2014 Summer Intern Model Arab League Pictures

The 2014 Summer Intern Model Arab League, held July 12 in Washington, DC, brought together 42 students (33 of them first-time MAL participants) for an intensive, one-day introduction to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ flagship student leadership development program. Through participation in Model Arab League (MAL) students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world, and the arts of diplomacy and public speech. MAL helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders. During the upcoming 2014-15 academic year the National Council will hold 22 MALs for high school and collegiate students throughout the United States. Some pictures from the 2014 Summer Intern Model are available below.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ to view the full gallery from the 2014 Summer Intern Model Arab League.

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Council Chronicle Vol. 7, No. 4 (2013) Now Available

apc-300x200The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations is pleased to provide the twenty-third edition of the Council Chronicle, the Council’s periodic newsletter. The Chronicle seeks to keep the Council’s alumni, donors, and other supporters informed and updated. One among other efforts to do so on an ongoing basis is achieved by presenting highlights and special reports on the Council’s programs, events, and activities. For new readers interested in learning more about the Council’s vision and mission, together with the ways and means it utilizes to pursue both objectives, please visit the Council’s website at ncusar.org.

ACCESS Council Chronicle Vol. 7, No. 4 (.pdf)

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CCUSAR Spring 2014 “NEWSLINES”

2014-ccusar-newslines-200x257The Carolinas Committee on U.S.-Arab Relations (CCUSAR), with Dr. Joe P. Dunn serving as Director, is an affiliate of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Dr. Dunn is an alumni of the Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies Program, the coordinator of the Southeast Model Arab League, and the faculty advisor heading the Converse College Model Arab League program. CCUSAR recently published its Spring 2014 “NEWSLINES” newsletter featuring:

  • Model Arab League (MAL) reunion at Converse College, including students who participated in Converse College’s first MAL teams in 1988-89;
  • recaps from the 2014 Southeast and National MALs where Converse College won top delegation awards;
  • reflections on developments in Tunisia from Dr. Cathy Jones, Associate Professor of French & Italian at Converse College;
  • Dr. Dunn’s reflections on the talents and successes of the latest crop of emerging Arab-U.S. relations leaders from the MAL program at Converse College; and
  • a book review of Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War by Peter R. Mansoor.

The full issue of CCUSAR’s Spring 2014 NEWSLINES is available for download through the link immediate below.

DOWNLOAD “CCUSAR NEWSLINES (Spring 2014)” (.pdf file)

The Dynamics of Future Saudi Arabian-Iranian Relations in Context

All is not well in Arabia and the Gulf. The further unraveling of security and stability in Iraq has exemplified this and more to the increasingly beleaguered government of Iraqi Arab Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, the country’s capital. The accelerated breakdown of law and order in the land between the rivers has also rattled the governments and political dynamics of Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, and the six member-countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Among these countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran are of out-sized importance. Greater information, insight, and knowledge about how these two competitors for regional prominence perceive, interact with, and analyze and assess the likely intentions of the other – not just regarding Iraq but also Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon – is essential to understanding key trends and indications in Arabia and the Gulf at the present time and where the region is likely to be headed in the days to come. 

It is in this context that the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations is privileged to present the essay that follows by National Council Distinguished International Affairs Fellow Dr. Imad Kamel Harb. Dr. Harb recently returned to Washington, DC after spending the previous seven years working as a researcher and analyst in the GCC region. 

Dr. Harb previously worked to help rehabilitate the Iraqi higher education sector as a Senior Program Officer for Education at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). There he authored a USIP Special Report on “Higher Education and the Future of Iraq,” published in 2008. 

Since earning his PhD from the University of Utah, Dr. Harb has been an Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University, the University of Utah, Georgetown University, George Washington University, the University of Maryland, and the Middle East Institute. 

Dr. John Duke Anthony


THE DYNAMICS OF FUTURE SAUDI ARABIAN-IRANIAN RELATIONS IN CONTEXT

By Dr. Imad Kamel Harb

June 12, 2014

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Recent diplomatic overtures emanating from Saudi Arabia about possibilities for a thawing of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran are unlikely to produce their desired results. Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal’s recent invitation to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to visit the kingdom was tepidly received at the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

A potential visit by the former Iranian President, and former Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatullah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, itself originating from an invitation by the new Saudi Ambassador to Tehran, Abdul-Rahman bin Ghorman, still awaits the approval of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei.

