The Middle East Institute is pleased to host Joost Hiltermann and Jean-Francois Seznec for a discussion on recent events in Bahrain and prospects for its immediate future. Three months after the release of the Bassiouni report, which documented systematic government abuses of pro-democracy protesters, Bahrain's King Hamad has announced constitutional reforms to increase parliamentary oversight. His announcement has done little to appease opposition forces, however, who contend the reforms do little to address the underlying sectarian inequities in Bahrain. Popular protests continue almost daily and are often met with police violence. In this highly polarized environment, is political compromise possible? What can be done to help reconcile Bahrain's divided Sunni and Shiite populations? Hiltermann and Seznec will address these question and explore the domestic and international dimensions of the protracted sectarian conflict in Bahrain.
Joost Hiltermann is the Deputy Program Director of the Middle East and North Africa for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Since 2002, Hiltermann has managed a team of analysts based in the Middle East and North Africa to conduct research and write policy-focused reports on factors that increase the risk of and drive armed conflict. He has written extensively on Iraq for ICG, Foreign Policy, the New York Review of Books and other publications. Prior, he was Executive Director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch and from 1992-1994 served as the Director of the Iraq Documents Project for HRW. His most recent book is A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (Cambridge, 2007).
Jean-Francois Seznec is Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. His research centers on the influence of the Arab-Persian Gulf political and social variables on the financial and oil markets in the region. He is focusing on the industrialization of the Gulf and in particular the growth of the petrochemical industry. He is Senior Advisor to PFC Energy in Washington, DC. He holds a MIA from Columbia University , a MA and his Ph.D. from Yale University . He has published and lectured extensively on Petrochemicals and energy based industries in the Gulf and their importance in world trade. He is interviewed regularly on national TV, radio and newspapers, as well as by the foreign media.