Chairman of the Middle East Policy Council

By Marwan Ahmad

US Ambassadors who served in the Middle East return to the United States with a wealth of experiences, knowledge and impressions of the region. Many become cultural and educational ambassadors serving in institutions and non-profit organization in Washington DC. Their contribution is valuable to  bridge between the United States and the Middle East region. In our efforts to learn the diligent and important work of some of what the Ambassadors do, we are conducting interviews with those serving in the Washington DC area. Our first interview is with the Former Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman Honorable Richard Schmierer in his office at the Middle East Policy Council.  The interview went as follows.

Mr. Ambassador, can you give us a quick introduction about your background?

I finished a career as a diplomat at the State Department for almost 35 years. I spent most of that time in the Middle East and my last two assignments were at the Embassy in Baghdad and as the U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman. I also spent a total of eight years in Saudi Arabia and during that time I got to know the Middle East very well. I really enjoyed the time I spent there and the hospitality and the culture  in the region were fascinating to me. Today,  as Chairman of the Board of the Middle East Policy Council I have the opportunity to help promote the better understanding between the US and the Middle East.

Let’s go back at the beginning of your career, why did you choose to become a diplomat?

After finishing my  doctorate degree in Linguistics, I landed my first job in Saudi Arabia. I was recruited to teach at the university level  in Saudi Arabia. I spent two years there with my wife and we enjoyed life in Saudi Arabia tremendously.  While, I was there I had the opportunity to pursue a career as a diplomat and was accepted into the Foreign Service.

In your bio you served in Iraq, Oman and Saudi Arabia, tell us more about your experiences serving in these countries?

I had the chance to serve in the region over five decades. I first arrived there in the seventies. I really got to see the Middle East over a spread of a long time and got to appreciate the culture and got involved with the people. It’s a region that has a lot of interesting history and it serves Americans better to understand it. We have a lot in common with the people. For me to serve in that region was an honor. I get to continue that engagement in my position as Chairman of the Middle East Policy Council.

Are there any specific events that are memorable during your service in the Middle East?

Perhaps my time in Oman is most memorable and most enjoyable.  It’s nice to be an ambassador. When I was there  we had the issue of trying to free the three American hikers who had been detained in Iran. I worked with Omanis, who were very helpful, to get the three American out of Iran. To me this was, on the personal level, a great feeling of accomplishment. The families of the hikers came and stayed with us in our residence and they just expressed their appreciation having their loved ones back. To me that was touching and a great proof of the  power and value of diplomacy to help resolve issues, even among countries that we might not see eye to eye with on a number of issues. In fact, dealing with that issue was the first step of the process that lead to the Iran nuclear deal. Oman helped engage Iran with the hikers and those kind of contacts eventually gave us the idea that maybe we could actually have some kind of dialogue with Iran. The Omanis were supportive on making that effort and at the end of the day through that effort led to the Iran nuclear deal.

If there is one thing that you learned from the Middle East Culture what would that be?

What I find interesting is it is significantly misunderstood here.  The people of the region largely share the same values as the American people. They live in countries with different government systems than ours. They have a different history and primarily a different religion .. but I think the fundamental values of the culture and the people are the same as those in the US and that is something, unfortunately, not well understood.   I’m certainly happy in my current position to help promote that understanding and I think because of superficial differences that often obscure the facts that the values of the region are the same kind of values of those in the United States.

When did you join the Middle East Policy Council and what type of roles does it play in building bridges between the cultures and societies?

I completed my career as a diplomat in the summer of 2014 and shortly after I was invited to become a member of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Policy Council.   A few months later the Board asked me to become the Chairman so I have been involved with Middle East Policy Council for a little over two years. Our organization as I mentioned, was founded in the early 1980s and we have a number of programs that  are focused on education and in particular that try to improve dialogue and understanding between the United States and the Middle East.

