This Week in DC: Events

August 11, 2014

Teleconference: Gaza Conflict Resumes After Ceasefire Ends
Date: August 11, 10:00am
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The breakdown in the 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and the resumption of the conflict between Israel and Hamas threatens to take the Gaza crisis to a new level. What are the prospects for escalation and/or for negotiations to de-escalate the situation? Can the requirements of the parties somehow be reconciled? What is the role of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt going forward? And what is the American role?

Join us BY PHONE as two veteran analysts of Israeli-Palestinian politics and security strategy discuss these and other issues.

Toll-Free Conference Line: 888-947-9018
Conference Line: 517-308-9006
Passcode: 13304

August 14, 2014

Preventing Violence in the Name of God: The Role of Religion in Diplomacy
Date: August 14, 10:00am
Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

In his remarks at the launch of the State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, Secretary of State John Kerry admonished, “We ignore the global impact of religion…at our peril,” and told Foreign Service officers “to go out and engage religious leaders and faith-based communities in our day-to-day work.” At a time when religious violence inflames much of the Middle East, the question of how diplomacy and religion can interact takes on high operational importance. What is the Department of State doing to fulfill Secretary Kerry’s instructions? What are the scope and limits of cooperation?

These are among the questions to be addressed in presentations by Jerry White (Conflict and Stability Operations, Department of State) and Arsalan Suleman (Organization for the Islamic Conference, Department of State), followed by comments from Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (former Undersecretary of State). MEI Scholar and retired Foreign Service officer Allen Keiswetter will moderate the panel.

Register here.

Which Poses the Bigger Threat to U.S. National Security—Iran or Non-State Sunni Extremism?
Date: August 14, 12:00pm
Location: Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC 20005

With the belief that Iran’s nuclear weapons program constituted the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East, Barack Obama entered the White House hoping to achieve a historic reconciliation with the Islamic Republic. But the administration’s current policies throughout the region suggest that the White House no longer sees Iran as the key problem. Rather, it views the clerical regime as a potential partner, particularly when it comes to combating Sunni extremists like al Qaeda and ISIS. As Obama has explained in several interviews, the Iranian regime, while problematic, represents a real nation-state and rational actor that looks out for its interests and responds to incentives—which is not the case for non-state actors.

The White House has re-prioritized American strategy in the Middle East. Its policies in Syria and Iraq demonstrate that it now sees groups like al Qaeda and ISIS—rather than Iran—as the key threat to American interests. The question is whether the Obama administration has got it right. And if it’s wrong, what are the likely consequences?

On August 14th, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate an expert panel featuring Michael Doran, Hillel Fradkin, and Brian Katulis to discuss whether non-state Sunni extremism or Iran constitutes the major strategic threat to American interests in the region.

Register here.

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