Sarhang Hamasaeed is the director of Middle East Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC. He joined USIP in February 2011 and served in different positions before becoming director in 2016. His areas of focus include political and conflict analysis, dialogue processes, reconciliation and post-conflict stabilization, ethnic and religious minorities, and organizational development.   

Hamasaeed is a regular lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute on the subjects of ISIS and challenges to governance in Iraq and is featured in events and briefings on Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Middle East. He provides analysis and gives interviews to international media. He was a member on the Task Force on the Future of Iraq and the Rebuilding Societies Working Group, both initiatives by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. 

Hamasaeed has more than 15 years of strategy, management, and monitoring and evaluation experience in governmental, nongovernmental, private sector, and media organizations. His prior positions include deputy director general at the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (2008-2009), where he managed strategic government modernization initiatives through information technology with the goal of helping improve governance and service delivery; program manager for the Research Triangle Institute International (2003-2004), where he managed civic engagement and local democratic governance programs in Iraq; planning and relations manager at Kurdistan Save the Children (1997-2002); and correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and other international media organizations.  

He holds a master’s degree in international development policy from Duke University (2007) and is a Fulbright alumnus. 

Publications By Sarhang

A Year After Soleimani Strike, Iraq Bears the Brunt of U.S.-Iran Tensions

A Year After Soleimani Strike, Iraq Bears the Brunt of U.S.-Iran Tensions

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Sarhang Hamasaeed

The January 3, 2020 U.S. drone strike that killed powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil marked an escalation in already simmering U.S.-Iran tensions. For Iraqi leaders, the Soleimani strike exacerbated an already challenging balancing act in maintaining Baghdad’s relationships with the United States and Iran, with whom it shares a long border and religious and social ties. During the past tumultuous year for Iraq, U.S. forces and Iranian-allied armed groups engaged in tit-for-tat attacks in Iraq. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Sarhang Hamasaeed look at how U.S.-Iran tensions played out last year in Iraq and the region and if the incoming U.S. administration, and its desire to reengage in nuclear talks with Iran, could help allay the impact on Iraq.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

What Will Become of Iraqis in Al-Hol?

What Will Become of Iraqis in Al-Hol?

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

The al-Hol camp in northeast Syria—which holds tens of thousands who were living among ISIS before its territorial defeat—has presented the region and international community with a host of thorny challenges. What to do with the camp’s residents has particularly bedeviled the Kurdish authorities who run the camp as well as the governments of countries where residents came from. On October 5, Kurdish authorities said they would release the Syrians in the camp, where conditions have become increasingly unsustainable. But, nearly half of the camps’ 65,000 residents are Iraqis, and their prospect for return remains deeply uncertain. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed discusses the situation facing Iraqis in al-Hol and the challenges ahead if they indeed return.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Reconciliation

Iraq One Year After its Seismic Protests Began

Iraq One Year After its Seismic Protests Began

Thursday, October 15, 2020

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Iraqis hit the streets in unprecedented numbers last October, calling for political and economic reforms, greater job opportunities for youth, and better government services. In the year since, the country has been rocked by a number of developments, including growing U.S.-Iran tensions playing out on Iraqi soil, the COVID pandemic, and increasing citizen disenchantment with the country’s political system and its sectarian foundation. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed and Elie Abouaoun look at where Iraq’s protest movement stands today, the economic impact of COVID, the prime minister’s call for early elections, and U.S.-Iraq relations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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