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JUNE 2017




AFSA and Smithsonian Associates

Explore the Complexities of the Middle East

AFSA’s outreach partner-

ship with the Smithsonian

Associates recently opened

a new chapter with the

presentation of “The New

Middle East,” a series that

took place over four consec-

utive Wednesday evenings at

AFSA headquarters. All the

events were sold out, with

more than 100 participants

in attendance each week.

The series featured four

retired Foreign Service

speakers, each of whom

focused on a particular area

of the Middle East and spoke

extensively from their expe-

rience in the region.

On March 15, retired FSO

Molly Williamson kicked

off the series with a talk on

Israel and Palestine and the

ongoing conflict between

the two. Though both unique

and thought-provoking, Wil-

liamson’s presentation had

tremendous balance and

delicacy, providing an excel-

lent start for the series.

Dr. Elizabeth Shelton speaks about Turkey at the March 22 session of the

AFSA and Smithsonian Associates series, “The New Middle East.”


The March 22 session

featured retired Foreign

Service Officer Dr. Elizabeth

Shelton, who delved into Tur-

key, past and present. From

the fall of the Ottomans to

Turkey’s current struggles

with democracy and its

place in the world, Dr. Shel-

ton painted a fascinating

picture of a country that is in

the midst of a centuries-long

identity crisis. She discussed

how the country’s ongoing

struggle to define itself is

affecting the region now, and

how it will do so in the com-

ing years.

On March 29, Ambas-

sador (ret.) John W. Limbert

provided his insight on the

subject of Iran. The talk

centered on the United

States’ intricate relationship

with Iran. A discussion of

the background to the 2016

Iran nuclear deal framework

was especially timely, given

renewed U.S. tension with

Tehran. Amb. Limbert also

spoke of his own history

with Iran, including his 444

days as a hostage at U.S.

Embassy Tehran from 1979

to 1981.

At the final event in the

series, on April 5, Ambas-

sador (ret.) Kenton Keith

delivered a talk on one of the

most controversial U.S. allies

in the region: Saudi Arabia.

Amb. Keith also addressed

the other Gulf States and

their increasing role on the

Middle East stage.

This summer, AFSA and

Smithsonian Associates will

once again offer our popular

one-day program, “Inside

the World of Diplomacy.”

Information and tickets for

the event are available from

the Smithsonian Associates




Information about future

events will be available on

the AFSA website at www.



—Theo Horn,

Communications Intern



AFSA will once again welcome Foreign Service officer and bestselling author Matthew Palmer to speak

at our popular Book Notes series. He will discuss his brand-new thriller,

Enemy of the Good

, at 12 p.m.

on July 13. Email

to register.

The book is set in the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and follows Foreign Service Officer Kate Hollister

as she navigates U.S.-Kyrgyz relations. Given a mission by the ambassador, she infiltrates an underground

democracy movement; but it soon becomes clear that nothing is as it seems and Kate may need to lay

her life on the line for what she knows is right.

Matthew Palmer is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as the director

of the Balkans office in the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs.