Spring 2019 CCAS Newsmagazine

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CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University


Spring 2019


D I P L O M A C Y IN T HE 2 1 s t CEN T URY

DIRECTOR’S NOTE Rochelle A. Davis


CCAS we are looking forward to inaugurating a year-long celebration of the 45th anniversary of our founding (1975) at an alumni gathering on campus May 4, 2019. Over the coming year we will be celebrating this milestone along with the 40th anniversary of our MA in Arab Studies program and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Please keep your eye out for a lineup of activities and events at Georgetown and join us in person or catch our videos of past events on Youtube. In looking back at this first half of 2019, we have much to celebrate. Dr. Joseph Sassoon, our Sabah Chair of Economic History, was promoted to Full Professor. Our MA students and graduate and undergraduate Arab Studies Certificate students have received Foreign Language Area Studies scholarships, Critical Language Scholarships, Boren Fellowships, an American Institute of Maghrib Studies (AIMS) research fellowship, a Fulbright, and video production prizes, and have been admitted to PhD programs and law schools, among other achievements. One undergraduate certificate student received the prestigious Truman Scholarship! Our education outreach program, with the help of our students, successfully advocated for changing the wording of Texas state curriculum for teaching standards on Middle East-related subjects. And multiple state high school curriculums have added “political Islam” to their standards, so we’ve produced a comprehensive unit of primary and secondary material to help. Our website features this material and describes these accomplishments. We encourage you to participate and support our students and current programs however you can. And we look forward to celebrating our 40/45 anniversaries with you. ere at

About the cover art: “Freedom” by calligrapher Mohammed Imad Mahhouk Mohammed Imad Mahhouk created this work, which brings multiple layers of meaning to the word alḥurriyya (“freedom”), in response to the Arab Spring. Set on a black backdrop representing the oppression of the Syrian regime, the elongated alifs and laams symbolize the bars of a prison. Yet they are drawn in vivid colors as a sign of Mahhouk’s hope that when these bars fall, spring flowers—with all their colors and scents—will take their place. The word ḥurr (“free”) appears to be in flight in the background, symbolizing that the freedom people create for themselves cannot be taken away. The single iteration of al-ḥurriyya in red is added as a reminder of the unimaginably huge sacrifice that has been made for these freedoms.



The CCAS Newsmagazine is published twice a year by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a component of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Core Faculty

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Fida J. Adely Associate Professor and Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies; Director, Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy Assistant Professor Daniel Neep Assistant Professor Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Stetkevych Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies; Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department


Dana Al Dairani Assistant Director Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator

Maddie Fisher Events Coordinator Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Multimedia & Publications Editor Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer, Lauinger Library

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Editorial Assistant Isabel Roemer Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at: http://ccas.georgetown.edu

In This Issue

FEATURED ARTISTS We are fortunate to feature on the pages of this issue beautiful artwork by three Arab calligraphers—Mohammad Imad Mahhouk, Maher Housn, and Amin Alhilal. Born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, Mohammed Imad Mahhouk, is a wellknown figure in the world of Arabic arts who specializes in Quranic calligraphy and manuscript restoration. His passion for calligraphy took root as a child watching his father, an employee in a finance company, handwrite his accounts with great care and attention to the beauty of his script. After earning a degree in nuclear physics, Mahhouk studied manuscript restoration in Istanbul and trained under the renowned calligrapher Hasan Jalaby. His work is featured on the cover and pages 8 and 16. Maher Housn is a Syrian calligrapher and graphic designer. His experimental works, which have drawn admiration from dignitaries and connoisseurs of art in the Arab world, seek to blend classic calligraphic art traditions with contemporary design. His work can be found on pages 9 and 23, on Instagram (@maherhousn), and at www.maherhousn.com. A physical therapist now residing in Washington D.C., Amin Alhilal began learning Arabic calligraphy with a master craftsman in his native Syria when he was 10 years old. He has developed his craft by experimenting with transformations of the traditional lettering and by incorporating calligraphy into various mediums, including inlaid wood and paint on both canvas and wood. His calligraphy graces the tops of the pages throughout the issue.

Save the Date! Making Levantine Cuisine:

A Critical Food Studies Symposium June 7-8, 2019 Details on page 19

The Diplomacy Issue


CCAS Newsmagazine examines the topic of diplomacy from a variety of angles. It includes articles on the public diplomacy impact of recent ATCA legislation by alum Kaylee Steck and student Mohammad Alhammami, and on the foreign relations of Islamist groups by Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian. We hear from Ambassador ONG Keng Yong, who reflects on his time at MAAS and Singaporean approaches to diplomacy, and Ambassador Hunaina Al Mughairy, a member of the CCAS Board of Advisors and the first Arab woman to serve as Ambassador to the United States. MAAS

iStock; Mohammed Imad Mahhouk

his issue of the

7 Faculty Feature

The Foreign Relations of Islamist Groups

15 Alumni Feature

New Law Hinders Public Diplomacy and Penalizes Palestinian Students

SPOTLIGHT ON ALUMS IN DIPLOMACY 10 Diplomacy and the Art of Storytelling 11 Mobilizing Memories 13 Serving Citizens Abroad in Times of War 14 Reflections from Singapore REGULAR FEATURES

4 Faculty News

5 Center News Training Georgetown’s Future Diplomats 18 Public Events Spring Event Highlights 20 Education Outreach Exploring Persian Culture 22 MAAS on the Move News from our Alums 24 Dispatches Grassroots Diplomacy Matters More Than Ever SPECIAL SECTIONS

17 Board Member Profile Q&A with Ambassador Hunaina Al Mughairy 23 Mabrouk to the MAAS Class of 2019!

alums Carol Madison Graham and Julie Eadeh recall working at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut during two different times of crisis—the 1984 bombing and the 2006 Israeli war. A profile on alum Rachel Gandin Mark sheds light on the role of digital storytelling in diplomacy, while the back page dispatch from alum and FSO Kala Carruthers Azar, discusses the importance of people-to-people connections in diplomacy. As usual, you’ll find updates from our faculty and staff on the many activities and events at CCAS, including a certificate program that is preparing students for careers in diplomacy.

The Quotes In addition, the issue features short reflections on diplomacy from more than 20 MAAS alums who work in a variety of diplomatic positions around the globe. You’ll find their quotes sprinkled throughout these pages. Each contributing individual is writing in his/her own personal capacity, and not as an official representative of the U.S. government or other entity.

We hope you enjoy the issue. Vicki Valosik, Editor

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


FACULTY NEWS In February, Associate Professor and CCAS Director Rochelle Davis and colleagues at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and the International Organization for Migration-Iraq published “Access to Durable Solutions: Three Years in Displacement,” featuring the latest findings from an ongoing study of displacement by ISIS in Iraq. The study, which draws from interviews conducted over a three-year period with nearly 4,000 displaced families, has been shared widely on social media and by Arabic and Kurdish-language newspapers in Iraq. Dr. Davis also guest-edited, along with CCAS Multimedia & Publications Editor Vicki Valosik, a special section of the April 2019 issue of the journal International Migration titled “Displacement and Return in Iraq.” In January, Dr. Davis joined the Advisory Board of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University-Qatar. This spring semester, Professor Fida Adely and Dr. Davis co-taught an undergraduate Centennial Lab class titled “Development and Displacement in the Arab World” and took 15 students to Jordan over spring break to learn more on these subjects.

Adjunct Associate Professor Noureddine Jebnoun’s paper, “Public Space Security and Contentious Politics in Morocco’s Rif Protests,” was accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Middle Eastern Studies.

Saddam Hussein regime for the PBS documentary series The Dictator’s Playbook, which aired in January 2019. Lastly, Dr. Sassoon was promoted this semester to full professor. Alf Mabrouk, Professor Sassoon!

Assistant Professor Daniel Neep devoted the 2018-19 academic year to research and writing, supported by a Sabbatical Fellowship from the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University (where he was in residence) and a Public Scholar Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Neep is grateful to these institutions for supporting his work during this time.

The Making of the Modern Mediterranean: Views from the South, a volume edited by Professor Judith Tucker, will be published by the University of California Press in June 2019. The collection challenges views of the Mediterranean as a space shaped predominantly by European trajectories and focuses instead on economic, cultural, and political perspectives from the Mediterranean’s Asian and African shores. Dr. Tucker has also been involved in several important advocacy initiatives through her role as President of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). These have included a security alert from the MESA Board regarding threats to students and researchers in Egypt and a letter sent by the MESA Committee on Academic Freedom to President Trump and other U.S. officials opposing the AntiTerrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) because of its impact on Palestinian students.

This semester, Professor Joseph Sassoon participated in a colloquium at Catholic University on families and philanthropy. His talk compared the Tatas and Sassoon families of India and their traditions of philanthropy. In March, Dr. Sassoon gave a talk at the University of Chicago on Baghdadi Jews in Shanghai before, during, and after WWII based on research for his forthcoming book, The Global Merchants. Dr. Sassoon was also an advisor and expert commentator on the

CCAS PROFESSORS LEAD “LAB” CLASS IN JORDAN Over spring break, Professors Adely and Davis traveled to Jordan with students in their class “Development and Displacement in the Arab World” to meet with development and humanitarian organizations from a range of sectors. Left: The class on a tour of historic Jaresh; Right: Davis and Adely picking up snacks for the class at a roadside fruit stand

Learn more about ATCA on page 15.

