USIP-PSA South Sudan Briefing

Thursday, November 21th – The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) hosted a discussion on the impact and ramifications of the government transition in South Sudan and the future of U.S.-South Sudan relations. This discussion featured Susan Stigant from USIP and Joshua Meservey from The Heritage Foundation and […]

Private Dinner Discussion on Afghanistan

On May 8th, United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) held an off-the-record invite-only dinner to discuss the current status of U.S. diplomatic and military engagement in Afghanistan. Regional experts General John Nicholson (Ret.), Commander of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan (2016-2018), and Dr. Andrew Wilder, Vice President of Asia […]

Major Shifts in Ethiopia: What It Means for America & the World

On March 25th, United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA)

Ending ISIS in North Africa: The Road Through Libya and Tunisia

On July 16th, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace Mike Yaffe and Senior Analyst and Africa Team Lead for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute Emily Estelle discussed evolving efforts in Libya and Tunisia to counter terrorist operations across the region.  The discussion took place as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

In Monday’s briefing, the expert panel discussed both the stark differences and shared problems in Tunisia and Libya. The discussion focused on issues of establishing good governance on the national and local level, boosting economic growth, and countering terrorism and crime–especially along the border. The panelists also discussed the role of external actors such as Russia, Egypt, and the Gulf. The tone of the discussion was one of fragile optimism as the panel acknowledged that, despite severe problems, there are opportunities for improvement. The panel encouraged Congress and the executive branch to adopt a clear strategy in conjunction with European allies to address these crises in North Africa.

Mike Yaffe

Michael Yaffe joined the United States Institute of Peace after serving as the senior advisor to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations at the U.S. Department of State. Between 2001 and 2012, he was an academic dean and distinguished professor of strategic studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Previously, Dr. Yaffe was a career foreign affairs officer at the State Department concentrating on the Middle East peace negotiations, regional security, and nonproliferation, and served on U.S. delegations to the “Madrid” Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security talks, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO.

During his twenty-five year career with the U.S. Government he was the recipient of several State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well Department of Defense commendations. He was an Olin post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and peace scholar at the United States Institute of Peace (1988-1989). Mike earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Emily Estelle

Emily Estelle is a senior analyst for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute and the Africa Team Lead. She studies the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa, including al Qaeda, ISIS, and associated groups. She specializes in the Libya conflict. Emily also coordinates CTP’s training and tradecraft and manages the integration of technology into the research process. Emily graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Anthropology modified with Arabic

Turning the Tide on US-Turkey Relations

On April 19th, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman and former National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan discussed the deteriorating US-Turkey relationship as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series Dr. Graeme Bannerman moderated the discussion. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

Ambassador Eric Edelman

EdelmanAmbassador Eric S. Edelman retired as a career minister from the U.S. Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He is currently a Roger Hertog Practitioner in Residence at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Counselor at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Edelman has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services and congressional relations. As the undersecretary of defense for policy (August, 2005-January 2009) he oversaw strategy development as DoD’s senior policy official with global responsibility for bilateral defense relations, war plans, special operations forces, homeland defense, missile defense, nuclear weapons and arms control policies, counter-proliferation, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, arms sales, and defense trade controls.

He served as U.S. ambassador to the Republics of Finland and Turkey in the Clinton and Bush Administrations and was principal deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs. In other assignment he has been chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, special assistant to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt and special assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. His other assignments include the State Department Operations Center, Prague, Moscow, and Tel Aviv, where he was a member of the U.S. Middle East delegation to the West Bank/Gaza autonomy talks.

He has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards. In January 2011 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French Government.

He received a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Cornell University and a doctorate in U.S. diplomatic history from Yale University.

Jake Sullivan


Jake Sullivan is a Martin R. Flug Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He served in the Obama administration as national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, as well as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He was the Senior Policy Adviser on Secretary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.  Previously, he served as deputy policy director on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, and a member of the debate preparation team for Barack Obama’s general election campaign.

Sullivan also previously served as a senior policy adviser and chief counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar from his home state of Minnesota, worked as an associate for Faegre & Benson LLP, and taught at the University of St. Thomas Law School. He clerked for Judge Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Sullivan holds undergraduate and law degrees from Yale and a master’s degree from Oxford.


Dr. Graeme Bannerman

Dr. Graeme Bannerman is a Scholar at the Middle East Institute. As such, he frequently provides commentary on Middle Eastern issues for numerous American and international media outlets including the BBC, Canadian National television, NBC, CBS, PBS News Hour, Fox News, al-Hurra, al-Jazeera, and others. He is Vice Chairman of the Board of Hands along the Nile and serves on the Board of Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

Prior to joining the Middle East Institute, he founded and served as President of Bannerman & Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. Bannerman & Associates, Inc. worked with a variety of international clients primarily in the Middle East.

He served on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1979 until 1987. His last position was Committee Staff Director. From 1979 through 1984, he was the Committee’s professional staff member responsible for the Middle East and South Asia.

Before working for the Senate, he was employed by the Department of State, as a Middle Eastern Affairs Analyst and on the Policy Planning Staff. He worked on Arab-Israeli affairs during the time of Camp David and the negotiation of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

Dr. Bannerman taught at several institutions including Georgetown University, George Washington University, and The American University in Beirut. He holds a doctorate in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of Wisconsin, a MA in South Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin, a MA in Modern Middle Eastern history from The American University in Beirut, and a BA degree from Northwestern University.

USIP-PSA Mark Six Years for Joint Congressional Series

In January, The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) celebrated the six year anniversary of the Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on Conflict Resolution and Prevention. The series, started in 2012, is an educational program that is designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staff in bipartisan forums.

The series has engaged hundreds of congressional policy advisers and has featured events on conflict resolution in countries including North Korea, Colombia, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia, and South Sudan. Experts affiliated with AEI, the Heritage Foundation, the Wilson Center, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, Brookings, the Atlantic Council, the German Marshal Fund, and many others have spoken at events for this series. Notable speakers include General John Allen, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Ambassador James Jeffrey, General Jan-Marc Jouas, and Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula: U.S. and China

On October 16th, United States Institute of Peace Director for China Programs, Jennifer Staats and former Deputy Commander, US Forces Korea, Lt. General (Ret.) Jan-Marc Jouas discussed options to address the North Korean crisis and ideas for potential areas of cooperation or coordination between the U.S. and China. The discussion was  moderated by Susan Lawrence, a Specialist in Asian Affairs with the Congressional Research Service.

This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

The briefing focused on strategic and tactical constraints to potential military solutions, President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, and China’s approach to foreign policy with North Korea. Speakers offered views on the danger North Korea poses to the 25 million residents of Seoul, the status of China’s diplomatic relationship with North Korea, and potential methods of increasing the pressure on the Kim regime without provoking conflict.

Since Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea in 2011, the number of nuclear and ballistic missile tests have increased dramatically. The U.S. and China agree on the importance of a peaceful solution to the crisis, yet the two countries have different interests, priorities, and strategies for resolving the conflict. Pyongyang’s unwavering motivation to create long-range, nuclear tipped ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland has catapulted the Korean Peninsula to the top of the U.S. foreign policy priority list. China is also concerned about these developments, but is more worried about instability on the peninsula than the direct threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. Panelists discussed the interplay of China’s plan to boost economic growth at the province level by promoting international trade, and the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly unfavorable relationship with the Kim Regime.  Recommendations were provided for improving the current US strategy for North Korea, and for further engagement with the international community as well.

Jennifer Staats


Jennifer StaatsJennifer Staats is the director for China Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she focuses on China’s role with regard to peace and conflict dynamics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Dr. Staats joins USIP from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she concentrated on policy issues related to Asian security, as well as cybersecurity, from 2009-2016. In the Strategy Office, she led the teams that coordinated the Department of Defense’s implementation of the U.S. Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, developed long-term strategy for the Department and assessed future security trends, with a particular focus on Asia. Before that, she managed the Asian and Pacific Security Affairs portfolio in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Most recently, she served as director for Cybersecurity and National Cyber Partnerships, where she worked closely with the White House, other U.S. government agencies and private sector companies to develop innovative policy solutions to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. Staats received several awards for her work at DoD, including the Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service.

Before entering government service, Staats was a fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a research assistant with the Preventive Defense Project chaired by Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry. She also spent time as an economic analyst at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and as a researcher at Tsinghua University’s Institute of International Studies.

Staats received her PhD from Harvard University, her MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and her BA from the University of the South (Sewanee). Named a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, Fulbright Scholar, NSEP Boren Fellow, Javits Fellow and NCAA Postgraduate Scholar, Staats speaks Mandarin Chinese and German.

Lt. General (Ret.) Jan-Marc Jouas

Lt. General Jan-Marc JouasLieutenant General Jan-Marc Jouas graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1979 with a BS in International Affairs; received a Master’s in Education from Chapman College in 1984; was a Fellow at the Harvard Center for International Affairs from 1997-98 and a Senior Executive Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2002.

He is a command pilot with extensive operational experience in F-4, F-15, and   F-16 aircraft, including more than 80 combat missions. He has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels, and served as a Joint Staff division chief and special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

From January 2012 through December 2014 Lieutenant General Jouas was Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea and United Nations Command Korea; Commander, Air Component Command, Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Forces Command; and Commander, Seventh Air Force.  He retired on February 1st, 2015.  His full bio is available at



Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence

Susan V. Lawrence is a specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a division of the Library of Congress created to provide the US Congress with authoritative, non-partisan research and analysis. Her work focuses on US-China relations, Chinese domestic politics, Chinese foreign policy, and Mongolia. Lawrence joined CRS after a career spent largely in journalism. She worked as a staff reporter in Beijing and in Washington, DC for the Far Eastern Economic ReviewThe Wall Street Journal, and U.S. News & World Report. Lawrence lived in China for a cumulative 13 years, 11 as a Beijing-based reporter, and two as a student at Peking University during her undergraduate years. She holds an AB magna cum laude in East Asian Studies from Harvard College and an AM in Regional Studies – East Asia from Harvard University, and is a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker.


USIP-PSA Celebrate 35th Event of Briefing Series

On November 3rd, The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) celebrated the 35th event in the Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention. This series is an educational program that is designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums.

This series has been very successful in providing an opportunity for staff to receive fact-based updates on conflict around the world and discuss opportunities for bipartisan consensus. It has featured events on conflict resolution in countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia, and Pakistan. The series has also focused on how to prevent conflict by hosting briefings on issues including countering violent extremism in Africa and civil nonviolent resistance.

Notable speakers include General John Allen, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Congressman Jim Kolbe, Dr. Andrew Wilder, and Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Over the lifetime of the program, this briefing series has hosted hundreds of congressional foreign policy and national security staffers.



1129 20th St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036
tel: +1202-293-8580