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  • Author: Moussa Sall, Intissar Fakir, Hajar Khamlichi, Thowaba Ben Slema, Houssem Hamdi
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Across the MENA region, civil society plays a key role in putting climate on the agenda for governments and the private sector. How are activists and advocates in North Africa building momentum in their communities and globally to address climate change? How can social media, film, and art bridge gaps and create a global demand for greater sustainability? Intissar Fakir will be joined in conversation with leading figures in the fight for climate action in North Africa.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Arts, Social Media, Film, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Vanessa Badre, Lyne Sneige, Kate Seelye, Denis Quenelle, Nagham Hodaifa, Bady Dalloul
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute's Arts and Culture Center and The Cultural Services of the French Embassy are pleased to host a conversation with leading Syrian contemporary artists, Bady Dalloul and Nagham Hodaifa. The Paris-based artists will reflect on the past decade of conflict and trauma, its impact and influence on their work and their relationship to their homeland. They will be joined by Lyne Sneige, the Director of the Arts & Culture Center at the Middle East Institute. Dalloul grew up in France, the son of prominent Syrian artists. His work confronts the notion of what is real and imagined while challenging the process of writing history. Hodaifa, who left Syria in 2005 to pursue her studies, explores the human condition through the representation of the body. Both artists are in the current MEI Art Gallery exhibit In This Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising, featuring leading contemporary Syrian artists chronicling the hope, trauma, and pain of the past decade through their practice. The artists will be in conversation with Vanessa Badré, art historian, lawyer, and faculty fellow at American University.
  • Topic: Arts, Culture, Conflict, Trauma, Syrian War, Memory
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, France, Syria
  • Author: Silvia Crescimbeni, Vahakn Kabakian, Jessica Obeid
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Amid converging political, economic, and humanitarian crises, Lebanon has recently doubled down on its climate ambition for the next ten years. In its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the country has revised both its GHG emission reduction targets and renewable-energy-sourced power generation targets upwards. Does climate change bear national security implications for Lebanon today? How can climate-proofed infrastructure projects and low-carbon technologies attract investments, create jobs and support Lebanon’s economic revival post-collapse? How will immediate policy choices and renewable energy integration ensure economic growth and shape the future of critical sectors such as energy, water, food, and transportation? What is the role of climate diplomacy and partnerships in achieving Lebanon's climate ambitions? How can Lebanon ensure that its climate policy does not fall through the cracks?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, National Security, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Gonul Tol, Philip Breedlove, Iulia Joja, Yoruk Isik, Mamuka Tsereteli
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Russia’s largest military buildup since the 2014 annexation of Crimea is taking place along the Ukrainian border and in the Black Sea. Moscow has resorted to escalatory measures, announcing the closing of the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea to foreign ships and cutting off Ukraine’s ability to export. In response, the West has reacted with warnings and invitations to dialogue while Turkey is trying to walk a fine line between Russia and Ukraine. To prevent further escalation of the crisis, much will depend on the Biden administration’s response. What are possible conflict scenarios of Russia towards Ukraine and the Black Sea? What options does the West have in deterring Russian aggression in the region? In what ways is this significant to the long-term US regional strategy? How is Russian military buildup significant not only for Ukraine, but also for the broader stability of the Black Sea region?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs, Navy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Black Sea
  • Author: Charles Lister, Vera Mironova, Eric Oehlerich, Mick Mulroy, Sara Kayyali
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Two years after the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, tens of thousands of fighters and associated civilians remain in various forms of detention, with little sign of any meaningful solution to their status. Until now, few Western governments have proven willing to repatriate their citizens, choosing instead to leave them in the region, where security is weak and humanitarian conditions are dire. Multilateral efforts to determine the prospects for localized judicial mechanisms have failed, leaving behind an unsustainable crisis that threatens long-term security. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a panel of experts in this timely and important discussion.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Prisons/Penal Systems, Citizenship, Islamic State, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Lyne Sneige, Lara Haddad, Maymanah Farhat, Kevork Mourad
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Marking the launch of the MEI Art Gallery exhibit, In This Moonless Black Night: Syrian Art After the Uprising, MEI is pleased to host a conversation exploring how Syrian artists in exile have addressed the hope, trauma and displacement of the past decade through their art. Among the 14 participating artists, US-based artists Lara Haddad, Essma Imady and Kevork Mourad, as well as curator and writer Maymanah Farhat, will reflect on their artistic practice and the personal experiences that influenced their work over the past 10 years. They'll also examine how the exhibit's diverse imagery and media helps shape our understanding of the magnitude and complexity of the past decade with beauty, grace and humanity. Lyne Sneige, director of MEI's Arts and Culture Center, will moderate the discussion followed by Q&A .
  • Topic: Arts, Culture, Media, Syrian War, Memory
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Christophe Abi-Nassif, Haneen Sayed, Alain Bifani, Nasser Saidi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon’s financial and socio-economic crises have been unfolding for nearly 18 months. The Lebanese pound is hitting all-time lows against the US dollar. Food prices have soared more than 400% in just one year. In the meantime, foreign currency reserves at the central bank are dangerously depleting. Citizens have lost access to their life savings and more than half now live below the poverty line. The country’s entire financial system is in dire need of restructuring. Amid the worsening financial collapse and growing civil anger, unrest and poverty, an end to the meltdown is yet to be seen. Where does Lebanon stand today, a year after the first sovereign debt default in its history? How did we even get here? What are immediate monetary and fiscal policy priorities to course-correct? What social policies and programs are needed in the immediate term? What can still be saved? Four Lebanese experts with frontline experience will tackle these issues and shed more light on Lebanon’s uncertain financial, economic, and social future as part of the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Lebanon program’s events series.
