April 16, 2024
10:00 am - 11:00 am


Zoom webinar

Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel over the weekend has opened a new and more dangerous chapter in the current Middle East crisis. What were Iran’s calculations as it sought to hit back after Israel’s April 1 airstrike on its consulate in Damascus? How might Israel respond in the short and long term to this unprecedented direct attack by Tehran? What role did the US and its allies play in mitigating the impact, and how has that affected regional security calculations? Finally, what military strengths and weaknesses did the attack reveal in both countries?

Please join us for a panel discussion with a distinguished group of MEI scholars on the regional and international implications of Iran’s attacks and what can be expected in terms of policy responses. We look forward to welcoming you to this timely and important discussion. 


Nimrod Goren
Senior Fellow for Israeli Affairs, Middle East Institute

Hafsa Halawa
Non-Resident Scholar, Middle East Institute

Brian Katulis
Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Senior Advisor to the President, Middle East Institute

Alex Vatanka
Director of Iran Program, Middle East Institute

Michael K. Nagata
Distinguished Senior Fellow on National Security, Middle East Institute 

Paul Salem (Moderator)
President and CEO, Middle East Institute

Detailed Speaker Biographies

Nimrod Goren is the Senior Fellow for Israeli Affairs at the Middle East Institute. He is also the President and Founder of Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, Co-Founder of Diplomeds - The Council for Mediterranean Diplomacy, and Co-Chair of a regional initiative at President Isaac Herzog’s Israeli Climate Forum. Nimrod holds a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He was a Teaching Fellow on Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University, and has also worked at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, and the Nehemia Levtzion Center for Islamic Studies. Nimrod is a past recipient of the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East and the Centennial Medal of the Institute of International Education, and he was selected as a Vamik Volkan Scholar by the International Dialogue Initiative. He serves on the steering committees of the Geneva Initiative and the Turkish-Israeli Civil Society Forum and is a member of the Global Diplomacy Lab. Nimrod’s fields of expertise include Israel’s foreign policy and regional relations as well as the Middle East peace process. 

Hafsa Halawa is an independent consultant working on political, social and economic affairs, and development goals across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Horn of Africa regions. A former corporate lawyer, Halawa has held positions in government, the UN, INGOs/NGOs, corporate multinationals, private firms, and think tanks. She now consults independently for a similar broad set of clients on a variety of issues, at request. 

Brian Katulis is the Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Senior Advisor to the President at the Middle East Institute. He was formerly a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), where he built the Center’s Middle East program and also worked on broader issues related to US national security. He has produced influential studies that have shaped important discussions around regional policy, often providing expert testimony to key congressional committees on his findings. Katulis has also conducted extensive research in countries such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. His past experience includes work at the National Security Council and the US Departments of State and Defense.

Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata retired from the US Army in 2019, after 38 years of Active Duty, with 34 years in US Special Operations. His final position was Director of Strategy for the National Counterterrorism Center from 2016 to 2019. After graduating from the National War College in 2003, he served for two years in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. From 2005 to 2008, as a Special Mission Unit commander, he led multiple Joint SOF task forces across more than a dozen countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. He then served within the US Intelligence Community in Washington, DC, as a Military Deputy for Counterterrorism until 2009. He deployed again until late 2011 to Pakistan as the Deputy Chief, Office of the Defense Representative at the US Embassy there. Upon returning to the US, he served on the Joint Staff as the Deputy Director for Special Operations and Counterterrorism until 2013. Nagata then assumed command of US Special Operations Command-Central and was responsible for Special Operations across the Central Command region from 2013 to 2015, and he was heavily involved in the first two years of combat operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

Alex Vatanka is the founding Director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute. He specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. He was formerly a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He has testified before the US Congress and lectured widely for both governmental and commercial audiences, including the US Departments of State and Defense, US intelligence agencies, and a list of international corporations. Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK) and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and he is fluent in Farsi and Danish. He is the author of two books: The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979 (2021) and Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence (2015).

Paul Salem is president and CEO of the Middle East Institute. He focuses on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East. Salem is the author and editor of a number of books and reports including Escaping the Conflict Trap: Toward Ending Civil Wars in the Middle East (ed. with Ross Harrison, MEI 2019), Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Conditions that Fuel Armed Non State Actors (ed. with Charles Lister, MEI 2019), From Chaos to Cooperation: Toward Regional Order in the Middle East (ed. with Ross Harrison, MEI 2017), Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (In Arabic, 2013), “Thinking Arab Futures: Drivers, scenarios, and strategic choices for the Arab World” (The Cairo Review, Spring 2019),  “The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam” (CSIS, 2015),  Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (1994), and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World (ed., 1997).  Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon, between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation; and in 1989-1999, he founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon’s leading public policy think tank.

Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images