Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts FPRI’s Program on the Middle East Report on 2016
FPRI’s Program on the Middle East Report on 2016

FPRI’s Program on the Middle East Report on 2016

  • January 11, 2017

FPRI’s Program on the Middle East Report on 2016

  • January 11, 2017


The Program on the Middle East at FPRI was not only extremely productive in 2016, but the research and insights of its scholars achieved local, national, and global recognition. Our scholars published regularly on critical developments and trends in the Middle East and participated in diverse programming, geared at policymakers and engaged citizens alike about regional issues that bear upon American foreign policy.

FPRI’s Mideast Scholars in the News

+220 Scholarly Contributions

+200 External Outlets

+20 countries

 External Productivity


Scholarly Contributions in Internal FPRI Outlets

+65 Scholarly Contributions

9 Internal Outlets

5 Distinct Venues

 Internal Productivity









Select Scholar-Related Highlights

  • Senior Fellow Michael A. Reynolds wrote a startling FPRI E-Note on the attempted coup in Turkey, titled Damaging Democracy: The U.S., Fethullah Gülen, and Turkey’s Upheaval, that shook up the way we think about Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen, and the United States. It received unprecedented attention from sources as diverse as prominent Turkish journalists and academics to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a handful of Turkish embassies. Reynolds wrote another article that received just as much attention in late December 2016, titled What the Assassination of the Russian Ambassador May Be Telling Us about Erdoğan’s Turkey. In only one week, this article became our most read publication of 2016, receiving 18,000+ hits.
  • Senior Fellow Barak Mendelsohn’s book, The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences (Oxford University Press), was released in 2016 to great acclaim, having been favorably reviewed and/or cited in the International Security Journal, Israel Book Review, London School of Economics’ Review of Books, Parameters Journal, Politics and Religion Journal. It was also the subject of articles, interviews, and podcasts in such reputable outlets as The Washington Post, Lawfare, The New Jersey State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Rutgers Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books Review, Jihadology, The Brookings Institution’s “Experts Weigh In” series, and a number of FPRI forums.
  • Robert A. Fox Fellow Vish Sakthivel wrote an FPRI E-Note, Taking Stock of U.S. Policy Options in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, offering a nuanced appraisal of each country’s unique domestic and regional issues. Immediately thereafter, she was approached to brief U.S. State Department officials from the Near East Affairs Office; brief staffers from the United Nation’s Department of Political Affairs – Africa II Division; provide quotes and authorize republication of her piece in half a dozen media outlets at home and in the Middle East (several of whom had never featured FPRI in the past).

FPRI Names 5 Robert A. Fox Fellows

The Program on the Middle East was proud to announce that it named five Robert A. Fox Fellows, who are spending the year writing and speaking on a wide range of issues related to the Middle East and North Africa, and U.S. policy therein. Sponsored by Robert A. Fox, these Fellows have been chosen on the basis of their erudite scholarly contributions and their ability to respond to contemporary developments in the region in a sound and timely fashion, based on FPRI’s focus on geopolitical analysis. This marks the second year (2016-2017) of the fellowship, which was awarded to two new scholars* and renewed for an additional year for three existing scholars. They are:

berti_bernadettaBenedetta Berti focuses on human security and internal conflicts, on post-conflict stabilization and peacebuilding. Dr. Berti is the author of three books, including Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) and her work has appeared, among others, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Al-Jazeera. She is a Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a TED Senior Fellow, and an independent human security consultant. In 2015 the Italian government awarded her the Order of the Star of Italy (order of Knighthood).

GarfinkleAdam Garfinkle is founding editor of The American Interest. He served in 2003-05 as principal speechwriter to the Secretary of State. He has also been editor of The National Interest and has taught at the School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College and other institutions of higher learning.

Samuel HelfontSamuel Helfont is a post-doctoral lecturer of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania. 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 has written widely in publications such as The Middle East JournalForeign Affairs, OrbisThe New Republic, and The Jewish Review of Book, among others.

Vish SakthivelVish Sakthivel is a doctoral candidate in Modern Middle East Studies at Oxford University, where she is writing her dissertation on Islamist politics in Algeria and Morocco. She is also a nonresident adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and is the author of the WINEP monograph, “Al-Adl wal-Ihsan: Inside Morocco’s Islamist Challenge.” Her work has appeared in Foreign AffairsWorld Politics ReviewAl Monitor, the Oxford University Press Islamic Encyclopedia, among other outlets.

photo.watts_clintWattsClint Watts is President of Miburo Solutions, Inc. His research focuses on analyzing transnational threat groups operating in local environments on a global scale. Before starting Miburo Solutions, he served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, a FBI Special Agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force, and as the Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC). He is also the editor of the blog and a frequent contributor to FPRI’s blog, Geopoliticus and the prestigious military blog War on the Rocks.

Impact of FPRI’s Robert A. Fox Fellowship Program

Increase FPRI’s global reach
Impact today’s policy discussion
Change our understanding of this important region

How do we know? Take a look at the accomplishments of just one of our Robert A. Fox Fellows,
Clint Watts:

Interviewed and Cited in +40 Media Outlets Spanning 5 Continents

ABC 7 – WJLA, Associated Press, BBC America, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, CBC Radio-Canada, CTC Sentinel, Daily Mail, Epoch Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel, Fox News, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, IDC International Radio, Markaz: The Brookings Institution, Military Times, Mother Jones, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NPR, Opposing Views, PBS  News Hour,, Quartz Africa, Reuters, Sky News, The Daily Beast, The Hill, The Malay Mail, The National, The Washington Times, Time, UPI, US News and World Report, USA Today, Vox, War on the Rocks, Western Journalism, WHYY’s Radio Times, World Magazine, World Politics Review.

Provided and Participated in +15 High Level Briefings

Defense Intelligence Agency, George C. Marshall Center Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (Germany), International Institute for Counter-Terrorism – ICT) World Summit (Israel), National Counterterrorism Center, National Defense University, NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, The Brookings Institution, U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

These numbers are double what they were last year at this time, meaning that the impact and reach the Fox Fellows have increased at an exponential level over time.

Scholarly Collaborations

Perry World HouseIn Fall 2016, the Program on the Middle East co-sponsored an event with the Perry World House at the University of pwh-2Pennsylvania on How We Misunderstand Egypt featuring Aaron Rock-Singer based on his FPRI Philadelphia Paper, Islamists and Autocrats: What the Next Administration Needs to Know about Egypt. Challenging the misconception of Egypt’s political future as being a contest between secular autocrats, on the one hand, and Islamists, on the other, Dr. Rock-Singer explained how this false dichotomy muddles our understanding of the domestic landscape and has far-reaching implications for U.S. policy toward Egypt.