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Can the US Still Promote Democracy in the MENA Region?

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Panelists discuss the current state of American Exceptionalism and the Global Democracy Promotion Project, and their implications for US and global security, MENA foreign policy, and regional development.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
8:00 AM (Pacific Time)
Zoom Webinar
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American Exceptionalism has been the grounding concept of US domestic and foreign policy since the American Revolution. In a post-WWII era, it has dominated global diplomacy and security policy. But in a post-Trump/post-Insurrection world, does the concept still apply? How do we reconcile American Exceptionalism and the Global Democracy Promotion Policy with the domestic turbulence the US has witnessed in recent years? What does this mean for US and global security? Specifically, how do recent events in the US affect MENA foreign policy, and the development of the region?

Join us for an inside discussion with leading experts, followed by audience Q&A.


PANELIST — Thomas Carothers is senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an independent global think-tank where he oversees research programs and directs the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program. Widely recognized as a leading authority on democratization and international support for democracy, he has worked on democracy and governance assistance projects worldwide. His most recent book is "Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization" (co-edited with Andrew O’Donohue). He previously worked as a lawyer at the US State Department and at the Arnold & Porter law firm. He has been a visiting faculty member at Oxford University, the Central European University, and Johns Hopkins SAIS. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the London School of Economics, and Harvard College.


PANELIST — Michael Wahid Hanna is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation (TCF) and a non-resident senior fellow at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law. Hanna works on issues of international security, international law, and US foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia. He directed TCF’s 2015 International Working Group on Pakistan and served as a co-director of TCF’s 2011 International Task Force on Afghanistan. He also served as a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Baghdad in 2008. Prior to TCF, Hanna was a senior fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute. From 1999 to 2004, he practiced corporate law with New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Cairo University, received a JD from NYU School of Law, is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 


PANELIST — Maya Gebeily focuses on the Middle East for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, writing about climate change, tech, socioeconomic developments, and other trends shaping the MENA region. Previously, she was a reporter for Agence-France Presse for six years, where she addressed Iraqi politics, security, economics, and societal developments. Ms. Gebeily has also covered Lebanon and Syria at a local Lebanese news website NOW News, and has reported as a freelancer out of Beirut, Istanbul, and the Kurdish region of Iraq in recent years. Ms. Gebeily is a member of the Marie Colvin Journalists' Network and was a finalist for the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award for young war correspondents, for her reporting in Raqqa.



MODERATOR — Hafsa Halawa is an independent consultant working on political, social, and economic affairs, and development goals across the MENA and Horn of Africa regions. A former corporate lawyer, Ms. Halawa has held positions in government, the UN, INGOs/NGOs, corporate multinationals, private firms, and think-tanks. She now consults independently for a similar broad set of clients on a variety of issues at request. Her countries of expertise include: MENA, Egypt, Iraq, Gulf, and the Horn of Africa (Red Sea security). Her issues of expertise include: conflict prevention, civil society, gender equality, youth empowerment, democratization, peace and reconciliation, social cohesion, and water security.



MODERATOR — Ambassador Charlotta Sparre is the director of the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa. She previously served as Ambassador of Sweden to Egypt from 2013 until 2017, to Jordan from 2008 until 2013, and has held a number of other positions in the Swedish Foreign Service, mainly working on issues related to the MENA region. Since 2017, Ambassador Sparre has been a member of the Swedish Women’s Mediation Network. During the last decades, she has been an active participant in several Track II meetings on the Middle East, with a special focus on regional security, democratic development, human rights, and gender equality. She has published numerous articles and co-edited the book, “Reconstructing the Middle East,” published by Routledge (2017).



MODERATOR — Abdulwahab Alkebsi is Managing Director for Programs at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)— a non-profit affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce and one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. Mr. Alkebsi oversees more than 120 programs in over 55 countries and supervises a staff across 12 countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Tunisia. In his role at CIPE, Mr. Alkebsi oversees democracy and market-reform initiatives that combat corruption, build the capacity of business associations to represent private sector voices, strengthen entrepreneurship skills and ecosystems, empower women, organize the informal sector and strengthen property rights, enable access to information, and improve corporate and democratic governance.



Sponsor(s): Center for Middle East Development, Burkle Center for International Relations, Department of Public Policy

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Duration: 01:31:26


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