POLICY

The Foundation operates as a think tank that produces and communicates objective, high quality insights and recommendations on political, social, educational and economic matters related to Lebanon for policy makers, media and the public at large. We also organize non-partisan educational conferences.

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Closed Discussion Circle (CDC)
Launched on June 26, 2013 - Lebanon

 

The purpose of this initiative is to explore avenues of common ground between 5 moderately affiliated individuals who retain a certain level of influence with major political groups in Lebanon. Participants discuss and explore, in a confidential atmosphere, their commonalities in values, interests, visions and aspirations for Lebanon. 
Guided by a mediator/facilitator (Mr.Oussama Safa), the group will develop its own sovereignty and identity.


Moving from the points of common ground, participants are working to craft a common vision for Lebanon and ensure that it addresses, inter alia, how to shield Lebanon from external and internal threats? What final state do we want to build and how? How would a final social contract that unites Lebanese look like? Positive and encouraging results might call to relay findings to political leaders.


The pace of the initiative is set to a monthly meeting.

  

 

 
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Survey - June 2014 - Lebanon

 

The Lebanon Renaissance Foundation concluded its Casualties of Wars survey launched in May 2013. Findings were presented on June 25, 2014 during a public presentation at the Monroe Hotel with the presence of media, scholars, academics, NGOs, etc.

 

The survey features quantitative and qualitative data collected within a consistent methodology from An-Nahar daily archive; it also includes a partial comparative with As-Safir.

 

The data is categorized under various criteria revealing untapped insights that may affect acquired perceptions pertaining to various conflicts on Lebanese soil. It also evidences the futility and anachronisms of wars.

 

Click here to download the survey

  

 

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Related Materials

Lebanon and National Defense: Charting a Grand Strategy
Roundtable - Washington, DC – February 20, 2013

 

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion on “Lebanon and National Defense: Charting a Grand Strategy". The fractured state of Lebanon’s defense strategy, the Lebanese Armed Forces and Hezbollah’s jockeying for defense supremacy, has come under greater scrutiny in 2012, as the conflict and Syria threatens to spill across Lebanon’s boarders, and potential regional conflict with Iran looms large.   

 

The event invited experts to discuss multiple facets of Lebanon’s national defense strategy. It delved into the current status and role of the Lebanese Armed Forces, highlighting both domestic and external threats resulting from the Syria crisis. The discussion also touched on the question of Hezbollah’s arms and the greater issue of Lebanese state sovereignty. The panelists shed light on the evolving US-Lebanon military relationship and offered recommendations on devising an effective security strategy that promotes state sovereignty and stronger relations with the US defense establishment.

 

Speakers

Aram Nerguizian, Visiting Fellow, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic & International Studies

Matthew Spence, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense

Colin Kahl, Senior Fellow, Center for New American Security & Associate Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service 

 

Moderated by

Mara Karlin, Principal Director - Strategy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense

 

 

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Murky Waters: Natural Gas in the Eastern Mediterranean
Roundtable - Washington, DC – November 29, 2012

 

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion on “Murky Waters: Natural Gas in the Eastern Mediterranean".  Since the discovery of natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean basin in 2010, wars of words and border-litigation battles have emerged among the regional stakeholders. This roundtable of experts shed light on the struggle that has emerged in the region following the discovery of oil and gas reserves, especially its impact on Lebanon.

Panelists explored the geopolitical challenges and opportunities arising from energy resource exploration in the eastern Mediterranean as well as the legal aspects surrounding maritime border disputes and exclusive-economic-zones and commercial benefits.

 

Speakers

Simon Henderson, Director, Gulf and Energy Policy Program, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Amos J. Hochstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy, Bureau of Energy Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Malek Takieddine, Associate, Al Jad Legal Services, Lebanon 

 

Moderated by

Michael Ratner, Specialist in Energy Policy, Congressional Research Service.

