November 16, 2011, 5:30 pm - July 10, 2019, 1:44 pm


Grand Hyatt
1000 H Street Northwest
Washington, District of Columbia 20001 (Map)

MEI's 65th Annual Conference
November 16 and 17, 2011


Wednesday, November 16, 2010
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Award Recipient - Issam M. Fares Award for Excellence
H.E. Amb. Lakhdar Brahimi

Lakhdar Brahimi is a former minister of foreign affairs of Algeria, former under-secretary general of the League of Arab States, and former under-secretary general of the United Nations. He has helped mediate numerous international conflicts, including the end of the 17-year civil war in Lebanon. After chairing the 2001 Bonn Conference, which led to the creation of Afghanistan’s first government after the fall of the Taliban, Amb. Brahimi was appointed special representative of the UN secretary general to Afghanistan. In 2004, he was appointed special envoy of the UN secretary general to Iraq, where he helped form the first national government. Amb. Brahimi is a member of “The Elders,” a group of elder statesmen and personalities formed in 2007 at the initiative of President Nelson Mandela. He is also a member of the Global Leadership Forum, as well as a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.
Award Recipient - Middle East Institute Visionary Award
Esraa Abdel Fattah
Esraa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian human rights and democracy activist. She played a key role in organizing the April 6th Youth Movement, which mobilized thousands of young people to demand political change and helped fuel the movement behind the mass protests that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in February. During these protests, she was active on the Internet, on the ground in Tahrir Square, and in the media. In addition, Ms. Abdel Fattah is a leader in various associations that promote democracy and human rights. She is the media director of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, which trains young people in media production and carries out voter registration and election monitoring.
Keynote Speaker
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns

William Burns holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador, and became deputy secretary of state in July 2011. Ambassador Burns served from 2008 until 2011 as under-secretary for political affairs. He was ambassador to Russia from 2005 until 2008, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 until 2005, and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 until 2001. Ambassador Burns has also served in a number of other posts since entering the Foreign Service in 1982, including: executive secretary of the State Department and special assistant to Secretaries Christopher and Albright; minister-counselor for political affairs at the US embassy in Moscow; acting director and principal deputy director of the State Department’s policy planning staff; and special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.

Video I Transcript


KEYNOTE LUNCHEON                                                   

Thursday, November 17, 2011
12:30pm to 2:10 pm

Samih Al-Abed, Former Palestinian Authority Minister
Dr. Samih Al-Abed has been a key player in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, participating in the Camp David, Taba, and Annapolis negotiations.  In 2003, Dr. Abed led the negotiating team for the Palestinian delegation to the Geneva Accord, a landmark permanent status agreement that proposed solutions to core issues including Jerusalem, borders, and refugees. With a background in planning and development in the West Bank, Dr. Abed’s particular contribution was on the key question of territory.  As the Palestinian Authority unity government’s minister of public works and housing (2007), and deputy minister of planning (1995-2007), he developed planning policies at the regional and national levels and negotiated with donor countries to establish programs for an economically viable Palestine.

Yossi Beilin, Former Knesset Member and Israeli Minister
Dr. Beilin joined the Israeli civil service in 1984 as a cabinet secretary. A member of the Knesset for 11 years, he held ministerial posts in the Labor governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak, as deputy foreign minister, deputy finance minister, minister of economy and planning, minister in the office of the prime minister, and minister of justice. He left Israel’s Labor Party in 2003 to become chairman of the Meretz Party, eventually resigning from politics in 2008.  Dr. Beilin is a leading proponent of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, most notably known for his involvement in the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 2001 Taba talks, and negotiations that resulted in the 2003 Geneva Accord.

Introduction by Ambassador Peter Maurer
Ambassador Peter Maurer was appointed Switzerland's state secretary for Foreign Affairs in March 2010.  He directs the activities of the Swiss diplomatic service in Bern and in over 100 embassies and missions worldwide.  Ambassador Maurer joined the Swiss Foreign Ministry in 1987 and served in a variety of diplomatic posts before becoming assistant secretary, responsible for human security, peace, human rights, and humanitarian policy. In 2004, Ambassador Maurer was appointed permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations.