Our three flagship programs are our quarterly journal called Middle East Policy which is a very well respected journal in the field with 11,000 subscriptions.  It is also  found in most libraries in this country and many overseas. It has been around for several decades and has a very good reputation among those who follow the region. The second cornerstone of what we do is what we call our Capitol Hill Conferences. Once a quarter we hold a conference up on Capitol Hill at one of the Senate office buildings or the House office buildings. We try to target the audience toward congressional staffers or people who are somehow associated with Congress. We also include those in Think Tanks and institutions around Washington. Those conferences we pick a particular policy theme and we have a panel of experts that address that theme. The most recent one we did in January was on the theme of what the Trump Administration expect in the Middle East? The third and final cornerstone of our activity is an Educational Outreach Program, primarily targeted to high school students and teachers and the idea is to provide materials for secondary school students or teachers who want to have a one or two week section in a social studies or history course on the modern Middle East. We have found a lot of interest by high school teachers and among their students. We also occasionally speak to classes of visiting high school students or college interns when they bring them in for about a week from around the country.

How is the new immigration ban affecting the environment and the relationship between the US and the Middle East?

Obviously anything that sends the message that you are not welcome is not good for our country and not good for the region. I think, unfortunately, we are going to have to work through a bit of a period and I’m confident that our institutions will succeed. We have already seen it with the first attempted ban where the judicial system stepped up and said that it has to be in line with our constitutional values and, therefore, it can’t be put into effect. I think we are going to have to work through a period were there is a certain impetus that was behind the election of President Trump that wants to see the government a little bit more accountable and little bit tighter in terms of watching out for the interests of the local person who feel they have been forgotten. I think there is going to have to be some effort to satisfy that urge. I think at the end of the day our institutions will be up to doing whatever needs to be done in that regard in ways that are not counterproductive and don’t alienate a large number of people. I think all Americans agree and want  to ensure that those coming here don’t wish us harm and are not here to cause trouble. On the other hand, I think all Americans understand that we are a country in which most came from somewhere else and we thrive on and we need that kind of an  influx of new people and new ideas so we have to find that balance.

بقلم‭ ‬مروان‭ ‬احمد

يعود‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬سفراء‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المُتحدة‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬خدموا‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المُتحدة،‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬جعبتهم‭ ‬كنزٌ‭ ‬من‭ ‬الخبرة،‭ ‬والمعرفة،‭ ‬والانطباعات‭ ‬عن‭ ‬المِنطقة‭. ‬وأصبح‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬منهم‭ ‬سفراءَ‭ ‬ثقافيّن‭ ‬وتعليّمين‭ ‬يعملون‭ ‬في‭ ‬مؤسساتٍ‭ ‬ومنظمات‭ ‬غير‭ ‬ربحية‭ ‬في‭ ‬العاصمة‭ ‬واشنطن‭. ‬و‭ ‬تُعدُ‭ ‬مساهمتهم‭ ‬قيمةً‭ ‬فيما‭ ‬يتعلق‭ ‬بإنشاء‭ ‬جسرٍ‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المُتحدة‭ ‬ومنطقة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭. ‬وفي‭ ‬سبيل‭ ‬جهودنا‭ ‬لمعرفة‭ ‬العمل‭ ‬الدؤوب‭ ‬والهام،‭ ‬فإننا‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬ببعض‭ ‬المقابلات‭ ‬مع‭  ‬هؤلاء‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يخدمون‭ ‬في‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬واشنطن‭ ‬العاصمة‭. ‬وأول‭ ‬مقابلة‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬مع‭ ‬السفير‭ ‬السابق‭ ‬لدى‭ ‬سلطنة‭ ‬عمان‭ ‬السفير‭ ‬ريتشارد‭ ‬شميرر‭ ‬في‭ ‬مكتبه‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭.‬

سعادة‭ ‬السفير،‭ ‬هل‭ ‬بإمكانك‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تعطينا‭ ‬نبذة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬حياتك‭ ‬المهنية؟

قد‭ ‬ختمت‭ ‬حياتي‭ ‬المهنية‭ ‬كدبلوماسي‭ ‬في‭ ‬وزارة‭ ‬الخارجية‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يَقرب‭ ‬من‭ ‬‮٣٥‬‭ ‬عامًا‭ ‬كدبلوماسيّ‭. ‬قضيتُ‭ ‬معظم‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬في‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬وكانت‭ ‬المُهمتين‭ ‬الأخريتيّن‭ ‬لي‭ ‬في‭ ‬سفارة‭ ‬بغداد‭ ‬وكسفيرٍ‭ ‬في‭ ‬سلطنة‭ ‬عمان‭.‬

