2013 Annual Conference:   Overview  |  Banquet  |  Conference  |  Luncheon

Managing Transition, Containing Conflict: The Middle East in 2014

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Middle East Institute hosted its 67th Annual Conference, "Managing Transition, Containing Conflict: The Middle East in 2014," on Friday, November 15 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.  The event brought together prominent experts and foreign policy practitioners to delve into the many vexing questions and challenges that have come to the fore in the almost three years of unprecedented change for the Middle East, and to look ahead to what to expect in the coming year.

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Watch the entire conference in the player below, or follow the links on this page to view videos, photos, podcast, and transcripts for individual panels.

Panel 1: Assessing the Transitions: Egypt and Tunisia
Moderated by Paul Salem, featuring Khalil al Anani, Larry Diamond, Noureddine Jebnoun, and Rabab El Mahdi.
- Video, transcript, podcast, and photos

Panel 2: Sectarianism and the Balkanization of the Levant
Moderated by Kim Ghattas, featuring F. Gregory Gause, Mohsen MilaniPaul Salem, and Mona Yacoubian.
- Video, transcript, podcast, and photos

Keynote Luncheon: "Breaking the Impasse"
A joint peace initiative of Palestinian and Israeli business and civic leaders
Moderated by Amb. Daniel Kurtzer, and featuring Munib R. Masri, Yossi Vardi, and Miroslav Dusek.

Panel 3: In Search of Coherence: US Policy in the Arab World
Moderated by Michael Hudson, featuring Aaron David Miller, Frederic C. Hof, Roula Khalaf, and Steven Simon.
- Video, transcript, podcast, and photos

Panel 4: Beyond the Street: Arab Youth in Post-Uprising Politics
Moderated by Brian Katulis, featuring Lina Khatib, Ahmad Maher, Mabrouka Mbarek, and Ayat Mneina.
- Video, transcript, podcast, and photos

Participant Biographies


Khalil al-Anani is a senior fellow at The Middle East Institute and an expert on Islamist movements, Egyptian politics, and democratization in the Middle East. Formerly a scholar of Middle East politics at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, UK, he has also served as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and as a senior scholar at al-Ahram Foundation in Cairo. He is the author and editor of many books in both Arabic and English, including Unpacking the Muslim Brotherhood: Religion, Identity, and Politics (forthcoming); Elections and Democratization in the Middle East (co-editor, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming); The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: Gerontocracy Fighting against Time (Shorouk Press, 2007); and Political Islam in the Middle East: Past, Present, and Future (International Center for Strategic and Future Studies, 2007). He publishes regularly in English-language publications such as Foreign Policy and is a frequent commentator on Arab and international television channels.

Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). At CDDRL, he is also one of the principal investigators in the programs on Arab reform and democracy and on liberation technology. He is also founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and is a senior consultant to the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy. His latest book, The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World (Times Books, 2008), explores the sources of global democratic progress and stress and the prospects for future democratic expansion.

Rabab El Mahdi is an activist and associate professor of political science at the American University in Cairo and co-editor of Egypt: The Moment of Change (Zed Press, 2009) and The Arab Spring in Egypt: Revolution and Beyond (AUC Press 2012). She works on social movements and mobilization, including women, labor, and political Islam. She is the author of a number of publications, including “Working Class, Youth, and the Revolution” (in Taking to the Streets, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013); “Women in the Revolution” (with Lila Abu Lughod, Feminist Studies, January 2012); and“Orientalizing the Egyptian Revolution” (Jadaliyya, April 2011). El Mahdi is a frequent commentator on Al Jazeera English, BBC, CNN, and ABC, and writes op-eds for both Egyptian and international newspapers.

F. Gregory Gause, III is professor of political science at the University of Vermont and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. He served as director of the university’s Middle East Studies program (1997-2008) and chair of the political science department (2010-2013). Previously, Gause was on the faculty of Columbia University, and was a fellow for Arab and Islamic studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. His research interests focus on the international politics of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. He has published three books, the most recent of which is The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Middle East Journal, Security Studies, and in other journals and edited volumes. He has testified on Gulf issues before both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kim Ghattas has been the BBC's State Department Radio and TV correspondent since 2008, and travels regularly with the secretary of state. She is the author of the New York Times best selling book The Secretary: a Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power. Ghattas was previously a Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the Financial Times, based in Beirut. She was part of an Emmy Award-winning BBC team covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. Her work has also been published in TIME magazine, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washington Post, and she appears regularly on NPR and American television shows as a commentator.

