five years on
Fellows in Focus MEI Fellows enhance the HKS intellectual community
Alumni in Action Wael Almazeedi â€™98 energizes and guides students
on campus & in the field Students experiences from Cambridge to the Middle East
Middle East Initiative
I am delighted to share with you the Mid-
contract, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
dle East Initiative’s (MEI) 2016 Mosaic.
and migrant labor in the Gulf Coopera-
The past year was one of growth and im-
tion Council, among many other topics.
pact at MEI and I am pleased to highlight
We also supported 57 students to travel
some of our programs and activities.
to different countries in the region for Pg.
research, internships and other learning An important theme this past year was
opportunities, and the numbers of stu-
the ongoing humanitarian disaster
dents and executive education partici-
impacting millions in the region. MEI
pants enrolled at HKS from the region
supported efforts by faculty and students
continues to grow. A few of these stu-
who examined the devastating conse-
dents are featured in this year's Mosaic.
quences of the Syrian civil war, resourceful approaches to supporting refugees
I want to take this opportunity to thank
and migrants, and future scenarios for
Prof. Tarek Masoud, who generously act-
Syria and its neighbors. The cross-disci-
ed as MEI Interim Faculty Chair during
plinary events held at MEI were com-
the spring 2016 semester while Professor
plemented by the year’s ongoing faculty
Nicholas Burns was on sabbatical at Stan-
research projects, experiential learning
ford University, and congratulate him on
programs, and the launch of the Harvard
achieving tenure at HKS. I know he will
Coalition for Syrian Refugees, a stu-
continue to make exceptional contribu-
dent-driven initiative supported by MEI
tions to our scholarly community.
that leverages the resources of Harvard University to collaboratively respond to
Through your support, MEI has become
the Syrian refugee crisis.
a hub for young scholars, senior prac-
titioners, and future policymakers and I am very excited that our worldwide
leaders to convene at Harvard and in the
reach continues to grow along with our
Middle East to examine contemporary
community in Cambridge. Research fel-
public policy issues. Whether you are a
lows, visiting scholars and senior fellows
longtime supporter, a recent graduate,
enriched MEI's scholarly community
or are just now learning about MEI, we
and focused their work on a range of
thank you for your enthusiastic engage-
policy concerns, including the impact
ment and look forward to your continued
of sanctions against Iran, social service
involvement in our work.
provisions in Lebanon, the Arab social
explore Program areas
facu lt y & Fellows
6, 10–12, 14, 18–19 a lu mni & st u dents
8–9, 13, 14, 20–21, 23 ev ents
4–5, 15 Hilary Rantisi Director, MEI
On the Cover Children play in Ghata School in Saadnayel, Lebanon. Photo courtesy of the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), American University of Beirut.
ex ecu t iv e educat ion
22 St u dy Grou ps
Contents f e at u r es
Fellowships in Focus Dina Bishara on labor unions in Tunisia’s transition and the MEI Fellowship experience
Alumni in Action Wael Almazeedi ‘98 on energy, entrepreneurship and giving back
Syria in Crisis: Five Years On Response from the MEI community on the fifth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War
Working Smart in Saudi Faculty Affiliate Asim Khwaja on Smart Policy Design in Saudi Labor Markets
i n d e pt h
Scholarship and Practice
In the Field
Hedi Larbi, Visiting Scholar & Former Minister, examines updating the Arab Social Contract
Anoud Allouzi ‘16, Inaugural ELI Fellow, talks fellowship, top courses and women in the workforce in Jordan
Heli Mishael ‘17 on her coursework and research on civic engagement in the region
16 20 21
18 Middle East Initiative
t h e Y ea r i n N u m b ers
Students from the Middle East
Students Travelled to the Middle East
Faculty Research Projects
received support from MEI for fellowships to study at HKS out of 72 students from the region enrolled this year at HKS. Read more on page 20.
for research, coursework, and internships supported by MEI. Two unique onthe-ground course offerings took students to the Maghreb, Mediterranean and the Gulf. Read more on pages 13 and 21.
focused on diverse fields including environmental health in Kuwait, Islamist politics in Egypt, social service delivery in Lebanon, and trans-Mediterranean migration. Read more on pages 10-12.
covered 18 of the 25 countries in the region, including Iran, Israel, Turkey, and many countries of the Arab League, as well as regional and cross-border issues like Israel-Palestine, ISIS, the GCC, and regional economic development and diplomacy.
with an average of 57 people per event. Students, fellows, faculty, and community members engaged in film screenings, book releases, visits from top officials, research seminars, panel discussions, JFK Jr. Forum events and more.
from 6 Harvard schools collaborated on 31 total co-sponsored events to cover topics including public health, journalism, negotiation and human rights.
