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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

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.

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.

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