The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Arab American Institute (AAI) hosted James Zogby (AAI and Zogby Research Services) for the presentation of fresh polling results from across six Arab countries, Iran, and Turkey. With the public release of the report Middle East 2016: Current Conditions and the Road Ahead, Dr. Zogby examined views about the war in Syria, the roles of the United States, Russia, and Iran in the region, and causes of extremism, violence, and instability.
Commentators Steven Cook (Council on Foreign Relations), Ellen Laipson (Stimson Center), and Hassan Mneimneh (MEI) provided their analyses of the poll's findings in a discussion with Dr. Zogby moderated by Gerald Feierstein (MEI).
The poll and resulting report were commissioned by the Sir Bani Yas Forum, convened annually in the United Arab Emirates on the initiative of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the U.A.E. Foreign Minister. The findings are being made available for use by the public; the report is available here.
Steven A. Cook
Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Steven A. Cook is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Cook is the author of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's gold medal in 2012, and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. His new book, False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017. Prior to joining CFR, Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus, Stimson Center
Ellen Laipson served as president and chief executive officer of Stimson from 2002 to October 2015; she now is President Emeritus and Distinguished Fellow. She joined Stimson after 25 years of government service. Her last post was Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council (1997-2002). She also served on the State Department's policy planning staff, the National Security Council staff, and the Congressional Research Service. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the Advisory Councils of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She served on the board of the Asia Foundation (2003-2015). She was a member of President Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board from 2009-2013, and on the Secretary of State's Foreign Affairs Policy Board 2011-2014.
Scholar, Middle East Institute
Hassan Mneimneh specializes in the Middle East and North Africa and the wider Islamic world with a particular emphasis on radicalism and factionalism. In previous capacities, he has focused on the significance of socio-political and cultural developments in the MENA region to U.S. and European policies; assessed civil reaction to radicalizing tendencies in Muslim societies; and studied the evolution, record, and prospects of radical Islamist formations worldwide. He has written on political, cultural, historical, and intellectual questions concerning the Arab and Muslim worlds. He is a regular contributor to the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, and is currently affiliated with Middle East Alternatives and Fikra Forum. His previous affiliations include the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Hudson Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Iraq Memory Foundation.
James J. Zogby
President, Arab American Institute
Dr. James J. Zogby co-founded the Arab American Institute in 1985 and continues to serve as its president. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2013. In addition to writing a weekly column published in 12 countries, Zogby is the creator and host of the award-winning call-in political television show “Viewpoint,” and is frequently featured on national and international media as an expert on Middle East affairs. In 2010, Zogby published the highly-acclaimed book, Arab Voices. His 2013 e-books, Looking at Iran: The Rise and Fall of Iran in Arab Public Opinion and 20 Years After Oslo, are drawn from his extensive polling across the Middle East with Zogby Research Services.
Amb. (ret.) Gerald M. Feierstein, moderator
Director, Center of Gulf Affairs, Middle East Institute; former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs
Jerry Feierstein retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career. At the time of his retirement, Feierstein held the personal rank of Career Minister. Over the course of his career, he served in nine overseas postings. In 2010, President Obama appointed Feierstein U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, Feierstein was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Feierstein also played a prominent role in developing and implementing State Department policies and programs to counter violent extremism. As Deputy Coordinator and Principal Deputy Coordinator in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism bureau, Feierstein led the development of initiatives to build regional networks to confront extremist groups as well as to counter terrorist financing and promote counter-terrorism messaging.