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Capitol Hill Webinar – Russian Roulette: Putin’s Increasing Footprint in the Middle East and North Africa

March 19, 2020 @ 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

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Diliman Abdulkader – Co-Founder and Spokesperson for American Friends of Kurdistan

Aykan Erdemir – Turkey Program Senior Director for FDD

Stephen Blank – Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

About this webinar: Ever since the Soviet Union collapsed 1991, Russia had no longer been regarded as a major power player in the Middle East. That is until 2015, when Russia sent its airpower to Syria. Today, as the United States under President Donald Trump is retreating from the Middle East, Russia seems to be emerging as a major power. We see how Putin has intervened to help preserve Syrian President Bashir Assad’s power over Syria. We also are seeing how Russian President Vladimir Putin has reached out to the Libyan leader Khalifa Haftar, as he is simultaneously brokering relationships with the government of Fayez al-Sarraj.

It is quite obvious, that as America withdraws from the Middle East, Putin is quickly swooping in to fill the void, and is trying to resurrect himself as a major power broker.

Is Putin trying to resurrect himself as a major power broker? What are Putin’s intentions in Syria and in Libya? Is Libya doomed to follow along Syria’s path? Here to answer these questions and more are three eminent scholars: Diliman Abdulkader, Aykan Erdemir, and Stephen Blank. 

Diliman Abdulkader is the Co-Founder and Spokesperson of a newly established Washington based advocacy organization, American Friends of Kurdistan (AFK). AFK works to strengthen American-Kurdish relations through education and advocacy. Diliman comes from a foreign policy, national security background where he was previously director of the Kurdistan Project at EMET. He invests his time on Capitol Hill, educating lawmakers and staffers on the plight of the Kurds. Diliman frequently publishes article pertaining to the developments in the Middle East. Diliman received his MA at the American University in Washington, D.C. in international peace and conflict resolution.

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is the Senior Director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former member of the Turkish Parliament who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in Turkey and the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against violent extremism, religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. He is a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities.

Dr. Stephen Blank is an internationally recognized expert on Russian foreign and defense policies and international relations across the former Soviet Union.  He is also  a leading expert on European and Asian security,  including  energy issues.  Since 2013 he has been a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, www.afpc.org.  From 1989-2013 he was a Professor of Russian National Security Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.  Dr. Blank has been Professor of National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute since 1989.  In 1998-2001 he was Douglas MacArthur Professor of Research at the War College.  Dr. Blank’s M.A. and Ph.D. are in Russian History from the University of Chicago. His B.A is in History from the University of Pennsylvania.


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March 19, 2020
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM


DC United States


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