Council on Foreign Relations Partners with the Saban Center at Brookings on Middle East Strategy for the Next President
from Toward a New U.S.-Middle East Strategy: A Saban Center at Brookings-Council on Foreign Relations Project

Council on Foreign Relations Partners with the Saban Center at Brookings on Middle East Strategy for the Next President

February 14, 2008 2:25 pm (EST)

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The next U.S. president will face multiple challenges in the Middle East when he or she takes office in January 2009. Numerous crises and concerns in the region will remain on top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda: the conflict in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the push for a Palestinian state, Lebanon’s continued political instability, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, and political and economic reform efforts across the Middle East and Gulf regions.

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The Council on Foreign Relations and the Saban Center at Brookings are undertaking an ambitious initiative to develop a nonpartisan blueprint for the next U.S. president, one which can be used as the foundation for the new administration’s Middle East policy.

The strategy group will conduct in-depth research, undertake fact-finding trips to the region, generate dialogue with regional officials, and consult with American policymakers. The project is staffed by Middle East experts from both organizations and will result in a published report in late 2008 or early 2009, titled, "Toward a New U.S.-Middle East Strategy."

Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Strobe Talbott, president of Brookings, are co-chairs of an advisory board that includes former national security advisors Sandy Berger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former deputy director of intelligence Jami Miscik. The directors of the project are Martin S. Indyk, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and Gary Samore, vice president, director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair at the Council of Foreign Relations.

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"We’ve gathered a strong team of experts to tackle the toughest foreign policy problems the next administration will face," said Samore. "With team trips to the region and advice from our advisory board, we hope to produce a set of recommendations to help the new administration develop an effective Mideast policy."

"In a year marked by escalating conflict in the Middle East, the U.S. faces an array of challenges from the conflict in Iraq to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms to a latent Middle East peace process," said Indyk. "The importance and urgency of these issues will require the next president to hit the ground running. By bringing together the best minds on the Middle East to think and write about these issues ahead of time, we hope to provide the next president with a Middle East strategy blueprint that he or she can use from day one."

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Middle East and North Africa

The following teams of experts will prepare the policy recommendations:

Council on Foreign Relations Saban Center at Brookings Topics
Richard N. Haass Martin S. Indyk Overall strategy
Steven A. Cook Shibley Telhami Arab-Israeli Conflict
Ray Takeyh Suzanne Maloney Iran
Stephen Biddle Kenneth M. Pollack Iraq
Isobel Coleman Tamara Cofman Wittes Political & Economic Development
Gary Samore Bruce Riedel Nonproliferation
Steven Simon Daniel L. Byman Counterterrorism

For more information about the joint project, visit:

Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, national membership organization and a nonpartisan center for scholars dedicated to producing and disseminating ideas so that individual and corporate members, as well as policymakers, journalists, students, and interested citizens in the United States and other countries, can better understand the world and foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For more than 90 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter—for the nation and the world. The Saban Center for Middle East Policy was established in 2002 at the Brookings Institution to conduct independent research and educational programs on Middle East policy issues.


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