Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

As unrest continues to spread throughout the Middle East, American officials must re-evaluate relations with longtime allies in the region. Perhaps the most important of these, Saudi Arabia, has taken military action in neighboring Bahrain this week, leading to tensions in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. To learn more about this perilous situation, read this article by WorldAffairs 2011 keynote speaker David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times.

Sanger will give an address titled, “Obama’s Dilemma: When Big Uprisings Hit Big Allies (and a few Adversaries)” at the conference this Saturday at 1:15 PM PST, which will be webcasted live. The conference webcast is free to watch. Find out more about the conference and the webcast here.

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” This famous quote from Albert Einstein is the best way of describing US foreign policy in the Middle East, according to author and journalist Stephen Kinzer. He believes that our approach to the Middle East is stuck in a Cold-War mentality and that the US must find a new set of partners in the region. Kinzer feels that when Americans can put aside their emotions, and look for countries that have similar long-term goals and societies, “we see that [Turkey and Iran] are the two countries that are our logical partners going forwards.”

To listen to the entirety of Stephen Kinzer’s June 18 program at the World Affairs Council—‘Reset: Turkey, Iran and America’s Future’—please visit our online audio archive.

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Today’s second hour of KQED FM’s Forum with Michael Krasny featured a conversation about women and Islam in the Middle East. The guests included Isobel Coleman, author of Paradise Beneath Her Feet, who is speaking tonight, Tuesday, May 18, at the Council; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Islamic fundamentalism, who will be with the Council on Wednesday, May 26 in conversation with Jane Wales.

For more information about the Forum program, click here. To register for either Council program, please visit our website.

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October has been a busy month at the Council. We’ve had programs about issues ranging from the resource curse of oil to the ways game theory can be applied to national security challenges. There was one region, the Middle East, which was given particular attention as we strove to provide the community with multiple perspectives of the region, its people, and the challenges they face.

On October 15, we welcomed Ambassador Hossam Zaki, Senior Political Advisor to Egypt’s Foreign Minister. He spoke about the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as Egypt’s work to aid peace and stability in the Palestinian territories. Dalia Mogahed, Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, joined us on October 21 to discuss the results and findings of Gallup’s recent survey of 50,000 Muslims from more than 35 countries.

Then, on October 22, we hosted a conversation between the former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert and Council CEO Jane Wales. Olmert responded to questions about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza, but particularly focused on the peace proposal he made to the Palestinians in September 2008. We concluded our Middle East perspectives series on October 27 with a program featuring Ambassador Maen Areikat, PLO Representative to the United States. Areikat discussed the ongoing hardships that Palestinians endure under occupation as well as how the Palestinians must heal internal divisions between Hamas and Fatah in order to secure a Palestinian state.

If you missed a program, check our online archive. To learn more about Gallup’s survey of Muslims, go to MuslimWestFacts.com. You can also read an editorial by Maen Areikat from the SF Chronicle here.

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Ahead of a very busy week at the United Nations, President Barack Obama met yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. President Obama said, “My message to these two leaders is clear. Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward.” To read more about the President’s meeting, check out this article from the The New York Times.

Offering San Francisco the opportunity to join in this discussion first-hand, the World Affairs Council will be hosting leaders from both Israel and Palestine next month. Join us on October 22 to hear former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and on October 27 for a program with Maen Areikat, the Chief PLO Representative to the United States.

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Monday evening at the World Affairs CouncilNeil MacFarquhar, UN Bureau Chief to The New York Times, offered his unique perspective on life in the Middle East. With a collection of anecdotes collected over 25 years of both personal and professional experience in the region, MacFarquhar brought the diversity and character of the people to light. These experiences range from a night in an Iranian prison where he shared a cell with men who had skied on the women-only ski slopes to receiving electronic birthday greetings from Hizbollah, the inspiration behind the title of his latest book, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday.

For more of Neil MacFarquhar’s stories and insights into the Middle East, visit our online archives for full audio and video recordings of Monday’s event. Check out a short clip below.

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His Excellency Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, joined the Council last week to discuss US-Egyptian relations and current issues in the Middle East. In his speech, and lengthy question and answer portion of the event, he covered issues from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear program to trade, economic aid, and political reform within Egypt. For more on US-Egyptian relations and current issues in the Middle East, as well as insights into Egypt’s internal affairs, check out our the full audio and video recording from this event. Preview the full video recording below:


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