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

Where Is Iraq a Year After Prime Minister Kadhimi Took Office?

Where Is Iraq a Year After Prime Minister Kadhimi Took Office?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Sarhang Hamasaeed

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power a year ago today after a protest movement toppled the previous government and successive attempts to establish a new one failed. Inheriting a country deep in the midst of political and economic crises, Kadhimi has spent the last year trying to put Iraq back on the path toward stability all while navigating U.S.-Iran tensions playing out on Iraqi soil. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Sarhang Hamasaeed look at what Kadhimi has done to attempt to placate protesters, the importance of Iraq’s October national elections and how the prime minister has dealt with U.S.-Iran tensions.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

The Pope's Visit to Iraq and the Future of the Country’s Christians

The Pope's Visit to Iraq and the Future of the Country’s Christians

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq this week happens in a context of despair felt across Iraq’s ethnic, provincial and sectarian spectrum. Christians in Iraq, victims of decades of oppression, look at this visit as a symbol of hope. They also hope it will help address some of their lingering fears. The pope’s priorities for Iraq’s Christians should be formulated in specific terms. While Christians in Iraq remain hemmed in on how to deal with the past, but optimistic about their future, most feel overwhelmed by the upcoming visit of Pope Francis. As in many other cases, some of the expectations from the visit are indeed too high to meet.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

The Arab Uprisings 10 Years Later: In Pursuit of Legitimacy

The Arab Uprisings 10 Years Later: In Pursuit of Legitimacy

Thursday, February 4, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Ten years ago, a wave of unprecedented unrest ignited the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as citizens took a stand against regimes with a long history of authoritarianism and fraying socioeconomic stability. Ever since, there has been an abundance of analysis surrounding the impact of the Arab uprisings on MENA countries. But one critical element of a thorough reflection is missing: Why have the post-2011 governments—transitional and elected—been unsuccessful in fulfilling the expectations of their people?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

International aid prioritizes the pandemic over peace. But at what cost?

International aid prioritizes the pandemic over peace. But at what cost?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy, Ph.D.

With the novel coronavirus emerging in late 2019, the attention of Western governments and international NGOs was dominated by the COVID pandemic in 2020, upending everything from domestic policies to international assistance priorities. The Devex funding database reveals more than $20.5 trillion has been committed to the global COVID-19 response from January to November 2020, with around $186 million for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Does this prioritization of COVID align with challenges facing the people of the region? Conversations with local peacebuilders expose that although the COVID cases might increase in 2021, pressing socioeconomic needs continue to trump concerns about the pandemic.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Health; Global Policy

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

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