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February 14, 2016

Africa, Korea, Gaza in the Week Ahead

With the United States-Africa Leaders Summit starting Aug. 4, there is a preponderance of events about the continent this week in advance. President Barack Obama himself will kick off some of the pre-Summit activities. Africa has been a growing national security concern, given events in Nigeria, Libya and elsewhere.

It’s also the last week Congress is in town for a while. The schedule is a bit ambiguous, but before everyone leaves, there could be action at various levels on a new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs; legislation addressing the VA’s health care backlog; a bill overhauling the National Security Agency’s bulk record collection programs; and declassification of a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention practices under President George W. Bush.

On Monday, Obama speaks at the Young African Leaders Initiative’s Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Presidential Summit. Human Rights Watch holds a news conference for a report entitled “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law and American Democracy.” The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace holds one of the week’s several events on the Korean Peninsula, this one focused on nuclear politics.

Tuesday: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds one of the day’s two hearings on Iran nuclear negotiations, featuring State undersecretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman; and Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen. It also will hold a hearing on Obama’s pick for ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, who might stir things up over there. The House Armed Services panel will vote on a resolution to disapprove of Obama’s handling of the trade of the Taliban Five for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl vis-a-vis congressional notification.

More Tuesday: The Military Child Education Coalition kicks off a two-day conference on education for military-connected children, with a bevy of high-profile Defense officials. The Wilson Center co-hosts a number of Pentagon officials, too, on the subject of climate change and security.

A House Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday hears from a number of executive branch officials on “Logistics and Sealift Force Requirements and Force Structure Assessment.” The Heritage Foundation examines the Iraq “meltdown.” And the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International and Chertoff Group discuss trends in mergers and acquisitions on the homeland security, cyber and intelligence fronts.

Thursday’s conference via the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Sustainable Energy Coalition hears from Army and Navy officials. Assistant secretary of State for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield previews the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council also discusses how to break the cycle of violence in Gaza with Salam Fayyad (former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority), retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones Jr. (president of Jones Group International and chairman of the Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council) and Frederick Kempe (president and CEO of the Atlantic Council).

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