Myriad contentious issues from Bahrain to Yemen to Iraq, and from Lebanon to Syria have had the two countries’ leaderships at loggerheads and made anentente improbable. Indeed, Iranian-Arab acrimony promises to be the state of affairs for the foreseeable future, negatively affecting regional peace and inter-communal relations between the Gulf’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

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Dr. John Duke Anthony on the Impact of American Energy Production on Relations with the Gulf

Q: How might the U.S.-GCC relationship change, if at all, with the United States easing its reliance on Middle Eastern oil in tandem with increases in America’s domestic energy supplies?

Energy consumption in the U.S., China, and India, 1990-2040. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration International Energy Outlook 2013.

Energy consumption in U.S., China, and India, 1990-2040. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration International Energy Outlook 2013.

John Duke Anthony: Despite the hyperbolic American rhetoric about decreasing reliance upon Middle Eastern energy sources, there appears to be no major credible United States effort underway to lessen in any significant way the privileged benefits that Americans, more than any of their counterparts among other industrialized economies, continue to derive from the relationship between the United States and GCC countries – despite the economies of the latter being heavily based on oil production and exports.

For these and a host of related reasons, not the least among them being that other countries would willingly and rapidly seek to trade places with the United States were Washington to grow tired of America’s special relationships with the GCC countries and provide them an opportunity to do so, the United States simply cannot afford to lessen its multifaceted strategic relationship agreements with this region’s six member-states.

In the coming decades, while the United States may be less dependent upon the GCC countries’ hydrocarbon fuels in terms of American needs, the same cannot be said for America’s allies and much of the rest of the world.  Indeed, America’s lessened energy dependence upon the GCC and other energy-exporting regions is likely to have very little if any significant impact on the continuing needs for hydrocarbon fuels of the 27 European Union countries and those of India, China, and other South Asian and East Asian countries.

In these regions, their respective prospects for economic growth are practically guaranteed to remain dependent upon GCC and other foreign energy resources. Moreover, it is likely that the world’s dependence upon the GCC countries will increase if only because the GCC as a region has the planet’s single largest portion, one-third, of the world’s total proven supply of this resource.  And it will likely increase for yet another reason: for the last 41 years and counting, the GCC countries have delivered every single barrel of oil promised.  In addition, because internationally exported and traded oil is fungible, as are many other strategic commodities, America’s decreased dependence on the GCC countries for the energy needs of the United States will have no discernible impact on the rest of the world’s overall needs in terms of the levels of these countries’ energy production and exports. Nor, much more importantly, will anything the United States does or does not do with regard to oil and gas fracking likely have an effect one way or another on price. The later dynamic, more than any other variable, will arguably continue to affect the health and valuation not only of America’s stock markets and security exchanges but those of other countries as well.

For these reasons and the numerous strategic advantages and associated material gains the United States in effect has no choice but to maintain as robust and effective an engagement with the GCC countries as possible.  A major factor in this regard is the long lead times that would be required for one or the other parties to switch to a different strategic partner.

The ability to procure the necessary economic, political, financial, marketing, logistical, operational, and maintenance arrangements presents yet another set of challenges. For example, negotiating such arrangements to the mutual satisfaction of the parties concerned in any attempt to switch effectively from one Great Power deterrence cum defense commitment to another would entail a lengthy and costly process with ultimately uncertain consequences. This factor alone makes it difficult to foresee the GCC countries’ leaders being able to obtain an alternate international protector in the short run. Certainly it would be difficult to obtain a protector as vital as the region’s present one is to their respective domestic stability, security, and potential to attract and sustain continuous flows of direct foreign investment, important as such investments are to these countries’ prospects for prosperity.

What one also needs to recognize is the formidable power of the vested interests that exist at both ends of the GCC-U.S. relationship spectrum. These are determined not only to maintain the status quo. Each party to a current vested interest understandably intends to strengthen and expand the relationship if only to further their respective objectives regardless of what Washington officialdom does or does not do to recalibrate various dimensions of the relationship.

