About the center

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East examines the barriers preventing many people in the region from reaching their fullest potential. Our work also highlights success stories of individuals and institutions who overcame significant challenges in pursuit of social, economic, and political progress. Inspired by these examples, we delineate practical and implementable policy recommendations that policymakers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East can implement to unleash the region’s economic and human potential.

Featured commentary & analysis

Featured in-depth research & reports



We convene the most important stakeholders on issues of primary concern to the transatlantic community when it comes the Middle East and North Africa, from senior US and Middle East government officials to civil society activists and budding entrepreneurs.

Past events

Mon, Jun 10, 2019

The Middle East’s economic outlook

On June 10, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East convened a conversation on the economic challenges facing the region.


Wed, May 22, 2019

Ambassador Duclos discusses the influence of Russia and Iran in Syria

Russia and Iran are allies in Syria not out of mutual sympathy, but for pragmatic reasons. Iranian leaders were instrumental in convincing Vladimir Putin to send his air force to Syria to support Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, and the two countries cooperate within Syria to this day. However, various episodes highlight the limits of what looks like an alliance of convenience.


Wed, Jun 5, 2019

China’s changing role in the Middle East

On June 5, the Rafik Hariri Centerfor the Middle East convened a public event on opportunities for US-China cooperation and risks for US-China confrontation in the Middle East. National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East Dr. Victoria Coates gave a keynote address outlining the Trump Administration’s views on this subject. This was followed by a […]


Wed, Mar 27, 2019

Environmental security in the Middle East

The Middle East region faces a laundry list of challenges, from civil strife and poor governance to regional rivalries and economic stagnation. Exacerbating these challenges are growing threats from environmental degradation, water shortages and climate change. As temperatures and populations rise, water resources become even more limited. Climate change is expected to make some areas […]


Mon, Dec 17, 2018

The Future of US Policy in Syria

As the conflict in Syria confronts the United States with crucial policy decisions, the Atlantic Council released two reports: “Rethinking Stabilization in Eastern Syria: Toward a Human Security Framework,” authored by Dr. Steven Heydemann for the Atlantic Council’s Rebuilding Syria Initiative, and “Breaking Ghouta,” produced by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.  The Atlantic Council […]



Thu, Sep 12, 2019

War and Art: The Graffiti Art Movement in Syria

A local Syrian civil society organization, Kesh Malek, is focused on supplying humanitarian aid and services to Syrians throughout Syria. One of its successful media campaigns this year is the Syria Banksy project.

SyriaSource by Rana Riziq

Civil Society Syria

Fri, Sep 6, 2019

Slavin quoted in JNS on the possibility of US-Iran negotiations

In the News by Atlantic Council

Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation

Fri, Aug 30, 2019

Climate-resilient small farming communities vital to MENA food security

Small farmers play a major role in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s food security. They produce the bulk of the region’s domestic supply of staples. However, small farm holders are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the region.

MENASource by Amal A. Kandeel

Climate Change & Climate Action Middle East

Thu, Aug 22, 2019

Tunisia could help enforce Libya’s arms embargo

In 2020, when Tunisia begins its two-year term as non-permanent member of the Security Council, the country will have the biggest opportunity to influence international affairs since becoming a democracy in 2011. In response to the appointment, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui declared “Tunisia will be the voice of Africa and the Arab world…Trying to […]

MENASource by Keith Jones


Thu, Aug 22, 2019

Do Arabs want democracy?

Decades of arguments and analysis continue to discuss whether Arab citizens actually want democracy, whether they are “ready” for it, if appropriate conditions exist for democratic rule, and so on. Fortunately, two recent polls offer answers to some of these questions. Their results demonstrate how important Arabs consider the pursuit of democracy to be relative to other national priorities.

MENASource by Richard LeBaron and Leah Hickert

Democratic Transitions Middle East

Thu, Aug 22, 2019

The Gulf’s economic development is going digital

Efforts toward economic development among Arab Gulf states are turning digital. Artificial intelligence, financial technology, and technology-based businesses are increasingly considered the most auspicious approach in moving Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states away from oil and gas and toward diversified and sustainable economies.

MENASource by Rachel Furlow

The Gulf

Thu, Aug 22, 2019

How the EU can save Tunisia

The Tunisian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 marked the beginning of a new democratic era. In the aftermath of the first wave of the Arab Spring, Tunisia remains the only country to have successfully transitioned from an authoritarian to a democratic government.

MENASource by Iyad Yousef

North Africa

Tue, Aug 20, 2019

Slavin in Axios: How Trump’s push to end Iran oil exports could backfire

The Trump administration Monday dramatically escalated its campaign of economic warfare against Iran, announcing that it would not renew any waivers for countries to import Iranian oil after May 2. The big picture: Per Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the goal is for Iran to reverse its foreign and domestic policies and accede to 12 demands he set out in […]

Uncategorized by Barbara Slavin


Tue, Aug 13, 2019

The future of northeast Syria

Executive Summary The future of northeast Syria is unsettled after eight years of civil war and the US intervention to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). It also faces the various divergent interests of powerful external actors, including Russia and Turkey. In mid-April 2019, the Atlantic Council, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, and the Foreign Policy […]

Report by Aaron Stein and Emily Burchfield

Rule of Law Syria

Mon, Aug 12, 2019

Khoury quoted in the Express on Yemen

In the News by Atlantic Council

Conflict International Norms


Tue, Oct 1, 2019

The Struggle for Inclusive Citizenship in Arab Countries

Please join us for a preview of the forthcoming 2019 Arab Human Development Report along with some preliminary survey results, conducted in twelve Arab countries, followed by a panel discussion.

2:00pm Washington DC