Thursday, November 17, 2011
9:00 am to 5:30 pm

Opening Remarks: Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, President MEI

After the Arab Spring: Assessing US Policy In the Middle East
Steve Clemons, New America Foundation, The Atlantic
Tamara Cofman Wittes,: DOS-NEA/MEPI
Amb. (ret.) Ron Schlicher, DOS-NEA
Amb. (ret.) Daniel Kurtzer, Princeton University

The Road Ahead for Emerging Arab Democracies
Larry Diamond, Stanford University
Michele Dunne, Atlantic Council
Esraa Abdel Fattah, Egyptian Democratic Academy
Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy


Shifting Regional Power Dynamics in an Era of Change
Jamal Khashoggi, Al-Arab News
Haim Malka, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Mohsen Milan, South Florida University
Abdelkhaleq Abdalla, UAE University
Paul Salem, Carnegie Endowment

Economic and Development Strategies for a Middle East in Transition
Adel Abdellatif, UNDP
Odeh Aburdene, OAI Advisors
Iman Bibars, Ashoka/MENA
William B. Taylor, US Department of State




Adel Abdellatif, United Nations Development Programme
Dr. Adel Abdellatif  was appointed chief of the Regional Programme Division, Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP, in May 2007. He is responsible for a range of programs in the region focused on key issues including governance, water governance, and the environment. Prior to assuming this post, he led UNDP’s Program of Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR). Before joining UNDP, he served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt from 1979 through 1998, occupying senior posts in various countries and earning the rank of ambassador in 2004. He holds a doctoral degree in political economy, in addition to a diploma in diplomatic studies, awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and a diploma in international trade from the General Agreement for Trade & Tariffs in Geneva.

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, United Arab Emirates University
Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla is a professor of political  science at United Arab Emirates University. Currently he is the chairman of the cultural committee at the Dubai Cultural and Scientific Association, and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Population Growth. He was a member of the Dubai Cultural Council, the general coordinator of the Gulf Development Forum, director of the research center at Al Khaleej newspaper, editor of the Gulf Strategic Report, editor of the Journal of Social Affairs, and the lead author of the Arab Knowledge Report 2008. He lectures in universities and research centers around the world, comments frequently in the media on current Arab and Gulf affairs, and writes a monthly op-ed for the daily Gulf News. He is the author of several books, including The Gulf Regional System (2007).

Odeh Aburdene, OAI Advisors
Dr. Odeh Aburdene is president of OAI Advisors, which provides advice and consultancy on Middle East business, energy, and private equity. Prior, he was a managing partner of CT Capital International, Inc. From 1975 to 1980, Dr. Aburdene served with the First National Bank of Chicago as vice president responsible for the Middle East. In 1980, He joined Occidental Petroleum as vice president for Middle East business. Dr. Aburdene has published several articles on international monetary and petroleum issues. He is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, and sits on the advisory boards of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Rand Center for Middle East Public Policy, and Search for Common Ground. Dr. Abdurdene is a board member of America Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc. and of Seeds of Peace.

Iman Bibars, Ashoka
Dr. Iman Bibars is a vice president of Ashoka, the largest association of leading social entrepreneurs in the world. A regional expert with more than 25 years of experience in strategic planning, policy formulation, and community development, Dr. Bibars has dedicated her life to working with marginalized groups, such as female heads of households in Egypt’s poorest areas and street children. In addition to Ashoka, she has worked with organizations such as UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, and CARE-Egypt. Dr. Bibars is herself a social entrepreneur, co-founding the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, a civil society organization providing credit and legal aid for impoverished women heading their own households. Dr. Bibars’ writings have been featured in the Huffington Post and other media outlets.

Steven Clemons, New America Foundation
Steve Clemons is Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic and editor-in-chief of AtlanticLIVE. At AtlanticLIVE, The Atlantic’s premium events division, Clemons develops concepts and editorial content and leads programs as an interviewer, moderator, and host. Clemons is currently a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, which he helped launch twelve years ago and where he served as executive vice president for eight years and founded its American Strategy Program. Clemons was one of Washington’s early political bloggers, publishing the widely read and influential Washington Note. He frequently writes about topics related to foreign policy, defense, and international economic policy. He has served as executive vice president of the Economic Strategy Institute and was the first executive director of the Nixon Center.

Larry Diamond, Stanford University
Dr. Larry Diamond is a professor of sociology and political science at Stanford University. He is also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and also serves as senior consultant (and previously was co-director) at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy. From 2002–2003, he served as a consultant to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was a contributing author of its report, “Foreign Aid in the National Interest.” He is the author and editor of numerous books on contemporary democratic development, including The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies throughout the World.

Michele Dunne, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Michele Dunne is Director of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, she was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she edited the Arab Reform Bulletin and carried out research on Arab politics and U.S. policies. Dr. Dunne has served in the White House on the National Security Council staff, on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and in its Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and as a diplomat in Cairo and Jerusalem. She co-chairs the Working Group on Egypt, a bipartisan group of experts established in February 2010 to mobilize US government attention to the forces of change in that country.\

Jamal Khashoggi, Al Arab
Jamal Khashoggi began his career as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette, and continued working in journalism writing for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers from 1987 to 1990. From 1991 to 1999, he was a foreign correspondent covering events in countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan, among others. He was appointed deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, the leading English newspaper in Saudi Arabia. In 2003, Khashoggi became editor-in-chief of Al-Watan. Al-Watan is considered the pioneering reformist newspaper in Saudi Arabia. In 2007, Khashoggi returned to Al-Watan as its editor-in chief. In mid-2010, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal appointed him to launch and lead a new 24-hour news channel called Al Arab.

Amb. Daniel Kurtzer (ret.), Princeton University
Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer is lecturer and S. Daniel Abraham professor in Middle Eastern policy studies at Princeton University. Following a 29-year career in the US Foreign Service, Kurtzer retired in 2005 with the rank of career minister. From 2001-2005 he served as the United States ambassador to Israel and from 1997-2001 as the United States ambassador to Egypt. He served as a political officer at the American embassies in Cairo and Tel Aviv, deputy director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs, speechwriter on the policy planning staff, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Intelligence and Research.

Haim Malka, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Haim Malka is deputy director and senior fellow in the Middle East Program at CSIS. His principal areas of research include violent nonstate actors, the Arab-Israeli conflict, North Africa, and political Islam. Before joining CSIS in 2005, he was a research analyst at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he concentrated on Israeli-Palestinian issues and U.S. Middle East foreign policy. Malka spent six years living in Jerusalem, where he worked as a television news producer. He holds a B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is the author of Crossroads: The Future of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership (CSIS, 2011) and coauthor of Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco (CSIS, 2006).

Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy
Radwan A. Masmoudi is the founder and president of the Center of the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), a Washington-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting freedom, democracy, and good governance in the Arab/Muslim world. He has also been the editor-in-chief of the Center’s quarterly publication, Muslim Democrat. Mr. Masmoudi has written and published several papers on the subject of democracy, diversity, human rights, and tolerance in Islam. In recent years, he has visited, organized events, and spoken at major international conferences in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan, Nigeria, the Philippines/Mindanao, Germany, South Africa, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Masmoudi has appeared on several TV networks including CNN, Al-Jazeera, Fox News, Algerian TV, and MBC.

Mohsen Milani, University of South Florida
Dr. Mohsen M. Milani is professor of politics and chair of the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Born in Tehran, he completed his high school and higher education in the US, and received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California. Dr. Milani has written extensively about the Persian Gulf, the Iranian revolution, and Iran’s foreign and security policies. His book, The Making of Iran’s Islamic Revolution (Westview Press, 1994), has been required reading in many universities in the US, Europe, Japan, and Canada. He has also served as a research fellow at Harvard University, Oxford University’s St. Antony’s College, and the Foscari University in Venice, Italy. Dr. Milani is currently working on a book project about Iran’s regional policies.
Paul Salem, Carnegie Middle East Center
Paul Salem is the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. He works and publishes on the regional and international relations of the Middle East as well as issues of political development and democratization in the Arab world. Prior to joining Carnegie in 2006, Salem was the general director of the Fares Foundation and from 1989 to 1999 he founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon’s leading public policy think tank. Salem is the author of a number of books and articles on the Middle East, including the Carnegie Papers Building Cooperation in the Eastern Middle East, The Arab State: Assisting or Obstructing Development?, and Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (Syracuse Univ.,1994).