Only partially illustrative of the reality and prevalence of these factors is the human resources dimension of the situation. For example, tens of thousands of Americans live and work in the region. Of additional significant importance is that Americans have entered into more joint commercial ventures with GCC country companies than the citizens of any other non-GCC country. Finally, the level of American investment in these countries’ economies is second to none.

Also indicative is the growing nexus of GCC-U.S. financial arrangements and undertakings between and among American and GCC investors and bankers. These are deemed by both sides as essential to the prospects for sustained economic growth regionally as well as globally.

Beyond these factors is, on one hand, the profusion of GCC students – more than 85,000 from Saudi Arabia alone enrolled in American universities. On the other hand are the implications of the establishment of entire four-year campuses in various GCC countries of high-profile American universities. The intricacies and dynamics of these little reported on realities practically ensure an ongoing continuously robust and expanding GCC-U.S. relationship.

Dr. John Duke AnthonyNational Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony periodically responds to questions posed by friends of the National Council for the Arabia, the Gulf, and the GCC Blog. Find Dr. Anthony’s full biography here and read more from Dr. Anthony here.

Dr. John Duke Anthony on U.S.-GCC Cooperation

Q: What aspects of U.S.-GCC cooperation are looked upon favorably by citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (the GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates)?

President George W. Bush and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah meeting at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, April 25, 2005.

President George W. Bush and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, April 25, 2005.

John Duke Anthony: GCC citizens, almost without exception, are aware of and deeply grateful for the effective United States external defense umbrella over the GCC’s member-countries. The 1979 Access to Facilities Agreement between the United States and Oman, the four separate Defense Cooperation Agreements (DCAs) between the United States and Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and the much older and more multifaceted defense undertakings and understandings between the United States and Saudi Arabia have arguably proven effective.

Rather than accept such a statement at face value, one would be right to ask, “By what standard?” If asked, an accurate response would be “if measured against the fact that there has not been an attack on any of the GCC countries since the agreements, understandings, and undertakings were entered into following the restoration to Kuwait of its national sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity upon the reversal of Iraq’s aggression in February 1991.”

In concept and enactment, the DCAs were not entirely original. They built upon earlier British protected-state treaties dating from the first half of the 19th century that lasted until their abrogation in 1971.  Viewed together – tellingly, despite the absence of such arrangements in the period spanning two decades from December 1, 1971 to Iraq’s August 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which was the one exception – the two successive international arrangements have succeeded in deterring adversaries while simultaneously strengthening and expanding the defense capacities of the GCC countries against external intimidation and attack.

In addition, the older and lower profile educational, commercial, and other private sector dimensions of the GCC countries-U.S. relationship are not only intact. In spite of general impressions implying the opposite, they are at their most robust level ever. Youth and adults alike, and especially the hundreds of thousands of GCC country graduates from American colleges and universities, remain partial to U.S. science and technology, and eager to be ongoing beneficiaries of the fruits of North American education, research, and development.

Examples include the continued provision of advanced medicines, the administration of quality health care systems and facilities, the transfer of state-of-the-art technology in the realms of information and telecommunications structures, systems, and equipment, and the utilization of American-manufactured aircraft and automobiles as well as trade in a broad range of goods and services.

Also, many GCC citizens believe the American education system, together with its related training and human resources development components and programs, are likely destined to retain their preeminent status for some time yet to come. This is in spite of the American reaction to the trauma of September 11, 2001, of course, which dealt a severe but not fatal blow to this key component of the relationship. That the worst did not occur is thanks largely to the 2005 meeting between Saudi Arabia’s then-Crown Prince Abdallah and then-U.S. President Bush in Crawford, Texas, which led to the easing of U.S. visa issuance process for students from GCC countries seeking admission to American institutions of higher education.

Dr. John Duke AnthonyNational Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony periodically responds to questions posed by friends of the National Council for the Arabia, the Gulf, and the GCC Blog. Find Dr. Anthony’s full biography here and read more from Dr. Anthony here.