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Camden Conference focuses on Middle East, features Ryan Crocker

By Tom Groening, BDN Staff

CAMDEN, Maine — With the region dominating today’s — and likely tomorrow’s — headlines, the 2013 Camden Conference will focus on the Middle East.

The annual event features foreign policy experts, current and former government officials, journalists and writers discussing issues tied to an international theme.

Titled “ The Middle East: What Next?,” the 26th conference to be put on by the nonprofit, volunteer-run group is scheduled for Feb. 22-24 at the Camden Opera House and will be broadcast live to various locations in the midcoast area.

In recent years, conference organizers also have led up to and promoted the main event by hosting discussions and films in the fall and early winter at libraries and schools from Bar Harbor to Blue Hill to Belfast and Augusta.

Previous conferences have had as their theme Asia, the U.S. in the 21st century, water, religion and China.

The keynote speaker for the February conference is Robin Wright, who has reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Time, CBS News and others. According to the conference’s website, Wright has covered “a dozen wars and several revolutions.”

Given the recent U.S. involvement in Iraq and the ongoing military effort in Afghanistan, former ambassador Ryan Crocker’s appearance at the conference is especially relevant. Crocker, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2012) and Iraq (2007-2009). Before that, he was ambassador to Lebanon (1990-1993), Kuwait (1994-1997), Syria (1998-2001) and Pakistan (2004-2007).

The conference will be moderated by Nicholas Burns, professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. He retired from the State Department in 2008 after a 27-year career, lastly as under secretary of state for political affairs.

Other scheduled speakers include:

• Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and professor of politics at Brandeis University.

• Barbara Ibrahim, founding director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, established in 2006 at the American University in Cairo.

• Marwan Muasher, a Jordanian diplomat who currently serves as vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Joshua M. Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies and associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

• F. Gregory Gause III, professor and chairman of the political science department at the University of Vermont and, in 2009 and 2010, the Kuwait Foundation visiting professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

• Marc Lynch, associate professor of political science and international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Online registration for the conference begins Nov. 5 for members and Nov. 26 for nonmembers.

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