Frederic C. Hof is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. On March 28, 2012 President Obama conferred on Hof the rank of ambassador in connection with his duties as special advisor for transition in Syria. Previously, Hof served as the special coordinator for regional affairs in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. He joined the Department of State in April 2009 after serving as president and CEO of AALC, an international business consulting and project finance firm. In 2001 he directed the Jerusalem field operations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee headed by then U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and was the lead drafter of the Committee’s April 30, 2001 Report. Hof began his professional career as an Army officer, and has been awarded many medals, including the Purple Heart and the Defense Superior Service Medal.

Michael C. Hudson was appointed director of the Middle East Institute and professor of political science at the National University of Singapore in 2010. He was previously director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Seif Ghobash Professor of Arab Studies at Georgetown University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. His research interests include Lebanese politics, U.S. Middle East policy, Gulf politics and security, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the information revolution in the Arab world, and Asia-Middle East relations. He has held Guggenheim, Ford, and Fulbright fellowships, and is a former president of the Middle East Studies Association. In addition to publishing numerous books and journal articles, Hudson is regularly interviewed by global media outlets, including the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, Channel News Asia, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Thomson Reuters TV, CCTV (China), and major newspapers including the Straits Times (Singapore).

Noureddine Jebnoun is a faculty member at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where his teaching interests focus on governance and security challenges of the Arab Middle East and North Africa. He served as an assistant professor of strategy and geopolitics at the Tunisian War College, the Tunisian Command and General Staff College, and the Tunisian National Defense Institute from 1998 to 2004. He is co-editor of Modern Middle East Authoritarianism: Roots, Ramifications, and Crisis (Routledge, 2013) and author of The Mediterranean Region: The Implications of Security and Cooperation between the Northern and Southern Shores at the Dawn of the Twenty First Century (NATO Defense College, 2003). His articles and essays have appeared in EurOrient Journal, Jadaliyya, Al-Akhbar English (Beirut), the Egypt Independent (Cairo), and IPRIS Viewpoints, among others.

Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at American Progress, where his work focuses on U.S. national security policy in the Middle East and South Asia. Katulis has served as a consultant to numerous U.S. government agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations on projects in more than two dozen countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Colombia. From 1995 to 1998, he lived and worked in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Egypt for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. In 1994 and 1995, he was a Fulbright scholar in Amman, Jordan, where he conducted research on the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Katulis has published articles in several newspapers and journals, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, and Middle East Policy, among other publications. He is co-author of The Prosperity Agenda, a book on U.S. national security published by John Wiley & Sons in 2008.

Roula Khalaf is the Financial Times' foreign editor and an assistant editor, based in London. She oversees the FT’s editorial coverage of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, providing strategic direction for the FT's large global network of foreign correspondents. Prior to this role she spent 13 years as the FT's Middle East editor, overseeing the launch of the FT's Middle East edition and leading the coverage of the Arab spring. Khalaf joined the FT in 1995 as North Africa correspondent and before that she was a staff writer for Forbes magazine in New York. Her specialist areas are Iraq, where she has travelled extensively; the Gulf; North Africa and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Khalaf holds a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She appears regularly on national and international TV and radio.

Lina Khatib is director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. Previously she was the co-founding head of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at Stanford University. Her latest book is Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle (I.B. Tauris, 2013) and her forthcoming book is Taking to the Streets: The Transformation of Arab Activism, co-edited with Ellen Lust (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014). Lina is also a founding co-editor of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication and has published widely on the international relations of the Middle East, political participation in the Arab world, and public diplomacy.