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Roundtable Discussion with Boutros Harb
Washington, DC – October 22, 2012

 

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion, attended by 54 participants, featuring Boutros Harb, Member of Parliament, Lebanese Republic and moderated by Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau Chief, Al Arabiya. The discussion focused on the current political situation in Lebanon, touching on the ongoing crisis in Syria and the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon.

 

MP Boutros Harb is the longest-serving Member of the Lebanese Parliament (1972-1992, 1996-present) and is a prominent leader in the March 14 coalition. He played a fundamental role in the 1989 Taif Accord, ending Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and took part in the 2008 Doha Agreement to help resolve the 2005-2008 Lebanese crisis.

 

Harb is a strong advocate of individual liberties and media freedom, and is recognized for his staunch opposition the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Recently, Harb escaped an assassination bid on his life. Since the forced resignation of Saad Hariri's Cabinet in 2011, MP Harb returned to the opposition with the March 14 coalition.

 

Speakers

Boutros Harb, Member of Parliament, Lebanese Republic 

 

Moderated by

Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau Chief, Al Arabiya 

 
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Banking on Credibility - Lebanon's Financial Sector Amidst Sanctions and Regional Instability
Roundtable – Washington, DC – September 19, 2012

 

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion on “Banking on Credibility - Lebanon's Financial Sector Amidst Sanctions and Regional Instability". The Lebanese banking sector has long been the backbone of the country’s economy, with the sector’s capital averaging nearly five times Lebanon’s annual GDP. Since the advent of the Syrian uprising, the financial sector has come under scrutiny due to allegations that Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are using Lebanese banks to evade international sanctions. This discussion aimed to look at the structure of the banking system in Lebanon, outline the key geo-political challenges it is facing, and shed light on factors contributing to its resilience. Recent accusations leveled against Lebanese banks were also explored, along with potential steps to ensure continued compliance with international standards.

 

Speakers

H.E. Mohammad Chatah, Former Minister of Finance and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Council of Ministers, Lebanese Republic

Daniel Glaser, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, U.S. Department of Treasury

Mohannad Aama, Founder and Managing Director, Beam Capital Management

 

Moderated by

Jay Solomon, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Wall Street Journal

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Electoral Reform in Lebanon: What’s in Store for 2013?
Roundtable - Washington, D.C. – July 17, 2012

 

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program  hosted "Electoral Reform in Lebanon – What's in Store for 2013" to launch Dr. Ekmekji's new policy paper exploring the complexities of Lebanon's confessional society and avenues for reform in its electoral system. During this conversation, experts discussed Dr. Ekmekji's paper in light of the debate on democratic representation and the rights of minorities in Lebanon, Syria, and the region. The panelists also offered actionable recommendations for lasting reform that reflects Lebanon's democratic prospects, leading up to the parliamentary elections in 2013.
Dr. Arda Arsenian Ekmekji is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon and the only female member on the National Commission for a New Electoral Law (2006) and on the Supervisory Commission for the Electoral Campaign (2009).

 

Speakers

Dr. Arda Ekmekji, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Haigazian University – Beirut, Lebanon; Author, "Confessionalism and Electoral Reform in Lebanon"
Mr. Leslie Campbell, Senior Associate and Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), National Democratic InstituteMr. Hassan Mneimneh, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States

 

Moderator
Mr. Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Washington Bureau Chief, Al Rai Newspaper

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An Overview of the Levant: What's Next in Syria?
Washington, D.C. – May 22, 2012

As the Syrian uprising enters its second year, The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a conversation that included a stock-taking of the uprising and international mediation efforts, as well as its impact on and relationship with neighboring Lebanon. These issues, along with U.S. foreign policy towards Syria, Lebanon and the region more broadly were discussed directly with U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

Ambassador Ford served in Syria from 2010 until October 2011 when threats to his safety necessitated his recall to the United States. A career diplomat with previous postings in Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Bahrain, and Iraq, Ambassador Ford provided a unique window into Syria as well as the impact of the uprising on Lebanon and the region.

 

Moderator

Hisham Melhem, Al-Arabiya Washington Bureau Chief

 
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Women's Political Participation in Lebanon
Roundtable - Washington, DC – November 10, 2011

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion on “Women’s Political Participation in Lebanon”.  Women in Lebanon have led women’s emancipation in the region but have lagged behind in many ways. They are currently virtually absent from policy-making circles, and they continue to fight for basic human rights. This panel invited leading women’s rights activists and social actors to shed light on some of the challenges women in Lebanon face and suggested recommendations to advance their role in society. These experts addressed the legal, religious, political and social status of women in Lebanon and discussed how it compares to other countries in the region.


Speakers

Lamia Osseiran, Board Member, Civil Center for National Initiative & Member, Economic and Social Council – Lebanon.
Hayat Arslan, President and Founder, Committee for Women Political Empowerment – Lebanon.
Raghida Dergham, Senior Correspondent, Al Hayat Newspaper.

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Lebanon in the Shadow of the Syrian Uprising
Panel – Washington, DC – July 15, 2011

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted an off-the-record discussion on "Lebanon in the Shadow of the Syrian Uprising”. The panel focused on the impact of the Syrian uprising on Lebanon, including the formation of the new cabinet, the STL indictment, and the relationship between Hezbollah and Syria. The panel also addressed the implications of these developments on Lebanon's relationship with the United States.


Speakers
Mr. Alan Makovsky, Senior Professional Staff Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Congress.
Mr. Andrew Tabler, Next Generation Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Dr. Robert Malley, Director, Middle East and North Africa Program, International Crisis Group.

Moderator

Ms. Toni G. Verstandig, Executive Director, Middle East Programs, the Aspen Institute.

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Understanding Lebanese Temperament
Research - Lebanon - June 29, 2011

The Lebanon Renaissance Foundation has partnered with IDRAAC (Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy & Applied Care) a Lebanese NGO, over a research project titled “Understanding Lebanese Temperament”. Findings would help the Foundation better understand the elements affecting the Lebanese temperament, thus enabling the Foundation to properly tackle root policy issues and methods for addressing educational programs promoting attitude change.

 
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The Special Tribunal & Hezbollah's Growing Influence in Lebanon: Challenges Ahead
Panel – Washington, DC – March 14, 2011

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted "The Special Tribunal & Hezbollah’s Growing Influence in Lebanon: Challenges Ahead" to address the challenges ahead of Lebanon on the sixth anniversary of the Cedar Revolution. 

The speakers discussed the challenges facing the STL, including funding, cooperation between the STL and the new government (when formed), and the potential of a trial in absentia for the accused named by the STL indictments. The conversation examined the concept of justice in Lebanon and the importance of ending a culture of impunity for political assassination, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the STL serving as the vehicle for truth and justice in light of the polarized political environment. The STL was described in the context of previous international tribunals, thereby enhancing the understanding of its unique challenges and the potential outcomes. Broader issues facing Lebanon, from deepening sectarianism to the potential for withdrawal of US assistance in the future, were also addressed. Finally, the discussion touched upon the status of the March 14 coalition six years after the Cedar Revolution, particularly its approach to its new role as the political opposition in Lebanon.

This discussion was held under Chatham House Rule.


Panelists
Mr. David Tolbert, President, Center for Transitional Justice and former Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Ms. Mona Yacoubian, Director, Lebanon Working Group, United States Institute of Peace.
Mr. David Schenker, Director, Program on Arab Politics, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Moderator
Ms. Toni G. Verstandig, Executive Director, Middle East Programs, the Aspen Institute.

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Hezbollah, the Shia Community and the Lebanese State
Roundtable – Washington, DC – December 1, 2010

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted "Hezbollah, the Shia Community and the Lebanese State" to unveil Ziad Majed's new policy paper regarding Hezbollah and the Shia community of Lebanon. During this conversation, experts debated Mr. Majed's recommendations and discussed events on the ground in Lebanon, including the implications of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as it relates to the Shia community.


