Mona Yacoubian’s work centers on conflict analysis and prevention in the Middle East, with a specific focus on Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Additional research interests include Russia’s role in the Middle East, violent extremism and fragility. Yacoubian also serves as senior advisor to the Executive Office focused on strategic communications and planning. In 2019, she served as executive director of the Congressionally-appointed Syria Study Group, which USIP was mandated to facilitate.

Yacoubian joined the U.S. Institute of Peace after serving as deputy assistant administrator in the Middle East Bureau at USAID from 2014 to 2017, where she had responsibility for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Prior to joining USAID, Yacoubian was a senior advisor at the Stimson Center focusing on the Arab uprisings with an emphasis on Syria. Prior to joining the Stimson Center, she served as a special advisor on the Middle East at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where her work focused on Lebanon and Syria as well as broader issues related to democratization in the Arab world. From 1990 to 1998, Yacoubian served as the North Africa analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Yacoubian was a Fulbright scholar in Syria where she studied Arabic at the University of Damascus from 1985 to 1986. She has held an international affairs fellowship with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and is currently a CFR member. She earned a master's in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor's in public policy from Duke University.

Publications By Mona

Enormous Earthquakes Exacerbate Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis

Enormous Earthquakes Exacerbate Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

By: Mona Yacoubian

A powerful earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck Türkiye and Syria early Monday morning, with a 7.5 magnitude tremor and other aftershocks felt by countries around the region. Initial figures suggest that in Türkiye as many as 2,921 were killed and 13,293 injured, with 5,600 buildings collapsed. All told, the death toll in Türkiye and Syria stands at 4,300 but is likely to continue to rise. The epicenter of the quake was Türkiye’s southern city of Gaziantep, home to nearly half a million Syrian refugees forced from their homeland amid Syria’s devastating civil war. While the international community mobilized quickly to pledge assistance, aid delivery to Syria — already dealing with massive humanitarian challenges in both rebel- and regime-held areas — will be particularly complicated given the country’s ongoing conflict.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Mona Yacoubian on Russia’s Diminishing Role in Syria

Mona Yacoubian on Russia’s Diminishing Role in Syria

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

By: Mona Yacoubian

Amid military struggles in Ukraine, Russia’s presence in Syria is slowly receding, setting off a series of regional shifts from Turkey, Iran and Israel that could have major ripple effects on U.S. national security interests, says USIP’s Mona Yacoubian: “There are too many actors there for it be a simple math equation.”

Type: Podcast

Could the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Border Deal be a Game-Changer?

Could the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Border Deal be a Game-Changer?

Thursday, October 13, 2022

By: Robert Barron;  Mona Yacoubian;  Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Israel, Lebanon and the United States announced this week that a deal has been reached between Israel and Lebanon on each country’s maritime border. Negotiations between the parties over the 330-square-miles of the Mediterranean Sea have proceeded with stops and starts since 2020, but over the past few months edged toward a mutually acceptable outcome. Under the agreement, the contested waters will be divided by a line straddling the “Qana” natural gas field. Both parties would be able to produce gas on their side of the line, in addition to royalty arrangements agreed upon. A buoy line will remain between the two countries.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsPeace Processes

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Is Russia Escalating to De-Escalate?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Mary Glantz, Ph.D.;  Mona Yacoubian

Vladimir Putin is under increased pressure as Russia continues to lose ground inside Ukraine. Faced with the prospect of stark losses — potentially leaving Russia in a worse position than before its February 24 invasion — Moscow may be embarked on an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy. By raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation twice in recent weeks, Putin may in fact be seeking a way out of his dilemma marked by Russia’s strategic failure in Ukraine. The coming weeks will be critical as Putin pursues nuclear brinksmanship — possibly even repositioning tactical nuclear weapons — while actually seeking an exit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climates Crises?

Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climates Crises?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

By: Mona Yacoubian

More than two years into the pandemic, Arab states continue to struggle with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Meanwhile, climate change is devastating the region — and its governments are ill-equipped to address massive problems like water scarcity and scorching temperatures. Even before COVID, much of the region was wracked by conflict, embroiled in social tension, suffering from lagging economies and witnessing growing disquiet over the unrealized aspirations of the Arab uprisings. These challenges are detailed in the U.N. Development Programme’s recently released 2022 Arab Human Development Report, which also lays out a path for an “inclusive and resilient recovery.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EnvironmentFragility & ResilienceGlobal Health

View All