SFS; Samar Ahmad


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


CCAS Students, Faculty, Staff, Alum Honored at Graduate School Student Awards Georgetown’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Awards honor faculty, staff, and masters and PhD students for their exceptional contributions to campus and student life. Congratulations to the following members of the CCAS community who were were nominated in 2019: Nour Laswi - Graduate Global Citizen Award Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi - Exceptional Masters Student Award Dana Al Dairani - Distinguished Staff Award Professor Joseph Sassoon - Gerald M. Mara Faculty Mentoring Award Professor Mohammad Alahmad - Gerald M. Mara Faculty Mentoring Award Anny Gaul (MAAS ‘12) - Dr. Karen Gale Exceptional PhD Student Award

Welcome to Maddie Fisher! We are pleased to introduce Maddie Fisher, who joined the Center as CCAS Events Coordinator in February. Maddie earned her BA from Georgetown’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies in 2017. After graduation, she spent a year in Jordan as a Fulbright scholar teaching English and conducting inter-faith research and six months in Israel-Palestine working in peace education and dialogue.

CCAS; International Migration

New program partners language learners with refugees CCAS launched an exciting new partnership this year with NaTakallam (“We speak” in Arabic), a virtual exchange program that matches language learners with Syrian refugees, who provide online lessons and tutoring. Instruction is primarily in Arabic, though the program also offers Farsi and is currently developing a Kurdish component. With support from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant, CCAS has partnered with NaTakallam not only for language tutoring for students in the Master of Arts in Arab studies and other programs, but also for educational programming that brings the refugees’ stories to the larger Georgetown community. As the only group that matches Syrian refugees with American students, NaTakallam provides a unique experience for students and a life-changing source of income for populations affected by humanitarian crises.

Left to Right: Dr. Mohammad AlAhmad, Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi, Dana Al Dairani, Dr. Joseph Sassoon, and Nour Laswi at the 2019 awards ceremony

CCAS collaborates with International Migration on special journal issue

CCAS Director Rochelle Davis and Multimedia & Publications Editor Vicki Valosik guest-edited a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal International Migration on the theme “Displacement and Return in Iraq.” The articles are based on primary research conducted in Iraq and presented at the 2017 conference “Migration and Displacement in Iraq: Working Towards Durable Solutions,” which was held at University of Kurdistan, Hawler with co-sponsorship from CCAS and Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration. The articles provide windows into the strategies employed by Syrian and Iraqi forced migrants, the responses of local communities, governmental and international aid actors, and the policies of the Iraqi, Kurdish, and other governments.

Congratulations to the 2019 Arab Studies Certificate Students! The Certificate of Arab Studies at CCAS provides the opportunity for students to study the language, history, and institutions of the Arab world within the framework of their academic disciplines. Congratulations to the following students for their successful completion of the Arab Studies Certificate! Undergraduate: Noura Kattan, Jake Moran, Virginia Valenti, and Jeffrey Wu; Graduate: Hamad AlHumaidan, Lama Al Jarallah, Mohammad AlYousef, Michael Battalia, Amira Giadala, and Joud Massaad.

Left to Right: Noura Kattan, Jeffrey Wu, Jake Moran, and Virginia Valenti at the 2019 Undergraduate Arab Studies Certificate Colloquium

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Training Georgetown’s Future Diplomats

A certificate program at the School of Foreign Service offers theoretical knowledge and practical training for aspiring diplomats. By Vicki Valosik



Awardees at the 2017 Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies ceremony, including MAAS alums Lea Thurm (bottom row, 5th from left) and Amy Davis (2nd from right)

project that requires both deep research and close teamwork with their graduate colleagues from across SFS, mimicking the kind of collaborative projects they are likely to work on during their future careers. “Whether they work for an NGO, an international organization, or a government,” says Bodine, “they will need to be able to bring in different perspectives, different equities, different resources, and coordinate them toward some common goal.” MAAS alum Lea Thurm, who completed the Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies in 2017, found the capstone project to be a great way to meet and work with graduate students from across the School of Foreign Service. “We had so many different approaches and areas of expertise coming together to work on our policy paper,” says Thurm. “That made the process more challenging and required a lot of work, but learning from and ‘being diplomatic’ with one another helped make the end product even better.” “The certificate helped me get a clearer picture of what diplomacy actually is and what it means to be a diplomat,” continues Thurm. “One of the most important takeaways from the program is that diplomacy is hard work that requires skill and endurance, and that diplomacy can take many different forms, especially today with social media.” To Bodine, this type of realistic perspective is critical. “What we’re looking for are pragmatic idealists,” she says. “You’ve got to believe that the world can somehow be made better. Yet you have to be very pragmatic in how you go about it.” 

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia & Publications Editor at CCAS.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


ccording to Ambassador Barbara Bodine, Director of Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD), the skills needed by today’s aspiring diplomats haven’t changed significantly since the days when she was preparing for her own long and successful diplomatic career. “On one level, they will need the skills diplomats have always needed: the ability to understand and shape policy, to work comfortably globally, to be able to analyze a large amount of information, and—critically important—the ability to write,” she says. “At the same time,” adds Bodine, who served as Ambassador to Yemen from 1997 to 2001, “twenty-first century diplomats also need to be able to manage large amounts of data and comfortably move from a known issue, a comfort-zone issue, to something new. They need to be able to extrapolate from past experience to a new experience without rigid templates.” These are the types of skills that ISD’s Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies seeks to engender as it prepares students for careers in diplomacy and other fields that “demand an understanding of the formulation and implementation of foreign policy.” The certificate, which is open to any graduate student in the School of Foreign Service (SFS), requires a foundation class, two electives, an internship, and a final capstone course. Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi, one of six Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) students currently pursuing the certificate, says he sees value in studying diplomacy for a wide range of future careers. “Diplomatic studies are essential to the building and sustenance of relationships between countries, regions, and communities to realize development, political, economic, and social objectives.” Amy Davis completed the certificate and graduated from MAAS in 2017. Now a management consultant supporting the U.S. Treasury Department, Davis says the certificate gave her “a valuable perspective on working internationally,” which has been helpful when communicating with her counterparts from other countries. “The diplomacy certificate also allowed me to apply my Arab studies knowledge in new and different ways,” says Davis. “I had the chance to compare my knowledge of the Arab world and ways of thinking about politics and society to that of students coming to diplomacy from other disciplines.” Helping students think adaptively by expanding their disciplinary and regional expertise into new areas is a key goal of the program, says Bodine. In addition to taking at least one elective outside of their programs, certificate students must complete a major capstone


The Foreign Relations of Islamist Movements

Professor Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions. By Abdullah Al-Arian


espite having won the first free elections in the nation’s history, the government of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamad Morsi faced a crisis of legitimacy early in 2013. Elements of the country’s revolutionary factions were closing ranks with the military and state intelligence agencies in the hopes of unseating the Arab region’s first Islamist president. Amr Darrag, the recently appointed minister of planning and international cooperation, traveled to Washington to meet with high-level U.S. officials with the aim of securing assurances that the Obama administration would continue to support Egypt’s tenuous transition to democracy. Darrag possessed a strong command of English from his days as an engineering PhD student at Purdue University, but with a career that had been limited to academia, Darrag had no experience in diplomacy and an inadequate ability to read the intentions of seasoned U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry. Officially, the U.S. continued to express support for Egypt’s postMubarak transition throughout the crisis that engulfed Morsi’s presidency. Yet, as the New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick reported, top Obama administration officials maintained far deeper ties with the Egyptian military than they did with the Morsi government. When Morsi was toppled on July 3, 2013 by a military coup led by his defense minister, Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, U.S. officials watched with what can only be described as muted enthusiasm. Six weeks later, Darrag could do little more than pen a New York Times op-ed taking U.S. officials to task for their support of the coup, singling out Kerry’s “astonishing remark” that Sisi was “restoring democracy” in Egypt amid the violent repression of anti-coup protesters.

A History of Engagement

To the extent that non-state actors can have “foreign relations,” Islamist movements in the tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood actually have a long history of considering diplomacy a significant component of their activist missions. In one of his famous “Six Tracts,” Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna wrote that his movement’s advocacy in favor of an Islamic order should not represent “a disturbing influence on relations with the West.” With the Muslim Brotherhood’s establishment during British occupation, Banna had to manage his relations with Egypt’s colonial rulers carefully. As the movement formulated its ideological program for an Islamic political and social order that challenged emerging, post-colonial political structures, Egypt’s ruling elites and their foreign sponsors feared that political Islam represented a dangerous departure from post-World War I norms of international relations. However, the Muslim Brotherhood—realizing the need to legitimize itself as a potential actor on the diplomatic stage—internalized modern conceptions of the nation state quite early in its development, formally binding its mission to the realities of the international order. Even as the movement spread

beyond Egypt’s borders, local branches in surrounding Arab states were quick to distance themselves from the mother movement and demonstrate a commitment to pursuing their activism within the boundaries of the nation state. By the 1950s, Cold War tensions ensured that U.S. officials would not pass up the opportunity to make inroads with a movement that offered strong internal critiques of communism. In advance of a 1953 trip by Muslim scholars to an academic conference at Princeton Uni-

“Diplomacy in the 21st century faces both challenges and opportunities. Rising nationalism in some core countries and the threat it poses to international cooperation intersects with the advance of science and technology, both of which have opened new paths for human development. Scientific discoveries offer new opportunities for humanity – from improved human health to the mitigation and, hopefully, reversal of climate change. In these exciting times, what a thrill it is to be able to contribute to the training of future Emirati diplomats.” Murhaf Jouejati, Ph.D. (MAAS ‘86) Professor of International Relations at Emirates Diplomatic Academy, UAE; Previous advisor to the European Commission Delegation to Syria, to the Syrian delegation during the Syria-Israel peace talks, and to the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. “When we think about diplomacy, it’s usually in the context of bilateral or multilateral relations focused on a long-term goal. In my world of consular affairs, diplomacy is hands-on and immediate, and essential to our mission of protecting the lives and interests of U.S. citizens abroad. It’s about urging foreign prison authorities to provide medical treatment to a sick U.S. citizen imprisoned abroad. It’s about developing contacts who can assist an American victim of domestic violence in finding shelter until she can travel safely to the U.S. It’s as basic as getting local immigration authorities to waive steep fines so that we can send a destitute American citizen with mental illness back to the U.S. for treatment. This form of diplomacy is as important as any other kind—especially to those U.S. citizens we help through some of the darkest periods of their lives.” Michelle Bernier-Toth (MAAS ‘85) Managing Director for Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State; Past FSO posts in Syria, Qatar, and UAE