Amb. Ronald L. Schlicher (ret.)
Amb. Ronald L. Schlicher recently retired from his position as principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He previously served as principal deputy assistant coordinator of counterterrorism; US ambassador to Cyprus; and as director of the Iraq Task Force, where he served with the Coalition Provisional Authority. Other positions include vice-consul in Dhahran, consul in Damascus, department staff assistant in Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) to Assistant Secretary Richard Murphy, deputy principal officer in Alexandria, Egypt, first secretary at the embassy in Cairo, chief civilian observer in the MFO, deputy director for regional affairs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, deputy chief of mission in Lebanon, director of the Office of Egyptian and North African Affairs in NEA, and chief of mission and consul-general in Jerusalem.

Amb. William B. Taylor, United States Institute of Peace
Amb. William Taylor is the Special Coordinator for the Office of Middle East Transitions, which administers aid to post-revolutionary Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Most recently, Amb. Taylor was Vice President for the US Institute of Peace’s (USIP) Center of Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations. Before joining USIP, he served as ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. Prior to that assignment, Amb. Taylor was the US government's representative to the Mideast Quartet. He served in Baghdad as director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office from 2004 to 2005, and in Kabul as coordinator of international and US assistance to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003. Amb. Taylor was also a coordinator of US assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He is a graduate of West Point and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Tamara Cofman Wittes, Department of State
Tamara Cofman Wittes  is the deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. She coordinates democracy and human rights policy for the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau and supervises the Middle East Partnership Initiative. Dr. Wittes was a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution. She directed the Middle East Democracy and Development Project, and served as Middle East specialist at the US Institute of Peace and previously as director of programs at the Middle East Institute. She has also taught courses in international relations and security studies at Georgetown University. Dr. Wittes was one of the first recipients of the Rabin-Peres Peace Award. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security.


Graeme Bannerman, Middle East Institute
Graeme Bannerman is a scholar at the Middle East Institute and the founder of Bannerman Associates, an international consulting firm. He was a former analyst for the US State Department policy planning staff and worked as a Middle East and South Asia staffer on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He focused on Arab-Israeli affairs during the time of Camp David and the negotiation of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Mr. Bannerman has previously taught at Georgetown University, the George Washington University, and the American University of Beirut. He has also been an international observer of elections in Georgia, the Philippines, Haiti, Pakistan, the West Bank/Gaza, Mongolia, and Yemen.

Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar Wilson Center
Aaron David Miller served as an advisor to six secretaries of state at the Department of State, where he helped formulate US policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli peace process. In his last government position he was senior advisor for Arab-Israeli negotiations. He left the Department of State in January 2003 to serve as president of Seeds of Peace, and in 2008, he completed his fourth book, The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.  He is currently a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington where he's writing a new book, Can America Have Another Great President?
Kate Seelye, Vice President, Middle East Institute
Kate Seelye is vice president of the Middle East Institute, where she oversees programming and communications.  Prior to joining MEI, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from her base in Beirut, Lebanon from 2000-2009. She covered the Arab world for NPR for several years before moving into television and documentary. In that capacity, she made half-hour documentaries for the PBS-TV show, Frontline/World, and the renowned Channel Four British investigative news series, Unreported World. In 2004, Seelye was awarded a Fulbright grant to research a documentary on America’s relationship to the Arab world. That same year she received an honorary doctorate from Amherst College for her efforts to increase American understanding of the Middle East through her work in the media.

Daniel Serwer, Middle East Institute
Dr. Daniel Serwer  is a former foreign service officer who served six presidents, retiring with the rank of career minister. She was senior foreign policy advisor to the secretary of energy (2005-2008), the charge d’affaires in Bahrain (2004-2005), and deputy assistant secretary of commerce for the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania and Africa (1999-2004). Prior, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for International Organizations (1996-1999) and deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (1993-1995). Williamson also served as chief of mission and consul-general in Jerusalem during the Madrid peace process. Williamson has been awarded two Presidential Service awards, 14 awards from the Department of State, and numerous awards from the secretaries of defense, commerce, and energy.

Molly Williamson (ret.), Middle East Institute
Molly Williamson is a former foreign service officer who served six presidents, retiring with the rank of career minister. She was senior foreign policy advisor to the secretary of energy (2005-2008), the charge d’affaires in Bahrain (2004-2005), and deputy assistant secretary of commerce for the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania and Africa (1999-2004). Prior, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for International Organizations (1996-1999) and deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (1993-1995). Williamson also served as chief of mission and consul-general in Jerusalem during the Madrid peace process. Williamson has been awarded two Presidential Service awards, 14 awards from the Department of State, and numerous awards from the secretaries of defense, commerce, and energy.