Executives from the Middle East
Dec 3: Aid and Rights Mercy
Jan: Sustainabile Learning
Feb 27: All (Geo)politics is local Prof. Meghan O’Sullivan
joined the second class of MEI’s fellowship program for young scholars of Middle East policy, from a pool of over 160 applicants. Read more on pages 6-7.
attended ongoing and customized HKS Executive Education programs through MEI fellowships, including the largest-ever cohort for the annual Kuwait Program Executive Education course on Decision Making under Risk and Uncertainty.
Highlights: Events and Activities
Sept-Nov: Renewing the Arab social contract Visiting Scholar Hedi Larbi’s study group shed new light on the economic and social dimensions of the Arab uprisings.
Nov 4: Kurdistan Rising? Kurdish Regional Government U.S. Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman explained the trajectory of the Kurdish national movement against the backdrop of regional turmoil.
Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer and Human Rights Watch Exec. Director Ken Roth on how humanitarian and human rights groups work to disrupt violence and oppression.
Nov 23: Freedom of the Press Prof. Lenore Martin and
25 HKS students visited the United Arab Emirates to learn about sustainable energy efforts in the Gulf.
hosted a conversation on internal, international, and sectarian politics in the Iran-Saudi rift over the Saudi execution of Shiite Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Apr 6: Demographic Shift Prof. Dov Waxman presented new, in-depth research on the seismic shift in attitudes toward Israel among America’s Jewish population.
May 11: Applied Science Political Scientist Marc Lynch discussed his latest book The New Arab Wars and his long term (positive) outlook on the Arab uprisings.
Sept 16: Iran Deal Angles Three experts discussed domestic and diplomatic reactions to the Iran Deal from regional powers Turkey, Iran, and Israel.
Oct 19: Demystifying isis BBC’s Paul Wood and former MEI Visiting Scholar Michael Hudson brought human stories and political science analysis to understanding ISIS’ spread and impact. 4
journalist Yavuz Baydar discussed press freedoms amidst Turkey’s turbulent domestic and foreign affairs.
16 Harvard students tracked migration patterns and policy in the field in Morocco and Italy.
Yearlong: A Different Lens The Middle East Film Series brought six Feb 3: Vision For Iraq Iraqi Parliament Speaker laid out Iraq’s challenges and his hopes for the future.
powerful films to campus, including Oscar nominees Theeb and Mustang, and featured discussions with the producers of Jordanian Oscar-nom, "bedouin western" Theeb and of Israeli-Palestinian Oscar submission, claymation documentary The Wanted 18.
May 28: Onward! 48 students from the Middle East graduated in the class of 2016: 22 from Arab countries, 19 from Israel and 7 from Turkey. Middle East Initiative
Fellowship in Focus:
Dina Bishara Dina Bishara answers questions from the audience during her public research seminar, titled “Unions as Brokers of Transition from Authoritarian Rule: Insights from Tunisia.”
“Trade unions facilitate transitions by emerging as power brokers between competing parties.”
“Leading the fellows program has been very rewarding intellectually. These are some of the most promising young social scientists working on the region, and it’s a great thing to be in touch with their fertile thinking.” Tarek Masoud, Sultan of Oman Professor at HKS and MEI Faculty Affiliate
research fellows Over the past year,
What are the central questions your research tries to address? My research seeks to address the overarching
What has been the most unexpected/surprising discovery in your research on this topic?
