Monday Briefing

UNGA week kicks off with a US-Iranian prisoner swap

On the eve of this year's United Nations General Assembly meeting, Iran announced the release of five Americans held in Evin Prison, while the U.S. will lift charges against five Iranians and release $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets. It remains to be seen whether Iran will build on this agreement to move back into the nuclear deal before the U.S. election season really gets underway. Underscoring the continuing decline of the U.N. and global governance, only the U.S. among the five permanent members of the Security Council will have its leader in New York this week. Reform of the Security Council is long overdue and the U.S. should lead — rather than resist — the process.


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A River Flows Downstream

June 14 - October 13, 2023

Curated by Roï Saade
Presented in partnership with Tribe Photo Magazine

A River Flows Downstream explores the concept of a journey along the river into the disparate world of ecosystems in different space and time.

While drifting downstream through the various works on display, the viewer is invited by each of the 8 participating artists into their lived world to witness the shifting ecological and cultural landscapes that they inhabit.

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Photo: Zied Ben Romdhane, Phosphate 1, from the Phosphate Series. 2014.
Courtesy of the artist. On view at the MEI gallery

Expanding Knowledge, Narrowing Divides

MEI fosters greater understanding of the Middle East through non-partisan policy analysis, educational services, and promotion of regional arts and culture.


Policy Center

A source for non-partisan expert analysis seeking solutions to the region’s most challenging issues

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Education Center

Classes, academic resources, and professional development services to foster regional understanding

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Arts & Culture Center

D.C.’s only gallery dedicated to contemporary and modern art from the Middle East

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Upcoming Events

Attend free, public events at our D.C. headquarters or tune in to our live webcasts


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Discover how you can become a part of the MEI community.

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Explore Our Language Program

MEI offers language training through private and group courses in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, and other regional languages at a variety of proficiency levels, all taught by professionally-trained, native speakers. Offered online and in-person in the Washington, D.C. area.

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MEI Art Gallery Open for Visits

The MEI Art Gallery is open to the public weekdays from 10am to 5pm (closed for federal holidays). Visitors are encouraged to register for a timed visit at the link below, but walk-ins are also welcome.

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Oman Library Now Open By Appointment

Please call or email the librarian to set up a time to visit, research, or browse our ongoing book sale. Also keep an eye out for new acquisitions to the catalog and the publication of online resource guides.

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Leading Regional Expertise

MEI’s scholars draw on deep ties and decades of experience working in the region to build better understanding of Middle East policy.

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Research Programs

Led by renowned scholars and regional experts, MEI's policy research programs produce original analysis, convene roundtables and public events, and work to advance understanding of the complexities of regional policy.

Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies

MEI’s Afghanistan and Pakistan studies center aims to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of the politics, economy, society and foreign policy of these two countries. It works with scholars to produce original research, sponsors lectures, produces opinion pieces, and provides expert analysis with the goal of promoting knowledge about Afghanistan and Pakistan among the American public and within policy making circles.

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Arabian Peninsula Affairs

MEI’s Arabian Peninsula Affairs program aims to enhance U.S. understanding of the major issues and opportunities in front of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council who are key political, security, and economic partners for the United States. It is a hub for analysis of developments within the GCC and the broader region, including Iran, Yemen, and the Gulf and Red Sea littorals.

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Climate and Water Program

The Climate and Water Program seeks to assess and understand the broader impacts of climate change in the region, with emphasis on water resources management, sustainability, and the environment. The program also explores the use of water and environmental policy, climate adaptation and mitigation, and green initiatives to enhance the climate resilience of the Middle East and North Africa.

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Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues

Establishing spaces for current and former officials and experts to engage in problem-solving dialogues in which they discuss emerging political and security trends in the region, resolution of conflicts, and broader issues related to regional security.

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Countering Terrorism & Extremism

MEI's Countering Terrorism and Extremism program seeks to generate a more locally-rooted understanding of the threats and challenges of today and tomorrow - grasping where they come from and why they come about, and most importantly, how to more effectively and sustainably defeat them.

