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

Renewed Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula?

On May 22, the United States Institute of Peace’s Senior Expert on North Korea, Frank Aum and the Senior Research Fellow on Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation, Bruce Klingner discussed the available options for President Trump at a US-North Korea Summit. Congressional Research Service Specialist in Asian Affairs, Emma Chanlett-Avery moderated the discussion. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

Frank Aum

frank_aumFrank Aum joins USIP from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where he was a Visiting Scholar. From 2010-2017, Mr. Aum served as the senior advisor for North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this time, he advised four Secretaries of Defense on issues related to Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Aum also served as head of delegation for working level negotiations in Seoul with the Republic of Korea (ROK), and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Mr. Aum previously worked as a corporate attorney, and also has extensive experience in the public and non-profit sectors. He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Jeju Island, South Korea and worked as a speechwriter in the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, he worked to strengthen the Koreatown community in Los Angeles at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Korean American Coalition (KAC).

Mr. Aum received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his MPP from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and his JD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Bruce Klingner

Bruce Klingner specializes in Korean and Japanese affairs as the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Klingner’s analysis and writing about North Korea, South Korea, and Japan as well as related issues, are informed by his 20 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Klingner, who jointed Heritage in 2007, has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

He is a frequent commentator in U.S. and foreign media. His articles and commentary have appeared in major American and foreign publications and he is a regular guest on broadcast and cable news outlets. He is a regular contributor to the international and security section of The Daily Signal.

From 1996 to 2001, Klingner was CIA’s deputy division chief for Korea, responsible for the analysis of political, military, economic, and leadership issues for the president of the United States and other senior U.S. policymakers. In 1993-1994, he was the chief of CIA’s Korea branch, which analyzed military developments during a nuclear crisis with Korea.

Klingner is a distinguished graduate of the National War College, where he received a master’s degree in national security strategy in 2002. He also holds a master’s degree in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Middlebury College in Vermont.

He is active in Korean martial arts, attaining third-degree black belt in taekwondo and first-degree black belt in hapkido and teuk kong moo sool.


U.S. Military Presence in Africa

On February 22nd, the United States Institute of Peace’s Director of Africa Programs Susan Stigant and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory discussed the recent terror threats in Sub-Saharan Africa as a part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. Congressional Research Service Specialist in African Affairs, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, moderated the discussion. The briefing explored the role for U.S. military, regional partners and civil society in countering these threats. In addition, the briefing focused on the evolving footprint of the U.S.’s military presence in the region and what regional partners and civil society can do to build a sustainable stability. This event was a closed off-the-record event held for congressional staff.

Susan Stigant:

Susan Stigant is the director of Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she oversees programming in South Sudan, Nigeria, Sudan, CAR, DRC, Tanzania and Kenya and with the African Union. Susan’s thematic focus is on the design and implementation of inclusive constitutional reform and national dialogue processes. She has and continues to advise government officials and civil society actors on inclusive processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere. Susan also serves as co-chair of USIP’s national dialogue working group. Prior to joining USIP, she managed constitutional development, citizen engagement and election observation programs with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). From 2005-2011, she served as program director with NDI in South Sudan, where she supported the implementation of the peace agreement.  She also worked with the Forum of Federations on comparative federalism and with the research unit of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in South Africa.

Amanda Dory

Image result for amanda doryAmanda J. Dory joined the War College faculty in 2017.  She is a career member of the Senior Executive Service.

From 2012-2017 she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).  She served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy from 2008-2011 and as the Principal Director for Policy Planning in OSD.  In both capacities her responsibilities included strategy development, force planning scenarios, and long-term trends analysis.

She has worked on multiple Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDRs), to include as the chief of staff to lead implementation of QDR execution roadmaps for Building Partner Capacity and Irregular Warfare in 2007-2008.  In addition to strategic and regional assignments, Amanda has also served in OSD’s Homeland Defense office as the director for planning and integration.  In 2002, she was selected as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow and conducted an independent research project based at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Amanda has received numerous awards to include the Presidential Rank Award in 2010 and 2015 and awards for exceptional and meritorious civilian service.  She is an alumna of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received a master’s degree with concentrations in international economics and African studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Image result for lauren ploch blanchardLauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.

Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.

