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“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010

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The U.S. Agency for International Development and Conflict: Hard Lessons from the Field

May 17, 2011, 12:00pm – 1:15pm

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan, Somalia, and South Sudan, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is engaged daily in trying to help some of the most troubled nations on the planet make a lasting transition to stability, open markets, and democracy. Few areas of the agency’s work are more challenging or more controversial.

Join us for remarks by, and a roundtable with, the deputy administrator of USAID, Ambassador


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    • Interview With Vali Nasr
    • Original Commentary | Oct 20, 2011
    • Dr. Vali Nasr is a professor at Tufts University, and a specialist on Middle East politics and political Islam. Born in Iran, he has worked extensively on political and social developments in the Muslim world, and is the author of a number of books, including The Shia Revival and Democracy in Iran. Between 2009 and 2011, Nasr served in the Obama administration as Senior Adviser


    • Mounting Questions on Iran Terror Plot
    • Analysis | Oct 14, 2011
    • Soon after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar in connection with an alleged Iran-directed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, administration officials had harsh words for Iran, but many experts voiced skepticism (NYT). Kenneth Katzman, an Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service, says he and many of his peers believe that elements of the plan–such as the alleged intent to use a Mexican


    • In Riddle of Mideast Upheaval, Turkey Offers Itself as an Answer
    • Analysis | Sep 27, 2011
    • ISTANBUL — Not so long ago, the foreign policy of Turkey revolved around a single issue: the divided island of Cyprus. These days, its prime minister may be the most popular figure in the Middle East, its foreign minister envisions a new order there and its officials have managed to do what the Obama administration has so far failed to: position themselves firmly on the side of


    • The Speech Yasser Arafat Never Gave
    • Analysis | Sep 27, 2011
    • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ moving speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday was certainly the high point of his career. His address will be forever remembered because Abbas was able to do what no Palestinian leader has ever done in the past: make the moral case for Palestinian independence in a clear, coherent, reasonable manner at the highest international forum.

      Most importantly, Abbas’ message was internationally receivable. Only the most recalcitrant supporters


    • On Iran’s Nuclear Program, Science Contradicts Rhetoric
    • Analysis | Sep 13, 2011
    • September is a big month for Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to the UN General Assembly meeting next week, Iran finally launched its long-delayed nuclear plant at Bushehr this week, and on September 2 the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, published their quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. The latest report has fueled the usual rhetoric from Tehran and Washington, with each side interpreting it


    • Dead in the Water
    • Analysis | Sep 8, 2011
    • The world owes a debt of thanks to that anonymous diplomat who leaked the long-delayed U.N. report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident — the ill-fated Israeli commando raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla that resulted in the deaths of nine Turks — to the New York Times, thus single-handedly ending months of endless speculation and finally putting the floundering Turkey-Israel relationship out of its misery.

      The report was issued by a panel headed by Geoffrey Palmer, the former prime minister of


    • Post-9/11 Rebuffs Set U.S.-Iran Relations on Downward Spiral
    • Analysis | Sep 8, 2011
    • Of all the mistakes and missed opportunities that have characterised U.S. foreign policy since Sep. 11, 2001, few may have been as consequential as the failure to improve relations with Iran.

      Had the George W. Bush administration responded to repeated overtures from Tehran, it might have cemented a powerful ally against Al-Qaeda, had an easier time pacifying Iraq and reduced Iranian motivation to acquire nuclear weapons and oppose Arab-Israeli peace.

      Unlike the reaction in


    • Ratcheting Up Pressure on Syria’s Assad
    • Analysis | Aug 18, 2011
    • President Barack Obama today issued a call for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down. “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way,” the statement read. “His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of


    • Challenging the Insupportable Arguments against Palestinian Statehood
    • Analysis | Aug 10, 2011
    • In their near-hysterical efforts to prevent Palestinians from asking the United Nations to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination and statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel and the United States have put forward a number of insupportable arguments that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

      The claim that the UN is not the appropriate address for bringing about Palestinian statehood that underlies the various legal, political and prudential arguments mustered against the Palestinian


    • The Enemy of Iran’s Enemy
    • Analysis | Aug 5, 2011
    • Despite the alarmist headlines, no one should have been shocked by last week’s U.S. Treasury Department designation of a Syrian based in Iran as a conduit for sending money and personnel to al Qaeda.

      Iran has had links to members of what became known as al Qaeda since the early 1990s, when both had a presence in Sudan. What many may not know is that the United States missed several opportunities to divide the two and gain custody of