Mabrouka M’Barek is a member of Tunisia’s constituent assembly, representing the diaspora in the Americas and Europe. Born in Bir Ali Ben Khalifa in central Tunisia, M’Barek studied law and economy in France. After the Tunisian revolution in 2011, she joined Moncef Marzouki’s party, the Congress for the Republic, and was elected to the constituent assembly on October 23, 2011. M’Barek currently works on the constitutional committee in charge of drafting the preamble and fundamental principles of the new constitution. She is also a member of the finance committee and serves as Marzouki’s advisor on transparency and debt. M’Barek’s main focus is on economic alternatives that would serve the Tunisian people and preserve Tunisia’s economic sovereignty. She co-wrote and sponsored the Tunisian debt audit bill, which was inspired by Norway’s and Ecuador’s experiences. (Photo Credit: Kamel Agrebi)

Ahmed Maher is the founder and former chief coordinator of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, which stresses nonviolence, a secular ideology, and an apolitical stance. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Maher also served as a member of the 100-person constituent assembly tasked with writing Egypt's new constitution. His resignation in November 2011 came after months of failed negotiations with the Islamist-led assembly. In May 2013, Maher was arrested in Cairo on the grounds of having incited an earlier protest against Morsi’s interior minister. His transfer to a high-security prison provoked a backlash in Cairo and in Washington, and the following day authorities backed down. As he continues to fight for a civil state, Maher remains committed to achieving the demands of the revolution: freedom, dignity, and social justice.

Mohsen Milani is the executive director of the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies and professor of politics at the University of South Florida. He previously served as a fellow at Harvard, Oxford, and Foscari Universities. Milani has authored more than 60 publications and journal articles. His book, The Making of Iran’s Islamic Revolution (Westview Press, 1994), is required reading in many universities. Milani has been interviewed by such outlets as the New York Times, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic, as well as CNN, BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, Alhurra, FOX, Voice of America, and more than 20 Persian language newspapers. He conducts a conversation series with experts on global security at the University of South Florida, and is currently writing a book about Iranian foreign policy.

Aaron David Miller is the vice president for New Initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. From 2006-2008 he served as a policy scholar at the Wilson Center, where he wrote his fourth book, The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace (Bantam, 2008). Miller previously served as president of Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. He also served at the Department of State, where he helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East as an advisor to Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State, most recently as the Senior Advisor for Arab-Israeli Negotiations. He has received the Department of State’s Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the International Herald Tribune.

Ayat Mneina is a Canadian-Libyan writer, social media enthusiast, and independent policy analyst on Libya. She is a founder of the Libyan Youth Movement and the Libyan Youth Forum, both established to help Libyan progress through educational campaigns, reporting, and acute analysis. She has discussed the role of social media in political movements and current issues in Libya on several international platforms, including Al Jazeera, the Huffington Post, the United Nations, and the BBC. Ayat Mneina's latest endeavour includes the Libyan Youth Voices project, which has been developed in collaboration with the International Political Forum, which seeks to highlight young voices in Libya.

Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute, where he leads the Arab Transitions initiative. Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut between 2006 and 2013. From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation, and in 1989 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon’s leading public policy think tank. In 2002, Salem served on the senior review committee for the United Nations Development Program’s Arab Human Development Report. He writes regularly in the Arab and Western press and has been published in journals and newspapers including the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, the National Interest, and the Financial Times. Salem is the author of a number of books and reports on the Middle East, including Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (in Arabic, 2013); “Iraq’s Tangled Foreign Relations” (2013); “Libya’s Troubled Transition” (2012); “Can Lebanon Survive the Syrian Crisis?” (2012); and “The Arab State: Assisting or Obstructing Development” (2010).

Steven Simon is executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS-US) and corresponding director of IISS–Middle East. He previously served on the national security staff at the White House, where he was the senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs. Prior to re-entering government in 2011, he was principal and senior advisor to Good Harbor Consulting, LLC in Abu Dhabi, as well as an adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Goldman Sachs visiting professor at Princeton University. He was also previously a Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at CFR and an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University. Simon also held positions at the RAND Corporation and had a 15-year career at the U.S. State Department. He has published in Time, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

Mona Yacoubian is senior advisor for Stimson's Middle East program. Her work focuses on the Arab uprisings, with a particular concentration on Syria. She is the director of Pathways to Progress: Peace, Prosperity and Change in the Middle East, a joint initiative with the George C. Marshall Foundation that explores the dynamics propelling the Arab revolts and seeks innovative policy solutions that will put the region on a path toward peace and prosperity. Yacoubian also co-directs the Stimson-U.S. Institute of Peace Lebanon Working Group. Previously, she served as a special advisor and senior program officer 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. From 1990-1997, she served as the North Africa analyst at the U.S. Department of State.