Pandora Report 9.29.2017

 Homeland Security Struggles to Fund ChemBio Defense & The Invisible Threat Looming budget cuts within DHS are doing little to qualm concern that state and local infrastructure is simply unprepared to handle a biological or chemical attack. “In terms of bsecurity, ‘we are much better prepared than we were’ post-9/11, said Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. ‘But we are not where we need to be, and the progress is, in some cases, somewhat fragile’.” Internationally, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and growing tensions with North Korea are continual reminders that preparedness is vital. “The department’s science and technology directorate took a 28 percent budget cut when the omnibus bill for fiscal year 2017 was signed in May, and the chemical biological defense division is ‘taking a cut much more significant than that’ in fiscal year 2018, said John Fischer, division director. The directorate in May released a budget overview for congressional justification, which stated over $58 million would be put toward chemical, biological and explosive defense research and development for 2017, assuming a continuing resolution would remain in effect for the rest of the fiscal year. Less than $53 million was requested for 2018, according to the document. DHS did not respond to requests for an interview.” 2018 will be a year of harsh budget reductions for biosurveillance and chemical detection programs, as border security will be headlining in terms of priority. The surge of biodefense funding that was seen post-Amerithrax has certainly waned, but there is also concern for complacency and a tendency to go from fire to fire instead of working to establish robust and effective prevention and response mechanisms. Overall, this fiscal tightening will surely have an impact on prevention, identification, and response strategies for biological and chemical threats, leaving many people holding their breath that the blowback won’t be severe.

 Now more than ever, it is important we change the narrative of lackluster efforts to defend against biological threats. Budgetary slashing, lowering of barriers, and an era of increasing globalization and rapid international travel – these are all the things that should remind us that biological threats are not a figment of science fiction. “What was unthinkable back in the day is now quite common and easy,” Inglesby said. “Genetic engineering is now possible with kits from boxes at younger and younger ages with less and less training.” The dual-use nature of biological research not only has the capacity to lower the barriers to bioweapon development, but can also muddy the waters when determining if research is  offensive or defense. “That’s not the only challenge facing those sounding the alarm about biothreats. Government scientists worry that there aren’t enough biologists working on this problem. “We have relatively few biologists working in national security,” Matheny told FP. “This is one area where we’re just starting to catch up to the fact.” While the future of NBACC is still not set, such uncertainty has rippling effects when it comes to staffing. While we consider biological threats a multi-faceted enemy – natural, intentional, or accidental, it is now biodefense efforts that are facing attacks at multiple fronts. The recent de novo synthesis of smallpox has brought many of these concerns to fruition. Whether it be through the advancement of life sciences that poses dual-use risk, severe budgetary cuts, or a shifting focus onto border walls, we cannot afford to allow this threat to be invisible much longer.

 GMU Schar School MS Open House – October 19th
Have you ever wanted to study what you love to further your career? GMU’s MS in Biodefense is just that chance and we’ve got an open house coming up so you can get all the information on it. On Thursday, October 19th at 6:30pm at our Arlington campus, we’ll be hosting an information session about our in-person and online biodefense MS program. From anthrax to Zika, GMU is the place for all things biodefense!

Navigating Our Way Out of the Jungle: Modernizing Meat Inspection
It’s been over 111 years since the famous Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and we’re still struggling to keep food safety efforts at a pace that can beat risks from farm to table. “What triggered such a shift after decades of poor industry practice? The year prior, in 1905, a book by Upton Sinclair was published in a series, which would then be published in entirety in early 1906. The Jungle brought forth the unsavory and grotesque underbelly of the American meat system. Although this may not have been the focus of his book, readers took away from it that their trusted source for meat was corrupt and lacked safety mechanisms. Within the year, the Federal Meat Inspection Act was established.” Pew Charitable Trusts is working to help evaluate and strengthen the meat and poultry industry and to help reduce the impact that contamination has within the U.S. population (2 million are sickened annually due to contamination). “A June 2017 report from Pew and Cargill, an American privately held global corporation based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, highlighted some of these concerns and established an open dialogue to develop recommendations. They addressed the need to establish a risk-based oversight system, which would incorporate data from across the food-safety system. The guidance also included better risk communication, a modernized approach to slaughter inspection that would include current technology and pathogen-specific appropriate levels of protection, among other components.” Food safety and security is truly the soft underbelly of American and it’s vital that we modernize such efforts.

BBC Pandemic
If you’re one of our readers in the UK, make sure to take advantage of this new outbreak tool through the BBC. The BBC Pandemic app can be downloaded onto your phone and may just help us understand how future outbreaks spread. “Through the app, BBC Pandemic will be conducting two experiments: the National Outbreak, which is open to anyone in the UK from 27th September 2017; and the Haslemere Outbreak, a closed local study that is only open to people in the town of Haslemere, Surrey, and runs for 72 hours starting on Thursday 19th October 2017. In the National Outbreak, the app will track your approximate movement at regular intervals over a 24 hour period. (Don’t worry, it won’t know exactly where, or who you are.) It will also ask some questions about your journeys and the people you spent time with during those 24 hours. All data collected will be grouped to ensure your anonymity, and a research team from the University of Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will use it to predict how a flu pandemic might spread across the country – and determine what can be done to stop it.” If you’re still not sold on it, here’s another reason why apps like this can truly help future pandemic response – data modeling. Despite our best efforts, epidemiological models are only as good as the data we have available. Simulation efforts help response efforts coordinate resources and plan accordingly however, if our modeling isn’t a decent representation of the population due to limited data, it won’t be that effective. Getting information from a broad range of people helps strengthen such efforts.

Recommendations for Incentivizing the Development of Therapeutics, Diagnostics, and Vaccines to Combat Antibiotic-Resistance 
The Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) has been working since 2015 to curb the threat of resistant germs. The group has found that current economic efforts are insufficient and through three working groups on incentives (for vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics), they have released a new report. Identifying 46 critical issues that are preventing the development of new/improved products and providing 64 recommendations to address them, this new report is a robust 42 pages worth the read. For example, regarding human health and incentives for vaccine use, the group found that “federal and nonfederal stakeholders lack a common understanding about the current and potential economic value and societal impact of vaccines that can reduce AMR.” Their recommendation for this issue: “Analyses on the cost and societal impacts associated with new vaccine development and administration in the AMR arena developed via a multi-agency process that involves at least CDC, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Treasury Department, in partnership with industry and public health stakeholders.” Within each section, you can find issues and recommendations categorized by economic, R&D, regulatory, and behavioral. The United Nations Foundation and the Wellcome Trust has also released a new report regarding the global efforts that have been sustained to fight AMR. “The report, published a year to the day that the United Nations (UN) General Assembly agreed to address the root causes of AMR and take action to tackle the problem, shows that many nations are following up on their pledge to encourage more responsible use of antimicrobials in human medicine and agriculture. Out of 151 countries recently surveyed, 85% say they are developing or have developed national action plans on AMR and 52% have a fully developed plan that addresses the One Health spectrum of human, animal, and environmental sectors.”

 Chemical & Biological Attacks: Underground Transport Restoration Project
After four years, this DHS-sponsored project is finally wrapping up their work studying the methods for chem-bio agent dispersion in subways. “Sandia National Laboratories’ engineer Bob Knowlton has worked on this challenge for a dozen years. His team has developed scientific sampling methods to determine the extent and nature of the contamination. Sampling also is essential to confirm the decontamination was effective and the site is safe to re-enter. Sandia researchers and their collaborators at other national laboratories and local, state and federal agencies have looked at everything from how to clean subway stations and grimy tunnels to where a surrogate for anthrax would go when released inside the New York City subway system and the best way to decontaminate a subway car.” Check out their findings on this project and from the 2016 large-scale testing they did in a mock subway system.

Little Island of Horrors – Vozrozhdeniya 
During height of the Soviet offensive bioweapons program, an ideal island, like Vozrozhdeniya, was the perfect place to test cutting-edge biological weapons. Present day, the island is a sad reminder of one of the largest state-sponsored bioweapons programs. “The island’s secrets have endured, partly because it isn’t the kind of place where you can just turn up. Since Vozrozhdeniya was abandoned in the 1990s, there have only been a handful of expeditions. Nick Middleton, a journalist and geographer from Oxford University, filmed a documentary there back in 2005. ‘I was aware of what went on, so we got hold of a guy who used to work for the British military and he came to give the crew a briefing about the sorts of things we might find,’ he says. ‘He scared the pants off me, to be honest’. Aerial photographs taken by the CIA in 1962 revealed that while other islands had piers and fish-packing huts, this one had a rifle range, barracks and parade ground. But that wasn’t even the half of it. There were also research buildings, animal pens and an open-air testing site. The island had been turned into a military base of the most dangerous kind: it was a bioweapons testing facility.” An isolated secret, this island was the testing ground for some of the worst pathogens. It was also chosen as a holding place for “the largest anthrax stockpile in human history” and while the cache’s location was never disclosed, the pits were visible from space, which meant that the U.S. pledge $6 million towards a clean-up project. Sadly, this isn’t a resolution as the open-air testing done on the island has surely left residual microbial burden, not to mention the burial pits of infected animals. Make sure to read about Dave Butler’s journey to this island and how even now, it still instills fear.

