Recent Events

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.
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a panel discussion with Dr. Osama Kadi, president of the Syrian Economic Task Force; Mr. Todd Diamond, Middle East director of Chemonics International; Ms. Mona Yacoubian, former deputy assistant administrator for the Middle East at the US Agency for International Development; and Mr. Bassam Barabandi, former Syrian diplomat and co-founder of People Demand Change. Hariri Center Senior Fellow Mr. Faysal Itani moderated the discussion. Mr. Omar Shawaf, chairman and founder of BINAA, gave opening remarks.

Shawaf introduced the two-year Syrian reconstruction initiative in his opening remarks. He reminded the audience that the future of the Middle East and its people is at stake in Syria, and that the conflict will continue to have implications that reach far beyond the Levant. Shawaf also touched on international engagement in Syria, saying that Russia should rethink its Syria policy and Iranian expansion in the region should not go unchallenged. He urged for the construction of a framework, comprised of relevant expertise, to help rebuild Syria.
On March 17, 2017, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center hosted a discussion with Congressman Adam Kinzinger to discuss America’s role in the Middle East and the world. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, director of the Hariri Center, moderated the event.

Kinzinger began by emphasizing that self-governance should be one of America’s mission statements for the world. He said that the Soviet Union’s dissolution was mainly due to the change in ideas among its citizens: the Soviet people saw Western life as a model and started to demand their freedom from the Soviet government. Kinzinger noted, however, that unlike during the Cold War era, there are now multiple “iron curtains” such as ISIS, authoritarian regimes, and discrimination. He explained that another mission statement of America should be to recognize those curtains and pull them down, and underscored that America’s most important goal in the Middle East should be to bring freedom.
On Monday, March 13, 2017, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a panel discussion featuring Dr. Kristin Smith Diwan, senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington; Dr. H.A. Hellyer, nonresident senior fellow at the Hariri Center; Dr. Haykel Ben Mahfoud, nonresident fellow at the Hariri Center; and Dr. Karim Mezran, senior fellow at the Hariri Center. Ms. Mirette F. Mabrouk, deputy director and director for research and programs at the Hariri Center, moderated the event. The panelists, representing different regional backgrounds, discussed their perspectives on US foreign policy in the Middle East. Please find the video recording below, as well as an exclusive interview with Dr. H.A. Hellyer about the future of US-Egyptian relations. 
The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a panel discussion on March 9, 2017 with Ms. Nebras Attia, human rights activist; Dr. Federica Saini Fasanotti, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Ms. Azza Maghur, senior lawyer at Maghur & Partners; Dr. Jason Pack, executive director of the US-Libya Business Association; and Amb.Jonathan Winer, former US special envoy for Libya at the US Department of State. Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Dr. Karim Mezran moderated the discussion and Hariri Center Director Amb. Frederic Hof gave opening remarks.
The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a panel discussion on February 13, 2017 with H.E. Khaled Alyemany, permanent representative of Yemen to the United Nations; Ms. Nadwa Al-Dawsari, nonresident senior fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy; and Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Mr. Mohammed Alyahya and Nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. Nabeel Khoury. Ms. Mirette F. Mabrouk, deputy director and director for research and programs at the Hariri Center, moderated the event.
On Thursday, January 12, 2017 the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a panel discussion on a strategy for the next administration for combating al-Qaeda in Syria. The panel included Jennifer Cafarella, lead intelligence planner at the Institute for the Study of War; Sasha Ghosh Siminoff, president and co-founder of People Demand Change; Hassan Hassan, senior fellow at the Tahrir Insitute for Middle East Policy; Faysal Itani, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East; and Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. The discussion was moderated by Margaret Brennan, foreign affairs and White House correspondent for CBS News, and featured introductory remarks by Nancy Okail, executive director at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. The panelists discussed the contents of a new report sponsored by the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Combating Al-Qaeda in Syria: A Strategy for the Next President, which they and other experts contributed to.
On November 30, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center launched the Middle East Strategy Task Force (MEST) co-chairs’ final report with an event featuring former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. The discussion was moderated by Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC and NBC with opening remarks by Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe.

Kempe opened the event by discussing the deliberate process the Task Force underwent to hear from voices in the region. He then explained that the co-chairs’ report presents a unique approach that will lead to a better understanding of the Middle East and to a more hopeful future. He added that the MEST report has not focused solely on defining an American strategy for the region but rather a strategy for the region itself.
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and the Global Energy Center hosted a panel discussion on what to do about Russia’s rising profile in the Middle East. Panelist included Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Thomas Cunningham, Deputy Director of Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst at RAND, and Aaron Stein, Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The event was moderated by Barbara Slavin, the Acting Director of South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative. Panelists discussed Russia’s regional and international policy challenges including the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, expanded military cooperation between Russia and Iran, and Russia’s near future energy strategy, as well as policy options for President-Elect Trump towards Russia.
On November 29, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center hosted the event “A New Saudi Arabian Regional Policy” featuring panelists Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, chairman of Shamal Investments and Mohammed Alyahya, nonresident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The discussion was moderated by Hariri Center Director Ambassador Frederic Hof.


    

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