What are the main academic and policy takeaways from your study of Tunisia’s labor unions?
six research fellows in residence at the Middle East Initiative conducted
question, under what conditions do trade
One of the most surprising discoveries in my
My research has important implications for both
projects related to Mid-
unions emerge as central actors in transitions
research has been the realization that years of
policymakers and academics. For policymakers,
from authoritarian rule? In the case of the Tuni-
authoritarian control were not sufficient in fully
my research highlights that trade unions can
dle Eastern governance,
sian General Labor Union (UGTT), this ques-
emasculating the UGTT. Although successive
facilitate transitions from authoritarian rule by
economy and public
tion is particularly pertinent because despite
authoritarian regimes managed to co-opt the
emerging as power brokers between compet-
policy. We sat down with
years of operating under authoritarian rule, the
union’s top leadership, there was room for
ing political parties. The UGTT in Tunisia was
UGTT emerged as a central and independent
internal dissent and militant activism in lower
among four civil society groups to win a Nobel
fellow Dina Bishara, who
actor in the post-Ben Ali period. A related
levels of the union bureaucracy as well as in
Peace Prize for its role in Tunisia’s transition
will be joining the Univer-
question pertains to the conditions under which
certain branch-level unions. Digging deeper
from authoritarian rule. For academics interest-
sity of Alabama this fall
unions adopt explicitly political agendas or
into this, I realized that a focus on the UGTT’s
ed in state-labor relations and democratization,
as Assistant Professor
demands that transcend their members’ narrow
organizational structure can help resolve an
my research highlights three important lessons.
of Political Science, to
important paradox: namely the UGTT’s relative
First, there are limitations to the capacity of
dependence on the state under authoritarian
authoritarian regimes to constrain societal
chat about her innovative work on the role trade
What methods do you use for your research? Why?
rule and its independent role in the transition
forces, such as labor movements. Second, my
unions played in the
from authoritarian rule. The UGTT’s organiza-
research suggests that the context in which
2010 Tunisian and 2011
For this project, I use a historical institutionalist
tional structure is characterized by the presence
unions emerge can have enduring legacies for
Egyptian uprisings and
approach as it is very useful for investigating
of multiple nodes of power within the organiza-
the way in which unions interact with author-
important junctures in a given organization’s
tion. This structure limited the capacity of suc-
itarian regimes. In Tunisia, the UGTT played
history, which tend to set the organization on
cessive authoritarian regimes to fully control the
a major role in the struggle against French
a certain path. Identifying these junctures can
organization, and simultaneously allowed for a
colonialism, and entered the state formation
help illuminate an organization’s trajectory. This
sustained space for dissent within the organiza-
stage as a powerful actor with important
approach was particularly useful for studying
tion. This finding has important implications for
nationalist credentials. This legacy could not be
the UGTT because it allowed me to identify key
the study of labor and democratic transitions.
easily erased under authoritarian rule. Third, my
moments in the organization’s history and look
Attention to organizational structure highlights
research highlights the need to take organiza-
at the variation in its relationships over-time to
the limitations of existing approaches that treat
tional structure seriously when thinking about
various authoritarian regimes in Tunisia. This
labor as a unitary actor, and deepens our un-
complex social actors, such as labor unions. This
proved critical in understanding the union’s
derstanding of how complex social forces shape
approach helps to highlight important internal
confrontation between the union and various
tensions and currents within these complex
authoritarian regimes. 6
MEI Research Fellow Experience 2015-2016 Fellows on the most valuable aspect of their time at Harvard. “The cultural diversity and research focus within MEI are invaluable.” Jamal Haidar MEI Postdoctoral Fellow “Democratizing Markets and Revitalizing the State (Lebanon and Iran)”
“This has been the most productive year of my graduate career... the cohort of MEI Research Fellows – and other experts across Harvard – has been great for collaboration, community, and ultimately my work.” Amanda Rizkallah MEI Pre-doctoral Fellow “Coffins and Castles: How Civil War Networks Shape the Post-War Political System” (Lebanon)
“The most valuable aspect has been the long term career prospects; through numerous networking opportunities I’ve made a number of key contacts, including my peers within the fellows cohort.” Trevor Johnston MEI Postdoctoral Fellow “Authoritarian Bargaining Under the Threat of Sabotage” (GCC)
“The close intellectual community that MEI creates— particularly the other fellows, who are of the highest caliber—has not only enriched my research but promises to stimulate thoughtful inquiry and continuing engagement long after we all leave Harvard.” Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl Joint MEI/ISP Postdoctoral Fellow “Politics and the Conduct of Civil Wars: Lebanon, Syria, and Beyond”
Read more on Jonah’s work on page 14
“The resources made available to me through the MEI Research Fellowship were incredible; I was able to start new projects and expand existing ones because I was at the one place in the U.S. with these extensive resources.” Steven Brooke MEI Postdoctoral Fellow “Clients of Islam: The Politics of Islamist Social Service Provision in Egypt”
Visit belfercenter.org/ MEIFellowships for more on the MEI Research Fellowship Program
organizations. Middle East Initiative
Wael Almazeedi, MC/MPA ’98
On HKS Students and the UAE policy field visit…
Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), position
It has been a privilege for me to participate in the
dations to neighboring countries. Others in the GCC
past two UAE policy field visits and get to know these
and MENA can and should learn from their model.