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


By Mohammed Imad Mahhouk This work by Mahhouk is based on a well-known line by Tunisian poet Abul-Qasim Al-Shabbi: “Should the people one day truly aspire to life, then fate must answer their call.” Mahhouk says this verse became a source of great hope with the start of the Arab uprisings. Through the shapes and colors of this piece, he has tried to capture that hope—a hope he believes can overcome any oppression.

versity, the director of the U.S. Information Agency advocated for a meeting between President Dwight Eisenhower and Saeed Ramadan, a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure, arguing that the influence of key figures like Ramadan could be greater than that of their countries’ political leaders. This high-profile encounter notwithstanding, there is little evidence to support the conclusion espoused by some that the Muslim Brotherhood was enlisted as a Cold War ally of the U.S. Subsequent contacts usually broke down over continued U.S. support for the British presence in Egypt and its recognition of the recently established state of Israel at the expense of Palestinian rights.

Islamists and the Politics of Power

Decades later, U.S. Cold War policy in the Middle East had been firmly implanted in support of secular authoritarian rulers or conservative monarchs, leaving little need for engagement with the Islamist opposition, much of which had been ruthlessly repressed. When Sudanese President Jafaar Nimeiri came to power through a military coup in 1969, his unpopularity caused him to seek out new forms of legitimacy, leading to a shaky alliance with the National Islamic Front and its leader, Hasan al-Turabi. Nimeiri appointed Turabi as his Attorney General and approved the implementation of sharia legal statutes, before abruptly dismissing Turabi and sidelining the Islamists to ease his international isolation. Following a 1985 visit by Vice President George H.W. Bush, during which Bush criticized Nimeiri’s alliance with Sudanese Islamists, Nimeiri imprisoned Turabi. However, with his domestic alliances exhausted, Nimeiri himself was “An important part of the work we do at the Commercial Office is to identify business opportunities for Spanish SMEs [small and medium enterprises] through market research. The qualitative research skills I gained while conducting my MA thesis at MAAS couldn’t be more useful in a context where official data is way too optimistic and industry players are not always willing to share information. Gaining trust with informants and observing changes in people’s daily lives are essential for elaborating more nuanced reports and helping our companies make informed decisions.” Mercedes Fernandez-Gomez (MAAS ‘12) Deputy Head of Promotion Department, Economic & Commercial Office for the Embassy of Spain in the United Arab Emirates


overthrown by a coup just weeks later while he was in Washington seeking economic aid. That experience proved valuable to Turabi, who understood that the domestic political success of Islamist parties was dependent, in part, on defusing American pressure. After he came to power as the ideological force behind the 1989 military coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, Turabi traveled to the U.S. for a charm offensive. During his 1992 visit, Turabi met with the editorial boards of major newspapers, conducted roundtable discussions with policy think tanks, and testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress. While acknowledging that Islamists viewed the West as a challenge to overcome, particularly in light of the colonial legacy, Turabi noted to his congressional hosts that Islamists admired many ostensibly Western values that have roots in the Islamic tradition, including “the value of participatory, free, consultative government, the value of dignity for the individual, [and] the value of free enterprise.” In several monarchical states where Islamist parties represent a significant political force, the tendency has been for the state to shield them from any role in international diplomacy. While parties like the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, Hadas in Kuwait, and alMinbar in Bahrain have enjoyed some electoral success, their influence has tended to be in the realm of social policy, Islamic affairs, or education. More recently, the success of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Morocco has meant that an Islamist party was tasked with forming a government for the first time under a Moroccan king. “In the northern region of Cameroon, not far away from the Nigerian border, there is a refugee camp run by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for people fleeing from Boko Haram. When Turkey delivered humanitarian aid to this camp, as a diplomat working in the country, I was among the Turkish delegation visiting that region. While I knew the aid provided could not be sufficient to meet their needs, it was marvelous to witness how small contributions were important to these refugees. This experience convinced me that this aspect of diplomacy can often be more important than traditional ‘highlevel diplomacy.’” Mustafa Enes Esen (MAAS ’14) Former Turkish Diplomat and Deputy Head of Mission at the Turkish Embassy in Cameroon

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

By Maher Housn “Peace” from his collection “Drawing with Letters”

Nevertheless, the foreign ministry has been largely staffed by career diplomats rather than PJD figures, partially owing to the continuing suspicion of Islamist political figures among Western policymakers. When Hamas leaders contested the 2006 Palestinian elections, thereby recognizing the political structures put in place by the Oslo Peace Accords, the movement’s ensuing victory thrust it onto an international stage for which it was wholly unprepared. In attempting to endure Israel’s debilitating blockade of Gaza, Hamas has since had to develop its ability to navigate the difficult terrain of international diplomacy, particularly as a movement that is labeled a terrorist organization in most western capitals. It has repeatedly attempted to forge a unity government with its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, but those efforts collapsed under the weight of successive Israeli military campaigns in Gaza, as well as from the role other regional powers (particularly Egypt) have played in maintaining a divided Palestinian polity.

Islamist Diplomacy and the Arab Uprisings

If the post-Cold War era was marked by Islamists becoming increasingly engaged in the political processes of their respective states, and thereby in need of a far more developed approach to the question of international diplomacy, the Arab uprisings that began in late 2010 would ramp up the stakes considerably. The prospect of a post-authoritarian political order presented Islamist parties with an opportunity to chart a new course for their countries rooted in democratic legitimacy. They soon discovered, however, the significance of approval from Western governments with longstanding influence over the political and economic affairs of Arab states. Islamist party leaders went to great lengths to establish their democratic credentials in the eyes of U.S. and European policymakers. With his party poised to play a leading role in Tunisia’s transition, Ennahda’s Rachid al-Ghannouchi met with senior Obama administration officials and congressional leaders in 2011. In public appearances and media interviews, Ghannouchi underscored Ennahda’s commitment to supporting democratic pluralism, protecting the rights of women and minorities, and preserving religious freedom, as well as his intention to maintain foreign policy aims similar to those of the previous regime. In Egypt, Morsi’s government offered similar assurances to U.S. officials, pledging to observe the terms of Egypt’s international treaty obligations, including the peace agreement with Israel, despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s historical opposition to the Camp David Accords. The Syrian and Libyan branches of the Muslim Brotherhood aimed to position themselves as potential partners in the rebuilding of their countries following the fall of their respective dictatorships. In the civil conflicts that followed, the movements quickly lost ground, overtaken by the violent confrontations between militant groups and a revived authoritarianism. Yemen’s Islah Party was also expected to play a key role in the post-Saleh transition, as one of its leading public figures Tawakkol Karman promoted the interests of Yemen’s revolution globally after she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. But since the 2015 military intervention by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Islah’s role has gradually diminished. Perhaps the best example of the failure of Islamist diplomacy is the success of Arab counterrevolutions led primarily by the Saudi and Emirati governments, which — with U.S. backing — extinguished hopes for representative rule and banished Islamist movements from

“Diplomacy is a means to achieve multi-faceted goals that shape the national interest of your country. National interests, however, vary with the times, so you have to believe that you are taking the best possible option according to your own knowledge and experience. In my work as a political and economic analyst focused on the MENA region, and also during my prior experiences with the Japanese Embassy and the UN, I’ve always felt thankful to MAAS. I not only gained extensive academic knowledge about the region, but am also now connected to a vast network of MAAS alumni occupying important positions in different sectors in the Middle East.” Shinji Hirose (MAAS ’06) Senior Analyst at Sumitomo Corporation Global Research, Tokyo; Past positions at the Embassy of Japan in Yemen and the UNDP in Jerusalem

civic and political life in unprecedented ways. Most Islamist groups now exist underground or in exile, with limited ability to build upon their legacy of advocating on behalf of their societies in diplomatic circles. The 2013 military coup in Egypt exemplifies the obstacles to confronting international support for resurgent authoritarianism in the Arab region. While testifying before the Senate earlier that year, Kerry affirmed that U.S. interests ultimately lay with the military, irrespective of the nascent democratic transition. Referring to the billions of dollars in annual aid that the U.S. had given to Egypt’s military since 1979, Kerry called it “the best investment America has made for years in that region.” 

Dr. Abdullah Al-Arian is an associate professor of History at Georgetown University in Qatar. During the fall semester, he will be teaching “Islamic Movements” and “History of the Arab World in the Twentieth Century” at CCAS. The article printed here is a shortened version of Dr. AlArian’s original article, which can be found at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/ resources/publications/ccas-newsmagazine

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Rachel Gandin Mark traveling in Mexico City on an American Film Showcase diplomacy program

Diplomacy and the Art of Storytelling

This MAAS grad’s work at the intersection of diplomacy and cinematic arts is shaping American narratives and empowering storytellers around the globe.


