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

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

How to Pull Lebanon out of its Torturous Fall

How to Pull Lebanon out of its Torturous Fall

Thursday, August 5, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

A year after the horrific Beirut port explosion on August 4, 2020, the legal pursuit of justice and accountability is proving pointless. Little to no progress has been made, due to how deeply embedded corruption is in the country’s political and business structures. The upcoming legislative elections next year could be an opportunity to set the country on a reform track — but only if they are managed by an independent body under international supervision.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Fragility & Resilience

On the Road to Peace, Libya Makes Progress but Hits Pitfalls

On the Road to Peace, Libya Makes Progress but Hits Pitfalls

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

By: Nate Wilson; Dr. Elie Abouaoun

After a decade of war and division, Libya has made progress toward peace this year. In March, a Government of National Unity (GNU) was formed to unify the warring Western-based Government of National Accord and the Eastern-based authorities supported by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces known as the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (or Libyan National Army). The GNU is a provisional body meant to lead the country to long-delayed elections on December 24. While some progress has been made — a cease-fire agreement has been signed and the executive has been unified — many challenges remain. Chief among those challenges is developing a framework for national reconciliation and addressing the destabilizing role of foreign powers.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Reconciliation; Peace Processes

What Could Make or Break Lebanon’s 2022 General Election

What Could Make or Break Lebanon’s 2022 General Election

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Lebanon, unlike many other countries, is actually ruled by a conglomerate of political figures and business elites and organizations. Therefore, a change in Lebanon can neither be about a single politician or party nor can it be led by one political group. In the past 15 years, there were several attempts to alter the governance model and practices in Lebanon. All of them proved unsuccessful for various reasons including the toxic manipulation of identity-based politics by the majority of politicians and clerics, deep-seated corruption, twisted social norms, regional power competition and the absence of an organized, competent and capable political alternative.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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

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