Speakers

Mr. Ziad Majed, Instructor of Middle Eastern Studies at American University of Paris and Author of the report “Hezbollah and the Shiite Community: From Political Confessionalization to Confessional Specialization.”
Mr. Lee Smith, Senior Editor, Weekly Standard.

Moderator

Mr. Karim Sadjadpour, Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

 
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Evaluating the U.S. Role in the Levant
Roundtable – Washington, DC – July 20, 2010

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted a roundtable discussion on the role of the U.S. in the Levant.
The panelists began by discussing four deficits that make the challenge faced by the US in the Levant more difficult, including a leadership deficit whereby regional leaders have their hands tied by issues of political identity, survival and authority; a legitimacy and authority deficit surrounding centralized states; a street cred deficit on the part of the U.S.; and an ownership deficit, reflecting the need to give countries control of their future.  The discussion also focused on U.S. policy toward Syria and its influence on Lebanon and the region, including years of unsuccessful policies implemented by the Bush and Obama administrations towards Syria and Iran. During the discussion, the U.S. Administration, in conjunction with the French and the Saudis, was urged to take a more vigorous position in support of Lebanese interests and sovereignty.


Panelists

Mr. Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations and Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council
Dr. Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Former Senior Advisor on the Middle East to six US Secretaries of State

Moderator

Toni G. Verstandig, Middle East Programs Executive Director, The Aspen Institute

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The Future of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Panel - Washington, DC – May 27, 2010

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted “The Future of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon” to unveil Dr. Nadim Shehadi’s new study on various issues arising out of the Palestinian refugee presence in Lebanon. During this conversation, experts addressed the potential impact of Palestinian refugees on Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance, analyzed the rise of militant Islam in Palestinian refugee camps, and explained how regional states exploit armed Palestinian factions.

For further literature on this subject, please visit our Library Section page.


Panelists

Nicole Shampaine, Director, Office of Egypt and Levant Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Nadim Shehadi, Aspen Institute Visiting Fellow
Ghaith al-Omari, Advocacy Director, American Task Force on Palestine

Moderator

Toni G. Verstandig, Middle East Programs Executive Director, The Aspen Institute

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Views from the Hill: Lebanon and Syria in Light of an Ever-Present Iran
Panel - Washington, DC – March 15, 2010

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted “Views from the Hill: Lebanon and Syria in Light of an Ever-Present Iran,” to discuss and analyze Congressional perspectives on American policy towards the Levant. Among topics covered the Arab-Israeli Conflict with its territorial and security issues, Lebanon’s blurring boundaries between opposing parliamentary blocs, US-Lebanon relationships in light of new regional developments and options to convert present stability into progress, prioritizing with American Policy towards the Middle East and possible non-crippling sanctions on Iran.


Speakers
Mr. Perry Cammack, Professional Staff Member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Mr. Howard Diamond, Staff Director, House Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia


Moderator

Toni G. Verstandig, Middle East Programs Executive Director, The Aspen Institute

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Dueling Agendas for Lebanon
Panel - Washington, DC – December 16, 2009

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted “Dueling Agendas for Lebanon.” The past month has seen two new agendas announced for Lebanon. One is the Ministerial Statement of the new Lebanese government, laying out a detailed and ambitious plan for reform and development. The other is Hezbollah’s new political manifesto, which sounds the battle cry of resistance and rejects the logic of elected majorities or minorities. These dueling agendas highlight the dilemma for Lebanese leaders today, in terms of building a strong, unified state that is responsive to and inclusive of all its citizens.
Both challenges and opportunities face Lebanon in the coming period as a new government tries to define its role at home and within the region. The discussion covered Lebanon’s new political landscape and its evolving role in the region, in the context of the two paths laid out before it. In the process, ideas and proposals were developed for how the United States can best help create the context for Lebanon to resolve these contradictions, to achieve its goals for development and reform, and to become a constructive part of a comprehensive regional peace.