By Isabel Roemer

“The education I received and the experiences I had in the MAAS program prepared me for a career in diplomacy by enabling me to explore a wide range of issues directly related to U.S. foreign policy. While I never formally studied diplomacy in MAAS, the unique perspectives I encountered in the program strengthened my critical thinking and provided me with the skills needed to think creatively about the most pressing foreign policy challenges we face in the Middle East and North Africa.” Andrew Masloski (MAAS ‘06) Syria Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State; Past positions with Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; and Office of Assistance Coordination

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Rachel Gandin Mark

hen people think about the tools of diplomatic engagement, narrative storytelling is not one that usually comes to mind. But for Rachel Gandin Mark, Program Director of the American Film Showcase—the State Department’s film, television, and digital diplomacy program—the two go hand-in-hand. “I love thinking about how to incorporate entertainment, particularly story and character, into specific foreign policy strategies,” says Gandin Mark, who graduated from MAAS in 2003. “Some of our country’s biggest diplomatic challenges today stem from conflicting global narratives. Film and TV, when produced with authenticity and nuance, have the potential to complicate narratives and reveal a shared human experience.” The American Film Showcase, based at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and sponsored by a grant from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, works with around 50 American embassies each year to develop their film, TV, and digital storytelling programming. “The broad goals of the program,” says Gandin Mark, “are to present a more nuanced view of the U.S. though American documentaries and indie film, and to empower local content creators with tools to tell their own stories.” In addition to the American Film Showcase, Gandin Mark oversees the Middle East Media Initiative (MEMI), a two-year profes-

sional exchange program for media professionals in the Middle East. “Recognizing that TV serves as a major influence in entertaining and informing audiences in the Arab world, MEMI supports and trains the current generation of Arab TV screenwriters and content creators in telling local stories that are first and foremost entertaining, and can spark important conversations in society,” says Gandin Mark. It does this by providing TV-writing workshops and shadowing and mentoring opportunities with American writers, producers, and media executives. Though she is now a seasoned member of the Hollywood film community, having worked for prominent organizations such as the Sundance Institute and 20th Century Fox, some of Gandin Mark’s first experiences in film date back to her time as a MAAS student. While at CCAS, she interned at the D.C.-based Arabian Sights Film Festival, learning about film distribution and curation. Gandin Mark’s motivation for entering the industry was closely tied to what she saw as misrepresentation of Arabs in the United States. She recalls, “I studied abroad for a year in Egypt and returned frustrated that my experience was so different than what my non-Arab friends and family had assumed it was. I thought, perhaps naively, that Americans just needed to see everyday life in the Arab world on screen and their opinions would change.” Gandin Mark has worked to correct this image in various ways. She expanded San Francisco’s Arab Film Festival to Los Angeles and served as a consultant to select screenplays when the Sundance Institute ran a Screenwriter’s Lab in Jordan with the Royal Film Commission. “During those years I had built so many relationships with Arab filmmakers that when Disney was expanding into local language production in the region, I was able to make a strong case for hiring me as a film producer,” Gandin Mark says. After producing Disney’s only Arabic language feature film, The United, she was hired to direct the American Film Showcase. Although Gandin Mark has built a unique career bridging the spheres of diplomacy and cinematic arts, she points out that Hollywood’s important role in U.S. public diplomacy continued on page 21

Mobilizing Memories

Carol Madison Graham (MAAS ’81) was the first MAAS graduate to enter the United States Foreign Service. She reflects on how the 1984 embassy bombing in Beirut inspired her current work to strengthen the Foreign Service for future generations. by Carol Madison Graham

Carol Madison Graham


he morning of the bombing began with a disagreement. It was September 20, 1984, and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut had recently split its operations between east and west Beirut. As the Assistant Public Affairs Officer, I had staff and offices on both sides of town, but the ambassador preferred for American officers to remain in the eastern annex as much as possible for security reasons. I had worked in the annex for two weeks and knew I could no longer neglect my west Beirut staff or the press corps and planned to go to the western office that day. As I came across the ambassador on my way out, he tried to convince me not to go to west Beirut, but I was determined to see my staff and headed out anyway. I had been in the west Beirut office about two and half hours when we heard a distant explosion to the east. I did not know at the time that the Embassy annex had been hit but left immediately. Thirty minutes later, my driver and I arrived at the scene. I jumped out of the car and then froze, staring at the mostly collapsed building in the street. A colleague with blood-stained clothes walked past and said, “They did it again,” referring to the attack on our embassy the previous year. When I looked up and saw the news cameras, I remembered that my boss was out of the country, making me the embassy spokesperson. I walked through the rubble and around soldiers and medical crews carrying out bodies, and went to work speaking to the reporters. A few days later when things had calmed down I was sent out permanently without being able to see or even speak to the staff on either side of the city. Although it was cut short, my 1983-1984 assignment in Beirut is the one that stands out in my memory and is the only one I kept records of—I have a trunk in my attic filled with mementos, diaries, photos, letters, news articles, and a helmet given to me by Marine Company B. Not only were those the years of the attacks on the Embassy and U.S. marine barracks, but it was also during that time that American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr, whose books I had read at Georgetown, was assassinated. I have never known work exhaustion equal to that which my colleagues and I at the embassy experienced. As press officers, my boss Jon Stewart and I were on constant call with the enormous international press corps covering the war. I also worked on educational exchanges with lo-

Left: Carol with Ron Packowitz, head of American Citizen Services in London, at the 2018 launch of 1-800Home; Below: Carol on her last day in Beirut in 1984 with an embassy colleague

cal universities. The war created logistical nightmares and made routine tasks indescribably difficult, yet we had the same deadlines as other embassies. Our stellar and dedicated Lebanese colleagues at the Embassy were an inspiration. We were a family, and we all endured the stress of working under constant threat. Other assignments also offered their share of interesting experiences. I was in Tunis when the PLO moved their headquarters there from Lebanon and I had the opportunity to meet then-Vice President Bush. In Paris, I had lunch with Toni Morrison and met Tour de France champion Greg Lemond. I found that coming from the Arab world gave me a different perspective on Parisian life than most of my embassy colleagues. For example, after living in Beirut, I considered the French reasonable drivers and relatively light smokers. In the United Arab Emirates, I was the only female diplomat in the country, a situation which had its issues. For example, I was disinvited from a men’s graduation after making the long desert journey to the University of Al Ain. They had forgotten I was a woman—again. Dr. Michael Hudson, Director of CCAS in the 1980s, showed up at all my posts, including Beirut. It was always a pleasure to see him and thank him for the wonderful preparation I received as a MAAS student.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT I left the Foreign Service when I married my British husband and moved to London, where I enjoyed a new career in international education, including running the Fulbright program. I ceased to think about the State Department as an organization until the 2016 election and Rex Tillerson’s appointment as Secretary of State. Morale at the State Department plummeted during Tillerson’s tenure due to his support for budget cuts of 30 percent, the demotion and firing of senior career diplomats, attempts to cancel officer classes, his isolation from his own employees, and many other actions that were destructive to the Department. Professionals in military and international affairs organized to defend the State Department, and two senators founded a bipartisan Foreign Service Caucus, but officer resignations and reports of unfilled senior positions continued to accelerate. I found myself opening the trunk in my attic and getting angry as I thought of officers who were putting themselves in harm’s way having to fear for their careers. I thought particularly about consuls whose principal job is caring for Americans abroad and protecting the country by vetting travelers to the United States. If numbers were to be drastically cut, there was no question that Americans at home and abroad would be less safe.

“I have seen firsthand the negative consequences of failed diplomacy, as well as the positive results when diplomacy succeeds. A failure of diplomacy—at its most extreme— can lead to the deaths and suffering of millions of people. When diplomacy works, we are all better because of it. One of my greatest joys as a diplomat is seeing how my work affects individual human beings—whether it’s through providing assistance to Americans in trouble overseas, helping students study in the United States, reuniting families through the visa process, or hearing personal stories from those impacted by our conflict resolution efforts.” Vanessa de Bruyn (MAAS ‘10) Yemen Desk Officer for the U.S. Department of State; Past FSO posts in Yemen and Portugal “Diplomacy to me is the art of representing your country and its national interests, which at times are at odds with the host country in which you are living, all the while maintaining positive, friendly relations with the host country based on mutual respect and respect for the other’s honor and dignity. It’s about finding the middle ground and generally wanting what’s best for both sides because of the belief that collaboration on the world stage is in the best interest of all countries.” Tina Kareema Dauod-Akguc (MAAS ’05) Public Diplomacy Desk Officer for Western Europe, U.S. Department of State; Past FSO posts in Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Former Citizen Ambassador to Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy

It appeared to me that the only people not protesting the possibly permanent damage to the State Department were those with the most to lose—the American people, who are increasingly traveling, working, and studying abroad. I decided to found an organization called 1-800Home to encourage Americans to value our diplomats and to speak up for a strong career Foreign Service. Like the career Foreign Service itself, 1-800Home is non-partisan—between myself and the other founders, we include a Democrat, a Republican, and an independent. We are not concerned with evaluating policy but, rather, with ensuring that the Foreign Service has the secure funding and strong staffing needed to implement U.S. policy. We also focus on highlighting the consular mission of helping Americans abroad. We launched in January 2018 with a reception honoring Ron Packowitz, then Head of American Citizen Services in London. He was surprised that a group wished to honor consuls, whereas we could not believe we had waited so long to do so. Another part of our mission is to provide information to students abroad considering careers in the Foreign Service. To this end, we organize panels on Foreign Service careers featuring officers at the U.S. Embassy in both London and Scotland. These have been well received by study abroad students and directors and by universities. Finally, 1-800Home is there to remind members of Congress that they have constituents abroad who depend on embassy services and assistance in case of emergency. After many years, the Foreign Service is now back in my life. When I joined the service in 1981, my ambition was to have a long and interesting diplomatic career. My current ambition is to help others do so. 

Carol Madison Graham graduated from MAAS in 1981 and worked for six years in five countries as a Foreign Service Officer. She is currently working in London and writing a memoir about her time in Beirut and chairing 1-800Home. Learn more at www.1-800Home.org.

“When we think about diplomacy, we often think of an ambassador giving a speech or negotiating a high-level deal, an embassy hosting a VIP event, or an expeditionary diplomat shaking hands with locals out in the field. Certainly, these are and will continue to be important tools in our diplomatic toolkit. However, much of the footwork of diplomacy and foreign policy is accomplished behind the scenes. Whether it is writing the ambassador’s speech, crafting the terms of a negotiation, line-editing a budget, or redesigning an assistance program that will deeply impact the citizens of a specific country, many of the skills you need to be successful in a career in diplomacy are the same ones— such as reading critically and writing thoughtfully—that you refine as a student at CCAS.” Leslie A. Thompson (MAAS ‘08) Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State Office of Assistance Coordination (Syria); Prior work at the U.S. Institute of Peace and as a political analyst in Abu Dhabi.

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Serving Citizens Abroad in Times of War For MAAS alum Julie Eadeh, diplomacy is all about human relationships, whether building connections with local communities or helping Americans abroad in times of crisis. By Julie A. Eadeh


career that has taken me to Jerusalem, Riyadh, Beirut, Baghdad, Taipei, Shanghai, Doha, and Hong Kong, one of the highlights remains working alongside colleagues to successfully evacuate 15,000 Americans during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. The conflict broke out only weeks after I arrived as the Chief of the American Citizens Services section in our embassy in Beirut. American citizens in Lebanon were trapped and desperate following Israeli strikes, which rendered Beirut International Airport inoperable and destroyed major roads out of the country. As the conflict began, foreign communities sought to leave as quickly as they could. Tensions rose swiftly and led to a scenario that any embassy recognizes as a remote possibility but rarely confronts: the mass evacuation of American citizens. Many citizens of other Arab countries left overland by bus through Syria, but the largest foreign communities—those of France, the United States, and Canada—looked immediately to their embassies for assistance. Two days after Hezbollah’s raid into Israel and one day after the Israeli response, the Department of State and the Department of Defense began preparations to evacuate American citizens from Lebanon, setting the stage for what came to be the largest overseas evacuation of American citizens since the Second World War. Working alongside the two Marine platoons assigned to Lebanon was a tremendous honor. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit was the same unit that had suffered a tragic attack against the Marine barracks in Lebanon on October 3, 1983. The Marines were consummate professionals and their courage and expertise in their first return to Lebanon since 1983 were the lynchpin for the operation’s overall success.

Julie A. Eadeh

n a diplomatic

“Though the nature and shape of U.S. diplomacy is ever-changing, one thing that remains constant is the need of policymakers for intelligence support. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) sits at the nexus of foreign policy and intelligence, providing value-added, independent analysis to policymakers. The MAAS program was critical to my preparation for a career in INR, where my team and I are empowered to give our unvarnished assessments of political and social trends in the Near East and South Asia grounded in deep regional expertise, foreign-language proficiency, and analytic objectivity.” Rachid Chaker (MAAS ’06) Near East-South Asia Division Chief, Office of Opinion Research, Bureau of Intelligence and Research

The strength of the Lebanese local employees of the U.S. Embassy—including some who survived the embassy bombing in 1983—as they stood alongside their American colleagues to help Americans in distress, even as their own country was being bombarded, speaks to the resilience and courage of the human spirit. But the Lebanon example is just one of many. The most rewarding aspect of a career in diplomacy has been developing relationships with locals and foreign officials to address challenges on political and policy levels, as well as on the more fundamental, and perhaps more important, human level. In nearly two decades as a diplomat, I have learned that relationships transcend time and place, and all peoples share universal hopes and concerns. Most importantly, I have learned that diplomacy is the art of turning contacts into friends and friends into partners as we work together to solve common challenges, contribute to global development, and work towards achieving shared goals. 

Julie A. Eadeh is a Political Counselor at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. She graduated from MAAS in 2002. “My two years in the MAAS program provided a strong foundation in Arabic language and regional politics and economics for a long career in the U.S. Foreign Service that has taken me to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Iraq, and Egypt. I fondly remember my time in the program and professors, colleagues, and friends, many of whom I frequently encounter in important roles throughout the Middle East.” Tom Goldberger (MAAS ‘84) Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Cairo; Past FSO posts in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, Israel, and Iraq “Working as a diplomat has taught me that the most important element in any relationship, whether professional, bilateral, or even with a visa applicant, is empathy. Empathy allows us to better grasp another party’s actions and motivations, and also represent our position in an easily understandable way.” Anela Malik (MAAS ’16) Vice Consul, U.S. Embassy Amman

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Reflections from Singapore

many training and networking opportunities available in Washington. What I learned in class, as well as what was happening inside the beltway during that period of time, gave me invaluable academic and policy grounding. After graduating from Georgetown University, I spent four years at Ambassador ONG Keng Yong, who graduated the Embassy of Singapore in Saudi Arabia. The Arabic competency from MAAS in 1983, remembers his time in I acquired at MAAS was very useful, though the colloquial versions Washington and sheds light on Singapore’s “price used in the streets of the Arab world were a struggle. My classes on the history of the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian taker” approach to foreign policy. conflict and developments in Islam, helped me survive grilling by By Ambassador ONG Keng Yong Saudi officials, Arab diplomats, and the late Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz, who questioned me on Singapore’s policy towards Muslims. Singapore’s foreign policy continues to be shaped by the views of the n 1981, as a junior diplomat from Singapore, I was awarded a country’s founding fathers, who basically took the world as it is. We are scholarship to pursue a full-time master’s degree in Arab studies. a “price taker” nation, as Singapore is too small—about 90 percent the Having been admitted to the University of geographic size of New York City—to dicPennsylvania’s program, my wife and I were tate terms to others. We make friends and all set to spend two years in Philadelphia. seek to be useful to all, avoid taking sides, When our Ambassador in Washington D.C. and focus on problem-solving and the fulearned of my plan, however, he persuaded ture. As inter-state issues are complex and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore time-consuming, we learn to accept that to send me instead to Georgetown’s CCAS. certain issues cannot be resolved neatly or He said there’s no better place on earth than quickly, and that the best approach is to Washington D.C. for a budding diplomat manage a win-win rather than a zero-sum from a developing Asian country! game. This means looking for like-minded I spent an extraordinary two years at countries and cooperating with each other CCAS. It was a hard grind, struggling every to get things done. day to learn Arabic and coping with the theoIn practical terms, for global and regionries of international relations and political sci- Ambassador ONG Keng Yong speaking with al issues we act on the basis of principle, ence. In between, though, I visited the august diplomats based in Singapore cooperate on the mutuality of interests, and halls of the U.S. Congress and other universithink in a strategic way. For a small country ties in the Washington area to hear famous political leaders and schol- like Singapore, the rule of law and a rules-based regime are essential ars seeking to change policies and the lives of their constituents. for survival in global affairs. Increasingly, foreign policy and domestic The Ambassador had been correct: No place on earth can beat policy are not regarded as separate but as two parts of a complementary the capital of the United States in terms of its combination of altru- agenda. Citizens no longer see foreign affairs as “foreign” and want their istic, diplomatic, intellectual, multicultural, and political pursuits. own ideas to be advanced, while policy makers must synergize resources Singapore’s diplomatic service is a small corps of professionals who and opportunities, and apply the most suitable option. are expected to multi-task and cover a wide range of subjects and My life, and that of my wife, changed much after joining the Arab vast geographies. A diplomat on study leave must also maximize Studies program at CCAS. Since that first posting in Saudi Arabia, his or her time in academia, which I was able to do through the our collection of camel artifacts and paintings has continued to grow and bring us joy—as well as headaches as we move around the world. My knowledge of the Arab world has continued to open doors to “CCAS uniquely prepared me for a diplomatic official contacts and to connect me with fellow travelers through the career in the Middle East, providing an underlabyrinth that is Middle East politics and society today.  standing of the political context, economic


development, and social issues that affect U.S. foreign policy interests. More broadly, over my 20 years of work in the Middle East, the vast network of CCAS and other Georgetown graduates across the Arab world has opened doors again and again.”

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ONG Keng Yong

Susannah Cooper (MAAS ’97) Director of the Office of Monetary Affairs, Economic and Business Affairs Bureau, U.S. Department of State; Past FSO posts in Jamaica, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and UAE

Ambassador ONG Keng Yong entered the Singapore diplomatic service in 1979 and has been posted to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the U.S., India, and Nepal. For five years, he was Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), headquartered in Indonesia. He is Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Concurrently, he serves as Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Singapore’s non-resident Ambassador to Pakistan and Iran. He graduated from MAAS in 1983.


New Law Hinders Public Diplomacy and Penalizes Palestinian Students

Last fall, Congress enacted a law that indirectly led to 29 young Arab leaders losing their scholarships to U.S.-accredited universities and dealt another blow to educational and cultural-exchange programming, a critical part of U.S. public diplomacy efforts. By Kaylee Steck and Mohammed Alhammami

Heba Al-Sa’idi


ith a mandate to build mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and of other countries, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is the public diplomacy wing of the U.S. Department of State. One of the major ways ECA fulfills its mission is by sponsoring educational exchange programs that bring foreign nationals to the United States or, in the case of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Scholarship Program, provide the opportunity for them to attend American schools abroad. Tomorrow’s Leaders (TL) provides four-year scholarships to highly capable high school seniors in the Middle East and North Africa to the American University of Beirut (AUB) and to the Lebanese American University (LAU)— both American-accredited institutions. For students in the Middle East and North Africa, attending an American school in the region promises access to an American education and exposure to American culture without the cost of living in the United States. Since its inception ten years ago, the State Department has awarded 388 TL scholarships to students across the region. However, the Department of State recently terminated the program for Palestinian students, following the Palestinian Authority’s decision to relinquish all U.S. government aid mentioned in the AntiTerrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which came into effect on February 1, 2019. This means that all twenty-nine Palestinian students currently studying through TL scholarships will lose their funding at the end of the academic year. Some of the affected students expressed their frustration on social media and online news outlets. Tala Shurrab, a psychology major at LAU, posted her reaction publicly on her social media accounts: “You know what’s sad? We felt privileged that we left a conflict zone for a better future; we left to pursue that in a country where there is no war against our education as Palestinians.”

Heba Al-Sa’idi, another Palestinian TL participant, said that she felt hopeless after learning that her scholarship had been terminated. “What am I going to do? Will the three years of studying go to waste?,” asked Al-Sa’idi. “We are mere students who are trying to advance in life by acquiring high quality education. They did not have to make us victims of politics that we did not want to be part of. All we want is an education.”

Tomorrow’s Leaders participants, program staff, and other international students gather at Lebanese American University for Global Day 2017. Heba Al-Sa’idi is the first person to the right on the front row.

What Happened? The 2018 Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act

On October 3, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which reinforces the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992 (ATA). These acts allow U.S. victims of

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


By Mohammad Imad Mahhouk In creating this calligraphy, Mahhouk hopes to motivate people to take action and be a voice for change, rather than simply following blindly. He isolates the word kun (“Be”) to grab readers’ attention, asking them to look clearly at the question: Will they be an echo or will they be a voice? By creating a mirror image with the two concepts, Imad is trying to put them in conflict and force a choice on the reader.

international terrorism to seek justice in U.S. courts. In 2015, U.S. victims of terrorist attacks in Israel during the Second Intifada pursued ATA claims against both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). However, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York dismissed the case, saying that the court system had no jurisdiction over the PA or the PLO. In response, ATCA brings foreign organizations that accept certain forms of U.S. foreign assistance under American jurisdiction, and thus potentially exposes them to terrorism-related litigation in U.S. federal courts. A press release from ATCA’s principal author, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), states, “no one benefiting from a U.S. program, such as foreign assistance, or maintaining a presence in the United States should be able to simultaneously dodge responsibility in U.S. courts for involvement in terrorist attacks that harm Americans.”

The Government of Palestine Responds to ATCA

The 2015 case against the PLO and PA that was dismissed provided for $655.5 million in damages, which is more than ten percent of the PA’s current annual budget. While the case was dropped and no payment was made, the PA decided to reject all U.S. aid mentioned in ATCA, which includes the funding to the TL scholarship program, in order to avoid the possibility of costly legal retribution in the future. In December, former PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renounced U.S. aid in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “The Government of Palestine respectfully informs the United States Government that, as of January 31st, 2019, it fully disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance referenced in ATCA.” “I like to think of every posting abroad as being at least partly a public diplomacy assignment, even if you’re assigned to another section, because as diplomats we are constantly representing America abroad. As a consular officer conducting visa interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, I met over 20,000 Jordanians for at least a few minutes each. A good number of our visa applicants went home empty-handed, but I always tried to do my utmost to make sure the interview was a professional yet humanizing experience for the applicant, and one that left them with more respect for America.” Paul Wulfsberg (MAAS ’07) Spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy Algiers; Past FSO posts in Cyprus and Jordan

The Prime Minister’s decision follows an alarming trend of U.S. spending cuts in aid for health care and education to the Palestinians. Last year alone, the Trump administration cut hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to Palestine, including funding for the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees. In January 2019, the Trump administration blocked an emergency effort to complete U.S.-funded infrastructure projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After the aid cuts, the only substantial form of direct aid still in place was a security assistance program overseen by the U.S. Security Coordinator. Palestinian leadership determined that the remaining amount of U.S. assistance was not worth the potential liability of accepting it.

Implications for Public Diplomacy

For students from the West Bank and Gaza, pursuing higher education might involve crossing multiple checkpoints on a daily basis just to reach a local university. Attending a university abroad is a way to escape everyday struggles, including such severe restrictions on movement. LAU and AUB are already working to find a solution for Tomorrow’s Leaders students from Palestine. In a statement issued after the suspension of assistance, AUB said it will “secure the $1.2 million in funds necessary to ensure that they can complete their courses up to graduation.” Soon after, LAU announced that it was also able to secure the resources needed for the affected students to continue their studies until graduation. American aid does not solely determine the future of these students or that of the Palestinian people. Perhaps the PA’s rejection of U.S. assistance will be the first continued on page 21

16 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Her Excellency Hunaina Al Mughairy Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman & Member of the CCAS Board of Advisors By Isabel Roemer


Excellency Hunaina Sultan Al Mughairy has served as the Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States since 2005. In this role, she has applied her extensive expertise in business and diplomacy to advocate for free trade between the U.S. and Oman. As the first Arab woman appointed to serve as ambassador to the U.S., Her Excellency also strives to dispel misconceptions of Arab women. Prior to this position, Ambassador Al Mughairy worked for the Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations, the Omani Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Omani Center for Investment Promotion and Export Development. She also serves on the CCAS Board of Advisors and as Chair of the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., an organization that focuses on building bridges between the American and Omani peoples. er

Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman

What experiences in your life have best prepared you for your role as Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States?

I am an economist by profession and previously worked in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. My husband is the career diplomat, so I’ve traveled all over the world with him. When my husband was posted as Oman’s Ambassador to the United Nations in 1998, I decided to retire from the government and join him in New York, where I was offered the job of setting up the Center for Investment Promotion and Export Development. In that position, I was part of a team negotiating the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. I was routinely flying to Washington for negotiations, and that led the government and His Majesty Sultan Qa-

boos to decide to formally send me to Washington as Oman’s Ambassador. It was a great honor for me because I was the first Arab woman to be appointed as Ambassador to this country. What are the values and goals that guide Oman’s foreign policy?

Oman’s foreign policy is based on four main principles. First: the development and maintenance of good relations with all our neighbors. Second: an internationalist outlook, in keeping with Oman’s geographic location and longstanding maritime traditions. We are pleased to enjoy excellent cooperative relations with a wide range of states in the West, Asia, India, and elsewhere. Third: a pragmatic approach to bilateral relations, emphasizing geostrategic realities rather than temporary ideological positions, and resisting the temptation to allow ideology and passing events to determine policy. Fourth: a commitment to the search for security and stability through cooperation, dialogue, and peace. What do you consider to be the greatest challenges of diplomacy in the 21st century?

The speed of communication in the digital age is keeping everyone on their toes. The ability to communicate quickly between members of your own team is always a good thing. But we can never forget that our adversaries are also communicating at a fast speed and this can ramp up pressure to make decisions and get strategies in place quickly. Globalization and the pace of technology create challenges for everyone. Diplomats today are presented with problems that come from many different areas and specialties. The international community is no longer negotiating on just diplomatic matters. To-

day, every aspect of life is being negotiated between nation states, including the environment, education, law, science, and technology. This requires diplomats to have a broad understanding of different disciplines. What special challenges are faced by women in diplomacy and what has been your approach to confronting them?

Middle Eastern countries have women Ambassadors all over the world. I was just lucky to be the first Arab woman Ambassador in the U.S. I need to prove that I am as good as any Ambassador. When I go to meet with Congress, they often assume I will be a man. They are pleasantly surprised. I’m enjoying every moment of it. As the first Arab woman Ambassador in Washington, one of my main objectives was to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes in the United States about Omani women in particular, and Arab women in general. That’s a great responsibility and can be challenging at times. What is your advice for young people considering a career in diplomacy?

Diplomatic service offers challenging and exciting opportunities. I would advise young people to be ambitious and set their goals clearly and believe that they can accomplish anything they wish. Believing you can is the most critical point in fulfilling your dreams and aspirations. One of the basic things to prepare for a career in diplomacy is to read on a regular basis, which will expose you to global events and cultural differences. Knowledge about other nations’ histories and cultural values is crucial. A diplomat should have the ability to communicate with others in a respectful and tactful way that respects cultural, social, academic, and economic differences. 

Isabel Roemer is the CCAS Multimedia & Publications Assistant. She is studying Health Care Management & Policy at Georgetown.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Spring Event Highlights By Grant Marthinsen


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies hosted a diverse lineup of public events this semester, featuring 39 speakers coming from across the United States and from countries around the Arab world, including Qatar, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Yemen, and Lebanon. Many of these events touched on themes reflective of the Center’s commitment to building understanding between people, cultures, and governments—themes that are also discussed throughout this issue. he

On January 24th, Dr. Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, gave a talk on current trends in the Middle East entitled “The Arab World Between Democratization and Rebellion.” He began by discussing the economic hardships and incessant brutality that have long afflicted the Arab world and that led to the 2010-2011 uprisings. He posited that the same forces of hardship and repression will push the Arab peoples to again revolt against brutal authoritarianism, and that the next wave of revolutions will be more radical and more focused than those of several years ago. To address this, Dr. Ghabra stressed the need for constructive engagement in the region, both between Arab regimes and with outside interlocutors. Dr. Curtis Ryan, in his February 22nd talk “Reform, Resistance, and Refugees: Jordan and the Arab Uprisings,” elucidated some of the broad trends discussed by Dr. Ghabra, but within the Jordanian context. Dr. Ryan, a professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University, discussed the ways in which Jordan’s authoritarian monarchy liberalized in order to co-opt the demands of protestors in 2011, but has since managed to walk back these reforms. He also discussed the continuing political activity in the country, which runs the gamut from Islamist activists to new and leftist opposition groups.

Grant Marthinsen is a Master’s Candidate with the Arab Studies program at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. His concentration is in politics, with a focus on the causes and impacts of extremism, among other topics. “Human relationships remain fundamental to diplomacy. No matter how much technology or societies change, there is no substitute for traveling to a foreign country, meeting someone from a different background, and listening to what they have to say with an open mind and an open heart. MAAS laid a foundation of linguistic and critical thinking skills that I rely upon every day to build relationships, explore alternative narratives, and help shape U.S. policy in the Middle East.” Tim Edge (MAAS ‘11) Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Embassy United Arab Emirates “One of the best things that I learned at MAAS was the importance of empathy. Whether you agree with a position or not, understanding the perspective of the other person or entity is extremely important. A large amount of what I do fundamentally comes down to being able to understand my interlocutor’s position and the reasoning behind it, while advocating for the U.S. position. I would be ineffective at my job if I had not developed this skill.” Abel Lomax (MAAS ’11) Economic and Commercial Officer, U.S. Embassy Kosovo; Past FSO post in Riyadh “Having worked in nongovernmental organizations, I see the importance of track-two diplomacy, which can include informal contact with citizens or simply citizen-to-citizen intercultural contact. This type of informal communication helps in confidence-building. An example of this was a forum supported by the embassies of Finland and New Zealand that brought together women of three different faiths from Israel and Palestine to share their stories, something that is not always easy to do with the separation wall.” Mary Neznek (MAAS ’81) Writer, Educator, Trauma and Restorative Justice Specialist

18 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


On March 26th the Center hosted H.E. Lolwah al-Khater, the Spokesperson of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Stepping out of her governmental role, H.E. al-Khater delivered a candid and informative talk, undergirded by her academic expertise and wealth of diplomatic experience, on the role of the media in current events of the Middle East. Her talk examined the ways in which the

media is used to construct and advance different, and often competing, narratives. She challenged attendees to consider the implications of living in a world where the truth is contestable, and how media—and the habits of its consumers—must adapt to the rise of misinformation. 

American Druze Foundation Annual Lecture


n April 13th, CCAS and the American Druze Foundation cohosted the annual ADF lecture. This year’s event, a panel discussion titled “The Future of Druze History: Challenges and Prospects,” explored the major questions that have animated scholarship on the Druze community while enumerating the obstacles that have limited its scope. The panelists—Dr. Graham Pitts, Dr. Makram Rabah, and Dr. Dima Abisaid Suki—highlighted potential avenues for future inquiry based on their research. Dr. Pitts is the 2018-2019 American Druze Foundation Fellow at CCAS and is currently preparing a book manuscript on war and the environment in modern Lebanon. His presentation described the current situation regarding archival access in Lebanon. Dr. Rabah is a lecturer in the Department of History at the American University of Beirut and the author of A Campus at War: Student Politics at the American University of Beirut, 1967-1975. He discussed the generational conversation happening in Lebanon about research on the Druze. Dr. Suki is a professor and director of clinical research operations at the Department of Neurosurgery

Save the Date!

CCAS; Anny Gaul

Making Levantine Cuisine: A Critical Food Studies Symposium June 7-8, 2019 The Levant is home to some of the most storied cuisines in the world, from the refined cuisine of Aleppo to popular street foods like falafel. Yet much of its centuries-old history remains unwritten, and there are few academic studies of its contemporary food cultures. What is Levantine cuisine––historically, gastronomically, and culturally? Can studying the region’s food and foodways help us better define or understand what constitutes “the Levant” or what counts as “Levantine,” and how it came to be? What is entailed in writing the culinary history of a particular place? Join us for a two-day symposium that aims to answer these questions and more by bringing together scholars of history, anthropology, literature, and other disciplines to explore and address the absence of food studies work in contemporary scholarship on the region. In addition to an academic workshop, the symposium will feature a day of public events hosted by the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Galleries including panels on food, identity and migration, perspectives on writing about Levan-

ADF Director Rabih Aridi (far right) and his wife Nada Aridi (center) with (L to R) presenters Dima Abisaid Suki and Graham Pitts, and CCAS Director Rochelle Davis

at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is coauthor of the book Druze in America: The Early Years. Her presentation highlighted the importance of history for the Druze diaspora through her own experience researching and writing on the topic.

“I was in an early group of U.S. State Department Foreign Service Officers who volunteered to serve in Iraq following the start of the war. In January 2004, I was assigned to CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) Dohuk in the heart of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, along with two other American officers. My most significant assignment was to organize an American-style town hall meeting. I invited important Iraqi politicians to be panelists and Dohuk’s leading thinkers, doctors, academics, and journalists to be part of the audience. While my all-male assistants had claimed there were no educated women who could participate in the town hall, I pleasantly discovered the women asked important and hard-hitting questions.” Mary Jane Bushnaq (MAAS ‘82) Retired Foreign Service Officer; Posts included Tunis, Jeddah, Riyadh, Gaza, and Ankara

tine food, and a tasting. The symposium is made possible by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant supporting the National Resource Center-Middle East/North Africa at Georgetown University. More information on upcoming events is available at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/events Miss an event? Check out the CCAS YouTube channel for dozens of videos of past lectures and workshops! www.youtube.com/c/CCASgu

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Exploring Persian History & Culture By Susan Douglass


n Saturday, April 13, 2019, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, together with the Fund for the Future of Our Children, hosted a workshop retreat for 30 educators and their guests at the Farm of Peace in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania. The day-long event was an exploration and celebration of the arts and culture of Iran, including Persian poetry, visual arts, dance, classical music, and modern cinema. Through a donation from the Fund for

2019 Summer Teacher Institute: The Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon August 5th-9th The 2019 Summer Teacher Institute will explore the Enlightenment as a global phenomenon. As many historians have noted, the view of the Enlightenment as a European thought movement is inadequate and ignores the effects of intellectual exchanges beyond Europe. What we call “Enlightenment thought” emerged during the first global era when Europeans were exposed to intellectual stimuli in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This period was characterized by mercantile, as well as scholarly, exchanges that opened Europeans’ horizons on linguistic, philosophical, historical, literary, and religious traditions to which they had not been previously exposed. The institute will feature numerous scholars whose works explore connected histories across Afro-Eurasian spaces. Attendees will receive books and other teaching resources. The Summer Teacher Institute is made possible by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Far left: Workshop participants enjoying the beautiful setting at Farm of Peace; Left: Laurel Victoria Gray leading participants in a traditional Persian dance

the Future of Our Children, participating educators were eligible to be reimbursed for an overnight stay in the nearby scenic town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. To provide historical framing for the retreat, Dr. Ahmet Karamustafa of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland led a morning overview of Persian/Iranian history. Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz, poet and Director of the Roshan Institute, then discussed “Working on official peace processes as well as more informal dialogue initiatives across the Middle East, I often reflect on the great foundation for this work that I obtained through the MAAS program. Its comprehensive and language-oriented approach is key to understanding a diverse and changing region. The many CCAS alumni I have met during postings in Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Ankara also serve as regular reminders of the value of the program. Its relevance to regional developments, including in the diplomatic field, seems as important today as four decades ago when “al-Arab al-Yawm” [the Arabs today] was inscribed on the CCAS logo and the Center was established.”

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Anders Gulbrandsen (MAAS ‘10) Middle East Coordinator, Section for Peace and Reconciliation, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

the role of poetry in the Persian language, reading from the works of classical poets, as well as from influential contemporary female poets such as Forough Farrokhzad. Attendees received a copy of Prof. Keshavarz’s book Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran. Dr. Amy Landau, adjunct professor at Morgan State University and research associate at the Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Galleries, discussed Persian visual arts, including architecture, book illustration, ancient tomb design, and the creative use of public space, particularly in the city of Isfahan. A leading scholar of Iranian cinema, Dr. Hamid Naficy of Northwestern University then traced the country’s fraught filmmaking history. He highlighted the current vibrancy of Iranian cinema and its important role in global film production, despite the restraints placed on domestic production since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. For lunch, participants were treated to a Persian culinary experience, accompanied by recipes for some of the dishes they tried. In the afternoon, Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, founder of the Silk Road Dance Company and instructor at George Washington University, led a discussion and demonstration of Persian dance. Her talk explored how the movements involved in traditional activities like sowing seeds and gathering harvests evolved into dances that celebrate the beauty of nature. The final presentation was an overview of Persian classical music by Dr. Nader Majd, founder of the Iranian Cultural Society

and director and conductor of the Chakavak Ensemble. Following his lecture, he played the setar—a four-stringed musical instrument— demonstrating his own deep knowledge and skill in the art of improvisation, and creating a kaleidoscope of shifting tones, scales and melodies. The retreat was made possible by a Title VI grant from the United States Department of Education, which funds a National Resource Center on the Middle East at Georgetown University.  Dr. Susan Douglass is the CCAS Education Outreach Coordinator. DIPLOMACY continued from page 14

is not new: “Our country’s history is dotted with examples of Washington and Hollywood partnering on issues of foreign policy.” What is new, she says, are the rapidly changing ways content is being produced and distributed around the globe. “American companies are investing in international storytellers and producing local language content that will be distributed direct to the consumer on a global scale,” says Gandin Mark. “I believe that this changing landscape creates new opportunities that should be embraced by D.C.’s diplomatic community, not only for those working in cultural diplomacy, but also in the political and economic tracks.” 

Isabel Roemer is the CCAS Multimedia and Publications Assistant. She is studying Health Care Management & Policy at Georgetown. NEW LAW continued from page 15

in a series of moves to reduce American influence in the Israel-Palestine conflict, allowing other interests to play a greater role in the future. The cancellation of exchange programs, even if for small groups of people, undermines the U.S. government’s mission to promote academic and cultural exchanges as mandated by the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (commonly known as the Fulbright–Hays Act). As countless beneficiaries of these programs will attest, cultural exchanges not only cultivate mutual understanding, but they also strengthen the global economy by facilitating professional training and work opportunities. Moreover, these programs create connections that can last for generations, as participants tend to share the affinities they develop for different places and cultures with their friends and family. Sadly, the Trump administration has threatened numerous educational and cultural exchange programs, proposing budget cuts to the Fulbright program and seeking to tighten visa oversight for student exchange visitors. Such cuts compromise future connections between American citizens and people around the world, weakening diplomatic efforts and limiting the impact of public diplomacy initiatives.  Kaylee Steck is a program officer for Exchange Programs at AMIDEAST and contributes to both CCAS outreach initiatives and research. She graduated from MAAS in 2018. Mohammed Alhammami is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, a first-year student in the MAAS program, and a third-generation Palestinian refugee.

“I believe the heart of diplomacy is learning to identify commonalities. You can find a point of agreement, or at least some intersecting interest, in almost every interaction. I’ve found this to be true even when two parties are at odds and seemingly have nothing in common. Ultimately, this means being able to see from the other person’s perspective. I credit the MAAS program with teaching me to consider a person’s unique context. I often ask myself: How is my counterpart perceiving me? What is it about his or her unique situation that motivates or constrains? It helps me build rapport, an essential skill for any diplomat.” Ava Leone (MAAS ’11) Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy Singapore; Past FSO posts in Istanbul and Amman; Former Team Lead for Syria Transition Assistance Response at Bureau of Near East Affairs “My years in the Foreign Service have taught me that the number one factor of being successful in diplomacy is managing the ego. When those in power sense that you are trying to prove a point instead of being driven by the public good, you will never get even a modicum of what you want. While I do not agree with all of the foreign policy decisions of the Trump administration, I choose to work within the system to effect change. It’s emotionally painful and exhausting at times, but I have found that patience and staying the course are the most valuable skills in being a good diplomat. Those skills should be applied not only in the field, but especially while working with colleagues within the State Department.” Grant Hunter (MAAS ‘13) Second Secretary and Vice Consul, U.S. Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv; Past FSO post in Honduras “My MAAS education uniquely prepared me to understand the nuances of Iraqi culture, which helped me better adjudicate special immigrant visas for thousands of Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government during the Iraq War. The extensive Arabic training I received at MAAS also prepared me to master the Iraqi dialect and interview thousands of Iraqis in their native language. For many Iraqis, coming to the U.S. Embassy for a visa is an intimidating process. My being able to communicate in their native language brought immediate ease and smiles to their faces. As the sole female, Arabic-speaking Foreign Service Officer in the consular section, I found my MAAS training particularly valuable when it came to interviewing women who had survived the Islamic State.” Stephanie Lella (MAAS ’13) Former Foreign Service Officer and Acting American Citizen Services Chief, U.S. Embassy Baghdad

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



➠ MAAS ON THE MOVE News from our Alums

MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to ccasalum@georgetown.edu or through the form at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/alumni. We look forward to to sharing your achievements with our readers. Najib Joe Hakim, 1982

Najib works as a documentary photographer and photojournalist in San Francisco. His exhibition “Palestine Diary” is on display at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery Al-Quds in Washington D.C. through June 2019. Mark Lewis, 1984

Mark, who teaches at John Eaton Elementary School in Washington D.C., is a leading specialist in reading and recently received a teacher-of-the-year award for his work with literacy. Through their philanthropy, he and his wife support progressive causes, including nonviolent Middle East conflict-resolution leadership. Virginia Tilley, 1988

Virginia is a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale specializing in the study of Israel-Palestine, ethnic conflict, and indigenous peoples’ politics, with additional research in Central America, South Africa, and Fiji.

Nicholas Dutkiewicz, 2014

Nicholas was promoted to Senior Operations Analyst at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah in December. Sacha Robehmed, 2015

In January, Sacha became Research Manager at the Engine Room, an organization that supports social-change actors to use technology and data more effectively and ethically. She recently spoke at Mercy Corps’ cash summit in Nairobi on responsible data. Kaylee Steck, 2018

Kaylee, a Program Officer at AMIDEAST, presented in March at the CCAS Education Outreach workshop on political Islam, introducing a teaching resource that she helped to develop. Mark Berlin, 2018

Last fall, Mark began a Ph.D. program in Political Science at George Washington University, studying comparative politics and international relations. Ada Mullol, 2019

Ada is a researcher at the European Institute of the Mediterranean, where she coordinates a publication for the Arab and Mediterranean World Department. She was selected to participate in the 2019 Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute in Chicago.

Christine Trigg, 1992

Christine is working as a legal advocate for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Judith Scholar Winfield, 1992

After more than 20 years living in the Middle East and England, Judith has moved back to Arizona and is working in a contracts role with a team providing building refurbishment and new construction at Northern Arizona University. Sherry Youssef, 1999

Sherry, an international development consultant, is Director of Work at FHI360 and previously served as Technical Director for the Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund (AWEF) under implementation in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine. She has also guest lectured at George Washington University. Rob (‘05) and Krysti (‘04) Grace

Andrea Wegner, 2010

CCAS is hosting a gathering for MAAS alumni on Georgetown’s D.C. campus on the evening of May 4th. The event will mark the launch of a year-long series of celebrations around our upcoming “40/45th Anniversary”—40 years of MAAS and 45 years of CCAS! We’ll kick off the evening with a reception at 5:00 pm, followed by a program and dinner. You can find more details and the RSVP link on the alumni page of the CCAS website: https://ccas.georgetown.edu/ resources/alumni

Andrea recently moved back to Washington D.C. after two years in California and almost four years abroad leading USAID and UKfunded governance and stabilization programming in Syria.

22 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


45 Years of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies 40 Years of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies

Sacha Robehmed; Najib Hakem

Rob works at the U.S. Government Accountability Office on nuclear matters. Krysti teaches U.S. history at North Bethesda Middle School. They live in Takoma Park, Maryland with their two sons and remember fondly their days and friends in MAAS.

Join us for a MAAS Alumni Gathering on May 4, 2019!

“As big as your dreams are, the earth will be.” - Mahmoud Darwish

Mabrouk to the Class of 2019

! ‫ﻣﺑروك‬

‫ﻣ وك‬ ‫ﻣ وك‬

Photos contributed by students

Congratulations to all the Master of Arts in Arab Studies students who will graduate this May! Members of the MAAS Class of 2019 include: Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi

Jennifer Luong*

Samar Ahmad

Caroline Manela

Majd Al Wahaidi

Lauren Meyer

Fatimah Alfareh

Nicoleta Nichifor

Minatullah Alobaidi

Jeremiah Olver

Abrar Alshammari

Richard Sacco

Ghadeer Awwad

Maxwell Scurlock

Donald Fantozzi

Gillian Shaw

Shannon Hayes

Naomi Smith

Jacob Kopfensteiner

Corey Walters

Nour Laswi

*Graduated in December 2018

Calligrapher Maher Housn beautifully illustrates the words above by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Grassroots Diplomacy Matters More Than Ever By Kala Carruthers Azar


hen the rhetoric of American politics reverberates overseas and U.S. foreign policy decisions are unpopular in certain places, cultural affairs officers at U.S. embassies work to direct attention toward the good that America has to offer local populations. I’m thankful to have a job that lets me work on the grassroots people-to-people relationships that still make American soft power attractive. I often tell people I have the best job in the embassy: I get to bring amazing Americans to Jordan to interact in creative ways with Jordanian audiences. Through comedy, sports, music, dance, and entrepreneurship, we increase the crucial face-to-face connections between Americans and Jordanians that underpin our bilateral relationship. Despite challenging economic times and a youthful desire to leave in search of opportunity overseas, there is a growing network of civil society organizations and talented individuals building and maintaining a stable Jordan. We get to help bolster those individuals and organizations with modest federal assistance grants and with workshops, training, and exchanges that build their capacity and ability to advocate.

We enlist envoys with distinctive American talent—such as athletes, film/TV producers, theater performers, improv artists, hip-hop dancers, gospel singers, entrepreneurs, and jazz musicians—to serve as cultural ambassadors with voices that resonate more than ours, as government officials, ever could. They connect on a different level, offering genuine American perspectives on their lives, multiculturalism, respect for others, and empathy. When policies get ugly, our programs provide an outlet and a unique example reinforcing not only the importance of freedom of expression in various forms, but also how the arts are a community service. A recent favorite was collaborating with a local media academy to offer an improv and comedy sketch workshop with trainers from Chicago’s famous Second City Training Center for some of Jordan’s top comedians and aspiring amateurs, all in need of theoretical training. I also love the passionate hip-hop workshop participant who told me that the t-shirt given to him by a visiting hip-hop band the embassy sponsored 12 months prior is literally still worn every day because each of the neighborhood kids takes a turn. Seeing Step Afrika! teach

Palestinians and Jordanians African American stepping while they, in turn, taught the envoys dabkeh, reminded me of the power of experiential learning and tangible cultural exchange. Our programs find and create harmonies, showcase up-and-coming art forms, encourage a variety of professions as the Jordanian economy grows, and strengthen the power of an active citizenry. When everyday Americans and Jordanians come together through a shared art form or common interest, diplomacy is able to trump politics and forge new relationships. As Former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns once said: “Diplomacy is no longer just about relationships with and between governments…our relationships outside of government—with unions, youth, business leaders, religious figures, and minority groups—are just as important. Local populations and civil society are where it’s at.” 

Kala Carruthers Azar graduated from the MAAS program in 2009 and is now a Foreign Service Officer. She is currently serving as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

24 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Kala Carruthers Azar

Above: Kala Carruthers Azar with the hashtag of the U.S. Embassy in Jordan: #USAinJo; Left: A group of young Jordanian filmmakers celebrating the completion of a documentary workshop with American producers.

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