‭ ‬كما‭ ‬قضيت‭ ‬ما‭ ‬مجموعه‭ ‬ثماني‭ ‬سنوات‭ ‬في‭ ‬المملكة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬السعودية،‭ ‬وخلال‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬تعرفت‭ ‬على‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬بشكل‭ ‬جيد‭ ‬للغاية‭. ‬وقد‭ ‬تمتعتُ‭ ‬حقًا‭ ‬بالوقت‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬قضيته‭ ‬هناك،‭ ‬وبدت‭ ‬الضيافة،‭ ‬والثقافة،‭ ‬وأشياء‭ ‬أخري‭ ‬كثيرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬رائعةً‭ ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭. ‬واليوم‭ ‬بصفتي‭  ‬رئيسًا‭ ‬لمجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط؛‭ ‬أصبح‭ ‬لدي‭ ‬الفرصة‭ ‬للمساعدة‭ ‬في‭ ‬نشر‭ ‬فهم‭ ‬أفضل‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬والشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭.‬

لنُعد‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬بداية‭ ‬حياتك‭ ‬المهنية،‭ ‬لماذا‭ ‬اخترت‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬دبلوماسيًا؟

لقد‭ ‬أنهيت‭ ‬دراستي‭ ‬بالحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬درجة‭ ‬الدكتوراة،‭ ‬وأول‭ ‬وظيفةٍ‭ ‬لي‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬في‭ ‬المملكة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬السعودية‭. ‬حيث‭ ‬تم‭ ‬توظيفي‭ ‬للتدريس‭ ‬في‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬في‭ ‬المملكة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬السعودية‭. ‬وقضيت‭ ‬عامين‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬مع‭ ‬زوجتي‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬استمتعنا‭ ‬كثيرًا‭ ‬وبينما‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬لدي‭ ‬الفرصة‭ ‬لكي‭ ‬انخرط‭ ‬بالسلك‭ ‬الدبلوماسي،‭ ‬ولهذا‭ ‬سعيت‭ ‬إليها‭ ‬وقُبلت‭ ‬في‭ ‬وزارة‭ ‬الخارجية‭.‬

مذكورٌ‭ ‬في‭ ‬سيرتك‭ ‬أنّك‭ ‬خدمت‭ ‬في‭ ‬العراق،‭ ‬وسلطنة‭ ‬عمان،‭ ‬والمملكة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬السعودية،هل‭ ‬يُمكن‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تخبرنا‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬عن‭ ‬تجربة‭ ‬الخدمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬البلدان؟

لقد‭ ‬أُتيحت‭ ‬لي‭ ‬الفرصة‭ ‬للعمل‭ ‬في‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬على‭ ‬مدار‭ ‬خمسة‭ ‬عقودٍ‭ ‬مُختلفة‭. ‬فأنا‭ ‬أول‭ ‬من‭ ‬وصل‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬في‭ ‬السبعينات‭.‬

‭ ‬وقد‭ ‬حصلت‭ ‬بالفعل‭ ‬على‭ ‬فرصةٍ‭ ‬لرؤية‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬على‭ ‬مدى‭ ‬فترة‭ ‬طويلة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الزمان،‭ ‬وكنت‭ ‬أُقدر‭ ‬وأُحب‭ ‬الثقافة‭ ‬والاختلاط‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الناس‭. ‬فتلك‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تمتلك‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬التاريخ‭ ‬المثير‭ ‬والشيّق،‭ ‬وسوف‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأفضل‭ ‬للأمريكيين‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يفهموه‭.‬فنحن‭ ‬لدينا‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬القواسم‭ ‬المشتركة‭ ‬مع‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الشعوب‭. ‬وبالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬الخدمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬شرفًا‭. ‬وسوف‭ ‬أعمل‭  ‬على‭ ‬مواصلة‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الانخراط‭ ‬عبر‭ ‬منصبي‭ ‬كرئيس‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭.‬