the UAE to transfer valuable knowledge and recommen-
outstanding students—some of whom I continue to Wael Almazeedi, MC/MPA ‘98 and Harvard professors and students meet with UAE Minister of Energy, Suhail Al Mazroui (left) and walks with HKS student Mehul Jain, MPA/ID '17 and Louis Bacon Environmental Leadership Fellow (right, facing page) during the annual ELI policy field visit to the UAE on sustainable and alternative energy. January 2016.
mentor as they navigate their own career paths. They are career-minded in a world where the concept of a career is being eroded by the “gig economy,” a dangerous paradigm if not presented in the right context. Also, most of the students were professionals prior to coming to HKS and I learned a lot from them, as well. My role as part of the field visit is to complement the activities and programs organized by MEI and CPL (the Center for Public Leadership) and to address any issues
alumni Wael Almazeedi is CEO of FATE Consortium
At FATE, we’re trying to level the playing field to
relating to the energy industry in the UAE or globally.
On the future of energy…
(Free Access To Energy), a former World Bank
encourage technology developers to move away from
Since energy accounts for a disproportionate share of
Energy storage is the Holy Grail. Once you commer-
consultant and an HKS alumnus (MC/MPA 1998)
centralized energy options toward distributed energy
the UAE economy compared to a typical OECD econ-
cialize storage technologies, particularly distributed
from Kuwait. He reconnected with MEI in 2014 to
solutions. Still, these new solutions must work with ex-
omy, I also address economic development models and
storage, you change the dynamics of the entire indus-
serve as advisor to the annual Emirates Leadership
isting infrastructure and be flexible as technology and
the role of government in the economy. With technolo-
try. Right now, storing energy is expensive compared
Initiative policy field visit to the UAE on sustainable
societal attitudes evolve. We live in a dynamic world;
gy increasingly becoming a change agent within global
with burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, which
and alternative energy. Mr. Almazeedi joined us to talk
the rate of change is unprecedented.
energy, discussions are steered toward how emerging
is still needed to back up renewable sources. The
technologies are shaping the industry’s future.
challenge with renewables is they are intermittent.
about entrepreneurship, trends in the energy field, taking risks, educating emerging leaders and more.
On being an entrepreneur… Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean be-
“Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean being involved in a startup.”
especially when usage exceeds certain thresholds.
On FATE Consortium…
ing involved in a startup. I have been an entrepreneur
FATE Consortium was initially created as a platform to
all my life, from my early years at Kuwait Petroleum
demonstrate Space Solar Power technology. Designed
Corporation and in other large, bureaucratic organi-
to capture solar radiation in geostationary Earth’s
zations. Being an entrepreneur means continuously
orbit (GEO) and beam the energy via long-distance,
challenging the status quo. Entrepreneurs must ask
high-power wireless transmission to receiver stations
themselves: how can I best effect change in a system?
on Earth, it can provides 24-hour electricity. We’ve
Every entrepreneur faces a choice between effecting
been working on this project since 1984, and the tech-
change from within or without, the former being
On the UAE’s role in MENA…
consumers’ aggregate purchasing power will shape the
the most difficult. Gifford Pinchot’s 1985 book on
The UAE has taken the lead in deploying solar energy
emerging paradigm, they do not know this space well
“Intrapreneuring” tremendously influenced my early
technologies such as concentrating solar power (CSP)
enough to make truly informed, independent deci-
thinking on how I wanted to drive change.
and photovoltaic (PV) and they are now starting to de-
sions. I’m worried that new players entering the space
ploy demand-management technologies such as energy
could monopolize the paradigm. We must articulate a
“At FATE, we’re trying to level the playing field.”