Stories You May Have Missed:

  • China to Open BSL-4– The first certified BSL-4 lab in China will be opening this year. The research institute, located in Wuhan, represents a partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Wuhan government. “The lab is part of a 10-year-plan by the Ministry of Science and Technology that proposes to build five to seven BSL-4 laboratories by 2025 as well as one BSL-3 lab in every province. It was built with technology and equipment imported from France, and some of its future research staff have visited France for BSL-4 training. Although construction was finished in 2015, the lab has since undergone multiple assessments, Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan branch of CAS, told the Science and Technology Daily. ‘The lab will become a public platform for Chinese scientists to conduct research into dangerous viruses,’ Yuan said.”
  • Signature Science-led Team awarded $2.9M contract to develop advanced genomic computational technologies in support of IARPA’s Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats Program – “The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) awarded Signature Science, LLC a $2.9M contract for the development of new computational tools to screen DNA sequences to detect biological threats that may manifest from synthetic microbial manipulation. The challenge is to overcome the speed and precision limitations of contemporary synthetic DNA screening practices to rapidly detect and isolate a prospective threat within a segment of DNA. The research team will re-tool bio-threat detection methods, and focus detection efforts on functional genetic elements to increase analytic speed and precision, thereby dramatically improving predictive capacity to isolate the toxic gene that constitutes the threat.”
  • Medieval Plague Gives Insight Into Human Pollution History – “A recent study indicates that much less lead occurs naturally in the air than we thought—in fact, there should be almost none. Scientists measured lead trapped in an ice core from the Swiss-Italian Alps. They found that lead levels dropped dramatically only once in the past 2,000 years, during a time that coincided with the Black Death pandemic. This means that in Europe, lead levels in the air have been elevated for thousands of years. Most people think about air pollution as a problem that began with the Industrial Revolution, but we’ve been spoiling the quality of our air for a very long time. It has harmed our health throughout history, from Medieval Europe to the Roman Empire to Ancient Egypt and Peru, and continues to do so today.”

Thank you for reading the Pandora Report. If you would like to share any biodefense news, events, or stories, please contact our Editor Saskia Popescu (biodefense@gmu.edu) or via Twitter: @PandoraReport

Pandora Report 6.16.2017

Temperatures may be soaring but we’ve got all your biodefense news, including a frosty story on frozen diseases coming to life!

Big Data Takes on Epidemics
The potential applications for big data are vast and we’re just now starting to get a taste for how it can be utilized during an outbreak. Rapid access to data sets and available personnel to handle modeling is a challenge during emergent situations however, many are pointing out just how the data science revolution can be used to fight diseases. Metabiota Senior Director of Data Science Nita Madhav has put together a list of the five ways big data analytics are changing the fight against epidemics. First, better genetic data through genome sequencing that can help speed up genetic analysis during an outbreak. Second, cell phone mobility data. This is particularly interesting as it was used during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, which allowed experts to tract contacts of cases as a means of prevention. Cell phone mobility data also provides information on movement during outbreaks. Third, social media data, which can be used to predict peaks and perform sentiment analysis (think vaccination skepticism), but also as a means of pushing public health messaging. Fourth, mapping high risk areas. “Machine learning techniques can now yield global, high-resolution maps pinpointing where epidemics are likely to emerge and take hold. These techniques make use of remotely-sensed and other geographic data about environmental, human and animal factors to estimate how many people live in the riskiest places. For example, this type of analysis helped map likely locations for Zika virus to thrive and even identified areas where the virus would later establish itself, including southern Florida.” Last but not least, large-scale simulations, which allow epidemiologists to take all the data we currently have and generate tons of simulations to reveal gaps in response mechanisms. “These simulations help fill in gaps in observed data using synthetic outbreaks and deliver novel insights into possible outcomes of outbreaks, including expected numbers of illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, employee absences and monetary losses. Ultimately, these insights can help inform the world about epidemic risks and the best ways to mitigate them.”

Chemical Weapons & ISIS
New analysis from Conflict Monitor by IHS Market is drawing attention to a significant reduction in chemical weapons used by ISIS in Syria in 2017 as well as a concentration of the chemical attacks in Iraq. The report highlights that 71 allegations of ISIS CW attacks have occurred since 2014 (41 in Iraq and 30 in Syria) however, the only alleged use in Syria in 2017 was on January 8th at Talla al-Maqri. “The operation to isolate and recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul coincides with a massive reduction in Islamic State chemical weapons use in Syria”, said Columb Strack, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Markit. “This suggests that the group has not established any further CW production sites outside Mosul, although it is likely that some specialists were evacuated to Syria and retain the expertise.” In response to ISIS use of chemical weapons, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is taking action against ISIS leader, Attallah Salman ‘Abd Kafi al-Jaburi (al-Jaburi), who was involved in several attacks ranging from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) to the development of chemical weapons. OFAC is also taking action against Marwan Ibrahim Hussayn Tah al-Azaw, an Iraqi ISIS leader. “As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.” OFAC Director John E. Smith noted that “today’s actions mark the first designations targeting individuals involved in ISIS’ chemical weapons development,” and that “the Department of the Treasury condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons by any actor, and will leverage all available tools to target those complicit in their development, proliferation, or use.”

Pandemics, Bioterrorism, & Global Health Security Workshop Instructor Spotlight
This week we’re excited to share that Sanford Weiner will be our instructor spotlight! Sanford is a Research Associate in the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Visiting Fellow at Imperial College, University of London. For several decades he has done international comparative policy studies of public health agencies, and research on national security policies and environmental policies. He has published on policymaking at the Centers for Disease Control, the phase-out of CFCs, toxic substance control, and innovation in the Air Force. He is currently studying responses to pandemic flu in Europe and the United States, and the politics of alternative energy projects. He directs a Professional Education summer course at MIT on “Technology, Innovation and Organizations.” He has also taught in professional education courses for the Royal Society Technology Fellows (London), the National University of Singapore, UC San Diego, and in Stockholm. Before MIT he was on the research staffs of the School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, the Health Policy Center at Brandeis, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Sanford looks to the need for organizational innovation and adaptation to address new threats, the politics of public health emergencies, and the importance of risk assessment and making evidence-based public health decisions. If you’re looking to talk about taking lessons from pandemic flu and applying them to polio, Zika, bioterrorism, and even Ebola, you won’t want to miss his lecture during our workshop!

The Awakening of Frozen Permafrost Diseases
Climate change has an undeniably impact on infectious diseases. Whether it be the vectors that spread them, movement of animals that act as hosts, or an increasing encroachment of humans into animal habitats, we simply can’t deny that the two are wholly interconnected. Unfortunately now we get to add zombie diseases to the list. Well, maybe not a zombie virus, but a bacteria or virus that has been trapped in the icy permafrost for thousands of years and is now waking up. “Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.” Last year we saw anthrax cases in the Arctic Circle due to exposure from infected reindeer carcasses that were exposed due to the melting of the frozen soil and snow. “As the Earth warms, more permafrost will melt. Under normal circumstances, superficial permafrost layers about 50cm deep melt every summer. But now global warming is gradually exposing older permafrost layers. Frozen permafrost soil is the perfect place for bacteria to remain alive for very long periods of time, perhaps as long as a million years. That means melting ice could potentially open a Pandora’s box of diseases.” Nothing like a good permafrost to keep the bacteria happily frozen and alive! What is so worrying about the melting permafrost is a range of threats – buried bodies of people who died from smallpox, unknown viruses or bacteria that we’ve never seen before, or even a resistant organism that changes the course of antibiotics forever.

Angry Birds – The Flu Version
While this isn’t the title of the latest game, the projectile you should be worried about is actually avian influenza droplets. China is currently battling against HPAI H7N9  outbreaks in poultry across three provinces. “Chinese health officials detailed four outbreaks in two OIE reports. Two occurred in different locations in Inner Mongolia province in the north, one at a large layer farm that began on May 21, killing 35,526 of 406,756 susceptible poultry. The remaining birds were culled to curb the spread of the virus.The other outbreak began Jun 5 at a poultry farm in Inner Mongolia’s Jiuyuan district, which led to the loss of 55,023 birds, including 2,056 that died from the disease.” These outbreaks spark fear for a number of reasons – the mass culling of birds is always economically devastating, the risk to human life, and really, the potential for sustained human-to-human transmission due to a few genetic tweaks that could result in a pandemic. That’s right, just three mutations should switch H7N9 into a lethal human-killing virus that has pandemic potential. H7N9 is one of the more concerning avian influenza strains because it’s already been known to do damage in terms of human cases (of the 1,500 cases, 40% died). “‘As scientists we’re interested in how the virus works,’ says Jim Paulson, a biologist at The Scripps Research Institute. ‘We’re trying to just understand the virus so that we can be prepared.’ That’s why he and his colleagues recently tinkered with a piece of the H7N9 flu — a protein that lets the virus latch onto cells. It’s thought to be important for determining which species the virus can infect. ‘So it’s not the whole virus,’ says Paulson. ‘It’s just a piece — just a fragment — that we can then study for its properties’. What they studied is how different changes affected the virus’ ability to bind to receptors found on the surface of human cells.” Paulson’s group found that just three tiny mutations made it able to sustain human transmission. This brings about the dual-use research of concern (DURC) and gain-of-function (GoF) research dilemma though – while we’re using it for good, couldn’t a person with bad intentions come along and turn it into a weapon? Or a lab error that results in an outbreak? While some argue for the need of GoF research, others agree with the 2014 White House moratorium that halted federal funding for such work. Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands notes that, “‘The rest of the world is moving forward with this type of experiment already,’ says Fouchier, whose genetic experiments with a different bird flu virus sparked a public outcry in 2011. And so the U. S. can either join or not join. It’s up to them, but the work will continue,’.” Topics like avian influenza, pandemics, and dual-use/GoF research are all issues we’ll be discussing in the workshop this July, so don’t miss out!

Boston University’s BioLab Nears Approval
This hotly debated BSL-4 lab has been a source of contention between researchers and surrounding neighbors for over a decade. Boston University received a $200 million federal grant nearly 15 years ago to build the regional lab as a new source for work with deadly pathogens however, neighborhood activists have been halting work since the beginning. Despite the ongoing debate, the lab is just one vote away from approval. “Supporters say it will speed the development of new vaccines and cures.  But after 15 year of fighting, the neighborhood that’s home to the lab is making a final push to keep the diseases away from the busy urban hub.”

