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April 12, 2013

CSIS Forum

The first Williamsburg-CSIS Forum, “The New Egypt: Challenges of a Post-Revolutionary Era,” explores the dramatic events of the Arab Spring and the future course of Egypt’s difficult transition to democracy.

The inaugural forum is the result of a new partnership between the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C and the Reves Center at the College of William and Mary, and opens on Monday, April 22 in Williamsburg.

“The New Egypt: Challenges of a Post-Revolutionary Era” will be attended by a wide range of Egyptian participants – including politicians, diplomats, business leaders, academics, military experts, economists and media representatives – as well as U.S. authorities on the Middle East. Sensitive discussions will be conducted largely in private to encourage free and open exchange of divergent views.

The opening address at 12:30 p.m. Monday, April 22 is presented by Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian, Brown University Professor and Colonial Williamsburg senior trustee Gordon Wood on the topic of democratic challenges of post-revolutionary periods from the American Revolution to the Arab Spring. Following dinner on Monday, April 22, former Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed El-Orabi will outline his vision for the future of Egypt. And, on the evening of April 23, Amr Darrag, Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Foreign Relations committee will talk about the new, post-revolutionary Egyptian constitution. The final keynote speaker, former Egyptian Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, will address the main theme of the conference: “The New Egypt: Challenges of a Post-Revolutionary Era.”

There are two opportunities for the public to participate in the conference.

Public Panels

The first of two public panels, “The Future of U.S.-Egyptian Military Cooperation: The Role of the Armed Forces in Post-Revolutionary Egypt” will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. As Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, the issue of U.S. military cooperation with the Islamist government of President Mohamed Morsi has moved to the forefront of political discussion. The panel of presenters includes:

  • retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of the U.S. Central Command,
  • retired Egyptian Army Major-Gen. Sameh Seif El-Yazal, director of the Al-Gomhoria Center for Security Studies, and
  • Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed El-Orabi.

    The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Jon B. Alterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and Director Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    The second public panel, “The Arab Spring: Prospects for Democracy,” will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. The moderator will be Dr. Joshua Stacher, a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Stacher has researched and written extensively on Middle Eastern politics. The discussion will attempt to chart a course forward from the revolutionary upheaval known as the Arab Spring. The panelists are:

  • Amr Darrag, Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Foreign Relations Committee,
  • Amr Hamzawy, president of the Egypt Freedom Party,
  • Former Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and
  • Manar El-Shorbagy, Professor, Political Science, American University of Cairo

    Both public forums will take place in the Hennage Auditorium of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Seating is limited and a free reservation is required by calling 1-800- 447-8679. The audience will have the opportunity to submit written questions to the panelists.

    Live Streaming and Video

    Although there is no public access to events other than the public panels, the Colonial Williamsburg website,, will live stream and provide video of keynote speeches and participant interviews. The public panels will also be live streamed, and the website will offer opportunities for the general public to discuss and comment on the conference themes of revolution, democracy, and the search for national unity. The content will also be available on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, .

    “The revolution that began in eighteenth-century Williamsburg still reverberates around the world,” said Bill White, Colonial Williamsburg’s Royce R. & Kathryn M. Baker Vice President Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures. “And we are pleased that Colonial Williamsburg is able to provide web access to this forum for interested audiences.”


    The Global Forum will build on the unique assets of the partners. A significant goal of the sessions held in Williamsburg will be to assess whether lessons learned from past efforts to develop stable political cultures and institutions, such as the American Revolution and its aftermath, are helpful in considering contemporary political and economic challenges around the world. The Global Forum constitutes an important element of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s initiative to position itself as a center for history and citizenship.

    “We believe our own history and the principles of citizenship and self-government can provide a valuable starting point for discussions about the establishment of democratic institutions and political and economic development today,” said Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    CSIS, one of America’s leading think tanks, will contribute its bipartisan expertise in international and security issues, and its worldwide contacts and experience. Conference segments held at CSIS headquarters in Washington later in the week will focus more specifically on immediate policy challenges, such as, in the case of Egypt, the country’s future dealings with the West and other countries in the Middle East.

    “This important and imaginative partnership brings together two great American institutions, CSIS and Colonial Williamsburg,” said John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS. “The partners will leverage their unique resources to promote stronger political institutions around the world, enhancing global stability. We are delighted that the College of William and Mary will join us in this exciting project.”

    Leading the Global Forum will be Reginald Dale, director of the Williamsburg-CSIS Forum at CSIS, James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and Stephen E. Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary.

    The Forum is made possible by generous support from Anita A. and James D. Timmons and other Colonial Williamsburg supporters.

    Media Contact:
    Lynnette Williams

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