As the global community continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Atlantic Council is open for business. Our business, meetings, and events, however, are occurring virtually. For more information, please read an update from our President and CEO.

In collaboration with the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East is pleased to host a virtual discussion on US foreign policy in the MENA in light of the upcoming US presidential elections and policy priorities for the region and given the impact of COVID-19. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded in the MENA region, its consequences have exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities such as economic inequalities, fragile societies, demographic imbalances, struggling political transitions, ongoing conflicts, and more. COVID has also signaled the beginning of a new era in which global and regional problems will intersect, such as the increasing toll of climate change, pandemics, and fresh waves of migration. In the face of all these challenges, the United States has turned inward, failing to lead international strategy. The United States’ neglect of the MENA region has emboldened powerful actors, from regimes to strongmen to foreign interventionists, to use the COVID-19 crisis to their advantage by pursuing power grabs or other aggressive actions. The webinar will gather experts on the MENA region to discuss the current challenges and changes besetting the region, the future shocks that are anticipated in MENA countries and their ripple effects far beyond, and how international engagement has changed over the past decade and may change again in the very near future.

A Zoom link will be sent to those who register. ​​​​The event is open to the press and on the record.

Welcome remarks

Mr. Frederick Kempe
President and CEO
Atlantic Council

Mr. Giampiero Massolo
Italian Institute for International Political Studies

Amb. Armando Varricchio
Embassy of Italy to the United States

Fireside chat: The future of US policy in the MENA region


Ms. Kirsten Fontenrose
Director, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative
Atlantic Council


Amb. Paula J. Dobriansky
Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Vice Chair, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Atlantic Council

General James L. Jones
Jones Group International
Chair, Scrowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Atlantic Council

Panel: Policy priorities in a post-COVID-19 MENA region


Dr. Karim Mezran
Resident Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East 
Atlantic Council​​​


Dr. Rosa Balfour
Carnegie Europe

Amb. Jeffrey Feltman 
John C. Whitehead Visiting Fellow in International Diplomacy
Brookings Institution

Ms. Jomana Qaddour
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East 
Atlantic Council

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.