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. Elie spent time working as the program coordinator for Ockenden International – Iraq, and before this, within the Lebanese NGO Arcenciel, he was 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 Notre Dame University-Lebanon and Saint Joseph University-Lebanon on the subjects of human rights, civil society, advocacy and citizenship. He regularly contributes to publications throughout the MENA region and the United States, while serving on the board of directors for several regional organizations. 

Dr. Abouaoun holds a Master of Business Administration and Management and is a Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Publications By Elie

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

In Tunisia, Democratic Elections Were Easy—Now Comes the Hard Part

In Tunisia, Democratic Elections Were Easy—Now Comes the Hard Part

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

By: Thomas M. Hill; Dr. Elie Abouaoun

After two rounds of presidential elections which sandwiched parliamentary elections, Tunisia has accomplished something that has eluded every other country in the Middle East and North Africa: repeated free and fair democratic elections. And while that milestone may renew the faith of many in the trajectory of Tunisia’s democratic transition, the outcome of these elections is a harbinger of more difficult times.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Democracy & Governance

A massive protest movement emerges in Lebanon. What does it mean?

A massive protest movement emerges in Lebanon. What does it mean?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Over the last week, mass protests broke out across Lebanon, signaling citizens' mounting discontent with their government and economy. Millions of Lebanese of all backgrounds, including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Druze from across the socio-economic spectrum hit the streets to express their exasperation with the country’s endemic corruption. The government announced on Monday emergency economic reforms in an effort to assuage protesters. Will it be enough? USIP’s Elie Abouaoun takes a closer look at what sparked the protests, the impact on Lebanon’s highly polarized politics, and possible scenarios for the next few weeks.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Elie Abouaoun on Iraq a Year After the Fall of ISIS

Elie Abouaoun on Iraq a Year After the Fall of ISIS

Thursday, December 13, 2018

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Live from Baghdad as Iraqis celebrate the one-year anniversary of the fall of ISIS, Elie Abouaoun says that there is a sense of relief in the country over the terrorist group’s defeat and that elections happened this year. To maintain this positive momentum, adds Abouaoun, Iraq’s infrastructure must be rebuilt, and measures should be taken to reinforce social cohesion at the local level.

Type: Podcast

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance

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