the Assad regime, Turkey has also characterized the operation as an effort to prevent further expansion by the PYD in northern Syria. The US has remained skeptical about the Astana process, particularly over Iran’s involvement as a guarantor. While the US said that it would not provide tangible support for Turkey’s operation in Idlib, the Department of Defense said that the US supports Turkey’s efforts to secure its borders against terror groups such as Al Qaeda. At the same time, the US continues to partner with the PYD in northern Syria, a long-standing point of contention in the US-Turkey relationship. Please join the SETA Foundation at Washington DC for a timely discussion on this crucial issue in the Syrian conflict and what Turkey’s operation in Idlib means for US-Turkey relations. Panelists include Luke Coffey of The Heritage Foundation, Kadir Ustun of The SETA Foundation, and Nidal Betare of People Demand Change. Kilic Kanat of the SETA Foundation will moderate.
- 2017 Transatlantic Economic Forum – Day 3 | Wednesday, November 15 | 10:00 am – 6:45 pm | Center for Transatlantic Relations (held at SAIS Kenney Auditorium) | Register Here | The final day of the Transatlantic Economic Forum will consist of three panels and will end with the CTR SAIS 2017 Mediterranean Basin Award Ceremony. The first panel, “Turkey and Transatlantic Relations Book launch,” will include panelists Donald Jensen of CTR – SAIS, Kilic Bugra Kanat of the SETA Foundation, Jennifer Miel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Serdar Altay of ISPAT. Aylin Unver Noi of CTR – SAIS will moderate. The second panel, titled “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Towards It’s European Future,” will feature Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Goran Mirascic of The World Bank Group, Valentin Inzko of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mak Kamenica of USAID, and Michael Haltzel of CTR – SAIS. Panelists participating in the final event, “Algeria and Transatlantic Relations Book Launch,” include Ismael Chikhoune of the US – Algeria Business Council, Jeremy Berndt of the Department of State, Mehdi Bendimerad of System Panneaux Sandwichs, and moderator Samy Boukaila of CTR – SAIS.
- Education for Displaced Syrians: Innovative Solutions to a Complex Challenge | Thursday, November 16 | 12:00 – 2:00 pm | Marvin Center, George Washington University | Register Here | Join George Washington University’s No Lost Generation chapter for an engaging discussion on innovative approaches to education for displaced Syrian communities, from after school programs in Turkey to international networks that connect Syrian students with higher education opportunities.This event has been made possible with support from Turkish Heritage Organization. Speakers include Lina Sergie Attar of the Karam Foundation, Katherine Miller of the Institute for International Education, George Batah of Syrian Youth Empowerment, and Dr. Jessica Anderson of George Washington and Georgetown Universities.
Building the Programs That Can Better Build Peace | Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 | 9:30-11:00 | United States Institute of Peace | Register Here |
On March 7, members of the consortium at USIP will describe their findings, including new tools that can assess and improve the effectiveness of peacebuilding programs. The work of accountability is vital to prove the case for peacebuilding as a strategy—and to sustain support from donors and taxpayers. Several non-government organizations—including Alliance for Peacebuilding, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground—have formed a Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium. This group is developing better tools for the design, monitoring and evaluation of programs abroad.
What Both Parties Like: Two-State Solution and Beyond | Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 | 12-1:30 | United States Institute of Peace | Register Here |
President Trump expressed an early interest in making “the ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians, but it remains unclear how the administration plans to engage on this conflict. Polls of Israelis and Palestinians consistently suggest that while support is shrinking for the two-state solution, it remains the preferred outcome. So what are the alternatives, and how politically and logistically feasible are they? The conversation will include Dahlia Scheindlin, who recently proposed a confederal approach as a “Third Way for Israel-Palestine.” She will be joined by Khaled Elgindy, a former advisor on permanent status negotiations to the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership, and by USIP’s Mike Yaffe, formerly the senior advisor to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the Department of State.
Will Washington and Moscow Work Together in the Middle East? | Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 | 12:00-1:30 | Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington | Register Here|
Join AGSIW for a discussion of how the U.S. and Russian Middle East agendas converge and diverge, and how the prospect of a new level of coordination between them is viewed both in Europe and the Gulf.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump advocates greater cooperation with Russia, including in the Middle East. But how compatible are Russian and U.S. regional strategic goals, especially over the long run? Can the new administration simultaneously pursue cooperation with Moscow and confrontation with Tehran, given the close partnership between Russia and Iran? Will Washington identify and exploit differences between Russian and Iranian priorities, particularly in Syria? How can Gulf Arab countries adapt to this complex evolving environment and protect their own interests?
Chasing War: The struggle for journalism in ISIS’ Middle East | Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 | 3:00-4:30 | Elliott School |Register Here|
Shaheen Pasha is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She previously worked as the Middle East Regional Editor for The Brief, a legal magazine published by Thomson Reuters. Prior to launching the magazine, Pasha was the Islamic finance correspondent at Thomson Reuters, based in Dubai. She has been an assistant professor of journalism at The American University in Cairo, teaching print and online journalism for undergraduate and graduate students, and has worked at CNNMoney.com as a banking and legal reporter, covering the Supreme Court and the Enron trial. Pasha was also a reporter at Dow Jones Newswires, where she had a daily column in the Wall Street Journal and appeared as a regular correspondent on CNBC Asia, covering the ADR market. Pasha will join us at the Elliott School on March 7 to discuss the challenges for those in the journalism and media industries in covering the war in Syria and the ongoing conflict in Iraq. She will give some background on the conflict, bringing in a discussion of the difficulties journalists are facing on the ground, and ISIS’ own media efforts in the form of their magazine, Dabiq. This event aims specifically to engage journalists and other media specialists, but is open to all.
Prospects for Ending the Civil War in Libya | Thursday, March 9th, 2017 | 10:00-11:30 | Atlantic Council | Register Here |
The situation in Libya today, as a result of increasing fragmentation and polarization among actors, is on the verge of a breaking point. So far, the competing authorities in the country – namely the Presidential Council and Government of National Accord established by a United Nations-backed process, and the eastern-based House of Representatives and head of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar – have failed to come to an agreement to end the conflict. In this environment, it is more important than ever to offer perspectives on ways in which the new US administration can help Libya move toward stability. The Rafik Hariri Center will convene a panel of experts to discuss the current situation in Libya and explore ways forward out of the current conflict.
The View From Israel: A Conversation with Reuven Azar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel | Thursday, March 9th, 2017 | 12-1 | Wilson Center | Register Here |
Israel sits in the middle of a volatile Middle East and at a nexus of issues critical to regional stability, security and American national interests. Join the Wilson Center as a veteran Israeli diplomat, Reuven Azar, offers observations on the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the Iran nuclear deal, the pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace, Russia’s role in the region and Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors.
The Syrian Crisis: American Interests and Moral Considerations | Friday, March 10th, 2017 | 11:45-1:30 | Hudson Institute | Register Here |
After nearly six years, Syria remains locked in a bloody civil war while Iran and Russia continue to be President Bashar al-Assad’s primary enablers. Assad’s Syria offers Iran an important supply line to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. The war has taken the lives of more than 400,000 Syrians and has displaced more than 9 million, creating a refugee crisis that has been felt around the world.
U.S. response to the Syrian civil war has been inconsistent. President Obama lacked a coherent strategy for dealing with Syria and infamously chose inaction after Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. President Trump has made it clear that he intends to refocus U.S. efforts abroad and pursue a foreign policy focused primarily on American interests. He has, along with his Secretaries of State and Defense, signaled a willingness to take a very different approach to Syria.
What are the most pressing U.S. interests in the outcome of the Syrian civil war? What moral obligation, if any, does the U.S. have to help the region regain stability and to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people? What options are before the Trump administration, and do those options take into consideration both U.S. security and humanitarian concerns? To address these questions and more, Hudson Institute and Providence Magazine will host a March 10 panel discussion with Marc LiVecche, managing editor of Providence Magazine, and Hudson fellows Michael Doran, Nina Shea, and Rebeccah Heinrichs.
- Ten days after Quelling the Coup: Where is Turkey Headed? | Tuesday, July 26th | 11:30 AM | The Atlantic Council | Click HERE to RSVP | Last week’s failed coup attempt in Turkey has raised serious questions about Turkey’s domestic political and security situation. The immediate aftermath of last weekend’s events will have significant implications for a range of Western interests, from the fight against ISIS to EU membership to Turkey’s role in the Middle East. To what extent did the attempted coup indicate an irreparable rift in the Turkish armed forces? How will the United States manage the fragile Turkish relationship in light of accusations of an American role in the plot and demands for extraditing Fethullah Gulen? How far will President Erdogan go to purge government institutions and how will this impact the country’s political and economic future? A conversation with: Elmira Bayrasli, Visiting Fellow at the New America Foundation, and Steven A. Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The discussion will be moderated by Aaron Stein, Senior Resident Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, and an introduction by Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.
- Israel and Hezbollah: The Prospect of Renewed Hostilities Ten Years after War | Tuesday, July 26th | 11:45 AM – 1:30 PM |Hudson Institute | Click HERE to RSVP | On July 12, 2006, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah ambushed an Israel Defense Force patrol near the Lebanese border. Three IDF soldiers were killed on the spot and another two were taken hostage. Israel retaliated by bombing the Beirut airport and other key targets. Thus began what Israel refers to as the Second Lebanon War, a conflict that lasted 34 days and set the stage for much of what has happened in the Levant over the last ten years. Israel quietly secured the Israel-Lebanon border, and Hezbollah pivoted to fight in Syria. Ten years later, both sides face circumstances similar to those that led to war a decade ago. In recent years, Iran has dramatically increased Hezbollah’s weaponry capabilities by supplying Russian-made “Kornet” missiles, surface-to-air missile defense systems, and surface-to-ship cruise missiles. Israel’s concerns are compounded by Tehran’s increasingly assertive regional posture and ballistic missile tests conducted since signing the nuclear agreement. Hezbollah is still Iran’s most impressive export, but it is hemorrhaging fighters in Syria to a sectarian war in which it is outnumbered eight to one. Many throughout the Middle East and in the West believe that regional tensions and hot spots will necessarily drive Israel and Hezbollah to resume hostilities. On July 26, Hudson Institute will host a timely panel on the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and the prospect of resumed conflict. Panelists include Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel Reuven Azar, Hudson Senior Fellow Michael Doran, and Foundation for Defense of Democracies Research Fellow Tony Badran. Hudson Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate the conversation.
- Will North America become the next Saudi Arabia? | Tuesday, July 26th | 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM | New America Foundation | Click HERE to RSVP | Not long ago Washington policymakers spent a great deal of time bemoaning our ever increasing dependence on foreign (especially, alas, Middle Eastern) oil. Rarely has such pessimistic groupthink proven so misguided. North America is blessed with a number of comparative advantages when it comes to producing energy at a low cost, and Canada’s increased oil production, innovation in alternative energy research, Mexico’s historic energy reforms, and the shale revolution across the region have only accentuated North America’s potential to become the world’s dominant energy superpower. On the heels of the North American Leaders Summit, Future Tense and the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute invite you to join them for a conversation on what it will take for North America to fulfill its energy potential. People tend to obsess over the monthly gyrations of oil prices and the latest regulatory battle over shale or pipeline-building, but we want to look forward to 2050. With the new North American Climate, Energy, and Environment Partnership what concerted steps should Canada, Mexico, and the United States be taking to ensure that North America will become the world’s leading energy power for generations? And how can this region lead the world not only in output and economic growth, but also in setting new standards of environmental responsibility and sustainability? Panelists include: Hector Moreira, Director of Energy Model for Mexico Initiative at Arizona State University and Commissioner, Mexican National Commission of Hydrocarbons, and Former Under Secretary of Energy of Mexico; Laura Dawson, Director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center and Former Senior Advisor on economic affairs at the United States Embassy in Ottawa; and Sharon Burke, Senior Advisor for International Security and Resource Security at New America and Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy.
- Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World | Wednesday, July 27th | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Middle East Institute at the Carnegie Endowment’s Choate Room | Click HERE to RSVP | The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host Shadi Hamid (Brookings Inst.), Nathan Brown (George Washington Univ.) and Hassan Mneimneh (MEI) for a discussion about how Islam shapes public life, law, and the state. The conversation will explore and challenge the thesis behind Hamid’s new book,Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World. In Islamic Exceptionalism, Hamid argues that Islam is distinctive among the world’s cultural systems in how it conceives religion and politics as intertwined. In this exceptionalism he sees an intrinsic resistance to secularization, with profound implications for how the West can interact with the Middle East. The panelists will address Hamid’s provocative thesis and offer their own analyses of Islam’s relationship with politics. Sumaiya Hamdani (George Mason Univ.) will moderate the discussion. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.
- French Leadership in a Post-Brexit Europe | Thursday, July 28th | 10:00 AM | Atlantic Council | Click HERE to RSVP | Europe faces historic challenges from the east and the south, at the same time as internal forces of fragmentation call into question the unity and direction of the European Union (EU). In the wake of the Brexit referendum, horrific terrorist attacks, an unprecedented migration crisis, and a continually sluggish economy, the future of Europe is in play. As a nation that combines strategic outlook, political will, military capabilities, and economic wherewithal, France is poised to shape Europe’s future. Since the end of World War II, Paris has played a leading role in advancing the European project. Franco-German political cooperation set the terms for integration. Franco-British military cooperation ensured Europe remained a serious security actor. Today, France is the bridge between the EU’s northern and southern members. France has the history, geography, and demography to help Europe navigate the confluence of challenges buffeting the continent. However, next year’s elections in France will likely determine whether France helps Europe hold together or succumbs to the challenges of economic stagnation, political fragmentation, and populism. Panelists include: H.E. Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States; Ambassador John Herbst, Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council; Ambassador Frederic Hof, Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council; Ms. Laure Mandeville, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Future Europe Initiative, Atlantic Council. With an introduction by Mr. Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of Programs and Strategy at the Atlantic Council.
- Restoring NATO’s Power And Purpose| Monday, June 27th | 1:30 | Atlantic Council | 1030 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA| Register HERE | After Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, the NATO Alliance has become more important than ever as a platform for European cooperation and security. What the Alliance achieves at its upcoming Warsaw Summit will be integral in defining NATO’s role in the new Euro-Atlantic security environment and strengthening international peace and stability in a turbulent world. Framing a critical conversation about the Alliance’s strategic priorities, this event will present the final conclusions of an Atlantic Council-chartered study on the future of NATO co-chaired by Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns and General James L. Jones. The study is premised on the belief that the Alliance is facing its greatest set of internal and external challenges since the Cold War. The report calls for renewed leadership by the United States and key European allies to restore NATO’s power and purpose in the face of an entirely different security landscape. Featuring a panel discussion with Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Former US Ambassador to NATO; and General James L. Jones, Chairman and Board Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council; the event will convene key transatlantic officials and leaders to discuss what the US, UK, and crucial European Allies must do to bolster NATO’s strength and solidarity in a post-Brexit Europe.
- Challenges And Opportunities For The U.S. Government To Improve The Protection Of Civilians In Armed Conflict| Monday, June 27th | 3:30-5:00 | Stimson Center | 8th floor, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 | Register HERE | To mark the Washington, D.C. launch of Protection of Civilians, a comprehensive volume published by Oxford University Press, the Stimson Center will host a discussion examining how the U.S. government can advance the protection of civilians agenda. Panelists from inside and outside the U.S. government will explore how the government has engaged through bilateral diplomatic channels and multilateral institutions to prevent and respond to violence against civilians in conflict zones. The panel discussion will be followed by a reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. This event will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Speakers include: Victoria K. Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Deputy Executive Director at Human Rights Watch, Lise Grande, Deputy Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Tamara Guttman, Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START).
- Is China’s Door Closing? | Tuesday, June 28th | 2:30-4:00 | Woodrow Wilson Center | 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004 | Register HERE | Ever since Deng Xiaoping launched his reforms in 1978, “openness” (对外开放) has been a central tenet of Chinese policy. While the actual degree of China’s openness has varied from time to time and sector to sector over the past 38 years, the trend toward greater liberalization of society, institutions, and the economy has been clear. Until recently. The passage of China’s foreign NGO law raises doubts about Xi Jinping’s commitment to further opening and reform. The law, which places foreign NGO’s under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Security, is the latest in a series of regulations meant to control “hostile foreign forces.” Surveys indicate that foreign companies are concerned about tightening business regulations in China and wonder whether they are as welcome as they were in recent decades. International journalists and publishers, too, are finding it difficult to obtain visas and to reach Chinese audiences. Is China’s door closing to foreigners? Why are conditions changing for international actors in China? How should the United States respond? Please join us for a discussion of the future of American NGO’s, corporations, and media in Xi’s China. Speakers: Erin Ennis, Senior Vice President, US-China Business Council Isaac Stone Fish, Asia Editor, Foreign Policy Shawn Shieh, Deputy Director, China Labour Bulletin.
- Changing Tides: The Road To Reconciliation And The Future Of Turkish – Israeli Relations | Tuesday, June 28th | 4:00-6:00 | Turkish Heritage Organization | Carnegie Endowment Conference Center | 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW | In light of these recent developments and the possibility that a deal between Turkey and Israel is imminent, the Turkish Heritage Organization is hosting a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, June 28th from 4-6pm at the Carnegie Endowment Conference Center to explore and discuss the prospects for reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, the final stages of a deal and what the future might look like for both countries. Spakers include: Dr. Brenda Shaffer, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council; Dan Arbell, Nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC; and Moran Stern, Georgetown University, Center for Jewish Civilization. The moderator will be Dr. Mark Meirowitz, Assistant Professor at SUNY Maritime College.
- Media Activism Amid Civil War: The Role of Syrian Women Journalists | Wednesday, June 29th | 12:30-1:45 | Middle East Institute | 1761 N Street NW Washington, DC 20036 | Register HERE | Syrian citizen-journalists, bloggers, and media activists have played a critical role covering one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts. They do so in the face of significant challenges – from fear for their safety, to overcoming international indifference to the story of an unending conflict. Women journalists face even greater challenges and yet many continue to work in the field. Non-profit initiatives like the Syrian Female Journalists’ Network are providing training and support while promoting a better understanding of the important role of women in the Syrian uprising. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host the founders of the Syrian Female Journalists Network, Rula Asad and Milia Eidmouni, and radio journalist Caroline Ayoub for a discussion of their work in promoting the roles of Syrian women in journalism and civil society. Kate Seelye will moderate the discussion with the activists, who are visiting Washington as part of an Asfari Foundation-backed program to highlight the ongoing role of Syrian civil society.
- Kurdistan Rising? Considerations For Kurds, Their Neighbors, And The Region | Wednesday, June 29th | 3:00-4:30 | American Enterprise Institute |1150 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036| Register HERE | Two decades ago, many US officials would have been hard-pressed to place Kurdistan on a map, let alone consider the Kurds as allies. Today, Kurds loom large on the Middle Eastern stage, highlighting their renewed push for independence amid the chaos in Iraq. In his new monograph, “Kurdistan Rising? Considerations for Kurds, Their Neighbors, and the Region,” AEI’s Michael Rubin examines the effects of Kurdish independence and unresolved questions that would follow an independent Kurdistan, including citizenship, political structures, defense, economic systems, and renegotiation of treaties to include the Kurds. Lukman Faily, Iraqi ambassador to the United States; James F. Jeffrey, former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey; and Michael Rubin, resident scholar at AEI, will speak.
- Congo Crisis: Getting to Good Elections in a Bad Neighborhood | Wednesday, June 29th | 4:00pm | Institute of World Politics | 1521 16th Street NW Washington, DC | Register HERE | Charles Snyder, Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Professor of African Affairs, IWP, will speak about prospects for Congo.
- Toward a “Reaganov” Russia: Assessing trends in Russian national security policy after Putin | Monday, October 5th | 10:00 – 11:30 | Brookings | REGISTER TO ATTEND | During their recent speeches before the United Nations General Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama traded strong words on issues from Ukraine to arms control to Syria. The exchange between the two presidents unfolded as questions about Russia’s long-term foreign policy ambitions and grand strategy return to the forefront of policy debate. To better understand what lies ahead in Russian foreign and security policy, analysts must explore variances between Russian strategic culture and the agenda put forward by President Putin. Disentangling these differences will be crucial for U.S. policy planning of the future. Brookings Senior Fellow Clifford Gaddy joins Michael O’Hanlon, author of “The Future of Land Warfare,” to discuss their research on the issue, focusing on five possible paradigms for the future of Russian grand strategy. Former ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, presently the director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at Brookings, will also participate in the panel.
- United States and China: Trends in Military Competition | Monday, October 5th | 12:00 – 1:00 | RAND Corporation | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Over the past two decades, China has poured resources into upgrading its military. This modernization, coupled with China’s increasingly assertive position in the waters surrounding the mainland, has caused concern in Washington and capitals across Asia. Recently, a team of RAND researchers led by Eric Heginbotham released The U.S.-China Military Scorecard report. This study is the broadest and most rigorous assessment to date of relative U.S. and Chinese military capabilities based entirely on unclassified sources. Join us to discuss the evolution of Chinese military capabilities in specific domains (air and missile, maritime, space, cyber, and nuclear) and the overall trend in the regional military balance over time; how Chinese relative gains could affect the strategic decision-making of Chinese leaders; steps the United States can take to limit the impact of a growing Chinese military on deterrence and other U.S. strategic interests. Eric Heginbotham is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation specializing in East Asian security issues.
- Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East | Tuesday, October 6th | 10:00 – 11:30 | Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Join The Center for Transatlantic Relations in a discussion on nuclear Middle East. This discussion with feature Yair Evron, professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, Tel-Aviv University and senior research associate for the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel-Aviv. Additionally, Ambassador Robert E. Hunter, senior fellow for Center for Transatlantic Relations will participate in the discussion.
- The Pivotal Moment: How the Iran Deal Frames America’s Foreign Policy Choices | Tuesday, October 6th | 12:00 – 1:00 | The Heritage Foundation | REGISTER TO ATTEND | At the core of the debate over the Iran deal are two distinct visions of what American foreign policy should be. In contrast to the politicized efforts to frame foreign affairs as a choice between isolationism, regime change, or some nebulous choice in between, the controversy over the efficacy of the Vienna Agreement represents the real difference between the alternatives being offered to the American people. This discussion aims to frame the distinctions between progressive and conservative foreign policy and the choice they represent for the nation as it considers what kind of statecraft to expect from the next administration. Speakers include: Colin Dueck, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Kim Holmes, Distinguished fellow, The Heritage Foundation.
- Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators | Tuesday, October 6th | 1:00 | Institute of World Politics | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the child of a Stalin or Hitler, a Mao or Castro, or Pol Pot? National Review’s Jay Nordlinger asked himself this. The result is Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators, an astonishing survey of the progeny of 20 dictators. Some were loyalists who admired their father. Some actually succeed as dictator. A few were critics, even defectors. What they have in common, Nordlinger shows, is the prison house of tainted privilege and the legacy of dubious deference.
- India and Pakistan: From Talks to Crisis and Back Again | Wednesday, October 8th | 8:30 – 10:00 | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The last few months have witnessed nascent efforts to restart high-level bilateral talks between Delhi and Islamabad dashed again by political maneuvering in both capitals. In addition, there has been an uptick in violence along the Line of Control in Kashmir and muscular signaling from both sides. Why has the latest effort between India and Pakistan to talk about the myriad issues between them fallen apart? What can we discern about the approach of Indian Prime Minister Modi toward Pakistan? How do civil-military politics in Pakistan inform its approach toward India? Are the two states doomed to a perpetual state of ‘not war, not peace,’ or is there hope for a way forward? Huma Yusuf , Wilson Center, and Aparna Pande, Hudson Institute, will discuss. Carnegie’s George Perkovich will moderate.
- What can Myanmar’s Elections tell us about Political Transitions? | Wednesday, October 7th | 9:30- 11:00 | Advancing Democratic Elections and Political Transitions consortium | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Elections are critical junctures in many transitions, providing clarity on whether a political transition is advancing or retreating – and Myanmar’s November 8, 2015 parliamentary elections promise to be such a watershed moment for the country’s potential democratic transition. Speakers Include: John Brandon, Senior Director at The Asia Foundation, Jennifer Whatley, Division Vice President, Civil Society & Governance at World Learning, Robert Herman, Vice President for Regional Programs at Freedom House, Jonathan Stonestreet, Associate Director of the Democracy Program at The Carter Center, Eric Bjornlund, President of Democracy International.
- A Saudi Arabian Defense Doctrine for a New Era | Thursday, October 8th | 10:00 – 11:30 | CSIS | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Saudi Arabia has in recent years consolidated its place as the preeminent Arab leader, regional stabilizer, and critical bulwark against terrorism and a nuclear Iran. The Kingdom’s growing security responsibilities require rapid and substantial military investments. Prince Sultan bin Khaled Al Faisal and Nawaf Obaid, visiting fellow and associate lecturer at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, will outline a comprehensive Saudi Arabian Defense Doctrine for a new era and explain why the Kingdom is likely to double down on defense and national security capabilities in the next decade.
- The EU Migration Crisis | Thursday, October 8th | 2:30 – 4:00 |Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies | REGISTER TO ATTEND |Dean Vali Nasr and The Human Security Iniative of the Foreign Policy Insitute Invite you to a panel discussion on The EU Migration Crisis. Speakers include: Michel Gabaudan, president, Refugees International, Reka Szemerkeny, Ambassador, Hungary, Peter Wittig, Ambassador, Germany.
- Democracy Rebooted: The Future of Technology in Elections | Friday, October 9th | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | As technology plays an increasingly dominant part of our lives, its role in elections has come under scrutiny. We are at a crucial moment to review the policies that influence elections and the technology we use to execute them. Why can we call a car, book a hotel, and pay bills on our phones, yet elections are often still implemented with pen and paper? Legitimacy, access, credibility, and trust are the issues that will require policymakers and technologists to carefully script the implementation of technology in our elections. Speakers include: Governor Jon Huntsman, Chairman Atlantic Council, Secretary Madeline Albright, David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor-in-Chief FP Group, Pat Merloe, Director, Electoral Programs, National Democratic Institute, Mark Malloch Brown, Former Deputy Secretary General, UN, Matthew Masterson, Commissioner, Electoral Assistance Commission, Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacte, Deputy Director, Electoral Assistance Division, UNDPA, Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffolio, President, Supreme Electoral Court, Brazil, Manish Tewari, Former Minister of Information, India.