Dr. Michael Yaffe is vice president of the Middle East North Africa Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Before joining USIP in 2017, Dr. Yaffe served in a variety of positions in the U.S. government, most recently as the senior advisor to both the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and the special envoy for Middle East Peace at the U.S. Department of State. Between 2002 and 2012, he was an academic dean and distinguished professor of strategic studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Previously, Dr. Yaffe was a career foreign affairs officer at the State Department concentrating on the Middle East peace negotiations, regional security and nonproliferation, and served on U.S. delegations to the “Madrid” Middle East arms control and regional security talks, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO. In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, he served as a coordinator on the counterterrorism task force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During 1992 and 1993, Dr. Yaffe assisted Operation Restore Hope by managing a program in Mogadishu in support of U.S. forces in Somalia.

During his twenty-five-year career with the U.S. government, Dr. Yaffe was the recipient of several State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well Department of Defense commendations. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a John M. Olin post-doctoral fellow and Center for Science and International Affairs associate fellow at Harvard University (1989-1992) and a USIP peace scholar (1988-1989).

Dr. Yaffe earned a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, master’s from the London School of Economics and bachelor’s from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has published numerous articles and testified before Congress on the Middle East, Africa, security, arms control, non-proliferation, Track Two negotiations and diplomatic history.

Publications By Michael

Five Takeaways from Biden’s Visit to the Middle East

Five Takeaways from Biden’s Visit to the Middle East

Thursday, July 21, 2022

By: Robert Barron;  Sarhang Hamasaeed;  Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen;  Michael Yaffe, Ph.D.;  Ambassador Hesham Youssef

President Biden made his first trip to the Middle East last week, visiting Israel and Saudi Arabia. While the trip yielded little in the way of flashy announcements — like new normalization agreements or Saudi Arabia boosting oil production — it did demonstrate that the United States remains focused on enhancing the region’s security architecture, particularly to counter Iran. Still, there were some notable developments, like a U.S.-Saudi agreement to build 5G and 6G telecommunications networks and Riyadh opening airspace to Israeli flights. On the Israeli-Palestinian front, the president affirmed Washington’s long-standing commitment to Israel and said that now was not the time to reengage on peace talks with the Palestinians.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Middle East Peace: What can we Learn from Camp David 40 Years Later?

Middle East Peace: What can we Learn from Camp David 40 Years Later?

Monday, March 25, 2019

By: Robert Barron;  Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen;  Michael Yaffe, Ph.D.

March 26 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing ceremony of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty that resulted from the Camp David Accords. Negotiated by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the treaty has been a cornerstone of regional security and U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Mike Yaffe on Iraq and Syria Event

Mike Yaffe on Iraq and Syria Event

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

By: Michael Yaffe, Ph.D.

Following USIP’s event “Iraq and Syria: Views from the U.S. Administration, Military Leaders and the Region,” Mike Yaffe provides key takeaways from the panel featuring CENTCOM Commander General Votel, USAID Administrator Green, and Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS McGurk. "Iraq and Syria are complex and starkly different from one another," says Yaffe, "but the key goals are the same: concentrate on defeating ISIS and work by, with, and through local people to stabilize each country."

Type: Podcast

Violent ExtremismDemocracy & Governance

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