Grids are not designed to withstand the intermittency,
Based on the work that has been done, I’d say distributed storage will be commercialized within a decade. It’s both incredibly exciting and extremely worrisome. I’m excited because a new, distributive energy paradigm is forming right in front of us that can empower consumers to decide. Yet, I’m worried because even though
To be an entrepreneur, you need a very strong work
efficiency and demand response to reduce peak summer
new system for consumers to acquire and make sense
nology is for the most part available now. However,
ethic and dedication to your beliefs, but enough
usage. As subsidies are reduced, citizens will have even
of the information they need for this transition to
there are immense barriers to implementation. As
flexibility to change course when proven wrong, which
greater incentives to change their habits. In all of this,
be successful and most importantly, sustainable. Are
we’ve expanded our scope to other emerging ener-
is often. You need to be prepared to fight – against
education is paramount. Better educated consumers are
regulators awake? Are they prepared to pass legislation
gy technologies, we’re always plagued by what I call
ignorance, against entrenched ideas, against time. You
better prepared to make informed decisions.
to inform and protect consumers? If not, what will civil
“information asymmetry,” meaning despite modern
need to focus on creating something much bigger than
information overload, consumers do not have the right
yourself to make it worthwhile for others. You need to
The experiences of public utilities such as the Abu Dhabi
information to make informed decisions and policy-
commit time to reflect on and to synthesize what you
Water & Electric Authority (ADWEA) and the Dubai
makers don’t have accurate information to set policy.
learn, so that you can translate knowledge into impact.
Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), along with the
society or the nonprofit sector do about it? For more on Wael Almazeedi, check out his website: http://www.isymmetry.energy
Middle East Initiative
Syria in crisiS fi ve years on
If These Walls Could Heal Facu lt y Res earc h This past year, MEI awarded a research grant to Dr. Richard Mollica, Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT), and his team for The Ghata Project: Bringing Education to Syrian Refugee Children. This research project hypothesizes that positive, secure environments coupled with access to on-site primary health care clinics will positively impact refugee children in need of safe spaces The Ghata School in Saadnayel, Lebanon.
to learn, play and heal.
Photo courtesy of the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), American University of Beirut.
Middle East Initiative
Syria in crisiS: Almost 1 in 5 people in Lebanon is a Syrian Refugee. According to the UNHCR, over 4.8 million refugees have fled Syria since the war began five years ago. Lebanon has taken in the greatest number of refugees per capita worldwide with over 1 million registered Syrian refugees and an unknown number of unregistered in a country with a population of only 4 million people; 76% of these refugees are vulnerable women and children. With this huge influx of individuals there has been a massive strain on Lebanon’s local and government resources, including in the realms of education and healthcare. Syrian refugees face anxiety, depression, and stressful family relationships. A recent WHO-UNHCR assessment (Chammay, 2013) showed that 58% of Syrian refugees had feelings of fear, 56% were hopeless, 62% were uninterested in things, and 65% were unable to carryout essential activities for daily living because of these feelings. Mothers described changes in the behaviors of their children, difficulties in handling them, as well as an inability to show affection (International Medical Corps, 2011). Due to the conflict in Syria, most refugee children have been out of school for the past four years. Due to the volume of refugees arriving to Lebanon, the local schools have reached capacity and can no longer accommodate these students. To mitigate this problem, efforts have been made to create spaces within the refugee 12
camps to support the recreational and educational needs of these children. In 2014, Dr. Mollica and HPRT pioneered the New H5 Model in Caring for Refugees and Other Highly Traumatized Persons and Communities which emphasizes creating culturally appropriate, cost-effective living and school “healing environments” to: provide safety; reduce stress and the mental health symptoms associated with PTSD; restore hope and energy; and provide a positive learning environment for refugee children and adolescents. Around the same time, they also awarded a scholarship to Rabih Shibli, an architect and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service at American University of Beirut, to attend their Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program. HPRT and Shibli - along with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), Reach Out to Asia Foundation (ROTA), and Kayany Foundation - have been collaborating ever since to apply the principles of the H5 Model on the ground. Shibli designed the first “Ghata” to function as a multi-use structure in refugee camps. The Ghata structure is less expensive and more stable than UN tents and designed to withstand extreme weather. In 2014, Shibli began building Ghatas as environmentally sound, culturally compatible, affordable and reliable schools for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The Ghata school building is portable and easily assembled from locally sourced materials by school staff or even students themselves. So far, Ghata schools have served over 3,000 students.Over the
fiv e years on
next three years, HPRT and the Ghata project will build two new schools, each equipped with a fully functional primary health care clinic staffed by a nurse and mental health counselors. These clinics will use a culturally valid health and mental health approach to attend to the psychosocial needs of distressed children and families. During the initial year of research, Dr. Mollica and his team will study the impact of using Ghata structures on the education and emotional well-being of Syrian refugee children and their teachers, as well as integrate the primary health care clinics into current and future Ghata schools. During the second and third year of research, Dr. Mollica and his team plan to study the use and impact of a culturally sensitive primary healthcare clinic on the educational performance of refugee children.