  • Topic: Debt, Finance, Economy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Knights, Hanin Ghaddar, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Charles Lister
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East has grown dramatically in the past decade, in large part due to its expanding regional network of militias and their assertion of influence in unstable environments. Through the IRGC’s Quds Force and Iranian allies such as Lebanese Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen, Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony through the removal of Western influence threatens stability. What are the main challenges and threats posed by Iran’s regional network? How best should they be dealt with? Can diplomacy remove the incentive for Iranian proxy aggression? How must the United States and the wider international community respond to Iran’s direct and proxy involvement in conflicts across the Middle East?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Transnational Actors, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Lebanon
  • Author: Jacki Lyden, Yasmine El Rashid, Kate Seelye
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute's Arts and Culture Center and the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center at George Mason University are pleased to host the second talk in a writers' series marking the 10th anniversary of the Arab uprisings. Launched this past December, Ten Years After The Arab Spring, features the voices of award-winning writers reflecting on the past decade through the lens of their writings and personal experiences. The second book talk in our series features award-winning Egyptian writer Yasmine El Rashidi discussing her debut novel, Chronicle of a Last Summer. Through a young Egyptian woman’s recount of her personal and political coming of age, El Rashidi traces the fine line between survival and complicity, exploring the conscience of a generation raised in fear and silence. Yasmine El Rashidi is in conversation with American author and award-winning journalist Jacki Lyden.
  • Topic: History, Arab Spring, Protests, Memory, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ruba Husari, Samantha Gross, Gerald Feierstein, Jean-Francois Seznec
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: One of President Biden's most ambitious campaign promises is centered around American energy policy. Biden has vowed to shift away from a traditional focus in oil toward investments in renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, the oil industry in the Middle East is already facing severe repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic. States like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon are struggling to replace oil revenue, cutting social benefits and worsening social unrest in the process. Oil has been the economic backbone on which the U.S. and nations in the Middle East have built diplomatic relationships and maintained mutual security interests. How will these crucial bonds be affected by a greener Biden presidency?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Oil, Pandemic, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Edmund Fitton-Brown, Ken Dilanian, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Jane Marriott, Aimen Dean
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were a dramatic wake up call to the United States and the wider world as to the threats posed by violent jihad. However, more than 20 years later, the challenges remain and efforts to combat the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS have led to even greater levels of conflict and terrorism itself. With a view to hindsight and an eye focused forwards, this panel will seek to assess the lessons learned from the war on terror since 2001 from a range of international perspectives and to present alternative approaches to dealing with the challenges that prevail today.
  • Topic: Terrorism, History, Counter-terrorism, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Motaz Zahran, Joey Hood, Paul Salem, Gerald Feierstein, Mirette F. Mabrouk
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East has become a kaleidoscope of evolving relationships and developments. Following almost a decade of near chaos, Libya has just elected an interim government, paving the way for a new transition. Despite several new normalization treaties with Arab states, Israel remains deadlocked in perhaps the most urgent of its relationships with Arab states; that with Palestine. A decade of stressful and largely fruitless negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is threatening to become even more complicated by Ethiopia’s internal conflicts and the possibility of a civil war spilling over its borders, threatening a fragile transition in Sudan and possibility of stability in the Horn of Africa. Amid all these developments, relationships and alliances are being reformed and reevaluated. Where does Egypt stand on all of these issues? MEI held a private, on the record roundtable discussion with the Ambassador of Egypt to the United States Motaz Zahran and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Joey Hood. MEI President Paul Salem gave an introduction and Senior Vice President Amb Gerald Feierstein and Egypt Programme Director Mirette F Mabrouk moderated the discussion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Regional Cooperation, Transition
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Anand Menon
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: UK in a Changing Europe, King's College London
  • Abstract: Professor Anand Menon explains the need for social science to play a role in informing public and political debates is as great if not greater than ever, now that the UK is embarking on a new course after Brexit.
  • Topic: European Union, Brexit, Trade
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Michael D. Higgins, Retno Marsudi, Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Winnie Byanyima, Fitsum Assefa Adela, James Love, Mariângela Simão, Alberto Rodriguez, Sarah Cliffe
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: On September 25th, during the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, leaders from around the world came together to call for a fair and equitable approach to the development, production, and distribution of vaccines for COVID-19. This high-level event, hosted by the president of Costa Rica and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and CIC/the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, explored ways to ensure universal access to COVID-19 health technologies.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peace, Humanitarian Crisis, governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thierry de Montbrial, Robin Niblett, Ed Feulner, Feng Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Ifri’s Executive Chairman Thierry de Montbrial spoke at the 20th World Knowledge Forum in Seoul on September 25, 2019 with Robin Niblett, Chatham House's director, Ed Feulner, The Heritage Foundation's Founder and Former President and Feng Zhu, Director of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University about the major governance issues of our time. The global geopolitical situation is caught in a maelstrom. The conflict between the United States and China is getting worse and subsequent negative effects are rising. In Europe, Brexit is making the continent more divisive than harmonious. The instability in Middle East is not solved. In addition, the North Korea’s nuclear weapons are an endless source of problem that defies a quick solution, which made the politics surrounding the Korean Peninsula more complex. The problem is that the currently weak global governance may lead the global political landscape into a serious crisis. To give an answer to these problems, heads of top think tanks share their prospect and the future of the global governance, giving a guideline for each country to listen for a better direction.
  • Topic: Governance, Geopolitics, Think Tanks, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Middle East, North Korea, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Abo Alasrar, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Ibrahim Jalal, Gerald Feierstein
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Virtual roundtable recorded March 25, 2020, featuring presentations by MEI scholars Fatima Abo Alasrar, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, and Ibrahim Jalal. This roundtable covered a range of topics including Houthi expansion, prospects for new negotiations, the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, and the coronavirus’ impact on Yemen.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Conflict, Negotiation, Houthis, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Syed Mohammed Ali, Gerald Feierstein, Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Marvin G. Weinbaum
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The relationship between Pakistan and the United States has never been easy or stable, and in recent years has come under increasing strain. Yet both countries have a vital stake in the maintenance of a working relationship. Several factors have complicated prospects for bilateral cooperation in the past, leading to a growing strategic divergence in how both countries view one another, and their interests vis-a-vis other regional players. Perhaps the biggest shortcoming in the Pakistan-US relationship has been that both sides have tried to address the issues between them without common frames of reference, resulting in differences of perceptions and policies. An expert group of academics, policy analysts, and retired government officials have recently convened at the Middle East institute to study the Pakistan-US relationship. The product of their discussions is a paper that explores a range of ideas and concrete proposals designed to move the relationship in a positive and stable direction. With support from the Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation, and hosted by the Middle East Institute, we are pleased to invite you to this presentation by a team of former government officials and analysts, and other experts involved in this effort. This event will take place over a light lunch on March 3rd from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm at the Middle East Institute.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Zaher Sahloul, Elizabeth Tsurkov, Charles Lister, Alexander Marquardt
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Nearly 600,000 people have been displaced in northwestern Syria in the last two months, in what is now the biggest humanitarian crisis in nine years of war. The brutal military assault being conducted by the Syrian government, Russia and Iran shows no signs of abating and has in recent weeks sparked direct and deadly clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops. Hospitals and schools continue to be struck from the air, IDP camps have reached capacity and humanitarian agencies are warning of an impending humanitarian disaster. Since the Syrian government and its allies began an offensive on Idlib in the Spring of 2019, approximately 25% of the opposition-controlled territory has fallen - roughly 75% still remains. Amid this ongoing crisis and unprecedented levels of civilian displacement and human suffering, the international community appears to have been rendered powerless. The Middle East Institute is pleased to host a panel discussion on the situation in Idlib, in order to discuss the nature of the crisis and the international response; the geopolitical dynamics at play; concerns over terrorism; and what possible paths might exist to resolve the situation.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Displacement, Conflict, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Przemysław Osiewicz, Alex Vatanka, Suzanne Kianpour
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union and the Middle East is facing a critical period of change, given the changing leadership in key European Union bodies, rising tensions with regard to Iran, and increasing confrontation between the United States and Iran. The Middle East Institute is pleased to invite you to a conversation with MEI scholar Przemysław Osiewicz, who will discuss his recently released paper series on the impact of leadership changes in key EU bodies such as the EU high representative for foreign and security policy, the European Commission, and the European Council on EU-MENA relations. He will be joined by MEI Senior Fellow Alex Vatanka and moderator Suzanne Kianpour to explore divergences between the United States and the EU approaches in their policies toward Iran, internal divisions within the EU on engagement with Iran, the role of economic factors, and the future of the JCPOA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Daniel Brumberg, Sharan Grewal, Mohamed-Dhia Hammami, Sabina Henneberg, William Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Following elections in September and October, Tunisia is having difficulty forming a government, in part because of the collapse of the 2016 Carthage Pact. MEI is pleased to host a panel featuring several leading analysts of Tunisian politics, who will attempt to answer which approach can produce forward motion while at the same time prevent Tunisia from slipping backward towards authoritarianism. Some parties are defending the consensus model to preserve democratic gains, and others are pursuing to force change based on their political preferences. Presiding over all of this is a populist president without a political party who has in the past proposed a radical overhaul of the entire system, abolishing political parties, and creating a form of direct democracy. It is unclear if Tunisian democracy can survive any of these scenarios, whether it be consensus politics, majoritarian politics, or antipolitics. With any of the formulas, winners win, and losers can easily become spoilers, as nearly happened in 2013 with opposition protests led by the women's movement.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mirette F. Mabrouk, Abla Abdel Latif, Sarah El-Battouty
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Climate change is slowly stamping an imprint on Egypt’s environment, culture, and economy. The most obvious of these challenges is the rising scarcity of water. Egypt is already one of the world’s most water scarce countries; while the UN assesses water scarcity at 1,000 cm3 per person annually, Egypt has less than 560 cm3 per person. Rapid population growth, urbanization, desertification, and unpredictable weather patterns are all taking an unrelenting toll on the country’s strained water resources, while fear is climbing over loss of water from the Nile if the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam holds back water during droughts. Just as worrisome is rising heat. This threatens health, water supplies and, in a country where over 30 percent of the labour force is directly involved in agriculture, Egypt’s harvests. While there has been much work done on water conservation, climate change mitigation policy is unclear. Much of the action is handled by the private sector which is not always invested in the strictest environmental standards. Is it possible to tackle the oncoming threat while balancing mitigation with the need for development?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Culture, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Selena Larson, James Shires, Thom Langford
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Although the cyber domain is an emerging field of conflict, it is no longer a new frontier – many battles in cyberspace have been fought and it is imperative they be understood to begin imagining how the future of warfare online may look. As the United States, the Middle East, and policy community globally begin to consider how a Biden administration will approach conflict and cyber conflict in the region, this panel is an opportunity to study the history of cyber warfare in the Middle East as context for the policy challenges that will arise in the next four years. This panel is sponsored by SentinelOne, a cybersecurity solution encompassing AI-powered prevention, detection, response and hunting in a single autonomous platform.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Conflict, Non-Traditional Threats, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Isma'il Kushkush, Mohamed Solman, Jérôme Tubiana
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: In 2018, the Sudanese Revolution gained prominence on social media and drew international attention to the movement taking place against Omar Al-Bashir’s 30 year dictatorship in the country. Widespread protests were sparked by drastic policies meant to prevent economic collapse such as the slashing of bread and fuel subsidies. Two years later, grievances remain as Sudan continues to face a multitude of issues including record breaking floods, poor governance, incoming Ethiopians and Eritreans fleeing conflict, and persistent militia violence. The Sudanese people have begun to lose patience with the Transitional Government’s inability to sufficiently reform the system and respond to crises. How has Sudan adapted to both environmental and political upheaval? What changes have occured since Omar Al-Bashir was ousted? How does Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok plan to move forward with the reconstruction of Sudan’s constitutional system, and how could the violence in Ethiopia and Eritrea affect that? In what ways, do we see Sudan’s relationship with foreign allies changing amidst this reconstruction? In this panel, the Middle East Institute (MEI) brings together experts to explore what the future of Sudan looks like, and what the revolution succeeded and failed to bring the people.
  • Topic: Environment, Politics, Social Media, Protests, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea
  • Author: Ivan Safranchuk, Michal Meidan, Gonul Tol, Michael Gunter
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Frontier Europe Initiative has recently launched a report, A Sea Change?: China’s Role in the Black Sea. The report seeks to address China’s policy vis-a-vis the countries of the Black Sea from several angles. What is the nature of China’s presence in the Black Sea? Is China a significant player in the region’s energy scene? What is the state of Chinese-Russian relations?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Black Sea
  • Author: Thomas Volk, Jason Pack, Younes Abouyoub, Emadeddin Badi, Jonathan Winer, Amanda Kadlec, Gerald Feierstein, Mohamed Eljarh, Bouchra Rahmouni
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: While most discussions about the Libyan crisis revolve around geopolitics and international interference, internal divisions within Libya’s civil society and political institutions have also played a fundamental role in destabilizing the country since the fall of Moamar Gaddafi in 2012. Governance in Libya is fragmented with very few truly national actors. It also continues to lack political institutions that are seen by all Libyans as legitimate. The ongoing conflict consists of many contending local and tribal players, including spoilers who have demonstrated opposition to either peace or reconciliation except on the basis of total victory by their group. What are the major obstacles to stabilization? How can Libya approach the establishment of political institutions? In what ways can the international community support a Libyan-led peace process? The Middle East Institute, the Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the Policy Center for the New South are pleased to jointly host a group of experts to discuss these questions and more in a closed roundtable format.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Conflict, Crisis Management, Peace, Reconciliation
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Mamuka Tsereteli, Margarita Assenova, Alex Vatanka, Rauf Mammadov
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has entered its fourth week. The scope of the war has not been limited to the boundaries of the combat zone, resulting in human loss and destruction of civil infrastructure. The region’s important network of energy infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines, are not immune to this latest round of fighting. The military confrontation is taking place in proximity to the critical energy infrastructure that connects the Caspian basin with the European markets. Can the fighting cause disruption to oil and gas flows to the West? What could potential disruption mean for global markets? Can the Southern Gas Corridor be prevented from being launched by the end of this year as had been planned? What are the interests of regional stakeholders such as Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Iran and others that are either energy exporters, consumers or transit nations for Caspian hydrocarbons. And finally, what are the interests of the United States in this conflict and its impact on the energy markets?
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Territorial Disputes, Infrastructure, Conflict, Exports
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, United States of America
  • Author: Khaled Elgindy, Martin Indyk, Nour Odeh, Shibley Telhami
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: As Americans head to the polls in November the results will have far reaching implications for Americans and the global community alike—perhaps none more so than Israelis and especially Palestinians. Insofar as Israelis and Palestinians are concerned, the differences between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden could not be more stark. While Trump has upended one sacred pillar of the peace process after another Biden has pledged to reverse the most destructive of these policies in the hope of salvaging what remains of a two-state solution and to restore U.S.-Palestinian relations, now at an all-time low. Even as the Trump administration has worked to preempt virtually all issues of concern to the Palestinians—from Jerusalem and refugees to the prospect of self-determination—Palestinians are themselves beset by a host of internal and external challenges. Internal political division, institutional paralysis, and a chronic economic crisis, have brought the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the verge of collapse and sapped its legitimacy. Meanwhile, the recent normalization deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, and the possibility further normalizations, have underscored the marginalization of the Palestinian cause, both in the region and in the global policy discussion. What is—or should be—the Palestinian national strategy in light of these unprecedented challenges? Can the PA survive another Trump term? Would an ostensible return to the status quo ante by a Biden administration be enough to save the two-state solution?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Elections, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Iulia Joja, Ryan Olson, Mamuka Tsereteli, Ian Birzezinksi
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Three Seas Initiative has been dubbed a new Marshall Plan for Central and Eastern Europe. Promising buy-ins from Three Sea Initiative members, including Poland and Romania, will be matched with up to 1 billion USD by the United States. The aim of the Three Seas Initiative is to contribute to the economic development of Central and Eastern Europe. The Black Sea is partially covered by the initiative through the membership of Romania and Bulgaria, but the region's strategic importance as the connection point between Europe, Asia and the Middle East remains largely unaddressed. While Ukraine has recently expressed its interest in joining, US strategic allies and EU partners, Georgia and Ukraine as well as NATO member Turkey, are essential for the economic development and critical infrastructure that the Black Sea needs. What role does the Black Sea play for Eastern European economic development and security? How can the Three Seas Initiative make a difference to the Black Sea region in terms of economic development? How can non-3SI members like Georgia and Ukraine buy in and benefit from the Three Seas Initiative?
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Integration, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Black Sea
  • Author: Alex Vatanka, Hannah Kaviani, Behnam Ben Talebiu, Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The looming arrival of the Joe Biden administration in January 2021 provides the leadership in Tehran with an opportunity to seek a qualitatively different relationship with the United States. President-elect Biden has already expressed a desire to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Trump administration abandoned in 2018. While Tehran awaits to see what, if any, conditions the Biden team has for the resumption of the diplomatic track and removal of US-led sanctions, a policy fight is already under way inside the Iranian state about the future of US-Iran relations. The American question in Tehran is not just a foreign policy file but ultimately linked to the question of whether the Islamic Republic opts to continue a revolutionary and militant foreign policy or settles for a path of de-escalation with Washington and other rivals. How much of this policy competition in Tehran will shape Washington’s next steps vis-à-vis Iran? To discuss these matters and other key challenges in the path of US-Iran relations in the coming Biden administration, we are delighted to host a panel of experts.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Khaled Elgindy, Sam Bahour, Tareq Baconi, Mustafa Barghouti, Noura Erakat
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Part 1 – Reviving Palestinian Political Life Former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump is likely to produce a major reset in American-Palestinian relations as well as in Washington’s role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. No U.S. president had done more to isolate Palestinians and delegitimize Palestinian national aspirations than Trump. Meanwhile, Biden has pledged to reverse the most destructive aspects of Trump’s policies and restore U.S.-Palestinian relations in the hope of salvaging what remains of a two-state solution. Yet even as the Palestinians breathe a collective sigh of relief at Trump’s departure, the Palestinians’ internal house remains in a state of disarray and decline. The Palestinian national movement, now at one of the lowest points in its history, continues to be racked by political division, institutional stagnation, and a lack of strategic clarity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Negotiation, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Khaled Elgindy, Dana ElKurd, Yousef Munayyer, Mustafa Barghouti
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Part 2 – Toward a Palestinian National Strategy Former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump is likely to produce a major reset in American-Palestinian relations as well as in Washington’s role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. No U.S. president had done more to isolate Palestinians and delegitimize Palestinian national aspirations than Trump. Meanwhile, Biden has pledged to reverse the most destructive aspects of Trump’s policies and restore U.S.-Palestinian relations in the hope of salvaging what remains of a two-state solution. Yet even as the Palestinians breathe a collective sigh of relief at Trump’s departure, the Palestinians’ internal house remains in a state of disarray and decline. The Palestinian national movement, now at one of the lowest points in its history, continues to be racked by political division, institutional stagnation, and a lack of strategic clarity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Nilsu Gören, Wolfgang Pusztai, Jason Pack, Mohamed Htweish, Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Over the last year, a new form of extraterritorial air war has proved extremely decisive in military conflicts in both Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. In both instances, the Turkish backed side has emerged victorious, despite initially being on the backfoot. In 2019, it seemed Tripoli was on the verge of falling to the forces of General Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA.) The LNA had received military assistance in the forms of drones, mercenaries, and diplomatic support from the UAE, Egypt, and Russia. However, following an announced ceasefire, Turkey utilized the brief pause of fighting to turn the tide of battle by backing Haftar’s rival, the General National Council. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to launch a recent publication, “Turning the Tide: How Turkey Won the War for Tripoli.” Why did Turkey decide to fully engage in Libya’s Second Civil War? What strategies and tactics did Turkey establish throughout its involvement? Which modern military technologies helped shape the outcome of the War for Tripoli? What are the next likely steps in the international community’s mediation efforts in Libya?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War, Drones, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Douglas London, Chris Costa, Charles Lister, Karen Greenberg
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: After nearly two decades of the so-called War on Terror, the threats and challenges posed by terrorism to the United States and its allies have proliferated in number, grown in sophistication, and expanded geographically. While our terrorist enemies have proven resilient and adaptable, our strategy and tactics have remained largely unchanged. Although the U.S. mainland may be better protected from a 9/11-style attack, our interests overseas and the stability of regions like Africa and the Middle East have never been more challenged. As terrorism continues to evolve and the threats we face diversify, the time has come for a serious re-examination of American counterterrorism policy and the determination of more effective approaches to counter the threats of tomorrow. What lessons can we learn from the past two decades of countering terrorism? In what ways have our enemies adapted? How might we adapt to more effectively counter terrorism? Given domestic political constraints, what approaches are likely to be most realistic and effective?
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Salem, Ishac Diwan, Fadlo Khuri, Maha Yahya
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is going through one of the most acute crises in its modern history. A complex economic collapse is driving hundreds of thousands into poverty and the risk of hunger, and shuttering an already wounded economy. A large cross section of the population revolted in October of last year and has created a standoff with a corrupt and sectarian oligarchy. The government is unable to chart and implement a way out of the crisis, and state institutions stand on the brink of failure. The multiple crises have threatened all sectors, including the critical education sector, previously one of the success stories of the country; universities, like other institutions, have been hard hit.
  • Topic: Poverty, Sectarianism, Hunger, Economy, Protests, Crisis Management, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Gonul Tol, Ahmet Davutoğlu
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute’s Turkish Studies Program is pleased to welcome H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Turkey, to discuss pressing issues in Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy. Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Turkey has gone through an extraordinary transformation, one in which H.E. Davutoglu played a critical role. Please join us for this timely conversation, moderated by Turkish Studies Director Gonul Tol, which will delve into questions about that change as well as recent developments including the Turkish court decision to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and Ankara's military presence in Libya.
  • Topic: Politics, Domestic politics, AKP
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Darin LaHood, Paul Salem, Edward M. Gabriel, Jean AbiNader, Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is on the brink of collapse due to its domestic economic and political crises, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another failed state in the Middle East would negatively impact strategic US interests. Lebanon requires a thorough reorientation towards stability and renewed socio-economic sustainability, which entails fundamental domestic reforms and targeted international support led by the US. The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) are pleased to co-host the public launch of a joint policy paper, Recommendations for a Sustainable Bilateral Relationship. What are the strategic interests the US has in Lebanon’s stability, and how can the US support Lebanese prosperity? Is the Lebanese government’s new financial recovery plan sufficient for the US to initiate support for the government? In what ways can the US best support a strong future for Lebanon?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Political stability, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Laith Al Ajlouni, Sara Kayyali, Oraib Al Rantawi, Rana Husseini
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The start of the new decade in Jordan has been marred by unrest. In January, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest both President Trump’s Middle East peace plan and the gas deal signed between Israel and Jordan. This wave of dissent came on the heels of the 2019 protests against increased austerity measures, a follow up to the 2018 movement that saw the resignation of Hani Mulki’s government. Though Jordan quickly adopted stringent measures to combat the virus, the economy will suffer a huge blow, exacerbating Jordan’s existing development challenges and popular discontent. Furthermore, the pandemic prompted troubling restrictions on freedom of speech, with an April decree stating that sharing anything that may “cause panic” about the pandemic is punishable with up to three years in prison. How have protest movements in Jordan been impacted by Covid-19, and what do recent protests over honor killings and gender based violence portend for progress in this area? How do these long standing grievances meet the current moment of the impending Israeli annexation? What will be the long term impact of the pandemic on Jordan’s economy and human rights, especially for the country’s millions of refugees?
  • Topic: Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Protests, Austerity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Tarek Osman, Ariane Tabatabai, Morad Vaisibiame, Alex Vatanka
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The January assassination of Qassem Soleimani shocked the leadership in Tehran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had not expected the United States to escalate tensions between the two countries in such a manner. The assassination of Soleimani was an effort to change Tehran’s strategic calculations and policies for the Middle East. With continued sanctions imposed by the United States, regional tension, and the loss of a key decision maker, Iran is facing intensified challenges to achieve its goals at home and in the region. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to welcome a group of experts to assess Iranian policy towards the Arab world following the death of Soleimani and to discuss how Arab states are reacting to Iran’s actions. How has Iran’s strategy in the Arab world performed following Soleimani’s death? In what ways have proxy forces in the Middle East that operate under Tehran’s command been affected? Who is left to make key decisions about the Islamic Republic’s involvement in the Arab states, and are we faced with a weaker IRGC Quds force after Soleimani? Finally, what do Arabs think of Iranian policies aimed at them?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Qassem Soleimani, Assassination, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), Regional Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, United States of America
  • Author: Joyce Karam, Sawsan Abdulrahim, Noof Assi
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Protests in Iraq and Lebanon have drawn global attention as protestors advocate for political and economic reform and an end to corruption, especially in the wake of the Beirut blast and Lebanon’s disaster response. These countries also face economic crisis and socio-political challenges relating to the millions of refugees and IDPs within their borders and the lack of sustainable policies to address displaced people’s needs. In Lebanon and Iraq, refugees and IDPs face discrimination and lack of access to educational and public health resources in addition to the widespread economic pain and disenfranchisement that these countries protest movements aim to confront. How have refugees in these countries been active in or left out of these movements? How can access gaps and discrimination be overcome to integrate refugee rights into these protest movements? How do protest movements reflect a desire to integrate refugees and IDPs into the social fabric of these countries?
