Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley announced today the launch of the Middle East Strategy Task Force (MEST). The Task Force is a bipartisan Atlantic Council initiative to try to better understand the underlying dynamics behind the current crises in the Middle East and develop a long-term framework for US policy in the region.  To accomplish this, the Task Force emphasizes collaboration with international partners and experts—especially those in the Middle East.

The Task Force will culminate in a report by the Co-Chairs in late 2015, proposing a pragmatic and actionable Middle East foreign policy roadmap, which can guide the United States and its partners and can inform the foreign policy debate for the US presidential election in 2016.

Co-Chairs Albright and Hadley are leading the Task Force, and working with a high-level group of Senior Advisers from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. The Co-Chairs have invited eminent specialists on the Middle East to convene working groups consisting of both regional stakeholders and international experts to address some of the region’s most persistent challenges. The working groups and Conveners include:

  • Security and Public Order
    Kenneth M. Pollack, Brookings Institution
  • Religion, Identity, and Countering Violent Extremism
    Geneive Abdo, Stimson Center
  • Refugees, Recovery, and Reconciliation
    Manal Omar, United States Institute of Peace
  • Politics, Governance, and State-Society Relations
    Tamara Cofman Wittes, Brookings Institution
  • Economic Recovery and Revitalization
    Christopher M. Schroeder, Entrepreneur and Author, Startup Rising

“Given the scale and complexity of the crises afflicting the Middle East today, now is exactly the right time to bring together this distinguished group of regional experts, foreign policy practitioners, and civil society organizations,” said Albright.  “By identifying the root causes of the region’s problems, it is my hope that this task force will guide the United States and the international community in developing a longer-term strategy to help the people of the Middle East achieve stability and prosperity.”

“The issues facing the Middle East, and the US approach to it more broadly, are a matter far beyond partisan politics,” said Hadley. “This is a time when we need to be bringing people from both sides of the aisle into the circle.”

“There is great need to reinvigorate US leadership in the world, and especially in the Middle East,” said Atlantic Council Chairman Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., “and this Atlantic Council task force will help enrich the debate on US foreign policy in the Middle East as the next presidential election approaches.”

An important part of the Task Force’s mandate is to inform discussion among the public at large through a series of public events, the first of which the Co-Chairs will host in Washington, DC on Thursday, June 4, 2015. They will examine public attitudes in the region, and feature polling data presented by Jim Zogby of Zogby Research Associates and Gallup’s Mohamed Younis.

The MEST is a project of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East in cooperation with the Strategy Initiative of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Click here for more information about the Middle East Strategy Task Force.

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