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The New Great Powers Proving Ground: Africa & The Red Sea

On October 25, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on the strategic implications for U.S. interests around the Middle East powers’—Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Turkey—increasingly aggressive competition for influence in the Horn of Africa alongside an expanding Chinese and Russian presence.  The discussion was led by Payton Knopf, Advisor to the Africa Program at the United States Institute of Peace and former Spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and Farha Tahir, program officer at National Endowment for Democracy.  Congressional Research Service Specialist in African Affairs, Lauren Ploch Blanchard,  moderated.


Payton Knopf

Payton Knopf is an advisor to the Africa program where his work focuses on the intersecting political, economic and security dynamics in the Red Sea. He is concurrently an advisor to the European Institute of Peace.

Knopf is a former U.S. diplomat with expertise in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East. Immediately prior to joining USIP, Knopf was the first coordinator the United Nations Panel of Experts on South Sudan, from its inception in 2015 until April 2017. He was also formerly a senior advisor at the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)/Martti Ahtisaari Centre and the PeaceWorks Foundation.

Before leaving government, he was spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations under then-Ambassador Susan E. Rice, having previously served as a policy advisor to U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. From 2006 to 2008, he was based at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, where he advised the then-U.S Special Envoys for Sudan Andrew Natsios and Richard Williamson on issues related to the conflict in Darfur and to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan.

His other State Department assignments included in the Office of Egypt and the Levant and at the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  He was an International Affairs fellow in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2010-2011 where is researched focused on diplomatic engagement with non-state armed groups.


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Lauren 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.


Farha Tahir

Farha Tahir is a program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), where she supports grantmaking to civil society organizations and human rights defenders in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining NED, Farha served as a senior program officer at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), where she worked on programs with government officials and civil society groups to strengthen governance and citizen engagement in decisionmaking. She also worked as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), providing research support and developing policy recommendations to support US foreign policy priorities. She remains an adjunct fellow with CSIS’s Human Rights Initiative, where she advises on drivers of closing political space, and also writes the Somalia and Somaliland case studies for Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report.

Farha holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

The War in Afghanistan: Time to Negotiate?

On September 26, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record dinner on the war in Afghanistan.  Scott Worden, Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace and former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Amb. Marc Grossman provided a situation report and reflections on current negotiations with the Taliban to pursue peace in Afghanistan.

In 2011, the United States – led by Ambassador Grossman – and the Taliban held preliminary peace talks aimed at drawing the war to a close. Despite a series of global summits and significant diplomatic engagement these negotiations fell apart in early 2012. The U.S. is again exploring diplomatic engagement with the Taliban. Ceasefires between Afghan security forces and the Taliban and a battlefield stalemate created conditions where successful negotiations may be possible. In July, representatives from the State Department and the Taliban met for preliminary talks for the first time in 7 years. With another meeting slated to take place in September, this discussion focused on the path forward for ending this prolonged military conflict.

Amb. Grossman and Worden addressed the current challenges facing Afghanistan including a decline in the security situation and upcoming elections where the outcome is likely to be contested. They also commented on how the negotiating environment had changed since 2012 and expressed tepid optimism that the outcome would be different this time.


Scott Worden

Scott WordenScott 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.


Ambassador Marc Grossman

grossman marcAmbassador Grossman served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the State Department’s third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005, after 29 years in the US Foreign Service. As Under Secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed US policies in the Balkans and Colombia and promoted a key expansion of the NATO alliance. As Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, he helped direct NATO’s military campaign in Kosovo and an earlier round of NATO expansion. In Turkey, Ambassador Grossman encouraged vibrant US-Turkish political, military, and economic relations.

Ambassador Grossman was a Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group from July, 2005 to February, 2011.

In February, 2011 President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton called Ambassador Grossman back to service as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman promoted the international effort to support Afghanistan by shaping major international meetings in Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago and Tokyo. He provided US backing for an Afghan peace process designed to end thirty years of conflict and played an important part in managing US relations with Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman returned to The Cohen Group in February, 2013.

Ambassador Grossman is the Chairman of the Board of the Senior Living Foundation of the Foreign Service. He serves as a Trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and as a Trustee of the University of California, Santa Barbara Foundation. He is Vice Chair of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a Board Member of the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation.

Raised in Los Angeles, California, Ambassador Grossman has a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.Sc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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

Off-the-Record Dinner with Joan O’Hara

On June 4,  Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Joan O’Hara, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President. Ms. O’Hara discussed the National Security Strategy, the upcoming summit between the U.S. and North Korea and the role of trade in foreign policy.


Joan O’Hara

Joan O’Hara joined the OVP NSA as Deputy National Security Advisor in February 2017, and served as Acting National Security Advisor from September 2017 through April 2018.

Prior to joining the Administration, Joan served as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Majority Staff.  As General Counsel, Joan provided legal advice to the Committee Chairman on national security matters, and played a central role in developing the Committee’s policy positions and legislative agenda. Working closely with House Leadership, Members of Congress, interagency principals, and private sector stakeholders, she shepherded bills through the legislative process from drafting to passage into law.

Before entering law, Joan enjoyed more than a decade of experience as an elite athlete and award-winning NCAA Division I Head Coach in the sport of Rowing.  As a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California, Joan trained with the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team and was United States National Champion in the Single Sculls and Quadruple Sculls.

Joan holds a B.A. from Loyola University, an M.A. from San Diego State University, and a J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. She hails from Long Island, New York.

Off-the-Record Discussion with Matt Olsen

On May 21, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Mr. Olsen discussed the threat of terrorism, the rise of China, and the continuing challenges the cyber domain poses to U.S. national security.


Matt Olsen

Image result for matt olsenMatt Olsen has served as a leading government official on a range of national security, intelligence, and law enforcement issues.

