Sarhang Hamasaeed is the director of Middle East Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC. He joined USIP in February 2011 and served in different positions before becoming director in 2016. His areas of focus include political and conflict analysis, dialogue processes, reconciliation and post-conflict stabilization, ethnic and religious minorities, and organizational development.   

Hamasaeed is a regular lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute on the subjects of ISIS and challenges to governance in Iraq and is featured in events and briefings on Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Middle East. He provides analysis and gives interviews to international media. He was a member on the Task Force on the Future of Iraq and the Rebuilding Societies Working Group, both initiatives by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. 

Hamasaeed has more than 15 years of strategy, management, and monitoring and evaluation experience in governmental, nongovernmental, private sector, and media organizations. His prior positions include deputy director general at the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (2008-2009), where he managed strategic government modernization initiatives through information technology with the goal of helping improve governance and service delivery; program manager for the Research Triangle Institute International (2003-2004), where he managed civic engagement and local democratic governance programs in Iraq; planning and relations manager at Kurdistan Save the Children (1997-2002); and correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and other international media organizations.  

He holds a master’s degree in international development policy from Duke University (2007) and is a Fulbright alumnus. 

Publications By Sarhang

A Year After Elections, Iraq May Finally Be Set to Form a Government

A Year After Elections, Iraq May Finally Be Set to Form a Government

Thursday, October 20, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Iraq hit two anniversaries this month. Three years ago in October, Iraqis rose up to protest the failure of the Iraqi government and political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption and more. One of the outcomes of those protests was early elections, which were held on October 10, 2021, but have yet to yield a government. The last year witnessed crippling political gridlock, as the winner of the 2021 national parliamentary elections, Moqtada al-Sadr, eventually withdrew from the political process after failing to form a government.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

After recent episodes of violence, Iraq’s political stalemate continues. “Bottom line … this is a fight over power” and differing views on foreign influence, says USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed. “The Iraqi people are actually fighting for democracy. It is just the political class … that makes that a longer fight.”

Type: Podcast

What’s Behind Moqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Shake up Iraq’s Politics?

What’s Behind Moqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Shake up Iraq’s Politics?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

Over the weekend, followers of the powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed and occupied Iraq’s parliament in protest over a rival bloc attempting to form a government. The move comes less than two months after al-Sadr’s bloc in parliament resigned after its failure to form a majoritarian government following its victory in the October 2021 elections. Nearly 10 months after those elections, there is still no new government and the stability of the country is at stake as this showdown between al-Sadr’s supporters and his political rivals continues to play out.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

ISIS is a Problem of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

ISIS is a Problem of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Thursday, July 28, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

More than three years after its military defeat in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is a downgraded threat thanks to the collective efforts of the U.S.-led global coalition that coalesced to defeat it along with Iraqi and Syrian partners. While the extremist group’s capacity has been drastically reduced and millions of people have returned home, ISIS has managed to continue attacks year after year despite no longer holding territory. Meanwhile, some of the most difficult human legacies — the challenges facing the people the ISIS conflict left behind — are still with us, with no end in sight.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

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

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