هل‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬أي‭ ‬أحداثٍ‭ ‬مُعينةٍ‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يُمكنك‭ ‬نسيانها‭ ‬أثناء‭ ‬خدمتك‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط؟

ربما‭ ‬وقتي‭ ‬في‭ ‬عُمان‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الأكثر‭ ‬تميزًا،‭ ‬والأكثر‭ ‬إمتاعًا،‭ ‬والمحفور‭ ‬في‭ ‬ذاكرتي‭ ‬بشدة،‭ ‬فمن‭ ‬الجيد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬المرءُ‭ ‬سفيًرا‭. ‬فعندما‭ ‬كنت‭  ‬في‭ ‬عُمان‭  ‬كان‭ ‬لدينا‭ ‬قضية‭ ‬محاولة‭ ‬الإفراج‭ ‬عن‭ ‬ثلاثة‭ ‬متسلقين‭ ‬أمريكيين‭ ‬تم‭ ‬اعتقالهم‭ ‬في‭ ‬إيران‭. ‬عملت‭ ‬مع‭ ‬العمانيين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬كانوا‭ ‬مُتعاونين‭ ‬للغاية‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬إطلاق‭ ‬سراح‭ ‬الثلاثة‭ ‬أمريكين،‭ ‬وتحريرهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬إيران‭. ‬وبالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬من‭ ‬المنظور‭ ‬الإنساني‭ ‬كان‭ ‬يتملكني‭ ‬شعورٌ‭ ‬كبيرٌ‭ ‬بالإنجاز‭. ‬وجاءت‭ ‬أسر‭ ‬وعائلات‭ ‬المُختطفين‭ ‬إلينا‭ ‬ومكثوا‭ ‬معنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬مقر‭ ‬إقامتنا‭ ‬وأعربوا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬تقديرهم‭ ‬لعودة‭ ‬أحبائهم‭. ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬اللحظة‭ ‬المؤثرة‭ ‬مثالًا‭ ‬كبيرًا‭ ‬وعظيمًا‭ ‬علي‭ ‬قوة‭ ‬وقيمة‭ ‬الدبلوماسية‭ ‬للمساعدة‭ ‬في‭ ‬قضيةٍ‭ ‬حساسةٍ،‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬بين‭ ‬دولٍ‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يطيقون‭ ‬رؤية‭ ‬بعضهم‭ ‬البعض،‭ ‬ولا‭ ‬يتفقون‭ ‬في‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬القضايا‭. ‬وقامت‭ ‬عُمان‭ ‬بمساعدتنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬الحوار‭ ‬والتواصل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬إيران‭ ‬بخصوص‭ ‬المُختطفين،‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬النوع‭ ‬من‭ ‬الاتصالات‭ ‬أعطتنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬النهاية‭ ‬فكرة‭ ‬أنه‭ ‬من‭ ‬المُمكن‭  ‬إيجاد‭ ‬حوارٍ‭ ‬مع‭ ‬إيران‭. ‬كانت‭ ‬الحكومة‭ ‬العمانية‭ ‬داعمةً‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬حدوث‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬التواصل،‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬نهاية‭ ‬المطاف،‭  ‬ومن‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الجهد‭ ‬توصلنا‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬حل‭ ‬للاتفاق‭ ‬النووي‭ ‬الإيراني‭.‬

إذا‭ ‬كان‭  ‬من‭ ‬المُمكن‭ ‬القول‭ ‬أن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬شيئًا‭ ‬تعلمته‭ ‬من‭ ‬ثقافة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط؛‭ ‬فماذا‭ ‬يُمكن‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬الشيء؟

ما‭ ‬أجده‭ ‬مُثيرًا‭ ‬للاهتمام‭ -‬والذي‭ ‬يُساء‭ ‬فهمه‭ ‬بشكلٍ‭ ‬كبيرٍ‭ ‬هنا‭ ‬–‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬شعوب‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬تشترك‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬حدٍ‭ ‬كبيرٍ‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الشعب‭ ‬الأمريكي‭ ‬في‭ ‬نفس‭ ‬القيم‭. ‬أجل‭ ‬هم‭ ‬يعيشون‭ ‬في‭ ‬بلدانٍ‭ ‬ذات‭ ‬أنظمةٍ‭ ‬حكومية‭ ‬مختلفة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬بلدنا‭. ‬لديهم‭ ‬تاريخٌ‭ ‬مختلف‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬المقام‭ ‬الأول‭  ‬لديهم‭ ‬ديانةٌ‭ ‬مختلفةٌ‭ . ‬ولكنّي‭ ‬أعتقد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬الأساسية‭ ‬من‭ ‬وجهة‭ ‬نظر‭ ‬الثقافة‭ ‬والشعب‭ ‬هي‭ ‬نفسها‭  ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬،وهذا‭ ‬الأمر‭ – ‬للأسف‭ –  ‬لم‭ ‬يُفهم‭ ‬جيدًا،‭ ‬وأنا‭ ‬سعيدٌ‭ ‬للغاية‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬يُمكنني‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬منصبي‭ ‬الحالي‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬على‭ ‬تغيّير‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المفهوم‭ ‬لدي‭ ‬الشعب‭ ‬الأمريكي،‭ ‬وتوضيح‭ ‬المفهوم‭ ‬الحقيقي،‭ ‬وأعتقد‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يعود‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الإختلافات‭ ‬السطحية‭ ‬في‭ ‬الأديان،‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تحجب‭ ‬غالبًا‭ ‬حقيقةَ‭ ‬أن‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬من‭ ‬نفس‭ ‬نوع‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭. ‬

متى‭ ‬انضممتَ‭ ‬إلي‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬وما‭ ‬نوع‭ ‬الأدوار‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يلعبها‭ ‬المجلس‭ ‬في‭ ‬إنشاء‭ ‬الجسور‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الثقافتين‭ ‬والمجتمعين؟

‭ ‬لقد‭ ‬أنهيت‭ ‬مسيرتي‭ ‬كدبلوماسي‭ ‬في‭ ‬صيف‭ ‬عام‭ ‬2014‭ ‬،‭ ‬وتمت‭ ‬دعوتي‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬بفترةٍ‭ ‬وجيزةٍ‭ ‬لكي‭ ‬أصبح‭ ‬عضوًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬إدارة‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬وبعد‭ ‬بضعة‭ ‬أشهر‭ ‬طلب‭ ‬مني‭ ‬المجلس‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أصبح‭ ‬الرئيس؛‭ ‬ولذا‭ ‬فإنني‭ ‬أعمل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬لما‭ ‬يزيد‭ ‬عن‭ ‬عامين‭ ‬بقليل‭. ‬لقد‭ ‬تأسست‭ ‬منظمتنا‭ – ‬كما‭ ‬ذكرت‭ ‬سابقًا‭  ‬في‭ ‬بدايات‭ ‬عام‭ ‬1980‭ –  ‬ونحن‭ ‬نمتلك‭ ‬عددًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬البرامج‭ ‬التي‭ ‬نركز‭ ‬فيها‭ ‬على‭ ‬التثقيف،‭ ‬ونحاول‭ ‬فيها‭ – ‬على‭ ‬وجه‭ ‬الخصوص‭ –  ‬أن‭ ‬نُحسّن‭ ‬الحوار‭ ‬والتفاهم‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬والشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭. ‬

برامجنا‭ ‬الرئيسية‭ ‬الثلاثة‭ ‬هي‭:‬

‭ ‬مجلةٌ‭ ‬فصلية‭ ‬خاصةً‭ ‬بنا‭ ‬تُسمى‭ ‬‮«‬سياسة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‮»‬،‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تُعتبر‭ ‬نشرة‭ ‬مُحترمةً‭ ‬جدًا‭ ‬ومشهورةً‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬المجال‭  ‬ولها‭ ‬11‭.‬000‭ ‬مُشترك،‭ ‬وتجدها‭ ‬في‭ ‬معظم‭ ‬المكتبات‭ ‬سواء‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬البلاد‭ ‬أو‭ ‬في‭ ‬خارجه‭. ‬وهي‭ ‬تصدر‭ ‬منذ‭ ‬عدة‭ ‬عقود،‭ ‬وتحظى‭ ‬بسُمعةٍ‭ ‬طيبةٍ‭ ‬جدا‭ ‬بين‭ ‬المتابعين‭ ‬للمنطقة‭.‬