Panelists

Emile Hokayem, Political Editor, The National
Dr. Nabeel Khoury, Director, NESA/INR at U.S. State Department
Andrew Exum, Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Toni G. Verstandig, Executive Director of Middle East Programs, The Aspen Institute

Moderator

Toni G. Verstandig, Middle East Programs Executive Director, The Aspen Institute

 

Lebanon's Election In Context
Panel - Washington, DC – June 1, 2009

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program convened a discussion on the upcoming Lebanese elections and their potential implications for Lebanon, U.S.-Lebanon relations, and the wider region. Panelists were challenged to consider whether Lebanon’s position, embracing ambiguities between East and West, might mark a change following these elections and whether their results will continue or hamper the country’s on-going power sharing arrangements.  Macro views were also discussed given Lebanon’s position as the “regional laboratory”, with possible consequences on present rivalries among regional stakeholders.


Panelists

David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist
Raghida Dergham, Columnist and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for the London-based Al-Hayat,
Les Campbell, NDI's senior associate and regional director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Moderator

Toni G. Verstandig, Middle East Programs Executive Director, The Aspen Institute

 
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The Lebanese Link: Building a Comprehensive Regional Peace
Roundtable - Washington, DC - February 26, 2009

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted “The Lebanese Link”. Lebanon is an oft forgotten but essential element in building a lasting peace in the Levant. The Israeli-Syrian conflict, the growing influence and threat of Iran, and the regional Sunni-Shia rivalry all intersect in this small country on Israel’s northern border. This roundtable focused on the obstacles and opportunities that Lebanon represents with regard to the various tracks in the peace process, and the issues that must be addressed in order to build towards an eventual Lebanon peace track as well.


Speakers

Ambassador Terje Rød-Larsen, UN Special Envoy to the Middle East
Dr. Selim Sayegh, Vice President of the Kataeb Party of Lebanon
MP Misbah al-Ahdab, March 14 MP from Tripoli, Lebanon
Mr. Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau Chief of al-Arabiya moderating

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Lebanon: The Swing State of a New Levant
Conference - Washington, DC – December 12, 2008

The U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program hosted “Swing State of a New Levant “ that engaged senior political figures and policy experts from the U.S., Lebanon, and the region on a new era of U.S.- Lebanon relations, Lebanon’s pivotal role in the region, and the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections. The conference covered challenges expected with the arrival of President Obama, as the U.S. is set to re-engage throughout the Middle East, and where Lebanon represents a good opportunity to demonstrate that democracy and free markets can deliver despite the failure in Iraq and the global financial crisis. Challenges and opportunities were identified through the consolidation of the gains achieved by the “Cedar Revolution”, the repositioning of the US within an opportunity to re-invent the badly damaged American profile in the Middle East and the strengthening of Lebanon’s state institutions.

For further literature on this subject, please visit our Library Section page.


Speakers

Walter Isaacson, CEO, Aspen Institute
Eli Khoury, Founder, Lebanon Renaissance Foundation
Nassib Lahoud, Minister of State
Charles Boustany, Congressman, Louisiana’s 7th District
Nick Rahall, Congressman, West Virginia’s 3rd District
Ghazi Youssef, Future MP, Beirut

Moderators

Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001)
Michael Young, Opinion Editor, The Daily Star-Lebanon
David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post

Panelists

Jeffrey Feltman, Dep. Asst. Secretary of State for Near East Affairs
Martin Indyk, Director, Saban Center, Brookings Institute
Theodore Kattouf, President, AMIDEAST
Antoine Zahra, Lebanese Forces MP, Batroun
Nayla Mouawad, Qornet Shehwan MP, Zghorta
Ghassan Mokheiber, Change and Reform MP, Metn
Ghenwa Jalloul, Future MP, Beirut
Hassan Mneimneh, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Ziad Majed, Political Analyst, Institut d'Etudes Politiques
Steven Cook, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Patrick Haenni, Senior Analyst at the Religioscope Foundation

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