The Passing of a Knight: A Remembrance of Shafiq Kombargi

In the field of U.S.-Arab relations and much more, Shafiq Kombargi was an extraordinary individual. He was not just my friend. He was the friend of untold numbers of others. Those who loved and admired the man were countless. His passing brings a moment of great sadness.

Shafiq Kombargi

Numerous specialists in the Arab region and U.S.-Arab affairs never met Shafiq, and some may not even have heard of him. Yet few individuals can match the outsized positive and enduring influence that Shafiq had on so many people’s lives.

The evidence is abundant. Shafiq’s sustained imprint upon innumerable United States-affiliated educational and cross-cultural institutions is massive.

Reaching Out to Others

Shafiq’s contributions were not those of a renowned researcher, scholar, university professor, or publicist. He was none of those. Yet all who labor in one or more of those fields have long been in his debt.

Shafiq’s gifts to Arab-U.S. cooperation and cross-cultural understanding were mostly made indirectly. In various instances, his accomplishments were achieved through and apart from his decades-long career with what was originally known as the Arabian American Oil Company, which in time became Saudi Aramco, and that, to this day, operates a subsidiary entity in the United States known as Aramco Services Company. Indeed, these entities had Shafiq’s back.

Often, Shafiq’s contributions were made from behind the scenes. Reduced to a single word, he was an enabler. Certainly, in addition to the example he set in other areas of endeavor, that’s how he influenced my life; doubtless, others can say the same.

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Yemen: How Near or Distant a Resolution to its Present Conflict?

On March 21, 2019, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations hosted a public affairs briefing in Washington, D.C. exploring “Yemen: How Near or Distant a Resolution to its Present Conflict?”

Specialists at the National Council’s March 21, 2019 public affairs briefing included Dr. John Duke Anthony, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Mr. Timothy Pounds, Ms. Summer Nasser, Dr. Stephen W. Day, and Colonel (Ret.) Abbas Dahouk.

The featured specialists included:

  • H.E. Dr. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to the United States; Office of Yemen’s President Chief of Staff; Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference Secretary General;
  • Mr. Timothy Pounds, U.S. Department of State Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs Director; former U.S. Embassy in Bahrain Deputy Chief of Mission;
  • Dr. Stephen W. Day, Editor of Global, Regional, and Local Dynamics in Yemen’s War (early 2020) and Author of Regionalism and Rebellion in Yemen: A Troubled National Union (2012); Rollins College Adjunct Professor of International Affairs;
  • Ms. Summer Nasser, Yemen Aid Chairperson; Speaker and analyst on Yemeni affairs; and,
  • Colonel (Ret.) Abbas K. Dahouk, former U.S. Department of State Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Senior Military Advisor; former Embassy of the U.S. in Saudi Arabia Defense and Army Attaché.

Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, served as context provider and moderator.

A podcast recording of the program is available below.

 

 

“Yemen: How Near or Distant a Resolution to its Present Conflict?” podcast (.mp3)

CCUSAR Spring 2018 “NEWSLINES”

CCUSAR NEWSLINES NewsletterThe 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 2018 “NEWSLINES” newsletter featuring:

  • an essay on “My ‘Gateway’ to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” by Converse College student Laura Gill, summarizing a study visit to Saudi Arabia made possible by her participation in the Model Arab League program;
  • recaps from the 2018 Southeast and National Model Arab League debate forums where Converse College won top delegation awards;
  • a Model Arab League testimonial, “The Benefits of Debate: A Call to Support Model Arab League Participation,” from a South Carolina high school student;
  • a reflection from Dr. Dunn, titled “Planting Trees and Building Orchards,” about the educational community that Converse College’s Model Arab League program has fostered; and
  • a book review of Nadia Murad’s The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.

The full issue of CCUSAR’s Spring 2018 NEWSLINES is available for download through the link immediate below.

DOWNLOAD “CCUSAR NEWSLINES (Spring 2018)” (.pdf file)

Furthering U.S.-GCC Trade, Economic Cooperation, and Investment Opportunities

On May 21, 2018, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce, and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing exploring how to “Furthering U.S.-GCC Trade, Economic Cooperation, and Investment Opportunities” in Washington, DC.

Mr. Patrick Mancino, Executive Vice President of the National Council, opens the discussion of U.S. economic relations with the Gulf countries at the Council’s May 21, 2018 public affairs briefing.

The featured specialists were:

  • Christopher Johnson, Chairman, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce, and Chairman, American Business Group of Riyadh
  • Fred Shuaibi, Vice Chairman, American Business Council of Kuwait, and Secretary, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce
  • Matthew Kirkham, Board Member, American Business Group of Jeddah, and Finance Chairman, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce
  • Robert Hager, Member, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations International Advisory Committee, and Partner, Squire Patton Boggs
  • Timir Mukherjee, Board Member, American Business Group of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia
  • Anne Jaffery, Chairman, American Business Council of Dubai
  • Michael Jones, Washington Representative, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce
  • Nahlah Al-Jubeir, Senior International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and Director of the Center for Career Development, Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission
  • Dr. Karl Petrick, Associate Professor of Economics, Western New England University; Coordinator, Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce/Western New England University Gulf Region Trade Project

Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, served as context provider and moderator.