The Future of US-Pakistan Relations

On February 12th, the United States Institute of Peace’s Associate Vice President of the Asia Center Moeed Yusuf and former Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Olson led a discussion on US-Pakistan Relations as a part of the USIP-PSA Congressional briefing series. This briefing explored the deterioration of US-Pakistan relations and how the US can encourage greater cooperation on Afghanistan, counterterrorism, and other important priorities. This was a closed off-the-record event held for congressional staff.

Moeed Yusuf

Moeed W. Yusuf is the associate vice president of the Asia center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Yusuf has been engaged in expanding USIP’s work on Pakistan/South Asia since 2010. His current research focuses on youth and democratic institutions in Pakistan, policy options to mitigate militancy in Pakistan and the South Asian region in general, and U.S. role in South Asian crisis management. His latest book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia, is being released by Stanford University Press in 2018. Before joining USIP, Yusuf was a fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and concurrently a research fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at Harvard Kennedy School. He has also worked at the Brookings Institution.

In 2007, he co-founded Strategic and Economic Policy Research, a private sector consultancy firm in Pakistan. Yusuf has also consulted for a number of Pakistani and international organizations including the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and the Stockholm Policy Research Institute, among others. From 2004-2007, he was a full-time consultant with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan’s premier development-sector think tank. Yusuf taught in Boston University’s Political Science and International Relations Departments as a senior teaching fellow in 2009. He had previously taught at the defense and strategic studies department at Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan. He lectures regularly at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute and has also lectured at the Pakistan Military Staff College and at NATO’s Center of Excellence-Defense Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey.

He has published widely in national and international journals, professional publications and magazines. He writes regularly for Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English daily. He also frequently appears as an expert on U.S. and Pakistani media. His books South Asia 2060: Envisioning Regional Futures (Adil Najam and Moeed Yusuf, eds.) and Getting it Right in Afghanistan (Scott Smith, Moeed Yusuf, and Colin Cookman, eds.) were published by Anthem Press, UK and U.S. Institute of Peace Press respectively in 2013. He is also the editor of Pakistan’s Counter-terrorism Challenge (Georgetown University Press, 2014) and Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Asia: From a Peacebuilding Lens (U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2014). Yusuf has served on a number of important task forces, advisory councils, working groups, and governing boards, both in the U.S. and Pakistan. In 2013, he was selected to Nobel laureate, Pugwash International’s ‘Council’ (governing body) and subsequently became the youngest member ever to be included in its global executive committee to serve a six-year term. He holds a Masters in International Relations and PhD in Political Science from Boston University.

Ambassador Richard Olson

Ambassador Richard Olson retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in November of 2016 with the rank of Career Minister. His final assignment was as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). From 2012 to 2015 he was the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. Olson served as the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs, at U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011. Olson joined the U.S. Department of State in 1982. He served in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (both Abu Dhabi and Dubai), and in Najaf, Iraq. He was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

His Washington assignments included: State Department Operations Center (twice), NATO Desk, the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (twice, including as Director), and the Office of Iraqi Affairs, including as Director. Olson is a recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, a Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach, the State Department’s Superior Honor Award (three times), and the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award (for his service in Iraq). He was awarded the medal of Wazir Akbar Khan by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani. He graduated from Brown University in 1981, receiving an A.B. in Law and Society (Honors) and History. He is the father of two daughters and enjoys cycling and hiking.


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.

Kurdistan Referendum Crisis: Next Steps for U.S. Policy

On November 13th, United States Institute of Peace Director for Middle East Programs, Mr. Sarhang Hamasaeed and Former Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the National Security Council, Dr. Kenneth Pollack discussed Iraq’s future after the Kurdistan referendum. The discussion was moderated by Christopher Blanchard, a Specialist for Middle East Affairs with the Congressional Research Service. The briefing focused on the referendum, the likelihood of Independence for the Kurdish people going forward, and policy options for the United States.

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

On September 25th, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a referendum on independence resulting in a 92% vote in favor. The vote immedietly caused chaos as regional players jockeyed to protect interests, punish the Kurds, and prevent the spread of independence movements. In the weeks following the referendum, Iraqi forces, along with Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, retook much of the land seized by the Kurdish Peshmerge when they pushed out ISIS. The KRG offered to freeze the referendum results and begin a dialogue with Baghdad but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected the offer. KRG President Masoud Barzani stepped down on November 1st.

