Dr. Elie Abouaoun is the director of Middle East and North Africa Programs, based in USIP's Regional Hub in Tunis, Tunisia. Dr. Abouaoun joined USIP after serving as the executive director of the Arab Human Rights Fund. Prior to this, he was the acting country director and program manager of the Danish Refugee Council in Iraq. Dr. Abouaoun spent time working as the program coordinator for Ockenden International – Iraq, and before this, within the Lebanese NGO Arcenciel, as the director of external relations.

Dr. Abouaoun served as a senior trainer and consultant for various international organizations since 1996, including the Council of Europe since 2000. In 2001, he was appointed a member of the Reference Group, established by the Directorate of Education-Council of Europe, to supervise the drafting of COMPASS, a manual for human rights education. He later supervised the manual's adaptation and translation into Arabic to be distributed throughout the Arab region in 2003.

Dr. Abouaoun is a visiting lecturer at Saint Joseph University-Lebanon on the subjects of human rights, civil society, advocacy, and citizenship. In addition to being an international fellow of the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, he joined the Religion and Security Council as a senior nonresident fellow in the fall of 2020 and regularly contributes to publications throughout the MENA region and the United States, while also serving on the board of directors for several regional organizations. 

Dr. Abouaoun holds a master’s in business administration and management and is a doctor of dental surgery.

Publications By Elie

Elie Abouaoun on Libya’s Elections

Elie Abouaoun on Libya’s Elections

Friday, December 17, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

With the vote likely to be postponed, USIP’s Elie Abouaoun says frustrations are high over Libya’s political and economic stagnation as the international community tries to “generate a new political agreement … just to make sure the elections can happen without a major outbreak of violence.”

Type: Podcast

Democracy & Governance

What’s Behind the Lebanon-Gulf Diplomatic Row?

What’s Behind the Lebanon-Gulf Diplomatic Row?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Already in the throes of existential political and economic crises, Lebanon is now facing a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and several of its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Following critical comments made by Lebanese Minister of Information George Kordahi about the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, Riyadh expelled Lebanon’s ambassador, banned all Lebanese imports, and recalled its ambassador to Lebanon. In solidarity, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait summoned their ambassadors in Lebanon. This current crisis reflects the Gulf’s broader concerns over Iran’s influence in the region and the powerful role of its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Iraq’s Election Raises More Questions Than Answers

Iraq’s Election Raises More Questions Than Answers

Thursday, October 21, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric whose Mahdi Army followers battled U.S. forces during the years of the occupation, made big gains in Iraq’s parliamentary election on October 10. His victory could pose problems for the United States and Iran. But despite the Sadrist List’s electoral success, it is not a given that al-Sadr will be the next man to lead Iraq, or even be the only kingmaker. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun examines the outcome of the election, the electoral process and the implications for Iraq’s future.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

What’s Next for Tunisia’s Transition?

What’s Next for Tunisia’s Transition?

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun;  Leo Siebert

Long heralded as the sole success story of the Arab uprisings, Tunisia was thrown into political tumult on July 25 when President Kais Saied dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and removed politicians’ immunity from criminal prosecution. The decision followed days of protest and long-term malaise, with Tunisians angered over the government’s COVID response, endemic corruption, a lagging economy and, more broadly, the inability of the post-Ben Ali political system — particularly political parties — to deliver for citizens. While many Tunisians supported Saied’s move, they and the international community await what comes next and how it will impact the North African country’s long-term political and economic trajectory.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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