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Center for Strategy and Emerging Technology

The world is witnessing a tech cold war and decoupling between the U.S. and China, as new geopolitical fault lines emerge based on technology networks and the flow of information. This has critical implications for the Middle East as the region seeks to become an inflection point for the new digital order and a key arbiter in building the global digital architecture. MEI's Center for Strategy and Emerging Technology studies how emerging technologies are impacting the region, analyzes the rise of new tech powers, and seeks to open up opportunities for new tech cooperation between the U.S. and leading regional actors.

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Defense and Security

MEI's Defense and Security program provides rigorous and multidisciplinary analysis of the current and emerging defense and security challenges and opportunities facing the United States and its regional partners. It also works to create a unique, credible, and independent platform for defense and security stakeholders from both the United States and the region to more closely interact, exchange views, and share experiences regarding various matters of national security.

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Economics and Energy Program

The Program on Economics and Energy seeks to advance understanding of the impact of a global energy transition away from hydrocarbons for those traditional oil and gas exporters of the Middle East. The program also investigates the relationship between oil and gas exporters and importers across MENA, in the role of financial aid and investment, remittances, and labor markets.

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Egypt Program

MEI's Egypt Program looks at the country's security, economic and political developments. It seeks to examine Egypt’s domestic developments and regional role through research, private roundtables and public events.

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Frontier Europe Initiative

MEI’s Frontier Europe Initiative explores interactions between Middle East countries and their Frontier Europe neighbors – the parts of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus which form a frontier between Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. The program examines the growing energy, trade, security and political relationships with the aim of developing greater understanding of the interplay between these strategically important regions.

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Iran Program

MEI’s Iran program covers Iranian domestic politics, civil society and social trends, and Tehran’s soft- and hard-power approach to geopolitical competition with other regional states through research, articles, papers, and public and private events.

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Lebanon Program

The past two years have been grueling for Lebanon. Political, humanitarian, financial, and socio-economic crises have converged. In parallel, citizens have risen up to demand accountability, reforms, and an end to corruption and incompetence. In such critical times, MEI’s dedicated Lebanon program seeks to inform and advance the policy conversation on Lebanon in the United States and globally. The program particularly focuses on investigating and promoting viable paths forward for Lebanon as it battles through one of the darkest periods in its 100-year modern history.

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Middle East - Asia Project (MAP)

MAP explores the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia through scholarly analysis of cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications. It seeks to foster collaborative research on these issues through building an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

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North Africa and the Sahel

The North Africa and Sahel Program studies this region’s evolving internal social, political, and economic dynamics and draws attention to its growing geopolitical significance. The program brings the voices and experiences of new and established actors to a global audience and provides a space to build closer ties and promote shared peace and prosperity.

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Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs

The Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs examines the future of Palestinian politics and the Palestinian national movement as well as the prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of the conflict in the stability of the broader Middle East.

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Strategic Foresight Initiative

MEI's Strategic Foresight Initiative examines key drivers and dynamics at work in the region, thinks strategically, creatively and rigorously about various scenarios, risks and opportunities, and uses methodologically sound approaches to help decision-makers chart a course forward.

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Syria Program

MEI’s Syria Program seeks to provide insightful and grounded research and analysis on all things Syria in order to better inform a wide range of audiences and to help sustain and shape a more meaningful policy-oriented discussion. Drawing on the expertise of over a dozen renowned scholars, the Syria Program covers all aspects of Syria and its ongoing crises - from political, economic, legal, social, ethnic and religious dynamics, to conflict, insurgency and terrorism and the country’s history and possible futures.

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Turkish Studies

Established in 2009, MEI’s Turkish Studies program seeks to highlight and analyze political, economic, and social developments in Turkey through scholarly research and public events. It organizes an annual conference featuring leading experts and policy practitioners from Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

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What We Do

We seek to promote knowledge of the Middle East in America and strengthen understanding of the United States by the peoples and governments of the region. We believe pursuit of this goal is integral to building a world of peace and stability, in which the people of our two regions value our shared humanity.


Our experts shape diplomatic, legislative, and public discourse through publications, private briefings, testimony, and media.


We provide education and resources to the next generation of global leaders.


Our Center for Arts & Culture promotes a more integrated understanding of the Middle East, forging people-to-people connections and creating a destination for exploring the role of the arts in the region.


We elevate voices from the region in international conversation.


Our international conflict resolution dialogues bring together civil society and political leaders to achieve impact through cooperation both in and outside of the region.