‭ ‬أما‭ ‬حجر‭ ‬الزاوية‭ ‬الثاني‭ ‬فيما‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬به‭ ‬هو‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نسميه‭ ‬المؤتمرات‭ ‬في‭ (‬الكابيتول‭ ‬هيل‭/ ‬Capitol Hill‭). ‬في‭ ‬واحدٍ‭ ‬من‭  ‬مكاتب‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬الشيوخ‭ ‬أو‭  ‬مكاتب‭ ‬المكتب‭ ‬البيضاوي‭.‬ونحاول‭ ‬فيها‭ ‬استهداف‭ ‬الجمهور‭ ‬من‭ ‬أعضاء‭ ‬الكونجرس‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬المرتبطين‭ ‬بطريقةٍ‭ ‬أو‭ ‬بأخرى‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الكونجرس‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬نحاول‭ ‬أيضًا‭ ‬دعوة‭ ‬الموجودين‭ ‬في‭ ‬مراكز‭ ‬الأبحاث‭ ‬والمؤسسات‭ ‬في‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬أنحاء‭ ‬واشنطن‭. ‬في‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المؤتمرات‭ ‬نختار‭ ‬موضوع‭ ‬سياسي‭ ‬معين‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬ثم‭ ‬تقوم‭ ‬لجنة‭ ‬الخبراء‭ ‬لدينا‭ ‬بمعالجة‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الموضوع‭. ‬وكان‭ ‬أخرها‭ ‬ما‭  ‬قمنا‭ ‬به‭ ‬في‭ ‬يناير‭/‬كانون‭ ‬الثاني‭ ‬حول‭ ‬موضوع‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬لإدارة‭ ‬ترامب‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تتوقعه‭ ‬من‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭. ‬

‭ ‬أما‭ ‬الزاوية‭ ‬الثالثة‭ ‬والأخيرة‭ ‬لدينا‭ ‬هي‭ ‬نشاطنا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬برنامج‭ ‬التوعية‭ ‬التعليمية،‭  ‬الذي‭ ‬يستهدف‭ ‬في‭ ‬المقام‭ ‬الأول‭ ‬طلاب‭ ‬المدارس‭ ‬الثانوية‭ ‬والُمعلمين،‭ ‬والفكرة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬توفير‭ ‬المناهج‭ ‬الدراسية‭ ‬لطلاب‭ ‬المدارس‭ ‬الثانوية‭ ‬أو‭ ‬المُعلمّين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬قد‭ ‬يريدون‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬علي‭ ‬دورة‭ ‬تمتد‭ ‬لأسبوع‭ ‬أو‭ ‬أسبوعين‭  ‬حول‭ ‬موضوع‭  ‬في‭ ‬الدراسة‭ ‬الاجتماعية،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬دورة‭ ‬حول‭ ‬التاريخ‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬الحديث‭. ‬ولقد‭ ‬لمسنا‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬الاهتمام‭ ‬من‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬مُعلمي‭ ‬المدارس‭ ‬الثانوية‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬طلابهم‭ ‬كذلك‭. ‬كما‭ ‬نذهب‭ ‬في‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الأحيان‭ ‬ونتحدث‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬فصولٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬مجموعات‭ ‬المتدربين‭ ‬الزائرين‭ ‬في‭ ‬المدارس‭ ‬الثانوية‭ ‬لمدة‭ ‬أسبوع‭ ‬تقريبًا،‭ ‬عندما‭  ‬يتم‭ ‬إحضارهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬أنحاء‭ ‬البلاد‭.‬

كيف‭ ‬يُؤثر‭ ‬حظر‭ ‬الهجرة‭ ‬الجديد‭ ‬على‭ ‬العلاقة‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬وبين‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط؟

