Events

On Wednesday, April 19, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and the Global Energy Center co-hosted a conversation on energy innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East featuring Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, presidential deputy envoy for hostage affairs at the US Department of State; HE Majid Al-Suwaidi, consul general of the United Arab Emirates in New York; and Mr. Salah Tabbara, general manager of ALBina Industrial Construction Company and moderated by Ms. Mirette Mabrouk, deputy director and director of research and programs of the Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Dr. Nesheiwat presented a global perspective, detailing the proliferation of clean energy as well as the decreased cost to deploy these systems. She noted that renewable energy sources accounted for 55% of new energy developed in 2016, and at 23% lower cost than in 2015. In 2016 solar power cost 17% less to produce, onshore wind cost 18% less, and offshore wind cost 28% less – making these industries even more competitive with fossil fuels. She also discussed the importance of economic diversity to protect the state against market shock in the oil and liquid natural gas markets during supply fluctuations and under threats from violent extremism, this holding especially true for the Gulf states.

HE Al-Suwaidi zeroed in on the UAE, discussing innovative programs like Masdar City, partnerships with Pacific Island states, and the mandate for 27% of the Emirates’ energy demand to be supplied by renewable technologies. He explained that the UAE has known from early on that oil and natural gas are finite resources. Diversifying into aviation, finance, and tourism have proven lucrative for the Emirates, and a strong sense of environmental stewardship has steered innovation away from fossil fuels. The country’s current green growth strategy is pushing for meaningful sustainability in both economic and environmental sectors. Al-Suwaidi also explained how the UAE’s Masdar initiative has invigorated innovation research and development, from partnerships with MIT to bring students from around the globe to participate in innovation competitions, to the Masdar City project,  which he described as a “living lab” for new technologies to be field-tested.

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On Thursday, October 27, 2016, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Annika Söder for a conference on US-European cooperation in the Middle East. Söder delivered keynote remarks, in which she emphasized that the Middle East is undergoing a period of rapid transition and instability, threatened by a lack of inclusion, hope, equality, rule of law, and economic diversification. Following recent travel in the Middle East, Söder observed challenges and bright spots across the region: Jordan is struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees, but countries like Tunisia recognize and promote the value of gender equality from economic, social, and political standpoints. She also highlighted Sweden’s important engagement in the Middle East as part of a broader narrative on the value of hope for struggling communities, and anticipated that Sweden’s new role on the United Nations Security Council will allow for more cooperation with the United States toward this goal.

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On Wednesday, October 19, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Middle East Peace and Security Initiative released Atlantic Council distinguished fellow Ellen Laipson’s A New Strategy for US-Iran Relations in Transition, the sixth installment in the Atlantic Council Strategy Paper series. The report advocates for a balanced approach towards American relations with Iran that builds incrementally on the progress made by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The discussion was hosted by New York Times National Security Correspondent David Sanger, and included Michael Connell, director of the Iran Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), and Atlantic Council board director Amir Handjani. The panel discussed recent developments between Iran, the United States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, as well as potential strategies that could bring about a safer and more peaceful Gulf region.

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On Thursday, September 1, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m., the Atlantic Council hosted a discussion on the importance of harnessing the power of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), welcoming HE Shamma Al Mazrui, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, for her first public speaking appearance in the United States. The panel discussed one of the most critical economic development challenges facing the MENA region - the “youth bulge” – and the challenges and opportunities available to harness the energy and vitality of the youth population.

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On Friday, April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. the Atlantic Council hosted a discussion of a new report by Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow Bilal Saab, entitled After Hub-and-Spoke: US Hegemony in a New Gulf Security Order, and a debate on US global defense posture in the next decade and how it might affect future US designs in the region. Regional transformation and chaos resulting from the Arab uprisings, the rise of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in the Middle East and beyond, shifting US global priorities, and the increasing influence of outside powers in the Gulf have created a new geopolitical context for the United States’ commitment to the security of the Gulf. The panel discussed the ways in which the region’s new strategic trends and security dynamics impact US interests, priorities, and future force posture and the ways in which the United States can best minimize risks and capitalize on the heightened engagement of European allies in the Gulf.

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EXPERT ANALYSIS
Beyond Riyadh: Breaking Down the US-GCC Summit

with

Zalmay Khalilzad
President; Board Director
Gryphon Partners; Atlantic Council

Barry Pavel
Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair, and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security
Atlantic Council

Ali Tulbah
Managing Director
McLarty Associates

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Please join the Atlantic Council on Thursday, February 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for a discussion on the strategic implications of the fall of crude oil prices on the security and stability of the Middle East.

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President Obama convened leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in May 2015 to discuss reassurance and security cooperation in light of the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran. The United States and Gulf Arab monarchies agreed to improve future cooperation on ballistic missile defense, counter-proliferation, counterterrorist financing, cybersecurity, and a range of other issues. Six months after the summit, with the Iran deal secured and amidst the Middle East's continuing crises, US-GCC security cooperation remains critically important. What have been the notable successes and challenges since Camp David? To what extent has progress been made in key areas? Has the region's security situation benefitted from US-Gulf cooperation in light of the continuing fight against ISIS and other crises?

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Recent developments in Iraq and Syria have raised serious concerns about the Obama administration's current strategy to counter the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The United States' failure to train and equip an effective moderate force in Syria, Russia's newly redoubled efforts to bolster the Assad regime against ISIS and opposition forces, and an apparent stalemate in Iraq highlight the need for a review of long-term US objectives and strategy. Even if international parties to the anti-ISIS coalition continue to step up their kinetic efforts, the overall plan appears lacking.

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