Sarhang Hamasaeed is the director of Middle East Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He joined USIP in February 2011 and works on program management, organizational development, and monitoring and evaluation. His areas of focus include political and policy analysis, conflict analysis, dialogue processes, reconciliation and post-conflict stabilization, and ethnic and religious minorities. He writes, gives media interviews to international media, and is featured on events and briefings on Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East. He provided analysis to NPR, Voice of America, Al-Jazeera America, Fox News Al-Hurra TV, Radio Sawa, Kurdistan TV, Kurdsat TV, Rudaw, Al-Iraqiya TV, NRT TV, Skynews Arabia, the Washington Times, PBS, and CCTV. He is a member on the Task Force on the Future of Iraq, and was member of the Rebuilding Societies Working Group under the Middle East Strategy Taskforce, both initiatives by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. He regularly gives a lecture at the Foreign Service Institute on ISIL and Challenges to Governance in Iraq.

Hamasaeed has more than 15 years of strategy, management, and monitoring and evaluation experience in governmental, nongovernmental, private sector, and media organizations.

As a deputy director general at the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (2008-2009), Hamasaeed managed strategic government modernization initiatives through information technology with the goal of helping improve governance and service delivery. As a program manager for the Research Triangle Institute International (2003-2004), he managed civic engagement and local democratic governance programs in Iraq. Hamasaeed has worked as a planning and relations manager at Kurdistan Save the Children (1997-2002). Hamasaeed has also worked 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

Iraq’s protesters just ousted a prime minister. Now what?

Iraq’s protesters just ousted a prime minister. Now what?

Monday, December 2, 2019

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Sarhang Hamasaeed

Iraq faces a new political crisis and the risk of more violence after its prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, resigned under pressure from two months of mass demonstrations by youthful protesters. More than 400 people have been reported killed amid authorities’ forceful attempts to disperse the youthful protesters, who say a corrupt elite is failing to provide basic government services and share the country’s wealth with citizens. But Abdul Mahdi is stepping down only after Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric withdrew his support. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed and Elie Abouaoun discussed where the crisis could lead.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

As Protests Continue in the Street, Iraq Reaches a Crossroads

As Protests Continue in the Street, Iraq Reaches a Crossroads

Friday, November 8, 2019

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been protesting in Baghdad and southern provinces against the failure of the Iraqi government and the political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption, and more. Iraqi security forces and armed groups reportedly linked to Iran have used lethal force in response to the protests, leaving over 260 dead and over 10,000 injured. As the protests have progressed, demands have expanded to include calls for regime change, the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, early elections, pushing back against Iranian influence, and accountability for killing peaceful protesters.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Fragility & Resilience

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq, Syria and ISIS

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq, Syria and ISIS

Thursday, October 31, 2019

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Several major developments have rattled the region in recent weeks, including Iraq’s ongoing protests, the U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the death of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed says his death is a major blow to the terrorist group, but “the fact remains that … the enabling environment that gave rise to ISIS” is still present.

Type: Podcast

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Violent Extremism

Iraq’s Democratic Imperative: Getting Provincial Elections Right

Iraq’s Democratic Imperative: Getting Provincial Elections Right

Monday, August 5, 2019

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed; Adam Gallagher

Iraq’s landmark 2018 national elections—the first since the military defeat of ISIS—presented an opportunity for a much-needed course correction for the country’s sclerotic political process. Unfortunately, that opportunity was not seized properly. The vote was marred by claims of widespread fraud, low voter turnout, a delayed results announcement and a protracted government formation process.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Electoral Violence

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