Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

  • One Year Post-ISIS: Iraq is on the Right Path, but Must Take Further Steps

    On December 10, 2017, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the battle to liberate Iraqi territories from the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Iraqi Army, Special Forces, and Federal Police, supported by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMFs) and the Peshmerga, fought for every inch of territory that was occupied by the terrorist group. Iraq was not alone in this fight. An international coalition, led by the United States, offered significant military help in the form of air support, logistics, and invaluable advisory assistance on the ground.

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  • The Trump Administration Has Lost the Debate on US-Saudi Relations

    In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote, “degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies.” Moreover, in the course of his defense of the Trump administration’s Saudi policy, Pompeo exaggerated the value of Saudi partnership and sought to debunk critics by attacking their political affiliation, labeling the debate as one between liberal idealism and Trump pragmatism.

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  • Why the Situation in Rukban is Deteriorating

    In the remote Rukban desert along the Syrian-Jordanian border, there is a makeshift settlement that houses approximately 50,000 Syrian refugees. The settlement is located inside a 20-square-mile deconfliction zone, north of the sand berm where the Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi borders meet; it is also south of the nearby US-led coalition base in al-Tanf. Starting in 2011, civilians in southern Syria fled the conflict to nearby Lebanon and Jordan. This was supposed to be a temporary refuge, as they expected the fighting to soon die down.

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  • Hellyer Quoted in Washington Post on MBS and G20


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  • Smart Agriculture in Syria

    Advanced technological solutions are not limited to technologically advanced societies. Numerous examples in Syria show the use of innovative solutions for real world problems using open source technology: 3D printed prosthetics for amputees, renewable energy in cities under siege, and now aquaponics in damaged farmlands. The use of smart agriculture can help provide for people’s essential nutrition needs, especially in conflict zones, where food insecurity is prevalent and underserved farming opportunities are common. 

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  • An Update on Yemen’s Water Crisis and the Weaponization of Water

    In a piece published last year, I examined the interaction of water and conflict in Yemen and Syria, two countries whose severe water shortages have enabled competing actors to wield this precious resource as a weapon in violent conflict to the detriment of millions of civilians.

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  • Hellyer Quoted in The Independent on Saudi Crown Prince's Trip to G20


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  • A Short Tribute to Raed Fares

    I first met Raed Fares in November 2015 when he spoke at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. I had learned about his work as an activist however much earlier in the Syrian conflict, especially his role in organizing local sit-ins in his northern Syrian town of Kafr Nabl. Locals were regularly photographed holding banners bearing witty English slogans to raise awareness of regime and extremist violence and shame the international community into taking action (that the slogans were often written in broken English somehow made them more endearing). Raed also founded Radio Fresh, whose broadcasts frequently criticized the local al-Qaeda derivative Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) who likely murdered Raed five days ago.

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  • Raed Fares: In Remembrance

    For days I’ve been trying and failing to write something about the violent and unjust passing of a good man—Raed Fares—and his colleague, Hammoud al-Jneid. In nearly eight years of witnessing Syria being eaten alive by a rapacious regime and by criminal sectarian “rebels” supported by regional states, nothing has been more demoralizing and deflating than these murders. Those who admired Raed Fares and saw in him the future of Syria now must choose: Permit all hope and effort for a successful, peaceful revolution to follow him and his colleague into the grave; or allow the example of Raed Fares to inspire renewed and unceasing work to bring about the Syria for which he gave his life.

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  • Hellyer Quoted in AP on Saudi Prince Rebuilding Image After Khashoggi Murder


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