The Middle East remains a source of tension, a region where some of the globe's most intractable foreign policy issues are fiercely contested. From across North Africa and the Arab Middle East, the region has witnessed an unprecedented period of popular unrest and calls for political reform, leading to the toppling of longstanding regimes. In the Gulf region, authoritarian governments are buoyed by high energy prices, but buffeted by threats from Islamic fundamentalists and calls from citizens for political liberalization. Iran's nuclear ambitions raise questions about proliferation of the world's most destructive weapons, while its theocratic government keeps a tight grip on the electoral process and ponders relations with a transformed Iraq. Though there are renewed calls for Israeli-Palestinian peace, the conflict remains seemingly at a stalemate. The Middle East program examines these political, economic, and social forces shaping the region today. Through publications, blogs, meetings, and roundtables, fellows in the program inform policymakers, business leaders, and the general public of the current issues facing the Middle East.
Director: Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies July 1, 2012—Present
The debate within Muslim-majority societies over the role of Islam in government is long-standing, but more important today than ever before. Recent developments in the Middle East and beyond have many asking how Islamist movements will shape the future of the societies in which they exist, and how the United States should respond to the complex challenges they pose in such areas as economic policy, women's and minority rights, and relations with Israel. This roundtable series, made possible through the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation, explores these questions and more.
Director: Robert M. Danin, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies October 18, 2010—Present
From the Atlantic to the Gulf of Oman, the Middle East is witnessing unprecedented change and transformation. At this pivotal time of popular uprisings, revolutions, and ongoing efforts toward Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, this roundtable series seeks to generate a deeper, richer understanding of the vast array of issues currently shaping the region. To this end, the series brings together policymakers, opinion leaders, and government officials with the most intimate knowledge of the Middle East to enrich the dialogue both on developments in the region and U.S. policy.
Conflict in the Middle East has been near the top of the American foreign policy agenda for a half century. Through discussions with academic experts and especially with current and former government officials, this roundtable series aims to inform the debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as other challenges facing the region. These roundtables discuss developments in the region and the goals and impact of U.S. actions, with an eye to deepening understanding of the Middle East and analyzing how to make U.S. foreign policy more effective.
Staff: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, and Daniel L. Byman, Professor at Georgetown University and Research Director of the Saban Center at Brookings Institution Director: Gary Samore, Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Fellows: Stephen Biddle, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy, Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Michael E. O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Bruce O. Riedel, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution Advisory Board: Odeh F. Aburdene, President, OAI Advisors, Samuel R. Berger, Chairman, Albright Stonebridge Group, Timothy C. Collins, Founder, Senior Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer, Ripplewood Holdings LLC, Rita E. Hauser, President, The Hauser Foundation, Robert K. Lifton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medis Technologies, Brent Scowcroft, Resident Trustee, The Forum for International Policy, Jami Miscik, President and Vice Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc., Joan E. Spero, Visiting Fellow, Foundation Center, Hassan Nemazee, Chairman and CEO, Nemazee Capital Corporation, Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution, and Ezra K. Zilkha, President, Zilkha & Sons, Inc. Staff: Ariel Kastner, Senior Research Assistant, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution Advisory Board: Roy Zuckerberg, Chairman and Founding Principal, Samson Capital Advisors LLC Staff: Katie Ivanick November 2007—June 2009
Toward A New U.S.-Middle East Strategy is a joint Saban Center at Brookings-Council on Foreign Relations project staffed by Middle East experts from both policy establishments. After an eighteen-month period that includes trips to the region, research, and consultation with government officials in the United States and the Middle East, the strategy group will publish a final report, brief members of the incoming administration, and present its recommendations for constructing a new Middle East policy framework to the public.
Director: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies February 1, 2007—Present
The United States is faced with an array of serious challenges in the Middle East, perhaps unprecedented in the past fifty years. An attempt to provoke a revolutionary change in the Middle East has collapsed with a large U.S. land army lodged in the heart of the region. The United States now confronts a Middle East that features an imploding Iraqi state, an aggressive Islamic Republic about to cross the nuclear threshold and a Palestinian state broken into two failed entities.
The Roundtable on the U.S. and Middle East will seek to develop strategies for the next administration. Should the United States attempt to recoup its position by pressing forward, albeit more prudently and with international cooperation, or should the United States go "back to the future," and place "stability over freedom," to use President Bush's phrase? Is it time to create an alliance with Sunnis to stave off the immediate threat of Iranian encroachment? What should the United States' grand strategy be in the Middle East? These and other questions will be the focus of monthly discussions.
Director: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies July 1, 2004—Present
Since September 11, 2001, U.S.-Middle East policy has sought to promote reform in the Arab and Islamic World as a U.S. national security priority. This roundtable series sheds light on the complex issues that the countries of the Middle East present and explores the different avenues available to U.S. policymakers seeking to promote change in that region. By drawing on the experience of a variety of speakers with particular expertise on social, political, and economic reform, women's issues, education, and the media, this roundtable series intends to enrich the current debate on reform promotion in the Arab world with a range of top-tier perspectives and policy recommendations in an informal discussion setting.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
David Rockefeller Studies Program Contacts
For more information on the David Rockefeller Studies Program, contact: