Joel Starr is a senior advisor for the Middle East and North Africa Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP, Starr served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, where his division contributed the defense component to the 2020 Abraham Accords.

Other previous public service positions include time as counsel for foreign and military affairs to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK); deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs; acting deputy assistant administrator for legislative and public affairs at USAID; counsel and foreign affairs legislative assistant to Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA); as well as attorney and advisor to former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp.

In 2018, Starr retired after 20 years of service as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he specialized in international and operational law.

Starr is a graduate of Westminster College, the University of Oklahoma and Harvard University.

Publications By Joel

After Xi’s Visit, Are the Saudis Moving on from the United States?

After Xi’s Visit, Are the Saudis Moving on from the United States?

Thursday, December 15, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed;  Joel E. Starr

Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a long-rumored trip to Saudi Arabia last week, enhancing ties between his country, the world’s top oil importer, and the leading oil exporting country. Xi and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) inked a number of deals on oil, technology, infrastructure and security, and also made an agreement to avoid interference in each other’s domestic affairs. Xi also met with leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a broader group of Arab leaders. The China-Saudi summit comes amid frosty U.S.-Saudi ties and a perception among Arab leaders that Washington is pulling back from its traditional role in the Middle East, leading to some speculation of a larger geopolitical shift in the region amid the intensifying U.S-China rivalry.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Biden’s Trip, and Ukraine’s War, Could Boost the Abraham Accords

Biden’s Trip, and Ukraine’s War, Could Boost the Abraham Accords

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

By: Joel E. Starr

President Biden’s Middle Eastern diplomatic mission this week contrasts with news reports and public discussion in the past year suggesting that the region has become a lesser priority for U.S. foreign and security policy. Biden’s visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank territory build on a reality that Middle Eastern states have been knitting new relations, notably via the 2020 Abraham Accords. They are doing so in ways that Biden’s visit, and overall U.S. diplomacy, can advance.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Civilian-Military RelationsGlobal Policy

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