States collapsing, militant extremism on the rise, nuclear proliferation in the offing, an increasingly predominant Iran, emerging alliances of strange bedfellows – this is not your father’s Middle East. What to make of it, and how to think about what role America can or should play? Join FPRI experts Samuel Helfont, Tally Helfont, and Andrew Spath for a wide-ranging discussion.
Samuel Helfont is a Robert A. Fox Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on the Middle East, and holds a post-doctoral lectureship in the University of Pennsylvania’s interdisciplinary International Relations Program. In May 2015, he completed a PhD in Princeton University’s Near Eastern Studies Department, where he wrote his dissertation on Saddam Hussein’s use of religion to entrench his authoritarian regime, based on captured Ba’th Party and Iraqi state records. Helfont is the author of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi: Islam and Modernity (The Moshe Dayan Center/Tel Aviv University Press, 2009) and the FPRI monograph, The Sunni Divide: Understanding Politics and Terrorism in the Arab Middle East.
Tally Helfont is the Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on the Middle East, where she focuses on the regional balance of power, the Levant, the Gulf States, and U.S. policy therein. She is also a Contributing Analyst for Wikistrat’s Middle East Desk, a crowd-sourcing consultancy. Ms. Helfont has instructed training courses in Civil Information Management to U.S. Military Civil Affairs Units and Human Terrain Teams assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan. Her writings have appeared in English, Hebrew, and Arabic in Orbis (US), The American Interest (US), INSS Insight (IL), al- Mesbar (UAE), and al Majalla (UK/KSA), as well as in FPRI’s E-Notes and Geopoliticus blog.
Andrew Spath is a Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on the Middle East and an Instructor at American University’s School of International Service. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University, where he also teaches courses on authoritarian regimes, Middle East politics and security, and Model United Nations. His current research examines the effects of leadership succession on the relationship between government and society in Jordan and Syria. Spath was awarded both a Fulbright fellowship and a David L. Boren fellowship for 2012-13.
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