The event discussed how the Kurdish independence referendum developed and the response from Iraq and its neighbors to the overwhelming vote in favor of independence. Speakers offered views on why the Kurds felt this was the time to hold the vote, the Iraqi and US response to the announcement, the impact of Iranian influence on Iraq’s response, and how the Kurds move forward from here. Recommendations were provided for U.S. policy in Iraq.

Sarhang Hamasaeed

Sarhang HamasaeedSarhang Hamasaeed is the director of Middle East Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He joined USIP in February 2011 and works on program management, organizational development, and monitoring and evaluation. His areas of focus include political and policy analysis, conflict analysis, dialogue processes, reconciliation and post-conflict stabilization, and ethnic and religious minorities. He writes, gives media interviews to international media, and is featured on events and briefings on Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East. He provided analysis to NPR, Voice of America, Al-Jazeera America, Fox News Al-Hurra TV, Radio Sawa, Kurdistan TV, Kurdsat TV, Rudaw, Al-Iraqiya TV, NRT TV, Skynews Arabia, the Washington Times, PBS, and CCTV. He is a member on the Task Force on the Future of Iraq, and was member of the Rebuilding Societies Working Group under the Middle East Strategy Taskforce, both initiatives by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. He regularly gives a lecture at the Foreign Service Institute on ISIL and Challenges to Governance in Iraq.

Hamasaeed has more than 15 years of strategy, management, and monitoring and evaluation experience in governmental, nongovernmental, private sector, and media organizations.

As a deputy director general at the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (2008-2009), Hamasaeed managed strategic government modernization initiatives through information technology with the goal of helping improve governance and service delivery. As a program manager for the Research Triangle Institute International (2003-2004), he managed civic engagement and local democratic governance programs in Iraq. Hamasaeed has worked as a planning and relations manager at Kurdistan Save the Children (1997-2002). Hamasaeed has also worked for the Los Angeles Times and other international media organizations.

He holds a Master’s degree in International Development Policy from Duke University (2007) and is a Fulbright alumnus.

Dr. Kenneth Pollack

Kenneth M. Pollack is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, focusing in particular on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf countries.

Before joining AEI, Dr. Pollack was affiliated with the Brookings Institution, where he was a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Before that, he was the center’s director and director of research. Dr. Pollack served twice at the National Security Council, first as director for Near East and South Asian affairs and then as director for Persian Gulf affairs. He began his career as a Persian Gulf military analyst at the CIA, where he was the principal author of the CIA’s classified postmortem on Iraqi strategy and military operations during the Persian Gulf War. Among other recognitions, Dr. Pollack was awarded the CIA’s Exceptional Performance Award twice and the Certificate of Distinction for Outstanding Performance of Duty, both for work on the Persian Gulf War.

Dr. Pollack has also worked on long-term issues related to Middle Eastern political and military affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he was a senior research professor at the Institute for National Security Studies at National Defense University.

Dr. Pollack is the author of nine books, including “Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy” (Simon & Schuster, 2013), named one of the “Best Books of 2013” by The Economist and one of the “100 Notable Books of 2013” by The New York Times; “A Path out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East” (Random House, 2008), a Washington Post and Foreign Affairs bestseller, which was chosen as one of The Washington Post’s “Best Books of the Year” for 2008 and as an editor’s choice of The New York Times Book Review; “The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America” (Random House, 2004); and “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq” (Random House, 2002), a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller.

Dr. Pollack is the author of numerous articles and has been published in The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and The Atlantic, among others.

He received his bachelor’s from Yale University and a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Christopher Blanchard

Christopher Blanchard is a Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) where his work emphasizes the roles, responsibilities, and prerogatives of Congress in shaping U.S. foreign policy. His current projects focus on Iraq, the conflict in Syria, the Islamic State organization and related issues, including U.S. foreign assistance, arms sale and security assistance policy, and the conduct of oversight. Mr. Blanchard joined CRS as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2004 and holds degrees from Boston College and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.






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.


America’s Longest War: The Future of Afghanistan

On August 29th, United States Institute of Peace Director for Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, Scott Worden, and Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, Luke Coffey, discussed the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the future of America’s Afghanistan policy. The discussion was moderated by Kenneth Katzman , a Specialist for Middle East Affairs with the Congressional Research Service.