A cost-effective, student-built environment for refugee children. This MEI-funded pilot study is the first known study to assess the impact of a cost-effective, student-built school environment on educational performance and emotional well-being of highly traumatized refugee children. The policy planning implications of these results are significant, with hope that the international community can shift away from tent-based educational environments to a more holistic approach to trauma and recovery.
Student Spotlight Juliette Keeley, MPP ’17 students When Masters in Public
Policy candidate Juliette Keeley arrived at HKS in fall 2015, the Syrian Refugee Crisis dominated international headlines. Through MEI, she found various avenues to get involved and consider responses to complex humanitarian disasters at the personal and policy levels. Policy-Relevant Research “As politicians demonized refugees,” says Keeley, “I became interested in how the U.S. could accept more and encourage others to do so.” This led to work with Prof. Michael Ignatieff and fellow students on two reports outlining a forward-thinking U.S. refugee policy. “Obviously,” she notes, “we have not solved the crisis, but debunking myths around it was an enriching intellectual endeavor.” On-the-Ground Coursework In January 2016, Keeley traveled to Morocco and Italy for a three-week course led by Prof. Claude Bruderlein, MEI faculty affiliate and advisor to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She and 15 other Harvard graduate Keeley discusses the winter field study course on migration at an MEI event.
students, “met with political, civil society, and humanitarian stakeholders to understand the creation and consequences of a migration policy.” Initially, Keeley found this approach strange, assuming macro-level data would give the most complete picture. “But this is precisely what the course intended to show: policy is often formed without the ‘most accurate data,’ which itself is often contested.”
Gaining Practical Experience Keeley engaged further during a summer 2016 internship at the ICRC, focused on humanitarian diplomacy in armed conflicts: “persuading decision makers to act in the interest of vulnerable people, while maintaining neutrality.” At the ICRC’s new Center for Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation, Keeley supported efforts to improve training for frontline humanitarian negotiators.
“As politicians demonized refugees, I became interested in how the U.S. could accept more.” Ultimately, “the course taught me two frameworks for analyzing information from stakeholders that I continue to use today: (1) the notion of reality as a construct of facts and norms and (2) deconstructing ‘solutions’ as technical, professional or political. [I also] learned to compare disparate situations like Morocco and Italy to draw insights for long-term policies, which helped me re-conceptualize the refugee crisis in Europe.” One of her takeaways: Morocco, a de facto long-term migrant destination, focuses policies on migrants’ legal status, while Italy deploys short-term life-saving Coast Guard operations, but lacks long-term plans.
