The West Asia Council promotes knowledge exchange, international cooperation, trade, and investment between North America on the one hand, and West Asian countries such as Turkey, Arab countries, and Iran on the other. The Council’s main aim is to build deep links between these two critical regions of the world by raising their level of interaction, understanding, and cooperation in key arenas.
The hallmarks of the Council’s work are its original research, and the potency of the networks it builds across sectors, — government, business, NGO, and educational institutions. Our knowledge production and dissemination activities, and the networks of cooperation we design, serve the common good as they rely on the cutting-edge research and organic knowledge of different countries.
Given its focus on building greater knowledge and understanding between North America and West Asia, the Council is especially interested in harnessing the potential of West Asian communities of North America, tapping into the vast human capital and potential of Arab, Turkish, and Iranian diasporas in the U.S. and Canada.
The West Council has one key aim: to be a bridge between the top talent in North America’s West Asian communities, and decision makers in American government, non-profits, business, and educational institutions. By cultivating and harnessing such talent, the U.S. can credibly overcome the “us-and-them” dichotomy that has characterized US relations with much of the Muslim world in the post-cold war era.
West Asian diaspora communities in North America possess a tremendous reservoir of specialized knowledge, as well as organic personal and professional networks in their countries of origin that can substantially raise the level of understanding of decision makers across North America about West Asian countries, and vice-versa. The intellectual and financial resources of these diaspora communities, if properly cultivated, can positively impact the views of the people of their countries of origin about the U.S. Such “cultural ambassadors” are uniquely positioned to convey to global audiences the inclusive and open nature of American society, where people of all cultures and religions (including West Asian/Muslim Americans) have prospered and integrated successfully. These communities constitute ideal human resources that can help overcome “us-versus-them” perceptions in the U.S. and abroad.
The vast majority of the top think tanks, universities, and other leading organizations in Washington, D.C., as well as government and business institutions that operate globally, have yet to establish systematic links and working relationships with top members of North America’s Turkish, Arab, Iranian, and other communities. Knowledge exchange and mutually beneficial partnerships occur at a small fraction of their potential.
The West Asia Council has the ability to identify and cultivate the top talent in North America’s West Asian communities so they can project an American vision of “Of the World, By the World, For the World,” personifying win-win outcomes for the U.S. and their countries of origin. The Council will work with these communities on domestic and foreign policy issues.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary to adopt a two-pronged approach: On the one hand, the Council will help the top talent in these communities to increase their knowledge of, integrate more successfully in, the civic life of the U.S. and to build ties to the top idea-generating and policymaking institutions in Washington, D.C. on issues of domestic policy. At the same time, the Council can work with these communities so mechanisms can be designed for them to share their know-how and networks in their countries and regions of origin and contribute to knowledge-intensive foreign policy development. Thus, such communities will be cultivated as full-fledged Americans and not mere “native informants,” a concept which underlies these communities’ misgivings when they are approached to share their knowledge and connections.