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Past Event

2015 U.S.-Islamic World Forum

Past Event

Welcoming remarks and keynote address

On June 1-3, 2015, the Brookings Institution, in conjunction with the State of Qatar, convened the 12th annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum. The theme of this year’s Forum was “Changing Assumptions,” which relates to historic shifts in geopolitical realities affecting the United States and Muslim-majority countries, as well as to societal and cultural norms.

The Forum’s plenary sessions (WEBCASTsee agenda below) highlighted several dimensions of relations with and within a rapidly changing Muslim world. Panelists discussed a wide range of topics, including:
-Strategic priorities for the United States and the Middle East
-Pluralism in the Islamic world
-The role of Iran in the region
-Advancing women’s role in an unstable Middle East
-Ending civil wars

The Forum also convened working and action groups which focused on current issues confronting the Islamic world. Group topics include:
Here to stay and growing: Combating ISIS propaganda networks
The Arab uprisings and the next generation of Islamists
Strategic realignment in the Middle East
Action Group: Jumpstarting community-led initiatives to counter violent extremism


Monday, June 1 - 10:00AM-11:00AM (3:00AM-4:00AM ET)

Welcoming remarks and keynote address

Bruce Jones, acting vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings; H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, prime minister and minister of the interior of Qatar; and H.E. Mohsen Marzouk, minister for political affairs for the Republic of Tunisia; and H.E. Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, via video, provided the opening remarks for the 2015 U.S.-Islamic World Forum.

Monday, June 1 - 11:00AM-11:30AM (4:00AM-4:30AM ET)

Keynote address by Colin Kahl

Monday, June 1 - 11:30AM-12:45PM (4:00AM-5:45AM ET)

Strategic priorities for the United States and the Middle East

This plenary session focused on historic shifts in the geopolitical realities affecting the United States’ role in the Middle East and North Africa, and how America’s ties with states in the region are changing. To open the session, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President Colin Kahl discussed the possibility of reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, and the implications of such an accord for regional stability.

Monday, June 1 - 2:00PM-3:30PM (7:00AM-8:30AM ET)

Pluralism in the Islamic world

This plenary session discussed how notions of identity are shaped by external threats, emerging opportunities, and even deliberate efforts by governments. It also explored how notions of identity have evolved in the Islamic world since the Arab Spring.

Shaarik Zafar

Special Representative to Muslim Communities - U.S. Department of State

Tuesday, June 2 - 9:00AM-10:30AM (2:00AM-3:30AM ET)

Ending civil wars

This plenary session considered the variables prolonging civil wars in the region, and propose steps toward political resolutions. The plenary brought together speakers with direct experience in conflict resolution to explore the role of local actors, regional governments, and the international community.

Mokhtar Lamani

Former Head - Office of the U.N.-League of Arab States

Bernardino León

Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya - United Nations

Tuesday, June 2 - 2:15PM-3:45PM (7:15AM-8:45AM ET)

The role of Iran in the region

This plenary session included voices from Iran, the Arab world, and the United States to discuss crucial questions for regional security related to Iran’s objectives and behavior.

Anwar Eshki

Founder and Chairman - Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies

Wednesday, June 3 - 9:00AM-10:30AM (2:00AM-3:30AM ET)

Advancing women's role in an unstable Middle East

This plenary session featured leaders from across the Islamic World to discuss advancing women’s inclusion in politics, economics, and society in an unstable region where some efforts have taken a backseat to security concerns.

Asha Haji Elmi

Member - Federal Parliament of Somalia, Federal Republic of Somalia

Muna Jondy

Government Relations Chair - United for a Free Syria

Sakena Yacoobi

Founder and Chief Executive Officer - Afghan Institute of Learning

Wednesday, June 3 - 10:30AM-11:30AM (3:30AM-4:30AM ET)

Keynote address by General John Allen (U.S. Marine Corp, Ret.)

One year after the Islamic State made significant advances in Iraq, General John Allen (U.S. Marine Corp, Ret.), special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL, delivered a keynote address to review the progress of the military campaign against the extremist group. Bruce Jones, acting vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, moderated a Q&A session with Allen following his remarks.

Wednesday, June 3 - 11:30AM-12:00PM (4:30AM-5:00AM ET)

Closing remarks and summary

William McCants, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and H.E. Mohamed bin Abdullah Al-Rumaihi, the minister’s assistant for foreign affairs of the State of Qatar, concluded the 2015 U.S.-Islamic World Forum with remarks summarizing progress made during the Forum on key issues, including preliminary recommendations for the action group and the three working groups.

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