Event Recaps

On April 24, 2017, Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Faysal Itani moderated a discussion with Syria’s White Helmet’s Jehad Mahameed and Manal Abazeed on the war on civilians, the use of chemical weapons, and the case for a no-fly zone in southern Syria.

Jehad Mahameed is the liaison officer of the Syria Civil Defense (SCD). He is from Deraa and was one of the original founders of the local civil defense committee in Deraa in 2011. Manal Abazeed is a Syria Civil Defense (SCD) volunteer in Daraa. She joined the White Helmets in April 2015 and specializes in public safety education and awareness. Her training covers explosive weapons, trauma counseling, and childbirth. Faysal Itani is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, where he focuses primarily on the Syrian conflict and its regional impact. The Syria Campaign’s Kenan Rahmani was an interpreter for the event.

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On April 14, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a conversation with the honorable Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The discussion focused on his vision for the development of the AIIB, its approach to providing financing for Asian infrastructure, and the AIIB's internal governance process, as well as his thinking on multilateralism in the Asian-Pacific region. The AIIB celebrated its first year of operations in January and to date has invested over $2 billion in twelve projects across Asia.

Following a warm welcome and introductory remarks by Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, President Jin proceeded to outline ongoing improvements and future expansions to the AIIB. He introduced AIIB’s current objective to bridge relations between Asia and the United States and followed with the slogan, “our bank is lean, clean, and green” and emphasized the importance of operating the AIIB according to the highest international standard. President Jin stated that over the span of two years AIIB has dramatically grown, bringing together 52 member states, with another 18 prospective candidates. It is in the forefront of the promotion of infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region and developing countries.

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After the biggest recession Brazil has ever known, leading economic indicators are beginning to show the light at the end of the tunnel. As Brazil tries to find the exit sign, the country continues to face challenges in the political arena, amid growing corruption scandals. Nevertheless, recovery is on its way, and Brazil’s middle class must be protected.

To provide answers on how to create a leaner and more efficient state without jeopardizing the gains of the middle class, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a discussion with Brazil’s Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles. The discussion also marked the launch of the center’s latest Spotlight: Strengthening the Middle Class in a New Brazil. Following introductory remarks by Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Peter Schechter, Minister Meirelles remarked on the current situation in Brazil and the reforms helping to guide the country out of the recession.

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On Wednesday, April 19, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted an expert’s roundtable with Michael Keating, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Somalia and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.

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On April 18, 2017, the Global Energy Center launched the Atlantic Council Task Force Report on Reform of the Global Energy Architecture. The expert panel included Phillip Cornell, task force co-chair and nonresident senior fellow at the Global Energy Center, Neil Brown, task force member and director of policy and research at the KKR Global Institute, David Goldwyn, task force co-chair and chairman of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Group, and Cynthia Quarterman, task force member and nonresident senior fellow at the Global Energy Center. The discussion was moderated by Richard Morningstar, founding director and chairman of the Global Energy Center, and was focused on current energy governance challenges, the importance of international and multilateral collaboration, and the path forward on energy policy for the US administration.  

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At what point does a cyberattack become an act of war? Should the government react to a cyber-attack on the private sector? Is cyber privateering the answer to the government’s woes? These were some of the questions students (including this author) contended with at the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Cyber 9/12 student challenge on March 17 and 18.

Held at American University’s Washington College of Law, this was the fifth and biggest iteration of the annual student competition. Forty-five teams from 32 universities from across the United States took on the roles of cyber policy experts advising the National Security Council on how to react to a fictional cyber catastrophe.

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On Monday, April 10, 2017, the Global Energy Center launched Dr. Ian M. Ralby’s latest report, Downstream Oil Theft: Implications and Next Steps. Moderated by Ambassador Morningstar, the expert panel included Ian Ralby, John Gannon, and Terzah Tippin Poe, and discussed how hydrocarbons crime impacts global security, the market, and the environment, and how stakeholders can work together to address this underrecognized issue.

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The Global Energy Center launched Robert F. Ichord’s latest report, Transforming the Power sector in Developing Countries: The Critical Role of China in Post-Paris Implementation. Moderated by Charles Ebinger, the expert panel included Robert F. Ichord, Jon Elkind, and Clara Gillispie, and discussed the policy directions for advancing China’s power transformation, regional and global aspects of Chinese energy policies, and the implications for the relationship between the Trump Administration and China.  

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On Wednesday, March 29, Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham testified before the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee on “Terrorism in North Africa: An Examination of the Threat.”

Africa’s northwest Maghreb region is home to some of the longest-running terrorist campaigns on the African continent, a situation that has become all the more combustible in recent years with the emergence of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) “provinces” amid the disintegration of Libya, alongside preexisting groups like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and still other Islamist bands which emerged in the wake of the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship.

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