Week in DC: Events

February 17, 2015 

Asia Conference: China in the Middle East
Date: February 17, 9:00am
Location: United States Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington DC

Some regional leaders and scholars express concern about the implications of greater Chinese influence while others argue for a greater Chinese contribution to regional stability. China could leverage its significant soft power to help resolve conflicts, for example. A recent Pew global poll found that China’s favorability rating in the region was higher than that of the United States. Beijing also maintains working relationships with a number of important governments that the United States shuns, such as Syria and Iran, and might consider contributing to the campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria, given its own interests in combating Islamic terrorism.

This conference on China in the Middle East will evaluate China’s nascent regional role, implications for regional security, the reactions of other regional actors, and the impact on U.S. policy. Join the conversation on Twitter with #ChinaMidEast.

The conference is co-sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Georgetown University Center for Security Studies, and made possible in part through the generosity of the Philip and Patricia Bilden Asian Security Studies Fund. (PDF Agenda)

RSVP here.

America’s Role in the World
Date: February 17, 11:30am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

The United States faces unprecedented international challenges that together pose significant risks to global security and prosperity. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s coercive actions in the western Pacific, ISIS’ broadening reign of terror, and other simmering crises all point to the need for reinvigorated US and transatlantic leadership in the world. The demand for vigorous and sustained leadership across all of these fronts requires an effective articulation of a strategic vision, especially on America’s purposes and how it should seek to exercise its role in the world.

On February 17, the Atlantic Council will formally launch its new Strategy Initiative through the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. The Council is undertaking efforts to help the United States work with its closest allies and partners to lead in an increasingly complex and turbulent world. These projects will address strategic issues related to US leadership in the world and help catalyze a national debate on American strategy.

Former United States National Security Advisor General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.) will provide keynote addresses on the importance of defining, articulating, and assessing America’s role in the world. The keynote address will be followed by a discussion with The Hon. James N. Miller and Mr. Stephen E. Biegun, moderated by Atlantic Council President and CEO Mr. Frederick Kempe. The discussants will address the range of views on America’s role in the world within the Democrat and Republican parties.

Watch live online here or register here to attend in person.

Conflict in Ukraine
Date: February 17, 12:00pm
Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

The current conflict in Ukraine has spawned the most serious crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. It has undermined European security, raised questions about NATO’s future, and put an end to one of the most ambitious projects of U.S. foreign policy—building a partnership with Russia. It also threatens to undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts on issues ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation. And in the absence of direct negotiations, each side is betting that political and economic pressure will force the other to blink first. Caught in this dangerous standoff, the West cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of stable relations with Russia. In Conflict in Ukraine, Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer put the conflict in historical perspective by examining the evolution of the crisis and assessing its implications both for Ukraine and for Russia’s relations with the West.

Please join us for a conversation with the book’s authors, moderated by David Hoffman.  Conflict in Ukraine will be available to purchase, and a book signing will take place at the conclusion of the event. Lunch will be served.

Register here.

Countering Violent Extremism: What to Expect From the White House Summit
Date: February 17, 3:30pm
Location: The National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC

Over a decade ago, the 9/11 Commission Report warned that, to counter terrorism, “our strategy must match our means to two ends: dismantling the al Qaeda network and prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.” The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Peshawar and Paris, as well as the Islamic State’s brutal execution of several hostages, make clear that the ideology that spawned the 9/11 attacks continues to incite violence today.

To address this issue, the White House is hosting a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. Join us for a preview of the summit and a discussion of what more can be done to prevent the spread of violent extremism.
Register here.

The Future of the Fight Against ISIL
Date: February 17, 4:00pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower

Please join the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security for a special event with General John Allen, USMC (Ret.), the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, to discuss what may lie ahead in the US-led fight against the Islamist group that straddles Iraqi and Syrian territory.

Ever since General Allen’s appointment in September, he has sought to “help build and sustain the coalition so it can operate across multiple lines of effort in order to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” The coalition of over sixty countries currently contributes in “various capacities…in Iraq, the region, and beyond,” to achieve the stated strategy. How will the Coalition sustain the fight against the terrorist group? What role will the United States play as the Coalition broadens and deepens its efforts? Can the fight be ultimately won? And if so, how does the Coalition define success? To answer these and other questions, General Allen will join Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe on stage. This event will be on the record and open to press.

