Iran versus Saudi Arabia

Ancient religious divide – Modern fight for power
An evening with
Ambassador Kenton Keith

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
5:30-6:15 p.m. – Reception 6:15 p.m. Dinner
7:00-8:30 p.m. – Presentation and Discussion

Schiff Conference Center, Cintas Center at Xavier University

Today’s burgeoning proxy conflicts in the Middle East between forces loyal to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are rooted in irreconcilable religious differences between the two main schools of Islam. Rarely have the two powers been as close to open conflict as they are today. Iran’s regional influence is increasing as Shia allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere appear to be gaining influence. Saudi Arabia’s succession drama is playing out in ways that few would have predicted only a couple of years ago. The Kingdom is involved in a conflict in Yemen that pits Sunni against Shia. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are in existential conflict with ISIS, which is largely Sunni.

Each has oil and gas resources, but each has domestic economic and political challenges that have distanced the leadership from their populations. U.S. interests are tied to maintaining stability in the Middle East, progress toward Mideast peace between Israel and the Arab world, and unimpeded access to oil and gas. All those interests are affected by the dynamics of Saudi-Iranian competition.

Kenton KeithKenton Keith retired from government service in 1997 after four years as a naval officer and thirty-two in the U.S. Information Agency and Department of State. His final years at USIA included assignments in Brazil, Paris, and Cairo in public affairs and cultural affairs in deputy and senior positions. In Washington, he served as both Deputy Area Director and Area Director for USIA’s (NEA) North Africa, Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Keith led the USIA planning team for the amalgamation of foreign affairs agencies. He was confirmed as Chief of Mission Doha, Qatar in 1992. For five years he served as a team leader in the Department’s Office of the Inspector General, before being named US Ambassador to Qatar in l992 for three years.

As Ambassador to Qatar he oversaw U.S. cooperation with American private sector companies competing for a share in the rapid expansion of Qatar’s LNG development, related technologies, as well as traditional petroleum exploration and development. He participated in successful negotiations with the Qatari government on regional security cooperation including the pre-positioning of U.S. military equipment and had an active role in Qatar’s establishment of American university faculties in the country.

Post Foreign Service Keith was Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center, the largest program agency assisting the Department of State in the management of the International Visitor Leadership Program. After retirement from Meridian, Ambassador Keith returned to State for occasional stints as Team Leader for Office of Inspector General teams. He led inspections of embassies in Luxembourg, The Hague, Reykjavik, Madrid, Lisbon and Brasilia, as well as the board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Keith serves on the boards of the conflict resolution organization Partners Global, the Association of Diplomatic Service and Training, the Washington Humane Society, and the anti-human trafficking organization Artworks for Freedom. He belongs to the American Academy of Diplomacy, the citizen diplomacy organization Global Ties U.S., Meridian’s Hospitality and Information Service, and DACOR, and organization for retired diplomatic and consular officers.

Ambassador Keith is a Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters. He is a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC.

Event sponsored by:

Xavier University - Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue

World Affairs Council

US Foreign Policy Matters

When US Foreign Policy Goals Conflict with
the Conduct of American Businesses Abroad

Presented by Qaisar Shareef

Monday, March 26, 2017

5:30-7 p.m. – Reception
7:00-8:30 p.m. – Presentation and Discussion
Schiff Conference Center at Xavier University

Mr. Qaisar Shareef concluded in 2011 a career of nearly 30 years with Procter & Gamble. He joined the company at headquarters in 1981, and spent a dozen years living and working abroad as P&G country manager in startup ventures in the emerging markets of Pakistan and Ukraine. The subsidiaries he led in those two countries continue to thrive today in spite of difficult circumstances. P&G Pakistan received from the U.S. State Department an Award for Corporate Excellence in 2012.

In his first book, When Tribesmen Came Calling: Building an Enduring American Business in Pakistan, published in 2017 by Blue Ear Books, Qaisar narrates his experiences successfully building American businesses in emerging markets, sharing learning about how business success was achieved and exploring the interplay among business, economics, culture, and politics. He was witness to historical political events that continue to shape Pakistan and Ukraine. He tells these stories in an engaging and informative way – as only an eyewitness can.

He is an advisory partner at Ward Howell International, a global executive search and management consultancy firm. He has taught as adjunct faculty in International Marketing in the School of International Business at the George Washington University.

Based in the Washington, DC area, Qaisar serves on the boards of many organizations from the Pakistani-American and American Muslim communities. He also serves on the Leadership Council of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a D.C.-based think tank. Originally from Pakistan, Qaisar moved to Cincinnati in 1977. He has a B.S. degree in Management from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati.

Event sponsored by:

Xavier University - Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue

World Affairs Council