Strategies for Engaging Political Islam: A Middle East, U.S. and EU ’Trialogue’

Strategies for Engaging Political Islam: A Middle East, U.S. and EU ’Trialogue’

While much attention has been paid to whether Islamists are becoming more moderate, or whether they are committed to democracy, far less effort has been devoted to developing a practical strategy for engaging Islamists.  There are many obstacles to such engagement, including Westerners” disagreements with Islamists” political agendas, authoritarian regimes” tactics to exclude Islamists from the political process, and Islamists” suspicion of American and European motives. As a result, American and European government efforts to start a dialogue with Islamists in the Middle East are often divergent, uncoordinated and incompatible, where such efforts exist at all.

Engagement is important, however, because Islamists are a major political force in most Middle Eastern countries – a force about which U.S. and European policymakers are generally unfamiliar. How do Middle Easterners believe that the U.S. and the EU can play a positive role in dealing with Islamists? Where do Americans and Europeans see shared opportunities to engage Islamists, and what types of programs can take advantage of these opportunities? How would engagement affect Islamists” attitudes towards the U.S. and Europe, and towards political reform in the region?

Please join us for a panel discussion with:

Ruheil Gharaibeh
Deputy Secretary General, Islamic Action Front, Jordan

Shadi Hamid
Director of Research, The Project on Middle East Democracy

Zoé Nautré
Visiting Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Berlin

Mona Yacoubian
Special Adviser, Muslim World Initiative, Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, United States Institute of Peace

Moderated by Nathan Brown, Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University

Thursday, February 26, 2009
12:00 – 2:00 pm

The Henry L. Stimson Center
1111 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Twelfth Floor
Lunch will be served.