The Middle East and US Foreign Policy Under Trump: What Has Changed?

October 30, 2017

Emile Nakhleh and Evelyn A. Early

President Trump’s first stop on his first overseas trip was to Saudi Arabia before proceeding on to Israel and Europe last May. During his meetings in Riyadh, he heaped praise on Saudi leadership and seemingly offered unqualified support for the Saudi led coalition in its war against Shia Islam in contrast to his predecessor’s more nuanced policies. Yet Trump quietly extended support for the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran thereafter. Middle East experts Emile Nakhleh and Evelyn Early will explore and discuss ramifications of these and other policy changes and challenges for the US in this crucial region in the short and long term.

Emile Nakhleh is a retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer, a Research Professor and Director of the newly launched Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico, a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since retiring from the US Government in 2006, he has consulted on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism, and the Arab states of the Middle East. He has published frequently on the “Arab Spring” in the Financial Times and the LobeLog blog. At the CIA, he was a senior analyst and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program and of Regional Analysis in the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. from the American University, Washington, D.C., in International Relations, an M.A. from Georgetown University in Political Science, and a B.A. from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, in Political Science. He is the author of numerous academic books and scholarly articles. He and his wife, Ilonka Lessnau Nakhleh, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Evelyn A. Early,diplomat and anthropologist, served in the Senior Foreign Service and taught at the universities of Notre Dame, New Mexico, and Houston. Dr. Early’s postings were Khartoum, Rabat, Damascus and Prague. Stateside she was seconded as policy adviser and subject matter expert on popular Islam and pan-Arab media, to be Deputy Commandant of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. She has conducted research in Lebanon on Shi’a voluntary associations; in Egypt on traditional urban women; and in Syria on political culture.

Her publications include: Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing with an Egg and a Stone, the co-edited Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East, so popular in university courses it is in the third edition, “Telepreachers and Talk Shows: The Fight over Egyptian Airwaves,” “Syrian Television Drama: Permitted Political Discourse,” “Fertility and Fate,” “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

Past Programs

How Russia Views the World

October 14, 2016 

 Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz and Mikhail Alexseev

Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Kremlin’s view of the world changed dramatically. Suddenly, the Russian Federation, the Soviet Union’s successor state internationally, was surrounded by 14 newly independent nation-states, each with its own interests and relationships with Moscow and the world. All 15 republics dropped the mantra of Communism, but its residue has remained. Since then, history has not ended. Moscow continues to view the world through its unique prism and we need to understand better what shapes the views and aspirations of its leadership in the making of Russia’s foreign policy today. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz is Director of the Conflict Resolution MA Program at Georgetown University and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 36 years and was US Ambassador to Belarus from 1994-1997 and Georgia from 1998-2001. He also served two tours in Moscow as well as tours in The Hague and at the US Mission to NATO in Brussels. He was chosen for the Ambassador Robert Frasure award for peacemaking and conflict prevention in 2000 for his work in preventing spillover of the Chechen war into Georgia. Mikhail Alexseev, Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University, is a specialist on migration, ethnopolitical conflict and post-Soviet Russia. He is the author of “Immigration Phobia and the Security Dilemma: Russia, Europe and the United States” (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and the principal investigator of a multi-year international research project on migration and ethno-religious violence in the Russian Federation. He has published articles in various academic journals and opinion pieces on Soviet and post-Soviet affairs in the New York Times, Newsweek, the Toronto Globe and Mail, USA Today and the Seattle Times. This program is co-sponsored by the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, DC. This event is part of the “Kennan Conversations” program. Mr. Yalowitz and Mr. Alexseev will also be addressing this topic at the Albuquerque Committee on Foreign Relations (ACFR) dinner October 13. Santa Fe World Affair Forum (SFWAF) members may attend at ACFR member prices. For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire (rsmcg@comcast.net or 505-281-1108).

Terrorism and the Middle East in 2016: Next Steps

September 12, 2016 

 Dr. Emile Nakhleh

The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) continues to threaten the Middle East region, the United States and the world. What are the ideological and policy factors that drive it, and what lies behind its apparent resiliency? In contrast with its predecessor terror group, al-Qa’ida, the “jihadist” threat from ISIS is more lethal, battle-hardened, and well entrenched. Whereas al-Qa’ida Central moved from the global arena to regional and local areas, ISIS seems to be moving from the local theater(Syria and Iraq) to regional states and expanding globally. Using social media platforms, ISIS is bent on radicalizing and recruiting Muslim youth in the West and elsewhere, including in the United States. ISIS is not larger than life and must and will be contained.  Dr. Nakhleh will address all, including the nature and source of radical Sunni ideology that feeds it, and will highlight US regional policy and the threats and challenges over the next five to ten years. Dr. Nakhleh is a retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer, a Research Professor and Director of the newly launched Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. He is a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since retiring from the US Government in 2006, he has consulted on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism, and the Arab states of the Middle East. He has published frequently on the “Arab Spring” in the Financial Times and the LobeLog blog At the CIA, he was a senior analyst and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program and a regional analyst in the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. from the American University, Washington, D.C., in International Relations, an M.A. from Georgetown University in Political Science, and a B.A. from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, in Political Science. He is the author of numerous academic books and scholarly articles. He and his wife, Ilonka Lessnau Nakhleh, live in Albuquerque, NM. Cost for this lunch session is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.  This program with Dr. Emile Nakhleh is now SOLD OUT! What Have We Learned About Combating Terrorism After 9/11 Article by Emile Nakhleh Date: September 13, 2016.

Categories: Africa, Economics|Tags: |

A Special Showing of “America’s Diplomats”

June, 2016

This one hour documentary on June 23 from 12-2 explores the role of diplomacy in shaping American history and focuses on the people who have staffed our embassies, consulates and US Department of State throughout our history, what their lives are like and what they do. This story begins with Benjamin Franklin and his mission to France so crucial in obtaining US independence and then highlights the diplomacy involved throughout this country’s development. The video includes events as recent as the negotiations for the Iran nuclear agreement. Along the way, it portrays sacrifices made by US diplomats – from Nairobi to Benghazi – as well as the triumphs. “America’s Diplomats” is a one hour documentary produced by the Foreign Policy Association for screening on PBS this year.   It summarizes the contribution of diplomacy to the security and wellbeing of the nation providing a portrait of the US Foreign Service illustrating the responsibilities, achievements and challenges of US diplomacy and diplomats in the 21st Century. This showing “America’s Diplomats” will conclude with a moderated discussion led by a special panel of American diplomats.

Categories: Diplomacy|

Doomed to cooperate: How American and Russian nuclear scientists joined forces to avert some of the greatest post-Cold War Dangers

March 18, 2016 

Siegfried. S. Hecker: Professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation

Nuclear risks changed dramatically when the Soviet Union collapsed. Suddenly the world was threatened more by Russia’s weakness than its strength. Never before had a country with the capacity to destroy the world experienced such turmoil. The United States and much of the world was concerned about loose nukes, nuclear materials, loose nuclear experts and uncontrolled nuclear exports. Scientists and engineers at Los Alamos and other Dept. of Energy nuclear laboratories joined forces with those at the Russian nuclear weapon institutes for more than 20 years to avoid what looked like the perfect nuclear storm. Today’s strained relations between Washington and Moscow have curtailed that cooperation to the detriment of a safer world. This talk is a preview of the two-volume book to appear this spring.

Categories: Non-Proliferation, Russia|Tags: |

Africa’s Petroleum Boom: Blessing or Curse?

February 26, 2016 

Mark L. Asquino: US Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, 2012-15

Several Sub-Saharan African nations have been experiencing an unprecedented influx of riches as a result of the exportation abroad of their oil and gas.  Equatorial Guinea, where Mark Asquino was Ambassador until October, is the third largest petroleum Sub-Saharan producer today.  On the other side of the continent, the Sudan – where Ambassador Asquino previously served, is another.  The two top producers, however, are Nigeria and Angola which he will also discuss.  On the one hand, the riches accrued from petroleum exports have made these countries far wealthier than their wildest dreams.  On the other, money isn’t everything.  What are the pluses and minuses of Africa’s petroleum gold mine, who benefits, who loses and how best can these countries cope?

Categories: Africa, Economics|Tags: |

The Iran Nuclear Deal: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Its Potential Ramifications

November 20, 2015

Cheryl Rofer, Former President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security

On July 14, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the P5+1 (or E3+3) – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany. The agreement imposes strict controls on Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions imposed on Iran. Implementation of the agreement is proceeding; Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency are working through the question of what work related to nuclear weapon development Iran may have done, to be capped by a United Nations Security Council resolution on December 15. Both Iran and the United States have completed their internal legislative processes related to the agreement, and October 18 was Adoption Day, when the agreement goes into effect. The next steps are for the P5+1 to develop conditional waivers to the sanctions and for Iran to meet a list of requirements for those waivers to go into effect. This is likely to be completed by spring or summer 2016. The talk will cover the basics of the agreement and major objections to it.

Categories: Middle East, Non-Proliferation|Tags: |
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