Ms. 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.

Mona 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, Ms. 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, Ms. Yacoubian 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, Ms. Yacoubian served as the North Africa analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

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

Publications By Mona

After Beirut Blast, What’s Next for Lebanon’s Broken Political System?

After Beirut Blast, What’s Next for Lebanon’s Broken Political System?

Friday, August 7, 2020

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun; Mona Yacoubian

A massive explosion ripped through the Port of Beirut on Tuesday, sending shockwaves through the Lebanese capital, killing over one hundred and injuring thousands. This comes with Lebanon already on the brink of economic collapse, struggling to address a COVID outbreak, and as the trust gap between citizens and the state is wider than ever. Although in the immediate aftermath of the explosion some suggested Lebanon had been attacked, the cause of the explosion is likely much more banal: government negligence resulted in thousands of pounds of explosive chemical material to be improperly stored in the port for years. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Mona Yacoubian examine what this demonstrates about the already beleaguered Lebanese government, the long-term implications for the country, and how the international community has responded so far.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Lebanon's Unraveling Could Upend the Region and U.S. Interests

Lebanon's Unraveling Could Upend the Region and U.S. Interests

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian

While Americans are understandably preoccupied with multiple crises at home, a catastrophe is looming in Lebanon with significant implications for the United States. Roiled by a major debt crisis that has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic lockdown measures, Lebanon is rapidly spiraling toward the worst-case scenario: a failed state on the eastern Mediterranean.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

How Will New U.S. Sanctions Impact Syria’s Conflict?

How Will New U.S. Sanctions Impact Syria’s Conflict?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian

After nearly a decade of civil war and strife, Syria’s long-troubled economy is in tatters with spiraling hyperinflation, food shortages, and widespread unemployment. The Syrian pound has less than a fifth of the currency’s value from this time last year. These economic woes have led to new protests in areas long controlled by the regime. Amid this economic turmoil, the U.S. Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act comes into force today, targeted at key internal and external pillars of support for the Assad regime. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian looks at what led to the economic collapse, how the regime is responding to the protests, and the implications of the new U.S. sanctions.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Global Policy

The Coronavirus Crisis Could Reshape U.S. Policy in the Middle East

The Coronavirus Crisis Could Reshape U.S. Policy in the Middle East

Thursday, April 30, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian

Although COVID-19 has yet to hit the Middle East with full force, the pandemic’s second and third order effects could impact the region in the most profound ways. The virus threatens to exacerbate the region’s deep-seated ills—poor governance, inadequate economic growth, deep societal fissures, pervasive conflict, and displacement—and shape the Middle East’s post-pandemic landscape.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience; Global Health

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