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Reform, Refugees, Displacement, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Amira Roess, Mia Atoui, Essam Daod, Mohammed Abo Hilal
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: In addition to economic and legal insecurity, many refugees and IDPs suffer from the immediate and long-term effects of PTSD and other mental health issues resulting from their experiences with conflict, displacement, and discrimination in their new environments. While government and NGO initiatives exist in Jordan, Iraq, and other host countries to promote mental health awareness and services in refugee communities, these resources are insufficient to address this dire need. How can aid and development programs prioritize mental health as a key component of refugee support? What are the gaps in the regional mental health systems that must be bridged in order to serve refugee communities? What initiatives exist to empower refugee communities at the grassroots level to advocate for mental health services?
  • Topic: Refugees, Displacement, Trauma, Mental Health, NGOs, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Huda Kanoo, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Raed Asfour, Eckhard Thiemann, Neda Ulaby
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Cultural festivals play an important role in expanding and enriching the communities and cities that host them, providing platforms for artists, and contributing to economies. But given the enduring impact of Covid-19 in the Middle East and globally, festivals are having to rethink their models and innovate to find new ways to reach audiences while remaining engaging and relevant. How might these new challenges impact broader cultural production, audience engagement and more, in a region where platforms and opportunities for the performing arts are already so limited? Join leading festival directors and thought leaders for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural festivals in this new environment. Speakers include H.E. Huda Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO, Raed Asfour, director of the Al Balad Music Festival, Eckhard Thiemann, CEO and artistic director of the Shubbak festival. Moderated by NPR culture reporter Neda Ulaby.
  • Topic: Arts, Culture, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Ron Peeters, Micah Loudermilk, Chris Kubecka, Maya Horowitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The cyber threat landscape and economic composition of the Middle East are unique. Operational technology threats are a critical risk in the region, both because of its heavily resource-based economies and its high reliance on electric and water infrastructure. This panel will explore the unique components of the cyber security landscape in the Middle East, and seek to determine the best practices for operational cyber security professionals working in the region. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to welcome a group of industry experts to discuss cyber security challenges, opportunities, and courses of action facing companies in the Middle East. This panel is sponsored by Synack, a leading cyber security company who combines the world's most skilled and trusted ethical hackers with AI-enabled technology to create a scalable, effective security solution. What is the cyber threat environment like in the Middle East today? What types of threat actors and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are most common? How does the environment differ from other regions of the world?
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Economy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Susanne Koelbl, Deborah Amos, Ben Hubbard
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia is a country in the midst of dramatic change. The fundamental pillars of its economic and social institutions have been upended, and a young generation is moving to the foreground. At the head of this dramatic shift is Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, known as MBS, who since 2015 has branded himself as a modern reformer and the face of a new generation of Saudi leadership. But who is the real MBS: the man who will lead Saudi Arabia into the 21st Century, or a dictator known for his retaliatory actions against members of the royal family and brutal restrictions on human rights? In the wake of the Khashoggi murder and in the midst of a war in Yemen, detention and torture of women’s rights activists, and repeated efforts to consolidate his own power, it is unclear to what extent bin Salman’s actions are driven by a strategy. Meanwhile, an increasingly connected Saudi population is confronting traditions and modernization initiatives which may open new conversations. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a book talk with two acclaimed journalists whose works draw from firsthand experience in Saudi Arabia to examine the rise of Mohammed bin Salman and the changing nature of Saudi society in the decade of Vision 2030. Ben Hubbard and Susanne Koelbl will be joined in conversation with Deborah Amos to explore the current and future obstacles facing reform and progress in Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Authoritarianism, Leadership, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marvin G. Weinbaum, Saad Mohseni, Anthony H. Cordesman, Muqaddesa Yourish, David Sedney, Ali Jalali
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The future of Afghanistan’s constitutionally liberal democratic system is very much at issue. On its survival rests the aspiration of the greatest number of its people, the deep investment of the international community in the country’s stability and wellbeing, and ultimately the security of the region and beyond. Negotiations are beginning in what is certain to be a lengthy process that may in the name of a compromise trade away social and economic gains realized over nearly two decades. Afghanistan has additionally to cope with the disengagement of foreign forces just at a time when their leverage militarily and diplomatically could be critical. In the absence of a verifiable ceasefire, the country confronts a prospect of exploding violence and possible descent into chaos. Can Afghanistan pull itself together to not only protect its achievements but to overcome past errors? Should Afghans and their international partners think about formulating a Plan B to save the republic while striving for true reconciliation with the insurgency? The Middle East Institute is pleased to host a panel of experts to discuss these questions and more.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political stability, Domestic politics, Violence
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States of America
  • Author: Ross Harrison, Amir Afkhami, Amira Roess, Omid Nikfarjam
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has the potential to push public healthcare systems in the Middle East past their current capabilities.The number of coronavirus cases in the Middle East has risen to nearly 60,000, double the amount only a week ago. How will this current pandemic impact the region’s health care systems and preparedness for future crises? The Middle East Institute (MEI) will bring together a panel of experts to look beyond the immediate impact of COVID-19 on public healthcare systems in the Middle East. This group of experts will discuss the long term effects on the region's public health systems and if this will cause them to become more resilient in the face of future threats. What will this current crisis mean for the future of the region’s health care systems? What steps should public health services be taking now to ensure they will be better prepared for the next pandemic? What is the role of international organizations like the World Health Organization to help regional public health services build resilience into their systems?