The challenge of, “identifying frameworks, content and communication approaches that are useful to an audience where field experience is crucial,” tested her concrete skills, “in stakeholder mapping, communication strategies, strategic planning and policy writing.” As conflicts grow “increasingly protracted, cross-border, and fueled by non-state actors,” Keeley hopes to better understand “how humanitarian organizations change direction, expand their mandate, coordinate, and encourage participation to better serve vulnerable populations.” Continuing Education Keeley hopes to spend her second year at HKS honing quantitative and technical skills to apply to the changing dynamics of the humanitarian field. Her diverse experiences and exceptional colleagues at HKS both inspire and push her to “keep asking uncomfortable questions and to be continuously curious about the world.” Middle East Initiative
Syria in crisiS:
five years on
Weighing In on U.S. Syria Policy
Fi v e Y ears : Covering the Many Sides of Syria
appeared on numerous media outlets and penned several
Special Envoy for Syria Mouin
op-eds on Syria. He and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
Rabbani offered bold critiques of
James Jeffrey made the case for humanitarian safe zones along Syria’s international borders. He also advocated back-
Commissioner-General of UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl spoke
ing up tough talk with measured military action against the
of the challenges of serving Palestine refugees, some now
Assad regime, if needed. Burns joined International Rescue
displaced twice over by the Syrian conflict, and their unique
mei faculty chair Professor R. Nicholas Burns remained
Committee President David Miliband to urge U.S. and British
predicament amidst recent regional turmoil.
active in the public debate on U.S. Middle East policy, even while
policymakers to place solving the Syrian conflict at the top of
spending the spring semester on sabbatical at Stanford. Burns
their Middle East policy priorities.
Analyzing the Syrian Civil War
presented field research on why
complex civil war that continues to rage today.
Syrian Army soldiers and officers
crisis, and the resultant migration crisis across the
tional Security Program (ISP) and MEI, Schulhofer-Wohl studies
erupted in Syria, leading to the highly-publicized and
humanitarian response to the Syrian Civil War and refugee
the Syrian Civil War. A joint fellow at the Belfer Center’s Interna-
and ideas for potential impact going
Political Scientist Holger Albrecht
long events series on the international political and
year deepening his understanding of the drivers and dynamics of
how the UN has operated in Syria
events March 2016 marked five years since protests
MEI highlighted this sobering anniversary with a month-
mei research fellow Dr. Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl spent the
Former political adviser to the UN
defected or deserted in the early stages of the war, drawing important insights for policy lessons and research methods.
civil wars, with a focus on the Middle East. In October 2015, he
Scholars, journalists and policy practitioners analyzed
presented research from his first book on the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war in a talk titled “The Political Economy of Quagmires,”
protests, using quantitative analysis of news reports across Syria
combining game theory with interviews of former commanders
to measure correlations between the government’s use of violence
to understand how interactions between domestic actors and their
and corresponding escalation by the opposition. Schulhofer-Wohl
foreign backers shape decisions in civil wars. In April 2016, Schul-
hopes that deepening scholarly understanding of dynamics during
hofer-Wohl presented research he conducted at MEI on the dynam-
civil strife with cutting edge social science methods will shape
ics between the Assad regime’s repression tactics and opposition
better policy interventions in the future.
various angles of the crisis. The series convened experts, commentators, and practitioners from a variety of disciplines. Each blended rigorous and honest analysis with compassionate humanity to try to untangle the complex web of suffering emanating from Syria’s conflict.
President of the ICRC Peter Maurer joined Harvard Professors Michael Ignatieff and Jacqueline Bhabha in the JFK Jr. Forum to discuss the role and challenges of international humanitarian agencies and frontline humanitarian negotiation in Syria.
Urban planner Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj brought a unique perspective on international diplomatic efforts from his time as an
observer at the Geneva Peace Talks just before visiting Harvard In fall 2015, after a summer filled with images and reports of sinking boats in the Mediterranean and swelling refugee camps and detention
centers in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Europe, students across Harvard sought a way to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis with practical measures of solidarity. MEI fostered this engagement, encouraging students to gather and share passions and projects face-to-face. Delegations from many schools joined
as well as his grassroots peacebuilding role at the Common Space Initiative in Beirut, where he works across the Syrian
Syrian-British journalists and
border to build trust and dialogue on the ground.
authors of new book Burning
to form the Harvard Coalition for Syrian Refugees to leverage resources and networks to respond to the crisis. Students collaborated throughout the year,
Country Leila Al-Shami and Robin
hosting conferences and events, producing research and policy recommendations, and contributing to local, national, and international efforts to advocate for Syrian refugees - and they plan to continue their work in the upcoming year and into the future.
