Mona Yacoubian’s work centers on conflict analysis and prevention in the Middle East, with a specific focus on Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. In 2019, she served as executive director of the Congressionally-appointed Syria Study Group, which USIP was mandated to facilitate. Additional research interests include violent extremism, fragility and resilience.

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 Yacoubian earned an master's in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor's from Duke University.

Publications By Mona

Lebanon on the Brink of Historic Breakdown

Lebanon on the Brink of Historic Breakdown

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

By: Osama Gharizi; Mona Yacoubian

Lebanon’s devolving economic and financial crisis could potentially be one of the world’s three worst since 1850, according to a World Bank report released last week. The increasingly dire situation — exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and last year’s Port of Beirut explosion — has likely dragged more than half the population below the poverty line, as unemployment soars and the price of basic goods surges. Already accomplices to this economic collapse due to years of corruption and mismanagement, Lebanon’s leaders have been reviled for their limited response. With Lebanese exasperated with their increasingly desperate situation, there could be widespread social unrest and a major breakdown, which would have important humanitarian and regional security implications.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Economics & Environment

Despite the Sham, Syria's Election is Still Significant

Despite the Sham, Syria's Election is Still Significant

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

In the face of international pushback, the Assad regime is going forward with plans for a presidential election on May 26. While the outcome is in no way uncertain — Assad will win amid deeply unfair election practices — the decision to proceed with the vote has major implications for international efforts to resolve the decade-long civil war. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian looks at how the election might affect the situation on the ground in Syria, what it means for the U.N.-backed Geneva peace process and how the Assad regime’s renewed stranglehold on power could affect regional tensions and U.S. interests.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Democracy & Governance

What Can We Learn from Syria’s Devastating Decade of War?

What Can We Learn from Syria’s Devastating Decade of War?

Monday, March 15, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

As the Syrian conflict marks its 10th anniversary, the protest movement from which it emerged stands as perhaps the most consequential of the Arab uprisings. The March 2011 peaceful protests that erupted across Syria have since evolved into the world’s most complex conflict. Equally significant, the conflict’s trajectory provides important insights into the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead in Syria, with significant ramifications for the region and the broader international community.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

As Lebanon Melts Down, Can it Avert Total Collapse?

As Lebanon Melts Down, Can it Avert Total Collapse?

Friday, March 5, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

As Lebanon marks the seven-month anniversary of the catastrophic blast at the Beirut port last August 4, the country appears to be in a rapidly accelerating free fall. Lebanon’s currency continues to plummet in value, hitting new lows this week. With foreign exchange reserves falling, Lebanese officials have raised fresh concerns that the country may soon not be able to import key necessities such as food and fuel. Meanwhile, despite a COVID pandemic surge, angry Lebanese have taken to the streets across the country, protesting the rapidly deteriorating economic and social conditions. At the same time, efforts to form a new cabinet following the government’s collapse last August remain stalemated.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Economics & Environment

What is Russia’s Endgame in Syria?

What is Russia’s Endgame in Syria?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

By: Mona Yacoubian

Five years into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, understanding Moscow’s endgame could provide critical insights into the decade-long conflict’s trajectory, as well as Russia’s posture in the Middle East and beyond. Although still evolving and subject to internal debates, Moscow’s Syria strategy appears to be centered on a “spheres of influence” model. In this model, Syria is divided into distinct realms under the sway of competing external patrons.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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