  • Topic: Health, World Health Organization, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Walt, Bilal Y. Saab , Barry R. Posen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Of all the internal obstacles and external challenges the United States is likely to face in its pursuit of its new foreign policy priority of great power competition, the Middle East might prove to be the biggest. If the region continues to command U.S. attention and resources, Washington will struggle in its efforts to effectively pivot and counter Chinese and Russian ambitions in Asia and Europe, respectively. How does or should the Middle East fit in America’s new grand strategy? Does the great power competition necessitate an entirely new U.S. approach toward the Middle East? Which U.S. approach best serves Washington’s new global plans? To answer these questions and many others, the Middle East Institute (MEI) is honored to host a conversation with Professor Barry Posen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Stephen Walt from Harvard University.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Grand Strategy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Middle East, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Suzanne Maloney, Alex Vatanka, Aleksi Aleksishvili, Rauf Mammadov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The economic toll of COVID-19 around the world has been significant and the impact of this crisis will reverberate for the next few years. Iran is among the hardest hit economies but the fallout is also already felt among Iran’s immediate neighboring states, including the countries of South Caucasus and the Caspian Basin. With US sanctions severely limiting its international trade, Tehran has in recent years banked on trade with immediate neighbors as a stopgap remedy to its economic needs. This policy of prioritizing trade and other economic ties with immediate neighbors is now under even more pressure due to COVID-19. While Iran is expected to experience a sharp economic contraction in 2020, economic growth forecasts have also been cut in neighboring Caucasus states, requiring swift and decisive action from leaders and international partners. The Middle East Institute (MEI) will bring together a panel of experts to explore the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Iran, the South Caucasus and the question of regional economic cooperation and integration. Besides looking at what has driven Iran’s neighborhood policy in recent years, and how it is in danger of crumbling due to COVID-19 restrictions, the panel will focus on the specific case of the energy sector where regional integration was moving ahead, albeit slowly. Meanwhile, the role played by third-parties – including Russia and the US - will also be tackled by the panelists as they reflect on Iran-South Caucasus economic connections.
  • Topic: Economics, Sanctions, Trade, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Caucasus, Caspian Sea
  • Author: Randa Sim, Zaher Sahloul, Kieren Barnes, Aya Majzoub
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: As COVID-19 continues to devastate global economies and health systems with no end in sight, refugees and IDPs are among the world’s most vulnerable communities. Already facing tremendous challenges including loss of livelihoods, lack of citizenship, psychological trauma, and discrimination, displaced people in the Middle East must now contend with the pandemic and its devastation on the already-strained healthcare systems and economies of their host countries. Refugees are particularly susceptible to illnesses like COVID due to overcrowding in refugee camps, lack of proper sanitation, food, and water resources, and unprotected movement across borders. Meanwhile, the region’s conflicts, outbreaks of violence, and occupation continue, providing little relief in the most fragile environments. How are refugees in the Middle East withstanding the virus in countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan? How does the impact of the virus expose existing fragilities in and create new challenges for the region’s healthcare services, particularly for refugee camps, which suffer from overcrowding and lack of proper sanitation? What are the new imperatives for governments and international organizations to provide assistance where it is needed most?
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Refugees, Displacement, Sanitation, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Roula Seghaier, Amir Ashour, Antoun Issa, Rasha Younes
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is low across the Middle East, and LGBTQ+ individuals face a number of unique challenges due to their identity. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a virtual panel which will seek to explore the ways in which these communities have organized in the Middle East in order to raise visibility and advocate for greater rights, and how these efforts are under attack across the region. Panelists will discuss the impacts that governments, laws, and society have on the lives of LGBTQ+ people, and the ways in which grassroots organizations and initiatives strive to support this community in the face of backlash and the challenges of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the major challenges LGBTQ+ people face in the Middle East? In what ways have LGBTQ+ rights been integrated into broader social and political movements in countries like Lebanon and Iraq? How has COVID-19 impacted important advocacy work, and how are activists and organizations adapting to continue to protect these communities? Is there any hope for future protection of LGBTQ+ people in the wake of regional and global crises?
  • Topic: Human Rights, LGBT+, Advocacy, COVID-19, Identity
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Iulia Joja, Gonul Tol, Adam Eberhardt, Holger Fabian Sahl
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants around the world, many of whom have been caught in transit as governments shut down borders. The virus is also placing increasing strain on migration pressure points, while enabling new migration trends to emerge. This has been particularly evident in Eastern Europe. Thousands of refugees gathered at the Turkey-Greece border at the beginning of the crisis, hoping to cross European Union borders. Meanwhile, many Ukrainian migrants living and working in Poland are leaving the EU to reach their homes and families. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a virtual panel in collaboration with the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) in Poland. The event will focus on the challenges facing refugees and migrants in Eastern Europe during COVID-19, as well as the response of governments and the European Union. What are the economic, political and security implications for the region? Are policymakers considering refugees in their COVID-19 preparations? Is the pandemic fueling anti-refugee sentiment in countries like Poland and Turkey? What is the role of the European Union in coordinating a regional response, and is it delivering?
  • Topic: Government, Migration, European Union, Refugees, Displacement, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Greece, Poland