A podcast recording of the program is available below.

 

 

“Furthering U.S.-GCC Trade, Economic Cooperation, and Investment Opportunities” podcast (.mp3)

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Presents Distinguished Global Leadership and Humanitarian Award to Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain

Washington, DC: On September 7, 2017, at the International Peace Institute (IPI) in New York City, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (National Council) was honored and privileged to present its Distinguished Global Leadership and Humanitarian Award to Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain. The Award was conveyed in recognition of his indefatigable and extraordinary international efforts to promote cultural understanding, education, and bridges of knowledge between East and West.

[Left to Right] National Council Board Member Ms. Paige Peterson, Council Executive Vice President Mr. Patrick Mancino, Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain, and International Peace Institute President Mr. Terje Rød-Larsen.

National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, Council Board Member Ms. Paige Peterson, and Council Executive Vice President Mr. Patrick Mancino personally conveyed the award to Mr. Al-Babtain. It was presented in the offices, directly across from the United Nations, of IPI’s legendary Mr. Terje Rød-Larsen, renowned former emissary on behalf of Palestinian human rights.

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The 1990-1991 Kuwait Crisis Remembered: Profiles in Statesmanship

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For the last twenty-seven years, today has marked the anniversary of an infamous event: Iraq’s brutal invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait, which began on August 2, 1990, and which was brought to an end on February 28, 1991. The regional and international effects of numerous aspects of the trauma then inflicted upon Kuwait remain ongoing. Like Kuwait itself, the world, even now, has yet to fully recover.

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony was one of the first American civilians into Kuwait following its liberation. He would return there twelve times over following year with delegations of American leaders tasked with assisting in one or more facets of the war-torn country’s reconstruction. He is here with his escort observing one among over 650 of Kuwait’s oil wells set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi armed forces. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

Over a quarter century later, important postwar facets of what Iraq did to Kuwait fall short of definitive closure. And they defy effective description. The international legal requirement that an aggressor provide prompt, adequate, and effective compensation for a war’s victims was not honored at the end of hostilities. Despite continuing United Nations-supervised efforts to collect on this inhumane debt, what is due has still not been paid.

The Missing in Action and Context

A full accounting of Kuwait’s and other countries’ missing citizens swept up and carted off to Iraq in the war’s waning hours – in the immediate aftermath of the conflict its main cause celebre – continues to remain incomplete.  The reason is not for lack of effort.  After Kuwait’s liberation, an informal and unofficial effort was mounted by George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to provide an estimate of the MIAs’ status.

The focus group included diplomats, scholars, media representatives, American armed forces’ civil affairs personnel, and other individuals who fought to liberate Kuwait. Their unscientific consensus reported that more than 400 of the missing Kuwaitis died after they were captured. The fate of more than 200 of the missing, however, was unknown.

In the immediate hours and early days following Kuwait’s liberation, when none of the country’s electric power, desalination water purification plants, and far more of the country’s infrastructure were left operative, and domestic security prospects had been rendered uncertain, armed personnel carriers and mounted automatic weaponry units were omnipresent in the country. Photo: Dr. John Duke Anthony.

That possibly countless others remain missing is no small matter. The numbers in question, to some, may seem few. Not so, however, for those among the loved ones who tear up at the thought of them. Not so either for those who, despite the absence of grounds to warrant optimism for a fortuitous ending to their pining, and continue to wait and pray for their return.

We Americans would do well to stop and think about this for a moment. We are often criticized, and rightly so, for having an empathy deficit when it comes to understanding the suffering of people in other countries and situations. An irony in this needs to be understood and underscored. The irony is that many in the United States demand that people in other countries understand us. For those in front of an American Consular Officer with ticket in hand to visit a friend or relative in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, or wherever, but who lack such empathy along with the understanding and civility that comes with it, they need to be wished good luck in obtaining a visa to the United States.

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Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics

On June 20, 2017, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing on “Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics” in Washington, DC.

Featured specialists included Dr. John Duke Anthony, Dr. Paul Sullivan, Mr. Fahad Nazer, and Mr. Edward Burton.

A video and podcast recording of the program, along with presentation slides from Dr. Sullivan and Mr. Burton, are available below.

 

 

“Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics” podcast (.mp3)

Dr. Paul Sullivan slides (.pdf)

Mr. Edward Burton slides (.pdf)

Economic Dynamics of U.S.-GCC Relations

On May 8, 2017, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Nasdaq, and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing on “Economic Dynamics of U.S.-GCC Relations.”

NCUSAR Briefing on

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony speaks at the Council’s May 8, 2017, public affairs briefing on “Economic Dynamics of U.S.-GCC Relations.”

Featured specialists included Dr. John Duke Anthony, Mr. Khaled Alderbesti, Ms. Khlood Aldukheil, and Dr. Ihsan Ali Bu-Hulaiga.

A podcast of the event can be found below as well as in iTunes along with recordings of other National Council programs: http://bit.ly/itunes-ncusar.

“Economic Dynamics of U.S.-GCC Relations” podcast (.mp3)