This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff, and part of the USIP-PSA Briefing Series: Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention.


Scott Worden

Scott Worden is director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He comes into this role with an extensive background in reconstruction, development, democracy and governance, policy, among others; as well as extensive regional expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prior to joining USIP, he was director of the Lessons Learned Program at the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and served as acting director of policy as well as a senior policy advisor for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In the latter position, he was responsible for advising senior officials on strategies for sustainable development in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At his time at USIP, Mr. Worden directed Rule of Law development programs for the USIP and served as a United Nations-appointed Electoral Complaints Commissioner for the 2009 Afghanistan elections, as well as advising the U.N. on elections in 2005-06. Mr. Worden has a decade of experience working on Afghanistan issues and working in the field.

Originally from Boston, Mr. Worden earned his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Luke Coffey

Luke Coffey oversees research on nations stretching from South America to the Middle East as director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Coffey, named to the post in December 2015, is responsible for directing policy research for the Middle East, Africa, Russia and the former Soviet Union, the Western Hemisphere, and the Arctic region.

Coffey previously was Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher fellow, focusing on relations between the United States and the United Kingdom and on the role of NATO and the European Union in transatlantic and Eurasian security.Before joining the think tank’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in 2012, Coffey had served at the UK Ministry of Defence since 2010 as senior special adviser to then-British Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Coffey, a U.S. Army veteran, was the first non-UK citizen appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to provide advice to senior British ministers. Among his duties was helping shape British defense policy in relation to transatlantic security, NATO, the European Union, and Afghanistan. In 2005, Coffey deployed to Afghanistan for a year and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Coffey received a master of science degree in the politics and government of the European Union from the London School of Economics. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and studied African politics as a visiting undergraduate at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.


Kenneth Katzman

Kenneth Katzman is a senior analyst of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Persian Gulf Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, which conducts research and analysis for the US Congress. His responsibilities include analyzing regional developments and US policy to assist members of Congress in their legislative and oversight responsibilities.

A Destabilized Middle East: Impacts on Jordan and Lebanon

On July 31st, United States Institute of Peace Senior Policy Scholar, Mona Yacoubian and fellow in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program, Perry Cammack discussed the destabilizing effects of Middle East conflict (including the Syrian Civil War) on Jordan and Lebanon. The discussion was  moderated by Graeme Bannerman, a member of Partnership for a Secure America’s Board of Directors and a scholar at the Middle East Institute. The briefing focused on regional conflicts including the Syrian Civil War and clashes between Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the migration of refugees and internally displaced people across national borders into Jordan and Lebanon.

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

Ms. Yacoubian and Mr. Cammack discussed ways in which the US Congress can support the political and economic resilience of Jordan and Lebanon as they continue to house enormous populations of refugees. Both speakers advised that traditional in-kind assistance is not a sustainable solution to the ongoing displacement of civilians by regional conflicts.

Mona Yacoubian

Mona YacoubianMona Yacoubian is currently a Senior Policy Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP Ms. Yacoubian served as  deputy assistant administrator in the Middle East Bureau at USAID from 2014-2017 where she had responsibility for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Ms. Yacoubian’s  previous positions include senior advisor at the Stimson Center where her work focused on the Arab Uprisings with an emphasis on Syria.  Prior to joining the Stimson Center, Ms. Yacoubian served as a special advisor on the Middle East at the U.S. Institute of Peace where her work focused on Lebanon and Syria as well as broader issues related to democratization in the Arab world.

Ms. Yacoubian’s research focuses on conflict analysis and prevention in the Middle East, with a specific focus on Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Her interests also include fragility and resilience.

Ms. Yacoubian was a fulbright scholar in Syria where she studied Arabic at the University of Damascus from 1985 to 1986.  She has held an international affairs fellowship with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and is currently a CFR member. Ms. Yacoubian earned an MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Duke University.

Perry Cammack

Perry CammackPerry Cammack  is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on long-term regional trends and their implications for American foreign policy.

Prior to joining Carnegie in August 2015, Cammack worked on issues related to the Middle East as part of the policy planning staff of Secretary of State John Kerry from 2013 to 2015 and as a senior professional staff member for then senator Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) from 2009 to 2012. From 2003 to 2006, he worked on the SFRC staff of then senator Joseph Biden, Jr.

