On Tuesday, October 9th, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a conference to discuss the nature of foreign involvement in ongoing conflicts in the region as well as the resilience of Jihadism in the post-2011 period. The conference coincided with the launching of a report, “The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition,” which explores a number of trends in governance that have emerged since the Arab Spring.
Atlantic Council President and CEO, Frederick Kempe, kicked off the conference with opening remarks, followed by the President of the Italian think tank the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Ambassador Giampiero Massolo, and the Ambassador of Italy to the US, His Excellency Armando Varricchio.
Following the introductory remarks, the Rafik Hariri Center’s senior fellow Karim Mezran led a panel titled “A Great Powers Game,” featuring Mona Yacoubian, senior advisor for Syria and the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Institute of Peace; Ambassador Rend al Rahim, co-founder of The Iraq Foundation; Nabeel Khoury, nonresident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center; and Federica Saini Fasanotti, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Panel I: The Struggle for Regional Hegemony: A Great Powers Game
The conference continued with a panel titled “The Resilience of Jihadism” featuring: Kim Cragin, senior research fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies; Hassan Hassan, senior research fellow at the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism; Frederick Kagan, Director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project; and Arturo Varvelli, co-head of the Middle East and North Africa Centre at ISPI.
Panel II: The Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Resilience of Jihadism
Finally, the conference closed with a keynote address by Ambassador Joan Polaschik, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near East Affairs at the US Department of State, followed by a moderated discussion with William Wechsler, Senior Advisory for Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council.