من‭ ‬الواضح‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أى‭ ‬شيء‭ ‬قد‭ ‬يُرسل‭ ‬رسالةً‭ ‬فحواها‭ ‬‮«‬أنتم‭ ‬غير‭ ‬مٌرحبًا‭ ‬بكم‮»‬‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬أمرًا‭ ‬جيدًا‭ ‬لبلادنا،‭ ‬وليس‭ ‬في‭ ‬صالح‭ ‬المنطقة‭. ‬وأعتقد‭ – ‬للأسف‭ ‬‭-  ‬أننا‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يتوجب‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬العمل‭ ‬في‭ ‬فترةٍ‭ ‬قصيرة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الوقت،‭ ‬وأنا‭ ‬واثقٌ‭ ‬من‭  ‬أن‭ ‬مؤسساتنا‭ ‬يُمكنها‭ ‬النجاح‭ ‬بذلك‭. ‬

ولقد‭  ‬رأينا‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬بالفعل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬المحاولة‭ ‬الأولي‭ ‬للحظر‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬وقف‭ ‬النظام‭ ‬القضائي‭ ‬وتصىدى‭ ‬له،‭ ‬قائلًا‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬من‭ ‬الواجب‭ ‬أن‭  ‬يكون‭ ‬القرارُ‭ ‬متوافقًا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬قيمنا‭ ‬الدستورية،‭ ‬وهو‭ ‬غير‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬في‭ ‬الحقيقة؛‭ ‬ولذلك‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬وضعه‭ ‬قيد‭ ‬التنفيذ‭.  ‬وأعتقد‭ ‬أننا‭ ‬سيكون‭ ‬علينا‭  ‬العمل‭ ‬في‭ ‬فترةٍ‭ ‬ما،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬لابد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬دوافع‭ ‬مُعينة‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬وراء‭ ‬انتخاب‭ ‬الرئيس‭ ‬ترامب،‭ ‬و‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يريد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يرى‭  ‬أن‭ ‬الحكومة‭  ‬أكثر‭ ‬رعايةً‭ ‬وأكثر‭ ‬اهتمامًا‭ ‬بالأشخاص‭ ‬العاديين‭ ‬،‭ ‬وأنّها‭ ‬قد‭ ‬نسيت‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬العاديين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يشعرون‭ ‬بأنهم‭ ‬منسيّن‭. ‬لذلك‭ ‬أعتقد‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬من‭ ‬الواجب‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬بذل‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الجهدِ‭ ‬لتلبية‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الرغبة‭. ‬

وأعتقد‭ ‬في‭ ‬نهاية‭ ‬المطاف‭ ‬أن‭  ‬مؤسساتنا‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تقوم‭ ‬بكل‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬القيام‭ ‬به‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الشأن،‭ ‬وبطرقٍ‭ ‬لا‭ ‬تأتي‭ ‬بنتائج‭ ‬عكسيةٍ‭ ‬ولا‭ ‬تغضب‭ ‬عددً‭ ‬كبيرًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأشخاص‭. ‬وأعتقد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬يوافقون‭ ‬على‭ ‬أنّهم‭ ‬جميعًا‭  ‬يريدون‭ ‬التأكد‭ ‬من‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬كلَ‭ ‬من‭ ‬يأتي‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬هنا‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يتمنى‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬الأذى،‭ ‬وليس‭ ‬هنا‭ ‬ليُسبب‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬المتاعب‭. ‬وعلى‭ ‬الجانب‭ ‬الأخر‭ ‬أعتقد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬يتفهمون‭ ‬أننا‭ ‬كلنا‭ ‬جئنا‭ ‬من‭ ‬مكانٍ‭ ‬أخر،‭  ‬وأننا‭ ‬نزدهر،‭ ‬وأننا‭ ‬نحتاج‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬النوع‭ ‬من‭ ‬تدفق‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬الجدد‭ ‬والأفكارالجديدة‭ ‬لذلك‭ ‬علينا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نجد‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬التوازن‭.‬