TAMPA — Elections and democratization in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran will be the focus of a two-day conference this week organized by the University of South Florida.
The conference will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Embassy Suites, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., and is free and open to the public.
Conference discussions will explore the interplay of electoral politics, religion, social conditions and democratization efforts in the volatile region. In addition to panel discussions each day, the conference will feature:
• A talk by New York Times international affairs columnist Roger Cohen at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
• A keynote lecture by Marine Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Allen served as both a commanding general and deputy commanding general in Iraq.
• An address by Ambassador John Limbert, a former hostage in Tehran, at 1 p.m. Thursday, which is the 31st anniversary of the end of the Iranian hostage crisis.
Limbert, who served as ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, was among the 52 Americans taken hostage in 1979 by Islamic revolutionaries and held for 444 days. Now a distinguished professor of international affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy, he is the author of Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History.