General John Allen is the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. He was appointed September 16, 2014 by President Barack Obama. Allen is a retired US Marine four-star General and former Commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and US Forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013. Upon his retirement from the US Marine Corps, he was appointed as the Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security.
Register here to attend in person or watch live online here.

February 18, 2015

Yemen and Libya: The Middle East’s Other Civil Wars
Date: February 18, 9:00am
Location: Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Falk Auditorium, Washington DC

The conflicts raging in Syria and Iraq consume most of Washington and the international community’s attention, but civil wars in Yemen and Libya have brought both countries near total collapse. Houthi rebels continue to gain ground in Yemen and the security situation continues to deteriorate in Libya. Thousands have died, and terrorist groups are gaining strength. The United States and its allies have not stemmed this instability even as the violence spreads.

On February 18, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host a panel discussion examining the escalating violence in Yemen and Libya. Bringing together a panel of experts on Yemen, Libya and the neighboring region, the conversation will raise questions about what can be done to stem the violence and what counterterrorism implementations can be made.

After the program, the panelists will take audience questions.

Register here.

The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: Is it a Lost Cause?
Date: February 18, 9:00am
Location: American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th Street NW, Washington DC

Reports on Iraq in recent months have been less than encouraging; the advance of ISIS, sectarian violence, and falling oil prices are just a few problems Baghdad faces today. But what exactly is happening on the ground? Is the situation in Iraq as grim as some report?

We welcome you to join AEI and the Institute for the Study of War for an event featuring experts who have just returned from meetings with government and military officials in Iraq. Panelists will provide their assessment of the situation and discuss whether there is an opportunity for the United States to revise its existing policy toward Iraq.

Register here to RSVP.

The Escalating Shi’a-Sunni Conflict: Assessing Arab Public Attitudes
Date: February 18, 9:30am
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

Sectarianism has been a driving force of conflict in the Middle East for many years. From Iraq to Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain, conflict and confrontations between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims are on the rise. The emergence of extremist groups such as Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State has further deepened this divide. Each of these groups claims to offer the correct interpretation of Islam. In this tense climate, how do Shi’a and Sunni Muslims in the Arab world view each other?

The panelists will discuss the differences in beliefs and practices between the Shi’a and Sunnis globally and the extent to which members of each group accept the other as “Muslims.” The discussion will also examine differences in political opinions between the Shi’a and Sunnis.

Part of the conversation will present findings on religious tolerance, views toward the current governments, and the role religion should play in politics and international relations based on polling in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon.

RSVP here.

Russia/Eurasia Forum: Fiona Hill
Date: February 18, 12:30pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, The Rome Building, Room 535, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Join the European and Eurasian Studies program for a discussion with Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, as she discusses the newest edition of her book (co-authored with Clifford Gaddy), “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”

RSVP here.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister on New Plans to Counter Terrorism
Date: February 18, 2:00pm
Location: United States Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington DC

Since the Peshawar school attack, which killed more than 150 people, including 134 children, the Pakistani government has pledged to make this the turning point, targeting terrorists of all types. A number of major steps have already been taken.

The country’s federal interior ministry, which has responsibility for addressing domestic terrorism, last year produced Pakistan’s first National Internal Security Policy. The new National Action Plan sets out further ambitious goals to curtail terrorist financing; coordinate intelligence sharing across federal, provincial, and military police and security agencies; and create dedicated counterterrorism forces, among other steps.

Will Pakistan be able to act upon these policy decisions, and will it be able to turn the corner in this long and bloody fight against terrorism? Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will assess Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and the challenges ahead.

RSVP here.

Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (and Abroad)
Date: February 18, 2:30pm
Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

With recent events in Ukraine and beyond, many policymakers and foreign policy analysts are asking what motivates Russian President Vladimir Putin. What shapes his policy decisions and how he views the outside world?   Most importantly, officials in Washington and European capitals are left asking what Putin wants and how far is he willing to go. The great lesson of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 was the danger of misreading the statements, actions, and intentions of the adversary. Today, Vladimir Putin has become the greatest challenge to European security and the global world order in decades. Russia’s 8,000 nuclear weapons underscore the huge risks of not understanding who Putin is and what his aspirations are for himself and the people of Russia.

On February 18, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) at Brookings will host a discussion with Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy, authors of the new and expanded edition of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (Brookings Press, 2015). The authors will explore Putin’s motivations and methods and will dispel potentially dangerous misconceptions about Putin.

Thomas Wright, director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings will provide introductory remarks. Jill Dougherty, public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will moderate the discussion.  After the program, the authors will take audience questions and will be available to sign books following the event.  Join the conversation on Twitter at #MrPutin.

Register here.

Breaking the Cyber Information Sharing Logjam
Date: February 18, 3:00pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Cybersecurity information-sharing has been stuck for years.  Anything more than narrow gains have proven elusive. However, the community involved in these efforts might be at the beginning of a new phase of cooperation.  Not only is Congress examining new legislation, but the White House has placed information-sharing on the top of the agenda for securing cyberspace.

Join the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative on February 18 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. for a moderated discussion on challenges and solutions for information-sharing, the Administration’s recent proposals for better practices between the private sector and government, and goal-directed approaches to sharing.

The event will be accompanied by the release of a report, which examines the challenges of information-sharing, the Administration’s emerging proposals, along with solutions to breaking the current logjam.

Register here to attend in person or watch live online here.

February 19, 2015

Examining the Syrian Perspectives on Local Ceasefires and Reconciliation Initiatives
Date: February 19, 12:00pm
Location: Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, 1619 Massachusetts Ave NW, Rome Building Auditorium, Washington DC

In the year since the Geneva II talks failed to deliver any discernible progress towards a resolution of the conflict, the humanitarian and security situation in Syria has further deteriorated. With a recalcitrant regime, growing extremism, and a faltering moderate opposition, support among Syrians for a broad-based, internationally negotiated settlement to the crisis has diminished significantly. Increasingly, Syrians only envision the conflict ending once their own side prevails. However, if there are any openings for negotiations, Syrians of all political persuasions and ethno-religious backgrounds tend to favor locally-based conflict resolution initiatives that could eventually lead to a Syrian-led national resolution.

On February 19th at noon, the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) and the Conflict Management Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) invite you to attend the launch of a new report detailing Syrian perspectives on locally-based conflict resolution initiatives at the SAIS campus in Washington, D.C. “Maybe We Can Reach a Solution”: Syrian Perspectives on the Conflict and Local Initiatives for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation marks the second phase of a comprehensive research initiative launched by SJAC to investigate the opinions of a diverse group of Syrians on the transitional justice process.  It supplements the findings of last year’s He Who Did Wrong Should Be Accountable: Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice report, and could shed valuable light on proposals such as the Aleppo ceasefire plan sponsored by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura.

An accompanying panel discussion will highlight the opinions of ordinary Syrians regarding locally-brokered ceasefire and reconciliation efforts while providing an in-depth analysis of Syrian perspectives on conflict resolution since the collapse of Geneva II.  Copies of “Maybe We Can Reach a Solution” will be available for attendees upon conclusion of the event.

RSVP here.

The Trade-Security Nexus: Key Regulatory Cooperation Issues for 2015
Date: February 19, 2:30pm
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

Governments increasingly see an opportunity — and an imperative — to advance national security and economic competitiveness as complementary goals. In its new National Security Strategy, the Obama administration pledges to “make it easier for businesses of all sizes to expand their reach” through a range of regulatory cooperation initiatives pursued with private sector and international stakeholders. Join us for a discussion on current efforts and potential next steps to make good on that pledge, both in North America and through agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

RSVP here.

Je Suis Charlie? Free Expression in the Aftermath of Paris
Date: February 19, 6:30pm
Location: New York University, Abramson Family Auditorium, 1307 L Street NW, Washington DC

On January 7, 2015 an attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris led to the death of twelve people. Following the attack, people from around the world united in defense of free speech, the foundation of democracy. The actions of a few have ignited discussions about how free societies can share different points of views, without fear of violence. Recently, in the United States, we have seen similar fractures in Ferguson and New York. How can integrated societies work through difference of opinions without resorting to violence, while ensuring the individual’s right to express their point-of-view. Are there limitations to freedom of speech?

RSVP here.

February 20, 2015

Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Lessons Learned
Date: February 20, 12:00pm
Location: Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, 4801 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Join the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law for a panel discussion with the Honorable Michael Kirby and Ms. Sonja Biserko, esteemed members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Appointed to serve on the Commission by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013, Mr. Kirby and Ms. Biserko, along with their colleague Mr. Marzuki Darusman, investigated the systematic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights in North Korea, with a view to ensuring full accountability. The historic report, which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014, documents wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity.

Please join us in welcoming members of the Commission for a discussion about lessons learned based on their ground-breaking findings.

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