Mr. Olsen served for three years as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Created by Congress in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, NCTC is responsible for the integration and analysis of terrorism information and strategic operational planning.

Prior to joining NCTC, Mr. Olsen was the General Counsel of the National Security Agency, serving as the agency’s chief legal officer.

Mr. Olsen worked at the Department of Justice in a number of leadership positions. He served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, responsible for national security and criminal cases. He also was Special Counselor to the Attorney General and Executive Director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, where he led the review of individuals detained at Guantanamo. Mr. Olsen served as acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and helped establish the National Security Division.

For twelve years, Mr. Olsen was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., prosecuting violent gang members, terrorists, and white-collar criminals. Mr. Olsen served as Special Counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He began his public service career as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Mr. Olsen currently is an executive at a cyber security technology firm, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, and ABC News analyst. He graduated from the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School.

CPP Spring 2018 Retreat

On May 12th and 13th, participants in the Spring 2018 class of the Congressional Partnership Program joined foreign policy and national security experts for a weekend of thought provoking discussions and bipartisan team-building. This retreat was a great opportunity for participants to assess global challenges, explore differences, and build common ground.


Negotiation Forum

Participants heard from Ambassador Robert Gallucci who discussed his experience negotiating with the North Korean regime. Amb. Gallucci was the chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean crisis in 1994, and he described his experience preparing for and negotiating with the North Koreans.

Featuring:

Ambassador Robert Gallucci – Former Ambassador-at-Large and Special Envoy for the U.S. Department of State


Keynote Address

The keynote address was provided by Ambassador Ryan Crocker who discussed global foreign policy challenges. Amb. Crocker explored challenges in the Middle East, opportunities to learn from history, and possibilities for congressional engagement.

Featuring:

Ambassador Ryan Crocker – Former U.S. Ambassador: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon


Breakout Sessions

Ms. Bonnie Glaser discussed the future of US-China Relations. Her remarks covered Chinese military expansion, Chinese investment in Latin America and Africa, and opportunities for the U.S. and China to work together on efforts such as counterterrorism and combating climate change.

Ms. Melinda Haring and Mr. Tom Carothers examined U.S. efforts to promote democracy abroad. The outlined success stories, opportunities for improvement, and potential models to explore when considering future efforts.

Featuring: 

Ms. Bonnie Glaser – Senior Advisor for Asia, CSIS

Ms. Melinda Haring – Editor of the UkraineAlert Blog at the Atlantic Council and Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

Mr. Thomas Carothers – Senior Vice Preidesnt for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

 


National Security Council Simulation

Participants engaged in a National Security Council Simulation led by Mr. Robert Sheldon to advance strategic negotiation and communication skills.

Featuring:

Mr. Robert Sheldon – Director of Government Technology Strategy at CrowdStrike

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

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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.

Off-the-Record Dinner with Adm. Michael Mullen

On February 21st, the Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program with Admiral Michael Mullen to discuss today’s pressing foreign policy and national security challenges. Adm. Mullen served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and previously the Navy’s 28th Chief of Naval Operations and

This was a closed event for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program.


Admiral Michael Mullen

Considered one of the most influential Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in history, Admiral Mike Mullen takes a fresh approach to the most important geopolitical issues of the 21st century, including America’s position in the world and how economic health directly impacts our National Security.  Admiral Mullen believes our national debt is our greatest security threat.

Mullen, who spent four years as Chairman—the top military advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama–is a broad-minded, intellectually curious leader widely recognized as an “honest broker” by policymakers, Members of Congress and senior military officers.  He brought bold and original thinking to the work of strengthening the U.S. military and advocating for those who serve.

Admiral Mullen oversaw the end of the combat mission in Iraq and the development of a new military strategy for Afghanistan, while promoting international partnerships, new technologies and new counter-terrorism tactics culminating in the killing of Osama bin Laden.

A 1968 graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Mullen sought challenging positions including command at every level to develop his leadership skills during his naval career.  He rose to be Chief of Naval Operations prior to assuming duties as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In an unprecedented in-depth feature article, Fast Company called Mullen “not just a new model for military officers-and a new kind of business titan-but also a case study in 21st –century leadership.”

Since retiring from the Navy, Mullen has joined the boards of General Motors, Sprint, and the Bloomberg Family Foundation.  He teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University.  He is also known for his efforts on behalf of service members, veterans, and their families.  He is renowned for his role in dismantling “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowing gay service members to serve openly.

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.

 

Off-the-Record Dinner with Lisa Curtis

On November 28th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Fall 2017 Congressional Partnership Program with Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for South and Central Asia, Lisa Curtis. Ms. Curtis discussed U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.


Lisa Curtis

Image result for lisa curtisLisa Curtis was appointed Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for South and Central Asia on April 24, 2017. She advises the President and the National Security Advisor and guides the U.S. inter-agency policy process on U.S. interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan.

Prior to serving at the National Security Council, Lisa focused on U.S. national security interests and regional geopolitics as senior research fellow on South Asia in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Her research focused on the U.S.-India strategic and defense partnership, U.S. counterterrorism policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and trends in Islamist extremism and religious freedom throughout the region. In this role, she regularly testified before Congress and appeared on major media outlets to discuss U.S. policy in South Asia.

Before joining Heritage in August 2006, Curtis worked for the U.S. government on South Asian issues for 16 years. From 2003 to 2006, she was a member of the professional staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she was in charge of the South Asia portfolio for the chairman at the time, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).

From 2001 to 2003, Curtis was the White House-appointed senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, where she advised on political developments and Indo-Pakistani relations. Before that, she worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and, in the mid-1990s, served as a diplomat in the U.S. embassies in Pakistan and India.

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Curtis received a bachelor’s degree in economics at Indiana University.

 

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