Mona Yacoubian is vice president of the Middle East and North Africa center at USIP. She brings more than 30 years of experience working on the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has centered on conflict analysis, governance and stabilization challenges, and conflict prevention.

Since returning to USIP as a senior advisor in 2017, her work has focused on Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Additional research interests include Russia’s role in the Middle East and violent extremism. 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

The United States Weighs Its Options in the Face of Iran’s Provocations

The United States Weighs Its Options in the Face of Iran’s Provocations

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed;  Mona Yacoubian

Three U.S. troops were killed and at least 34 injured in a drone strike on a U.S. base in northeast Jordan on January 28. The attack comes against a backdrop of rising regional tensions since the outbreak of conflict in Gaza following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Type: Analysis

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal PolicyViolent Extremism

Will the Israel-Hamas War Spiral into a Wider Conflict?

Will the Israel-Hamas War Spiral into a Wider Conflict?

Thursday, October 26, 2023

By: Mona Yacoubian

With the Israel-Hamas war poised to enter its fourth week, the conflict continues to escalate. The Israeli military announced on October 25 it had struck more than 7,000 targets inside Gaza, ranking the current military campaign among the most intense globally in recent memory. The conflict has resulted in an estimated 1,400 Israelis killed, according to Israeli government sources and more than 6,500 Gazans killed, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry. More than 200 hostages are held captive in Gaza.

Type: Analysis

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Mona Yacoubian on Arab Normalization with Syria’s Assad

Mona Yacoubian on Arab Normalization with Syria’s Assad

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

By: Mona Yacoubian

Many Arab countries have concluded that President Bashar al-Assad is entrenched power and that they’ll need his cooperation to address challenges like refugees and the illicit drug trade. In Washington, there is no appetite to normalize with Assad. “I think ultimately what we see is just a fundamental tension between the need for accountability and fatigue in the region,” USIP’s Mona Yacoubian says.

Type: Podcast

Syria’s Stalemate Has Only Benefitted Assad and His Backers

Syria’s Stalemate Has Only Benefitted Assad and His Backers

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

By: Mona Yacoubian

Twelve years into Syria’s devastating civil war, the conflict appears to have settled into a frozen state. Although roughly 30% of the country is controlled by opposition forces, heavy fighting has largely ceased and there is a growing regional trending toward normalizing relations with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Over the last decade, the conflict erupted into one of the most complicated in the world, with a dizzying array of international and regional powers, opposition groups, proxies, local militias and extremist groups all playing a role.

Type: Analysis

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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