New Middle East Studies Think Tank Formed


International Council for Middle East Studies, Inc.

c/o The Old Foundry Building
1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007

July 8, 2009

Washington, D.C. – The International Council for Middle East Studies, Inc. (ICMES), has been established to study Middle East issues. It has been incorporated in the State of Connecticut as a not for profit organization, and is located in the Old Foundry Building, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW. Suite M100,  Washington, D.C. 20007.

Officers of the new corporation are, Chairman, Professor Don Wallace, Professor of International Law, Georgetown University and  Chairman,  International Law Institute;   President and CEO, Professor Norton Mezvinsky, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of History, Central Connecticut State University, and Middle East expert; First Vice Chair, Dr. Richard L. Judd, President Emeritus, Central Connecticut State University, member of the Cyprus Policy Center Advisory Board, and Vice President, Global Partnership, Iraq International University; Vice Chair Peter Kelly, Esq. and Senior Principal, Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C., Hartford and New Haven, CT and Chairman, International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), Washington, D.C.; Secretary, Attorney Issam Michael Saliba, Senior Foreign Law Specialist, Law Library of Congress for Islamic Law, Laws of the Arab States, Middle East, and North Africa.

Mezvinsky, one of the founders of the organization said, “The mission of ICMES is to inform and enlighten American citizens and the West concerning current states of mind in the Middle East and to inform and apprise governmental, non-governmental organizations, and citizens of present and current dangers, hazards, and threats of concern to the Middle East and global communities.”

Mezvinsky further stated, “ICMES is serving in advocacy, education, and conflict resolution roles that would pursue, promote and provide peaceful solutions, resolution, and outcomes of Middle East social, political, economic, cultural, and educational problems and concerns. The values of the organization hold a deep understanding of and respect for the historic, sociological, political underpinnings of the Middle East.”

The Board of Directors is comprised of a number of notable Middle East experts, including Dr. Sami J. Al Banna, Architect; Director, CSC, Office of Innovation North American Public Sector; Professor Ibrahim Abu-Rabi‘, holder of the Chair in Islamic Studies, Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, University of Alberta, Canada; Professor Raymond Baker, Professor of International Politics, Trinity College, CT and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, American University, Cairo; Dr. Fouzi El-Asmar, author and leading journalist in the Arab world on Israeli-Palestinian affairs; Dr. Terri Ginsberg, Adjunct Professor of Cinema Studies, Rutgers University, New Jersey, former co-chair, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Middle Eastern Caucus, cinematic expert, Palestinian-Israeli conflict; Professor Tareq Ismael, Professor of Political Science, Calgary University, Canada, Editor, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, Secretary General of the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies; Attorney Fernando Jimenez, international legal consultant, former Governor in Spain with extensive civil service experience in international security, public policy and political transitions; and Professor Fuad Sha’ban, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Yarmouk Private University, Syria, Professor of Literature and Translation, Petra University, Jordan.

Professor Ismael was the lecturer at ICMES’ opening program on April 23 at the International Law Institute. Professor Ismael delivered an in depth lecture on the current situation in Iraq to which a number of senior Middle East diplomats, professors of Middle Eastern studies from Washington DC area, and congressional research aides attended. The Ambassador to the United States from Iraq, Samir Shakir Al-Sumaydi actively participated. A program, “The Approach of the Halakhah and Shari’ah to Contemporary Legal Issues,” suggested by ICMES President Mezvinsky, was held at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and was sponsored by the Law Library of Congress and the African and Middle East Division of the Library of Congress. Mezvinsky brought together as participants in this program ICMES Director and Secretary Issam Saliba and Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe, spiritual leader of Congregation Agudas Achim of West Hartford, Connecticut and founder of the Connecticut Symposium on Contemporary Legal Issues and Jewish Law. According to Mezvinsky, “The program, attended by 200 persons, was the first of its kind at the Library. It explained and explored the respective historical developments of Judaic and Islamic law and how the adaptations of the laws would benefit policymakers in their legislative work on foreign policy and other areas affecting religiously oriented communities.”

Professor Wallace noted that Mezvinsky and other directors travelled to Lebanon and Syria in May and June where they had discussions about the work of ICMES with academic, political, religious leaders, and government officials. Future ICMES programs in the planning stages include several panels at the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies in Barcelona, July 2010, a book project on religion and politics in the Middle East, the facilitation of academic exchanges of faculty and students between universities and colleges in the Middle East and the United States, and the visitation of Middle East academics and political leaders to present lectures and discussions.