The Scary Reality Behind WHO’S Updated Essential Medicine List
GMU Biodefense PhD student, Saskia Popescu, is taking a deeper dive into the recent announcement by the WHO regarding their reformatting of the EML list. The antibiotics sections haven’t seen an overhaul like this for 40 years, so what’s really afoot? Last week we discussed the changes- the categorization of antibiotics into three groups (ACCESS, WATCH, and RESERVE). Each list has a series of antibiotics and recommendations (i.e. for RESERVE, these are antibiotics which should be treated as the last resort of accessible antibiotics and should be used in “tailored” situations when other medications have failed. RESERVE antimicrobials should be targeted in national and international stewardship programs). While the updates make sense, they reveal a much deeper concern for developing countries and the growing threat of microbial resistance. “This extensive change to the EML highlights the dire situation that we are progressing towards in terms of microbial resistance. The EML provides the most basic medicine needed for patient care and its focus on antibiotic stewards highlights the stark reality even in the most dire of environments.”

Stacking Countermeasures for Layered Defense 
DTRA’s Joint Science and Technology Office’s (JSTO) Toxicant Penetration and Scavenging (TPS) research program is working to better defend us against chemical and biological weapons. “One such weaponized threat is the use of organophosphonates in an attack. These nerve agents inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an essential enzyme responsible for neurological function. Irreversible inhibition of AChE may lead to muscular paralysis, convulsions, bronchial constriction and death by asphyxiation. One of the projects in the TPS uses engineered DNA-enzyme nanostructures to create multi-enzyme pathway biocatalysts. These new biocatalysts are designed to process the destruction of chemical agents and their degradation compounds.”

Stories You May Have Missed:

  • MERS and Infection Control – There are endless opportunities when working in infection prevention & control to say, “I told you so” and the ongoing hospital MERS outbreaks only fuels that fire. “The World Health Organization (WHO) today provided new details on three MERS-CoV clusters in Saudi Arabia involving 32 out of the 35 cases reported between Jun 1 and Jun 10. The clusters are in three different hospitals in Riyadh. Cluster 2 is related to cluster 1, as the first case-patient in a second hospital initially visited the emergency room of the hospital implicated in cluster 1. According to the WHO, he was asymptomatic following the visit in hospital 1, and he continued to receive kidney dialysis sessions in the second hospital. The cluster involves the index case plus five healthcare workers and household contacts.The third cluster is not related to clusters 1 or 2. To date four cases are associated with this hospital; the index case involves a patient who had camel contact. Three healthcare workers have also been diagnosed.”

Pandora Report 5.26.2017

Summer is in full swing and that means the mosquitoes are out in force. Before you make those pesky bugs your biggest enemy, don’t forget about the threat of antibiotic resistance and the current MCR-1 Klebsiella outbreak in China!

Congrats GMU Biodefense Graduates 
Last week we saw several MS and PhD students graduate from GMU’s biodefense program and we couldn’t be more excited to show off their hard work! Earning their MS in biodefense, we’d like to celebrate Kathryn Ake, Rebecca Earnhardt, Nicholas Guerin, Andrew Joyce, Ryan Lockhart, Patrick Lucey, Alison Mann, Jonathon Marioneaux, Scott McAlister, Greg Mercer, Katheryn Payton, Dana Saft, Colleen Tangney, and Anupama Varma. Earning their PhD in biodefense, we’re celebrating Keith W. Ludwick (Dissertation title: The Legend of the Lone Wolf: Categorizing Singular and Small Group Terrorism), Nereyda Sevilla (Germs on a Plane: The Transmission and Risks of Airplane-Borne Diseases), and Craig Wiener (Penetrate, Exploit, Disrupt, Destroy: The Rise of Computer Network Operations as a Major Military Innovation). Congrats to our biodefense graduates – we can’t wait to see what wonderful things you’ll accomplish in global health security!

U.S. Investment in Global Health Security  – The Good and The Bad
Whether it be an intentional, accidental, or natural biological event, infectious diseases can devastate local economies and populations. “Catastrophic” is a term commonly used for such events. Disease knows no borders or boundaries, which means that our global health security is only as strong as the weakest link. To aid in the stability of global health security, the State Department funds projects around the world to help improve biosafety and biosecurity. The philosophy is that if we can train local trainers to establish expertise and biorisk programs, it would lay the foundation for biosecurity/biosafety for the future. “The State Department carefully evaluates and selects the most impactful projects for each region, pairing local needs with appropriate subject matter expertise. One source of such expertise is Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), which has received State Department funding to implement numerous health security projects. Just this April, Lora Grainger, working at the Labs’ International Biological and Chemical Threat Reduction (IBCTR), travelled to Algeria to train Algerian trainers on a project funded by the State Department. Participants included scientists working in Algeria’s national network of laboratories managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Institut National de Médecine Véterinaire (INMV).” This partnership is just one of many and involves education that is tailored to the skills and needs of those being trained. Global health security is bigger than any one country and it’s vital to not only strengthen our own practices, but also facilitate its development in countries that might not have all the resources needed. Speaking of U.S. health security efforts, don’t forget to catch the Operation Whitecoat documentary on the June 1st.                                                                                                                                                              

While these are great efforts the U.S. is putting forward, there is also an internal struggle to maintain public health during a hiring freeze. The freeze was imposed by President Trump’s executive order in late January, which covers currently open positions, blocks transfers, and prevents new positions from being created. It was recently reporting that nearly 700 positions within the CDC are vacant due to the ongoing hiring freeze. “Like HHS, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have maintained the freeze as a way of reducing their workforces and reshaping organizational structures after a directive last month from the Office of Management and Budget that said all federal agencies must submit a plan by June 30 to shrink their civilian workforces. HHS, State and EPA also face significant cuts in the Trump administration’s budget proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The administration, which unveiled a ‘skinny budget‘ for fiscal 2018 in March, is scheduled to release its full budget next week. A senior CDC official said unfilled positions include dozens of budget analysts and public health policy analysts, scientists and advisers who provide key administrative support.” A new CDC document notes that at least 125 job categories have been blocked from being filled, which includes positions in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Ebola in the DRC – Updates
While we’re honoring researchers and workers for their efforts during the 2014/2015 West Africa outbreak, Ebola continues to rage through the DRC. You can find daily situation reports here from the WHO, as the numbers of reported cases are constantly changing. The WHO is reportedly optimistic that it can contain the outbreak and many are curious to see how the new director general will handle such challenges. The latest situation report from the WHO is pointing to six more cases of Ebola, bringing the total suspected cases to 43. 365 people are currently under monitoring in the DRC. Researchers have also made substantial progress towards understanding how Ebola disables the immune system so effectively. In response to this latest outbreak, the WHO is requesting funding to ensure adequate response to the DRC outbreak.

Pandemics, BT, & Global Health Security Workshop – Instructor Spotlight
We’re excited to announce that Kendall Hoyt is our instructor spotlight this week! Dr. Hoyt is an Assistant Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth where she studies U.S. biodefense policy and biomedical R&D strategy. She is also a lecturer at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College where she teaches a course on technology and biosecurity. She is the author of Long Shot: Vaccines for National Defense, Harvard University Press, 2012. She serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Department of Defense’s Programs to Counter Biological Threats and on the advisory board of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Kendall Hoyt received her Ph.D. in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and was a Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government from 2002-2004. Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in the International Security and International Affairs division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Washington DC office of McKinsey and Company, and the Center for the Management of Innovation and Technology at the National University of Singapore. Did I mention that she’s also done work on Ebola and has written extensively about medical countermeasures for the disease? Dr. Hoyt is not only an expert on biosecurity and the impact of technology, but will take students through the journey of medical countermeasures and security.

The Finish Line in Ending Pandemics and The Future of the WHO
The recent election of a new WHO director-general highlights the current global shift in priorities, and yet the reality is that we’re still fighting an uphill battle against infectious disease and the threat of a pandemic. Recent decades have shown that outbreaks have been increasingly common, taking advantage of globalization, growing populations, and spillover. Avian influenza has been knocking at the door for a while…while bursts of Ebola and SARS have shaken global health security to its core. MERS has also triggered such events in hospitals, leaving no environment safe from emerging infectious diseases. The list of worrying viral diseases has also grown and taught us a rather painful truth – pandora’s box is already open and every time we think we’ve closed it…we realize the seal just isn’t that tight. “Dynamic, rapidly evolving viral threats emerge with increasing frequency, exploiting new pathways in endless pursuit of their biologic imperative. These viruses are the paradigm of adaptive learning. Pushing and probing at our defenses, they shift to new hosts, opportunistically hijack transmission routes, and acquire capacities to evade immune detection. They are subject to no rules of engagement, and their viral intelligence is anything but artificial”. Our new strategy is now to strengthen our detection efforts and to build up response processes. Many have highlighted that what we’ve seen is just a small percentage of what’s out there, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep our heads buried in the sand forever. The future of international disease response will change with the appointment of the new WHO director-general, especially for poor countries dependent upon resources. On Tuesday, it was announced that Ethiopia’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was voted director-general. Dr. Ghebreyesus is the first ever African director-general and brings to the position a long history of health stewardship as a former health minister in Ethiopia. Not only is this election particularly significant as the future of the WHO will be heavily weighed against its failures in recent years, but recent accusations against the newly elected director-general have created further doubts as to the stability of the organization.

Double-edged Sword Research
A new report from the Swiss Academies of Art & Sciences is drawing attention to the need for continued conversation and engagement about the potential for misuse in life sciences. As a result of the workshop, a report was developed highlighting “six issues that should be considered when designing, conducting, and communicating research projects. Each issue is illustrated with examples from actual research projects.” In fact, CRISPR inventor, Jennifer Doudna, is drawing attention to the promises and perils of the gene-editing technology. She points to the worries of creating designer embryos while contrasting the promises of reducing mosquito-transmitted diseases. In fact, recent work has shown some promise in using CRISPR to fight HIV. “Part of the problem is HIV’s ability to squirrel itself away inside a cell’s DNA – including the DNA of the immune cells that are supposed to be killing it. The same ability, though, could be HIV’s undoing. ast week, a group of biologists published research detailing how they hid an anti-HIV CRISPR system inside another type of virus capable of sneaking past a host’s immune system. What’s more, the virus replicated and snipped HIV from infected cells along the way.” While this work has only been done in mice and rats, the concept is promising. Overall, these advances bring about exciting future possibilities, but it’s important to remember that there are dangers too – whether it be tampering with human evolution, contaminated CRISPR kits, nefarious actors using them for terrorism, etc. The complexities of CRISPR and genetic engineering are only growing, which makes the 2018 arrival of the peer-reviewed publication, The CRISPR Journal, even more relevant.

Stories You May Have Missed:

  • Model Systems and the Need For Curiosity-Driven Science– GMU Biodefense PhD student, Saskia Popescu, is looking at the importance of model systems and picking the brain of a top researcher in the field, Dr. Julie Pfeiffer. “Poliovirus is great to use to create model systems because not only does it grow easily, but it is also relatively safe due to vaccination for lab workers, not to mention that we have a pretty solid understanding of the virus based off a century of working with it. ‘We know a lot about poliovirus and we have great tools in our toolbox. If you’re going to tackle a tough problem, it helps to have a great toolbox. For other fields, the ideal toolbox may be fruit flies, worms, or yeast. Collectively, these model systems have illuminated biology and have led to major advancements in human health.’ stated Dr. Pfeiffer in her recent PLOS Pathogens article on the importance of model systems.” “Firstly, I asked if she thought there were other eradicated or ‘almost’ eradicated diseases that could make decent models. She replied, ‘No. We use poliovirus as a model system because of its great tractability, safety, and ease of use (not because it’s nearly eradicated). [Other eradicated diseases such as] smallpox and rinderpest would not be good model systems because they have been completely eradicated from circulation, making biosafety and tractability major issues. [That being said,] if the poliovirus eradication campaign is successful, the idea is to stop vaccination. If this happens, poliovirus will likely become a BSL3/4 agent and I will no longer work with it’.”
  • Is Your Daycare Prepared For a Pandemic?– Daycare centers may not be your first thought when it comes to pandemic preparedness, however a recent survey found that fewer than one in ten U.S. centers have taken steps to prepare for a pandemic flu event. “Researchers surveyed directors of licensed childcare centers in 2008 and again in 2016, to assess flu prevention measures before and after the 2009 pandemic outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 influenza. Among other things, they looked at flu prevention activities like daily health checks for kids, infection control training for staff, communicating with parents about illness and immunization requirements for children and staff.” Children are great sources for disease transmission and when guardians are needed at work, childcare capacity will be extremely important if a pandemic flu occurs.

 

Week in DC: Events

August 12, 2015

Naval Aviation
Date: August 12, 9:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Please join CSIS and USNI for a discussion with Lieutenant General Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation and Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces moderated by Admiral Joseph Pureher, USN, Ret. The discussion will focus on the state of the current fleet in terms of personnel and equipment as well as what the future holds for the Naval Aviation community.

Register here.

August 13, 2015

Assessing the Iran Nuclear Agreement: Placing Sanctions in Context
Date: August 13, 2:00 pm
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

Sanctions are what convinced Iran to begin negotiations with the United States. However, the mechanics behind lifting sanctions and the differences among international, U.S. and European Union sanctions are complicated. All beg the question of how effective the Iran deal really is. This program will explore the role of sanctions in the Iran Deal. Our panelists will examine the structure of the sanctions regime, debate its various implications, and explore what we can do about it. Among the questions to be addressed are: What sanctions are currently in place on Iran? What is the difference between multi-lateral oil sanctions and unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran? Is it really possible for the sanctions to be “snapped back” if Iran violates the agreement? Would the sanctions regime really disband if there was no agreement?

Join us as our panel discusses Iran’s new sanctions regime and what it means for the future.

RSVP here.

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia: Political, Economic, and Social Implications
Date: August 13, 10:00 am
Location: George Washington University, Lindner Commons, Room 602, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

Please join the Center on Global Interests and the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at George Washington University for a discussion on the political, economic, and social implications of Russia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This event marks the beginning of a joint CGI-Futbolgrad project on the World Cup that will continue this discussion through various panels, publications, and digital journalism leading up to the event.

Register here.

The Iran Deal: Key Issues and Controversies
Date: August 13, 2:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2nd Floor Conference Center, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Please join us for a discussion with Dr. Colin Kahl and other members of the administration on key elements of the Iran nuclear deal and its specific implications for the international community.

Register here.

Week in DC: Events

July 27, 2015

Chemical Safety and Security: TSCA Legislation and Terrorist Attacks
Date: July 27, 2:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, Room 212 B, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Chemical safety and security is one of the fundamental pillars of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), but the recent and ongoing use of dual-use chemicals such as chlorine in the Syrian conflict, several recent chemical accidents in the US, and congressional updating of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) have all raised these goals to a much higher level. This seminar will address three related safety and security issues: (1) new TSCA legislation in the House and Senate; (2) the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS); and (3) Global Partnership efforts to improve chemical safety and security of industry and transportation.

The Proliferation Prevention Program will co-host this event with Green Cross International and International Center for Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS).

Register here.

July 28, 2015

Hearing: Iran Nuclear Agreement: The Administration’s Case
Date: July 28, 10:00 am
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515

Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) on the hearing:  “This Iran deal is one of the most important in decades.  It reverses decades of bipartisan nonproliferation and regional policy, has several shortcomings, and demands the closest scrutiny.  Secretary Kerry and the other Administration officials will face tough questions before the Committee, as we continue our comprehensive review of the Iran deal and the Administration’s overall regional policy.”

Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) on the hearing:  “I look forward to hearing from Secretaries Kerry, Lew, and Moniz to discuss the Iran agreement. I have serious questions and concerns about this deal, and input from the Administration will be critical as Congress reviews the proposal.”

Watch live online here.

Developing an Approval Pathway for Limited-Population Antibacterial Drugs
Date: July 28, 10:30 am
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave and 1st Street NE, Washington DC

Please join us on July 28th for a briefing with a panel of antibacterial drug experts and stakeholders, including Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock, MD, to discuss the development of a limited-population antibacterial drug (LPAD) approval pathway.  Bipartisan legislation has been approved by the House of Representatives and introduced in the Senate–the Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health (PATH) Act, S. 185.

The LPAD pathway would provide for the approval of new antibiotics that target serious or life-threatening drug-resistant infections in patients who have few or no suitable treatment options. The pathway could help bring critical new drugs to such patients, while maintaining standards of safety and efficacy, limiting use to targeted populations, and requiring post-market surveillance.

You are invited to hear presentations, discussion, and participate in an interactive question and answer session with a panel featuring:

  • Janet Woodcock, MD, Director, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
  • Helen Boucher, MD, Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine; Member, IDSA Antimicrobial Resistance Committee
  • Prabhavathi Fernandes, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cempra Pharmaceuticals
  • Allan Coukell, Senior Director for Health Programs, the Pew Charitable Trusts (moderator)

Register here.

Can the P5+1’s Vienna Deal Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Breakout?
Date: July 28, 11:45 am
Location: Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed earlier this month in Vienna is the culmination of a longstanding Obama administration effort to resolve the international community’s nuclear standoff with Iran through diplomatic means. A host of serious questions surround the agreement, including the complexities of international law and politics necessary to enact its provisions, and the strategic calculations that Iran’s regional rivals will make in its aftermath. But the key question remains the most practical one: Will theJCPOA, advanced by its proponents as a far-reaching and robust arms agreement, actually prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?

Can the JCPOA’s inspection and verification regime, which allows Iran a 24-day window to prepare – or “sanitize”—any suspected site for on-site review, provide an effective guarantee against violations? What will it mean when the JCPOA expires in 15 years under the “sunset clause” and Iran becomes a “normal” nuclear power? And how, in the meantime, will the deal’s removal of existing sanctions against currently designated terrorists and terror-connected entities – like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qassem Suleimani, commander of IRGC’s expeditionary unit, the Quds Force – complicate efforts to constrain Sunni Arab states from pursuing nuclear arms programs of their own?

Please join us on July 28 for a timely conversation with Senator Tom Cotton and a panel of leading experts including William Tobey of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Hudson Senior Fellows Michael Doran, Hillel Fradkin, and Lee Smith.

Register here.

Joint Subcommittee Hearing: The Iran-North Korea Strategic Alliance
Date: July 28, 3:00 pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will meet to discuss the Iran-North Korea Strategic Alliance. Witnesses include Mr. Ilan Berman, Vice President at the American Foreign Policy Council; Ms. Claudia Rosett, Journalist-in-Residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Larry Niksch, Ph.D., Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Jim Walsh, Ph.D., Research Associate in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Watch live online here.

July 29, 2015 

Hearing: Women Under ISIS Rule: From Brutality to Recruitment
Date: July 29, 10:00 am
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Chairman, will hold an open hearing to discuss women under ISIS rule. Witnesses include Ms. Sasha Havlicek, Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; Ariel Ahram, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs; Mr. Edward Watts, Director and Producer of Escaping ISIS; and Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D., Director of Gender and Peacebuilding Center for Governance, Law and Society at the United States Institute of Peace.

Watch live online here.

Examining Regional Implications of the Iran Deal
Date: July 29, 11:00 am
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

After more than 20 months of careful negotiations, the United States and its international partners have reached a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, designed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons-capable state. The deal has implications that extend beyond Iran’s borders and could affect the already turbulent Middle East. Some critics of the deal claim that Iran will use the influx of capital it will receive once sanctions are lifted to fund destabilizing groups such as Hezbollah and the Assad regime. Others worry that countries such as Saudi Arabia will see Iran’s successful posturing and be emboldened to begin pursing a non-peaceful nuclear program themselves. The Stimson Center invites you to join us for an in-depth discussion of the regional implications of the Iran deal.

RSVP here.

Panel: Scorecard for the Final Deal with Iran
Date: July 29, 12:00 pm
Location: JINSA, 1307 New York Ave NW, Washington DC

JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy invites you to an exclusive lunch panel briefing to release our new Iran Task Force report:

In Vienna on July 14, the P5+1 and Iran agreed on a final deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). This report will analyze whether the JCPA addresses the Task Force’s questions and concerns about the framework agreement. Overall, the JCPA rolls back Iran’s breakout time and allows for broader verification, but only in exchange for key restrictions being removed in 8-15 years, R&D on advanced centrifuges, front-loaded sanctions relief – including up to $150 billion in unfrozen assets – with no automatic “snapback” mechanism, an end to the U.N. arms embargo against Iran and no anytime, anywhere inspections.

Register here.

Cyber Risk Wednesday: Rethinking Commercial Espionage
Date: July 29, 4:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor West Tower, Washington DC

The United States is nearly alone in professing that states should not spy for the private sector’s commercial benefit. As Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.), former Director of National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, puts it: “I’ve conducted espionage. I went after state secrets and I actually think we’re pretty good at it. Where I object is where you have state power being used against private enterprise for commercial purposes.” Instead, the United States has strongly promoted innovation and intellectual property, publicly berating or punishing countries that engage in the systematic theft of technology, trade secrets, and proprietary information.

However, as indictments and advances in cyber defense have proven insufficient to secure commercial secrets, it is now time to consider alternative policy options to defend the private sector. Perhaps to save the principles behind banning commercial espionage, we must first embrace it. Could the United States reach better economic and national security outcomes if it joined its adversaries in spying for profit? Could like-minded nations create bilateral no-spy agreements, slowly expanding these into a global institution? Or would experimenting with economic espionage erode the West’s credibility and moral high-ground, leaving us worse off than before?

The panelists will debate whether the United States should continue to abstain from economic espionage, or whether these challenges demand innovative, even radical solutions.

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

From Ocean of War to Ocean of Prosperity
Date: July 29, 4:15 pm
Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Over the past two hundred years, the Western Pacific has been the stage for war, peace, development, modernization, and prosperity. Its rich resources and vital shipping lanes are essential to the well-being of all countries within its bounds. Admiral Tomohisa Takei, chief of staff for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, will discuss the development of the U.S.-Japan relationship, Japan’s role in the region, and the future of a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific. Carnegie’s vice president for studies, Thomas Carothers, will moderate.

Register here.

July 30, 2015 

Threat of ISIS in Iraq: Views from the Ground
Date: July 30, 10:30 am
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave, 8th Floor, Washington DC

From enflaming sectarian tensions to undermining governance and economic development, the expansion of ISIS continues to pose grave risks to Iraq and the broader Middle East. Stimson and the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) invite you to join us for a discussion featuring views and perspectives from AUIS scholars and students examining the nature of the ISIS threat, and the related territorial, demographic and socio-economic consequences. Students from Kurdistan and other parts of Iraq will join us through video links.

Register here.

Week in DC: Events

July 7, 2015

The New Containment: Changing America’s Approach to Middle East Security
Date: July 7, 12:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Securing the Middle East after an Iran nuclear deal is the region and the world’s next big challenge. The United States and its allies have engaged in tireless diplomacy with Iran over the past few years to produce an agreement that would limit Tehran’s nuclear program for the next decade and a half. A final deal is expected to be reached by the June 30 deadline. But the hard work does not stop here, and in fact, it may have just begun.

To protect the deal and take full advantage of its potential benefits – which include the drastic reduction of the risk of nuclear weapons proliferating in the region – the United States needs a comprehensive strategy for regional security in the Middle East. After all, the ultimate prize and broader objective is and has always been to secure and stabilize the region, and a nuclear deal with Iran – as strategically significant as it is – is only one piece of the Middle East security puzzle.

Please join the Atlantic Council for a launch of a report by Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Saab entitled The New Containment: Changing America’s Approach to Middle East Security and a debate on the future role of the United States in the Middle East following a nuclear deal with Iran.

Register here.

Two Unforseen Wars: A Military Analysis of the Conflict in Ukraine and the Campaign Against ISIS
Date: July 7, 2:00 pm
Location: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington DC

The unexpected Russian occupation of Crimea, the subsequent insurgency in eastern Ukraine and the rapid conquest of much of northern and western Iraq by ISIS were all strategic shocks. But there is now enough reporting on the conflicts to allow a preliminary analysis of their military contours, including the similarities and differences between the two wars.

Brigadier Ben Barry will present the military dynamics of both the Ukrainian conflict and the ISIS insurgency, while examining the emerging military lessons of the conflicts and the military challenges that the pose for the US, NATO and their allies.

Register here.

July 8, 2015

India’s Evolving Nuclear Force and Doctrine
Date: July 8, 9:30 am
Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

India stands at a new juncture in its nuclear development. New Delhi is unveiling ballistic missiles of ever-greater range, while its nuclear-armed submarine fleet is finally taking operational form with the launch of the Arihant. Despite these developments, India’s nuclear doctrine has not been officially updated since 2003. What is the future direction of India’s doctrine? Will India continue to adhere to a force posture informed by credible minimum deterrence? What are the potential implications for India’s relationships with the United States, Pakistan, China, and the global nonproliferation regime?

Frank O’Donnell and Yogesh Joshi will discuss current Indian perspectives on these questions and more. Carnegie’s George Perkovich will moderate.

Register here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham on “America’s Role in the World”
Date: July 8, 10:00 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Please join us at the Atlantic Council as we launch a new series on “America’s Role in the World” that will offer a platform for all US presidential candidates to speak on foreign policy and national security.  As part of this series, the Council is pleased to welcome Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

This is Senator Graham’s first major foreign policy speech as a 2016 presidential candidate. He will discuss why strong US leadership and comprehensive strategies, which include military and diplomatic options, are needed to tackle security challenges such as a nuclear Iran and radical extremist ambitions in the Middle East, and a wide range of other threats.

This series is part of the Atlantic Council’s Strategy Initiative led by the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. This Strategy Initiative seeks to encourage and support a more constructive and substantive public dialogue on US strategy in a complex and dynamic global context.

Senator Graham’s remarks will be followed by a moderated discussion and an audience Q&A session. We look forward to having you at the Atlantic Council for what is sure to be an exciting event.

Register here.

The Iran Negotiations: Is this Really the End Game?
Date: July 8, 11:00 am
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 6th Floor Conference Room, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

Despite the uncertainties, the United States and Iran seem to be in the final stages of what promises to be a comprehensive accord on the nuclear issue.

Join us as four analysts and observers of Iran, Middle Eastern politics, and U.S. foreign policy assess the state of the current negotiations, the implications of an accord and the consequences for the region without one.

RSVP here.

Statesmen’s Forum: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson
Date: July 8, 1:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Center, Washington DC

Secretary Jeh Johnson will speak at CSIS on the role of DHS in cybersecurity.

Register here.

Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Reviewing the U.S.-China Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
Date: July 8, 2:00 pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

Chairman Salmon on the hearing: “The Obama Administration recently submitted a new 30-year peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement with the People’s Republic of China for congressional review. While the current “China 123” agreement is set to expire at the end of the year, proliferation sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals remain in place and China continues to expand its own nuclear arsenal.  Congress, especially this subcommittee, has the responsibility to examine the specifics of this agreement and to determine if China is fulfilling its nonproliferation commitments.  This vital hearing will allow for a much-needed discussion on the benefits of continuing the agreement as well as the concerns we have over sharing access to dual use technologies.”

Chairman Poe on the hearing: “There has been a big debate over the renewal of the current Section 123 agreement with China, which is set to expire in December. This hearing will give Members of the Committee the opportunity to hear from knowledgeable government officials and policy experts so we can gain a better understanding of the details of this agreement and the ramifications of its renewal or expiration.”

Watch live online here.

July 9, 2015

Hearing: Implications of a Nuclear Agreement with Iran
Date: July 9, 10:00 am
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2173 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

Chairman Royce on the hearing: “As we anticipate a congressional review of the Administration’s possible nuclear agreement with Iran, we’ll be looking to see how the Administration has done on Congress’ red lines.  Did we get anywhere, anytime inspections?  Full Iranian transparency regarding its past nuclear activities? No large-scale, immediate sanctions relief; but guaranteed, workable sanctions snap-backs? Meaningful restraints on Iran’s nuclear program that last decades?  This hearing will be the first in a series the Committee will hold should the Administration strike what might be one of the most significant agreements in decades.  As I have said, no deal is far better than a bad deal.”

Watch live here.

Surface Warfare in a Complex World
Date: July 9, 1:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

The Maritime Security Dialogue brings together CSIS and U.S. Naval Institute, 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.

This series is made possible with support from the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Register here.

The Iran Deal and its Consequences
Date: July 9, 2:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) are expected to reach a ground-breaking comprehensive nuclear agreement by the end of June or shortly thereafter. The panelists will analyze the agreement in terms of its impact on nonproliferation, regional dynamics, US-Iran relations, and trade and investment in Iran. They will also discuss the potential obstacles to implementation both in Iran and in the United States.

The Iran Task Force, chaired by Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, seeks to perform a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s internal political landscape, its role in the region and globally, and any basis for an improved relationship with the West. It is supported generously by the Ploughshares Fund.

Register here.

July 10, 2015

A View from the Frontlines of Islamist Insurgency: Perspectives on Terrorism in the Middle East and South Africa
Date: July 10, 12:00 pm
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

What do ISIS’s rise in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s new-found power and growing sphere of influence in the region portend for the broader Middle East? What is being done to counter Islamist extremist forces in the region and what is the current state of play? How do the current regional dynamics impact the threat from al-Qaeda, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Join us at The Heritage Foundation as a panel of experts discuss the evolving regional dynamics and trends pertaining to the threat of Islamist extremism and share with us various perspectives on the struggle against the threat.

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

Week in DC: Events

June 29, 2015

Degrade and Defeat: Examining the Anti-ISIS Strategy
Date: June 29, 9:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Center, Washington DC

June 9th, 2015 marked one year since Iraq’s second largest city fell to ISIS. Since the fall of Mosul, ISIS has suffered losses at the hands of coalition air power, Iraqi Security Forces, Peshmerga, and Shia militias. Despite this, ISIS has made worrisome gains in both Syria and Iraq, most recently by seizing Ramadi and expanding in Syria. Additionally, the group has attracted the bulk of the more than 22,000 foreign fighters arriving on the battlefield from more than 100 nations. U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to increase U.S. troop deployments to Iraq signals more is needed to degrade and defeat ISIS.

Please join the Transnational Threats Project for a dynamic discussion with Stephen Kappes, David Ignatius, and TNT Director Tom Sanderson as they review developments since the fall of Mosul in addition to the struggles ahead against ISIS and the conditions enabling their continued operations.

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

Yemen in Crisis: What Next?
Date: June 29, 9:00 am
Location: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Rayburn House Office Building, Room B339, 45 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee are hosting a public affairs briefing on “Yemen in Crisis: What Next?”

The featured specialists include Dr. Noel Brehony, Chair, Menas Associates; Former Chair, British Yemeni Society; Author, Yemen Divided: The Story of a Failed State in South Arabia; Ms. Sama’a Al-Hamdani, Analyst and Writer, Yemeniaty; former Assistant Political Officer, Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, DC; and Mr. Peter Salisbury, Journalist and Analyst, the Financial TimesThe EconomistVice News, and other publications; former Consultant, Chatham House Yemen Forum. Serving as moderator and facilitator will be Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; and Member, U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and Subcommittee on Sanctions.

RSVP here.

Zero Hour—Examining the Iranian Nuclear Threat with Dr. Matthew Kroenig
Date: June 29, 12:00 pm
Location: Endowment for Middle East Truth

As the final round of negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program draw to a close, the public is left with more questions than answers. The results of these negotiations have the potential to set a new, and dangerous, precedent for the future of nuclear proliferation, as well as profound effects for the security of the U.S., our allies, and the global community. What was supposed to be a negotiation that would mitigate the threat posed by Iran has the potential to create more problems than solutions. Iran has become more aggressive in the midst of the P5+1 talks; with significant incursions being seen in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. The released framework resulted in inconsistent points between the various actors, and no substantive understandings to build from. In response to the amorphous nature of the discussions, skeptical U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia are exploring the nuclear option, creating the potential for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

What is the threat we face from Iran? Will the negotiations mitigate these threats? What are the implications for a future deal?

Join us the day before the negotiation deadline, as Dr. Matthew Kroenig answers these questions and more. Call (712)432-0075 and use participant code 397784 to participate.

Diplomacy Beyond the Nation-State: An Ambassador’s Roundtable
Date: June 29, 2:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

In an era of diffuse power, the 2015 QDDR makes a strong case for much greater diplomatic engagement with non-state actors. Similarly, the Atlantic Council has long made the case that more systematized engagement with non-state actors ought to become a core component of the US government’s strategic outlook. The Council’s first Strategy Paper, titled Dynamic Stability: US Strategy for a World in Transition, asserts that in a ‘Westphalian-Plus’ world, states must be able to harness the power and capabilities of non-state actors in order to succeed diplomatically.

Ambassadors from Chile, Morocco, Singapore, and other nations will join the State Department’s Thomas Perriello, Special Representative for the QDDR, at this event. They will discuss the forces of change in the twenty-first century and how the interstate system must adapt to harness these forces within a rapidly evolving global system.

Register here.

Policy Recommendations for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit
Date: June 29, 2:30 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 1st Floor Conference Center, Washington DC

The CSIS Proliferation Prevention Program, a member of the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), will host a briefing on the FMWG’s new report The Results We Need in 2016: Policy Recommendations for the Nuclear Security Summit, which offers innovative solutions to nuclear security challenges.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) must result in bold, concrete commitments that will keep the world safe from acts of nuclear terrorism. To help achieve this goal, a group of respected international experts developed new recommendations that can help prevent such a tragedy.

Speakers at this event include: Andrew Bieniawski, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative; James Doyle, an independent analyst; and Sharon Squassoni, of the CSIS Proliferation Prevention Program.

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

June 30, 2015

Are Super Intelligent Computers Really A Threat to Humanity?
Date: June 30, 9:00 am
Location: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 610, Washington DC

While artificial intelligence is at the heart of some of the most notable innovations in the past decade, including Google’s self-driving car, IBM’s Watson, and Apple’s Siri, a number of technologists, including luminaries such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have spoken publicly about their concern that advances in artificial intelligence may eventually lead to the rise of supremely intelligent computers that could go out of control and threaten the very existence of mankind. These fears have gripped the popular imagination, in no small part because these ideas are widely represented in pop culture. This year alone has witnessed a parade of digital supervillains in blockbuster films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, and Terminator: Genisys. But is the sky really falling? Others argue that these fears are merely hyperbolic nonsense, ungrounded in reality and detrimental to technological progress.

Please join ITIF for a spirited discussion about the state of artificial intelligence, whether super intelligent computers will someday pose a threat to the human race, and how policymakers should respond to these ideas.

The event will be open to the public, and the proceedings will be recorded and webcast. Follow @ITIFdc during the event and join the conversation using #AI

Register here.

Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future
Date: June 30, 10:00 am
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

With the world focused on the nuclear crisis in Iran, it is tempting to think that addressing this case, North Korea, and the problem of nuclear terrorism is all that matters and is what matters most. Perhaps, but if states become more willing to use their nuclear weapons to achieve military advantage, the problem of proliferation will become much more unwieldy. In this case, our security will be hostage not just to North Korea, Iran, or terrorists, but also to nuclear proliferation more generally, diplomatic miscalculations, and wars between a much larger number of possible players.

This, in a nutshell, is the premise of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future, which explores what we may be up against over the next few decades and how we currently think about this future. Will nuclear weapons spread in the next 20 years to more nations than just North Korea and possibly Iran? What is the current thinking about our nuclear proliferation future? Join us as a distinguished panel of experts examines these questions and more.

Register here.

Finding Its Way to the West? Ukraine and Its Challenges
Date: June 30, 11:00 am
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 5th Floor Conference Room, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

The Maidan revolution was launched to ensure that Ukraine could make its European choice. Political rhetoric aside, what are Ukraine’s true prospects for success and how much assistance is the West really prepared to offer? In discussing these issues, the panelists will offer their impressions from recent visits to Ukraine and on-going discussions with leading European policymakers.

RSVP here.

Cyber Security: A Loo at Legal Implications and Risk Management
Date: June 30, 11:30 am
Location: International Stability Operations Association, 2101 L Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington DC

Cyber-attacks, data breaches and social media snafus are just a few reasons to be concerned with the current cyber security landscape. While cyber security remains at the top of the headlines in news outlets, many companies remain unaware of the implications a cyber security event can actually pose.

Join the International Stability Operations Association in partnership with Clements Worldwide for a free round-table event where a panel of experts will discuss the issues and challenges of cyber security as well as how to take the necessary steps to mitigate risk and what happens after a breach.

Register here.

July 1, 2015

Assessing State Fragility in Africa
Date: July 1, 10:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Center, Washington DC

Please join us for a discussion on state fragility in Africa as we examine its underlying causes and seek to identify strategies for building resilience in fragile states. The session will serve as the launch of a new IMF paper, “Building Resilience in Fragile States in Sub-Saharan Africa.” CSIS will also unveil the main findings of its year-long study into fragile states, informed by case studies from Africa and Southeast Asia. Panelists will explore how best to mitigate drivers of fragility, including achieving a balance between national and sub-national engagement, altering dysfunctional political economy dynamics, and improving development outcomes.

RSVP here.

July 2, 2015

Team of Teams: Lessons from JSOC for a Complex World
Date: July 2, 3:00 pm
Location: New America Foundation, 1899 L Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC

When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2003, he quickly realized that conventional tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. The Allied forces had a huge advantage in numbers, equipment, and training—but none of that seemed to matter. General McChrystal and his colleagues remade the task force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. In Team of Teams General McChrystal and his coauthors, David Silverman and Chris Fussell, show how the challenges they faced in Iraq, Afghanistan, and over a decade of special operations missions around the globe can be relevant to businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations here at home.

A retired four-star general, General McChrystal is the former commander of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan and the former commander of the nation’s premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is best known for developing and implementing the current counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and for creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the interagency operating culture.

Chris Fussell, a co-author of Team of Teams, is a Senior Fellow at New America and spent 15 years on U.S. Navy SEAL Teams from war-torn Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. Fussell served as Aide-de-Camp to then-Lieutenant General McChrystal during General McChrystal’s final year commanding the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is also the Chief Growth Officer at CrossLead, the consulting firm that General McChrystal and his colleagues founded based on the theory laid out in Team of Teams.

New America is pleased to welcome General McChrystal and Mr. Fussell for a discussion of their book and the lessons from JSOC.

RSVP here.

Week in DC: Events

June 8, 2015

Asan Seminar: “The ROK-US Alliance: Facing Missile and Nuclear Threats on the Korean Peninsula”
Date: June 8, 3:00 pm
Location: The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

Panelists include Choi Kang, Vice President for Research at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies; Thomas Karako, Senior Fellow, International Security Program
Director, Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Woo Jung-Yeop, Research Fellow and Director, Washington, D.C. Office of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

Register here.

Nigeria in Transition: Prospects and Challenges for the New Government
Date: June 8, 3:00 pm
Location: Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office on May 29, 2015, following his pivotal victory in the country’s March 2015 elections. Buhari’s electoral success represented a defining moment in Nigerian political history since, for the first time, an opposition party candidate transitioned to power through peaceful, democratic elections. In advance of his inauguration, Buhari established a set of commitments for his first 100 days in office, which include: boosting economic growth and employment, tackling rampant government fraud, and strengthening the country’s security institutions to contend with Boko Haram and other destabilizing threats. However, as Buhari and his government come into power, several factors—such as a growing fiscal crisis, opaque governance systems, and persistent, dynamic security risks—have the potential to undermine his ability to deliver on these promises.

On June 8, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings will host a discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing Nigeria’s recently inaugurated President Buhari and his newly elected government. A panel of Nigeria experts will provide an assessment of the historic nature of Nigeria’s latest political transition, as well as the implications of this shift in power for the country’s development, governance, and security priorities. Amadou Sy will have a conversation with Grant Harris and then take questions from the audience. Witney Schneidman will then moderate a panel discussion, after which he will open the discussion to the floor.

Register here.

Public Forum with Dr. Saleem Al-Jubouri, Speaker of Iraq’s Parliament
Date: June 8, 3:15 pm
Location: United States Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington DC

The address by Dr. al-Jubouri, elected last year to lead Iraq’s Council of Representatives, follows USIP events with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in April and Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani in May. After making public remarks, Dr. al-Jubouri will respond to questions in a discussion moderated by USIP’s acting executive vice president, Amb. William Taylor.

Dr. al-Jubouri will be visiting Washington to meet with U.S. officials and members of Congress at a critical time for Iraq and its international partners fighting the extremist forces of ISIS (also known as the Islamic State). ISIS’ capture of the city of Ramadi and its sabotage of the country’s largest oil refinery, at Baiji, underscore the threat the group poses to the Iraqi people and state. Amid the war, the Council of Representatives is considering legislation on topics—such as the National Guard and the federal court system—that are critical to addressing governance and security problems that gave rise to ISIS.

Dr. al-Jubouri has been a member of the 328-seat Council of Representatives since 2005. He was awarded his PhD with distinction in law and was a law professor at Nahrain University in Baghdad.

RSVP here.

June 9, 2015

Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum: Crisis in Yemen—What Can be Done?
Date: June 9, 9:30 am
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Yemen is in the midst of a complex emergency, with over 1840 civilians killed and over 500,000 people forced to flee their homes. What should the international community’s strategy be for engagement in Yemen? How do we end this current crisis and pave the way for sustainable peace? What can be done?

Register here.

Prime Minister Modi’s First Year: What Was Accomplished and What Lies Ahead?
Date: June 9, 11:30 am
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed one year in office on May 26. With the economy picking up steam and having logged 19 foreign trips, the Prime Minister has laid the foundation for New Delhi to play a more influential role in global and regional affairs. Join us to hear a distinguished panel of experts evaluate Prime Minister Modi’s first year in office and discuss future trends in India’s domestic and foreign policy.

RSVP here.

Transparency, Governance, and Foreign Policy: Meeting the Challenges in the Americas
Date: June 9, 1:30 pm
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 6th Floor, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

Throughout much of Latin America, the “golden years” of economic growth during the last decade’s commodity boom have given way to economic decline or stagnation. At the same time, a mobilized citizenry is demanding better government performance. These two factors have focused unprecedented attention on rule of law deficits and official corruption. Meanwhile, relations among countries of the hemisphere have grown more complex. As much as the region has welcomed the normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations, the options for international insertion now extend far beyond the Western Hemisphere.

RSVP here.

June 10, 2015

Subcommittee Hearing: Iran’s Enduring Ballistic Missile Threat
Date: June 10, 10:00 am
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will discuss Iran’s Enduring Ballistic Missile Threat. Witnesses include, Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, USA, Retired, Former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency; The Honorable Robert Joseph, Ph.D., Senior Scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; David A. Cooper, Ph.D., James V. Forrestal Professor and Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College; and Anthony H. Cordesman, Ph.D., Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Watch live here.

The Shoulder-Fired Missile Threat in the Middle East
Date: June 10, 10:00 am
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

Despite a decade-long international campaign to reduce the threat from man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), terrorists and insurgents continue to acquire and use these highly effective, lightweight missiles. Among the most severely affected regions are the Middle East and North Africa, where armed groups have acquired MANPADS from looted government depots and international trafficking networks. Most notably, these weapons include recent-generation Russian and Chinese systems not previously seen outside of government control. The use of improvised batteries developed by armed groups also gives new life to older missiles. The panelists will provide an overview of illicit proliferation of MANPADS in these regions, the threat that these missiles pose to military and civilian aircraft, and prospects for mitigating this threat.

This event serves as the official release for the new report Missing Missiles: The Proliferation of Man-portable Air Defence Systems in North Africa.

RSVP here.

Defense-Industrial Policy Series: Modernizing the Army’s Acquisition Process
Date: June 10, 10:30 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Register here.

Nigeria’s 2015 Elections: What Have We Learned?
Date: June 10, 3:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Nigeria’s recent national elections are widely considered the best in the country’s history. Despite predictions of mass rigging and violence, the process was largely peaceful and credible and resulted in the first ever democratic transition of power from one party to another. Please join us for a conversation with Professor Attahiru Jega, chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, as he shares his perspective on what went right to ensure the integrity and credibility of the polls in a hard-fought and contentious electoral contest. Professor Jega will offer his assessment of the electoral process and share thoughts on lessons learned-both for Nigeria and other African countries entering similarly contentious, high-stakes elections.

Register here.

June 11, 2015

Building Self-Reliance and Prosperity in Afghanistan
Date: June 11, 9:30 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Register here.

Russia and the Two Koreas: Old Friends, New Partners?
Date: June 11, 12:00 pm
Location: Korea Economic Institute, 1800 K Street NW, Suite 1010, Washington DC

RSVP here.

Youth and Civil Society: The Missing Powers in Yemen
Date: June 11, 12:00 pm
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 6th Floor, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

Youth activist and advocacy trainer, Yemen, and Leaders for Democracy Fellow, Maxwell School of Syracuse University Mohammad Al-Shami will discuss the different stakeholders and positions in Yemen and review what is happening on the ground. He will also draw attention to the struggles and consequences that Yemenis face if the conflict continues without an immediate solution. In addition, Al-Shami will highlight the importance of empowering youth movements and civil society in Yemen in order to mobilize the community to promote peace.

RSVP here.

The Future of Drones
Date: June 11, 6:30 pm
Location: Project for the Study of the 21st Century (PS21), Thomson Reuters Conference Room, 1333 H Street NW, Washington DC

Of all the new developments in warfare in the 21st Century, few have been less contentious than drones. PS21 brings together a uniquely qualified panel to discuss the shifting use of drones in warfare and civilian industry. Have they been a force for good or bad so far this century? And how might they be used next?

RSVP here.

Week in DC: Events

June 1, 2015

“Putin. War:” The Making of the Nemtsov Report
Date: June 1, 5:30 pm
Location: Human Rights Campaign, Equality Forum, 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

On February 27, 2015, the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in view of the Moscow Kremlin. Two days prior, he had approached his friend Ilya Yashin to ask for his assistance on a sensitive investigation: tracking Russia’s secret military involvement in Ukraine. After the murder of the former deputy prime minister, Yashin led a group of opposition activists and journalists to piece together Nemtsov’s findings and publish the report in Russia and abroad.

How was the information compiled? What pressures did Yashin and his colleagues face when trying to bring the report to publication? And how do they hope the report will change the tide of Russian politics, and Putin’s actions in Ukraine?

Please join CGI and the Free Russia Foundation for an inside look at the creation of “Putin. War” with Ilya Yashin. Following a May 28 English-language release at the Atlantic Council, this discussion will allow the audience to engage in an intimate discussion with the report’s leading organizer through an open Q&A format.

This discussion is on the record and open to the public. A wine reception will follow. RSVP here.

June 2, 2015

Combatting Extremism’s Contagion: Creating a Counter Strategy and Stemming the Tide of Foreign Fighters
Date: June 2, 8:30 am
Location: United States Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington DC

The U.S Institute of Peace and the FP Group, publisher of Foreign Policy magazine and foreignpolicy.com, invite you to the next installment of PeaceGame on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. The fourth biannual PeaceGame will tackle one of the and most challenging of issues confronted by the U.S. government and stakeholders worldwide: the global rise of radical groups and violent extremism.

This event is now at capacity, but will be live streamed. Journalists requesting credentials should contact Allison Sturma.

Lasers, Railguns, and Unmanned Systems: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on the Future of the Navy and Marine Corps
Date: June 2, 9:00 am
Location: American Enterprise Institute, 12th Floor, 1150 17th Street NW, Washington DC

The US Navy and Marine Corps serve as the forward edge of American power, influence, and aid by reassuring allies and deterring would-be adversaries. Through the dedication of their sailors and marines, the Navy and Marines have met increased global demand for their services — from disaster relief in the Philippines to presence missions in East Asia to the deterrence of Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf — but not without cost, including longer deployments and deferred fleet maintenance.

How does the Department of the Navy plan to maintain forward presence and meet requirements as demands rise and resources remain constant? How will new technologies such as unmanned aviation, undersea systems, and directed-energy weapons change the way the Navy and Marines deploy and fight?

Please join us at AEI as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus discusses the future of the US Navy and Marines.

RSVP here.

Rethinking Cuba: New Opportunities for Development
Date: June 2, 9:00 am
Location: Brookings Institution, Saul/ Zilkha Rooms, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro announced that the United States and Cuba would seek to reestablish diplomatic relations. Since then, the two countries have engaged in bilateral negotiations in Havana and Washington, the United States has made several unilateral policy changes to facilitate greater trade and travel between the two countries, and bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to lift the travel ban. Meanwhile, conversations are ongoing about ending the 50-plus-year embargo and Cuba has continued the process of updating its economic system, including establishing new rules for foreign investment and the emerging private sector.

In light of the significant shifts underway in the U.S.-Cuba relationship, new questions arise about Cuba’s development model, and its economic relations with the region and the world. On Tuesday, June 2, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings will host a series of panel discussions with various experts including economists, lawyers, academics, and practitioners to examine opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in this new context. Panels will examine macroeconomic changes underway in Cuba, how to finance Cuba’s growth, the emerging private sector, and themes related to much-needed foreign investment. Throughout the program, the panelists will take questions from the audience.

Register here.

Iran’s Missile Program
Date: June 2, 10:15 am
Location: Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC

The Islamic Republic of Iran has the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East. Missiles—whether conventional or potentially armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads—enable Iran to pose an asymmetric threat to countries with much more sophisticated militaries. Despite U.N. resolutions forbidding the development and testing of nuclear delivery systems, Iran has continued its missile program unabated. The most recent unclassified government report suggests that Iran, with foreign assistance, could soon flight-test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States.

On June 2nd, Hudson Institute will host a conversation with Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Dr. David Cooper, Michael Eisenstadt, and Dr. Thomas Karako on the extent of Iran’s missile program and its relationship to Iran’s nuclear program. Hudson Adjunct Fellow Rebeccah Heinrichs will moderate the event.

Register here.

June 3, 2015

Korea Going Forward
Date: June 3, 9:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Please join us for an international public conference, co-hosted by CSIS and the Korea Foundation, with senior opinion makers, policy makers, and officials to frame the agenda for U.S.-ROK relations going forward in advance of the visit by President Park Geun-hye to the United States.

The distinguished panels will look at the broadening scope of U.S.-ROK cooperation around the globe as well as the challenges on the peninsula and in the region with an unprecedented gathering of experts.

This conference is by RSVP only and all remarks are on-the-record.

Weighing Concerns and Assurances about a Nuclear Deal with Iran
Date: June 3, 12:00 pm
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 6th Floor Conference Room, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

The Iran Project’s new report, Weighing Concerns and Assurances about a Nuclear Deal with Iran, is designed to encourage a balanced bipartisan discussion on emerging arguments for and against a P5+1 deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Light refreshments will be served at 11:30am. Register here.

What Do Moscow’s Proposed Security Arrangements Mean for Central Asia and the Caucasus?
Date: June 3, 5:00 pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Rome Auditorium, 1619 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Moscow is aggressively demanding that the West accept a new security architecture that would take account the new “realities on the ground” created by Russia’s de-facto occupation of two Georgian regions, annexation of Crimea, and attempt to create new separatist statelet in Eastern Ukraine.  Our speakers will examine these demands against the death of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty and the dysfunctionality of OSCE and other elements of the security umbrella that were supposed to maintain peace in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.  Speakers will also consider the West’s possible responses.

Register here.

June 4, 2015

A Conversation with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry
Date: June 4, 9:30 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assumed office, Pakistan has embarked on a proactive campaign to reach out to its neighbors as part of a larger vision for a peaceful neighborhood. Today, increased high-level exchanges with its neighbors reflect this important policy shift designed to secure Pakistan internally and externally. Building on this momentum, Pakistan is pursuing a number of regional economic connectivity projects, such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, the China-Pakistan economic corridor, and the Central Asia and South Asia electricity project. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry will discuss how Pakistan is positioning itself in its quest for regional peace, security, and enduring development.

Register here.

June 5, 2015

Recent Developments in the US-India Relationship
Date: June 5, 11:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2nd Floor Conference Center, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

Ambassador Richard Verma, who took charge as U.S. envoy to India in January, will provide a status update on the U.S.-India relationship and focus his remarks on the progress made in key areas over the past year as well as the challenges that remain. This event will be on the record.

Register here.

Week in DC: Events

May 26, 2015

Europe and the Iran Nuclear Deal
Date: May 26, 10:00 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

The Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force invites you to a discussion with the Ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany about the role of the “E-3” in negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran, and the implications of a comprehensive long-term deal for European relations with Iran.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) appear to be on track to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement by a June 30 deadline. If negotiations succeed, they will reflect the role of three European countries – Britain, France and Germany – which began engaging Iran about its nuclear program more than a decade ago. The E-3 ambassadors in Washington will discuss the history of the talks, the role their countries played, and the outlook beyond June 30.

The Iran Task Force, chaired by Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, seeks to perform a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s internal political landscape, its role in the region and globally, and any basis for an improved relationship with the West. It is supported generously by the Ploughshares Fund.

Register here.

Next Generation Dialogue on Industry and Defense: Rethinking Research and Development for the Department of Defense
Date: May 26, 10:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2nd Floor Conference Center, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

The Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at CSIS is leading a series – the Next Generation Dialogue on Industry and Defense – to reinvigorate the dialogue between the DoD and industry on significant shifts underway in the defense sector.

This event will focus on the major challenges and opportunities that confront the research and development enterprise serving DoD.

Register here.

The Consequences of the Emerging American-Iranian Nuclear Deal
Date: May 26, 12:00 pm
Location: Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC

Since the Obama administration’s announcement of a nuclear framework with Iran, America’s allies in the Middle East have voiced concerns that the deal offers far-reaching economic concessions to Tehran while doing little to reduce that regime’s basic nuclear infrastructure and capabilities. Israel and Saudi Arabia, in particular, question the wisdom of providing billions of dollars in near-term sanctions relief to an expansionist neighbor that already exerts effective control over four Arab capitals. And third-party governments throughout the region are obviously nervous about a plan whose best-case scenario involves the removal of all nuclear sanctions against Iran within 15 years — at most. What will be the consequences should such a plan take effect?

Will Middle Eastern powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey feel impelled to initiate nuclear weapons programs of their own? With the borders of this turbulent region already in flux, how might the accord reconfigure the strategic map and domestic political dynamics of the Middle East? Will a further-empowered Iran improve — or restrict — America’s effectiveness as an honest regional broker and security guarantor in the future?

On Tuesday, May 26th, Hudson Institute and the Rabin Chair Forum of George Washington University will host a lunchtime discussion about these and related questions surrounding the U.S.-Iranian “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) — which the White House is expected to sign in late June — with Senior Fellow Lee Smith and Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Register here.

Pakistan: The Citizens’ Fight for a Voice
Date: May 26, 12:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

From school children to rights activists, individuals from all walks of life have become targets of violence in Pakistan. With the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar to most recently the murder of leading human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, Director of The Second Floor (T2F) in Karachi, those trying to give a voice to the voiceless are being silenced. Despite facing Taliban threats and potential arrest, Mohammad Jibran Nasir is leading a citizen’s movement against terrorism. He believes growing religious strife in Pakistan is part of a global phenomenon, and can be countered through a persistent and shared effort. Nasir will discuss the roles and responsibilities of government, non-state actors, and citizens in countering religious intolerance, sectarian violence, and terrorism, and how finding solutions in Pakistan could lead the way for a global citizen’s movement against the violent extremist narrative for the twenty-first century.

Register here.

May 28, 2015

What a Conservative Victory Means for Economic Policy in the United Kingdom
Date: May 28, 11:00 am
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

The recent Conservative Party victory in the United Kingdom’s General Election could have major implications for economic policy across the Atlantic. No longer in coalition, how will the Tories change their legislative economic program? Which policy priorities will expand and which will be scrapped? What does the future hold for UK-EU relations? Has austerity helped or hurt Britain’s economic recovery? Is London’s financial industry waxing or waning?

Join us as we discuss the implications of a new government for Europe’s second-largest economy.

Register here.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine and Boris Nemtsov’s Putin. War.
Date: May 28, 2:00 pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Russia is at war with Ukraine. The war’s toll—more than 6,000 dead, tens of thousands wounded, and nearly 1.3 million displaced persons—is the direct result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to establish control over Ukraine. Putin continues to deny Russia’s military involvement, though the evidence that the Kremlin is directing the war is overwhelming.

Please join the Atlantic Council and the Free Russia Foundation for the release of two independently produced reports: Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine and the English language release of Boris Nemtsov’s, Putin. War., onThursday, May 28, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Atlantic Council (1030 15th St. NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC, 20005).

The Atlantic Council report, Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine, provides irrefutable evidence exposing the breadth and depth of Russian military involvement in Ukraine’s east. Drawing upon publicly available information, the report documents the movement of Russian troops from training camps into Ukraine. It also demonstrates that many artillery strikes on Ukraine originate in Russia and examines the wide array of Russian military equipment in the hands of so-called separatist forces.

Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader murdered in view of the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2015, reached the same conclusion: Putin’s war is being fought in Ukraine at the cost of Russian lives. Published posthumously in Russian, Nemtsov’s report, Putin. War., will be released for the first time in English by the Free Russia Foundation.

Citizen journalism has been vital in documenting Putin’s illegal actions in Ukraine. The Atlantic Council encourages anyone that may have found their own evidence hiding in plain sight to post it on Twitter under #PutinAtWar.

A panel discussion will follow the report presentations.

Register here.

May 29, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s Leadership Changes: Implications for Stability and Energy Markets
Date: May 29, 10:00 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reshuffled his cabinet and appointed a new line of succession in a major reorganization of the top echelons of power in the kingdom. Following the announcement, reports indicated that the state-owned oil giant, Saudi Aramco, would be restructured to operate independently from the Saudi oil industry. Coupled with low oil prices, geopolitical instability in the region, and distrust over Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions, the kingdom’s new geopolitical reality raises several important questions: What impacts will the recent leadership changes in Saudi Arabia have on the global energy order and regional stability and security? Is the restructuring of Saudi Aramco indicative of future changes within Saudi Arabia’s energy sector? How will the outcomes of the Camp David meeting between President Obama and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders and a potential June P5+1 agreement with Iran influence Saudi actions in the region?

Please join us on Friday, May 29, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for a discussion on these critical issues. Panelists include Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Hon. Francis Ricciardone, Vice President and Director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and Dr. Jean-François Seznec, Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. David Goldwyn, President of Goldwyn Global Strategies and Chair of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Board, will moderate the discussion and The Hon. Richard Morningstar, Founding Director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, will deliver welcome remarks.

Register here.