Cammack has a master’s degree in public administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and bachelor’s degrees in economics and philosophy from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies and a part-time adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.


How To Avoid Liberating Mosul a Third Time

On June 19th, United States Institute of Peace Director for Middle East and Africa Programs, Dr. Elie Abouaoun and former United States Ambassador to Iraq, Ambassador James Jeffrey discussed the future of Mosul, and Iraq, after its hopeful liberation. The discussion was  moderated by Christopher Blanchard, a Specialist for Middle East Affairs with the Congressional Research Service. The briefing focused on Mosul’s liberation in the near future and preparations that need to take place to prevent sectarian violence and revenge killings.

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

The event discussed effective policies and actions to deter a resurgence of ISIS or similar groups in Iraq as Iraqi Security Forces retake territory. Speakers offered views on the origins of ISIS in Iraq, the impact of Iranian influence, priorities for future American engagement, and challenging regional dynamics.

In the past, the U.S. has contributed over $60 billion in developmental assets for Iraq, but has failed to bring about the political change that would support sustainable development and reconstruction. Speakers explored opinions on the continued presence by the U.S. and international community to provide stability through targeted aid, reconstruction, and military forces. Experts discussed Iran’s outsized influence in Iraqi politics and governance, citing this trend as a large reason for ISIS’ emergence and grassroots support. Furthermore, it was agreed upon that, while the Iranians have been working with a long-term plan of action, the rest of the world is operating under a hit-and-run agenda, which could create conditions for the next version of ISIS . Speakers discussed the importance of increased congressional oversight in order to monitor the situation and better understand the conflict, enabling Congress to pass more relevant and effective legislation. They also discussed community engagement programs that address grievances at a local level.

Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Elie AbouaounDr. Elie Abouaoun is currently the director of the Middle East & North Africa Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has served as director of Middle East Programs and senior program officer since 2013. Prior to that, he held the position of executive director at the Arab Human Rights Fund.

His previous positions include acting country director and program manager for the Danish Refugee Council in Iraq, as well as program coordinator for Ockenden International-Iraq and director of external relations for the Lebanese NGO arcenciel.

Dr Abouaoun has served as a senior trainer and consultant for various international organizations since 1996 including for the Council of Europe since 2000. In 2001 he was appointed a member of the Reference Group established by the Directorate of Education-Council of Europe to supervise the drafting of COMPASS, a manual for human rights education. He further supervised the adaptation and the translation of COMPASS into Arabic, and its subsequent diffusion in the Arab region in 2003.

He is a visiting lecturer at Notre Dame University-Lebanon and Saint Joseph University-Lebanon on the subjects of human rights, civil society, advocacy and citizenship, and regularly contributes to publications throughout the MENA and the US. Dr. Abouaoun also serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations in the MENA region.

Ambassador James Jeffrey

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, a decorated diplomat who concluded his foreign service career with tours as U.S. envoy in Iraq and Turkey, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute where he focuses on U.S. strategies to counter Iran’s efforts to expand its influence in the broader Middle East.

One of the nation’s most respected diplomats, Ambassador Jeffrey has held a series of highly sensitive posts in Washington, D.C., and abroad since joining the Foreign Service in 1977. In addition to his service in Ankara and Baghdad, he served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the George W, Bush administration, with a special focus on Iran. Previously, at the State Department, he served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State, where his responsibilities included leading the Iran policy team and coordinating public diplomacy.

Earlier appointments included service as senior advisor on Iraq to the secretary of state; chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission in Baghdad; deputy chief of mission in Ankara; and ambassador in Albania.

A former infantry officer in the U.S. army, Ambassador Jeffrey served in Germany and Vietnam from 1969 to 1976. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and his master’s degree from Boston University.

Christopher Blanchard

blanchardChristopher Blanchard is a Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) where his work emphasizes the roles, responsibilities, and prerogatives of Congress in shaping U.S. foreign policy. His current projects focus on Iraq, the conflict in Syria, the Islamic State organization and related issues, including U.S. foreign assistance, arms sale and security assistance policy, and the conduct of oversight. Mr. Blanchard joined CRS as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2004 and holds degrees from Boston College and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.


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