Yassin-Kassab painted a gruesome Documentary On the Bride’s Side displayed the human side of
and deeply human account of the
Europe's refugee policy as filmmakers smuggled refugees from
escalation of Syria’s conflict, on-
Italy to Sweden under the guise of a wedding party, capturing
going efforts from civilian activists,
moments of tension, reflection and humor on the journey.
the everyday reality of life in today’s
Students organized four conferences:
A group of Harvard Kennedy School
An arm for local activism also took
two at Harvard Law School (HLS),
(HKS) students published two reports
shape, aimed at improving respons-
one at the Graduate School of Educa-
with Prof. Michael Ignatieff on U.S. pol-
es to refugees at the town and state
tion (HGSE) and one at the Graduate
icy responses. A research committee
levels in Massachusetts, as well as
Newsweek Middle East editor and conflict journalist Janine di
School of Design (GSD).
was formed intent on generating and
federal government policy.
Giovanni reflected on reporting on the ground in Syria, both on
disseminating policy-relevant analysis.
Syria, and the international community’s response.
the country’s dire situation and the changing nature of modern war reporting in discussion with FDP Director Cathryn Clüver.
Middle East Initiative
Scholarship and Practice
Senior policymakers Hedi Larbi and Robert Danin brought both academic and professional expertise on the Middle East to students.
Hedi Larbi lays out his vision at the opening session of his study group, “Rewriting the Arab Social Contract,” in September 2015 with guest speaker Paul Salem (L) and MEI Director Hilary Rantisi (R).
Hedi Larbi, KFAS Visiting Scholar, 2015-16
Rewriting the Arab Social Contract
Considering U.S. Efforts for Israel-Palestine Peace
study groups At the heart of Former Minister Hedi Larbi’s study group was a desire to revisit the Arab uprisings, which began in his native Tunisia in December 2010, from an often overlooked frame: the economic and social issues at their root.
visiting scholar Hedi Larbi arrived
and to build momentum toward a future
Institute's project on Regional Economic
Eight experts with direct experience in
at Harvard Kennedy School with an ambi-
that might fulfill the hopes they sparked.
Cooperation with a paper titled “Regional
Arab economies convened to formulate an
Infrastructure as a Potential Catalyst for
integrated approach to the historical, social, political, and economic
study groups In an election year when anything seems possi-
Growth in the Middle East.”
dimensions of the Arab uprisings. In May 2016, Larbi released a
ble, MEI Senior Fellow Dr. Robert M. Danin, former Deputy Assis-
report, highlighting the themes, areas of consensus, and unique in-
tant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and acting National
tious goal: “to understand the conceptual and concrete contours of a new social
While at MEI, his seven-session study
contract in the Arab world.”
group (detailed on page 17) on “Rewrit-
MEI Faculty Chair Nicholas Burns with Dr. Robert Danin in May 2015
ing the Arab Social Contract,” was most
He also dedicated time to engaging schol-
sights from each speaker, hoping to advance understanding of these
Security Council Senior Director for Near East and North African
For Larbi, this was not just an academic
visible, but his engagement extended far
ars and practitioners at Harvard and be-
foundational concepts as Arab transitions in politics, economies
Affairs, who has often held the “Israel-Palestine Portfolio” in the
exercise. After a 20+ year career at the
beyond the series. Larbi gave generously of
yond. He addressed Harvard conferences,
and societies continue.
U.S. Government, challenged students to think about how the next
World Bank, most recently as senior ad-
his time and expertise, meeting with and
including the Summit on the Future of
visor to the Vice President for the Middle
mentoring many current and prospective
Europe and the African Development
Key Re port F i nd i ngs :
East and North Africa (MENA), Larbi
students, including one who received
Conference, and hosted Tunisian and Al-
Arab uprisings are just one phase in a process of cultural adjustment in
With peace talks currently at a standstill after Secretary of State
answered a call to public service familiar
the Kuwait Foundation Fellowship for
gerian University Deans at Harvard for an
the Arab world, which began in the 19th century.
John Kerry’s abortive shuttle diplomacy efforts in 2013 and 2014,
to many at HKS. He was asked to serve
Outstanding Emerging Leaders from
event co-led by Tunisian-American Young
U.S. President will tackle this sensitive, ongoing issue.
Danin led students through a four session study group on the histoPersistent economic underperformance, including 1980s “market”
ry, current standing, and future trajectory of U.S. policy towards the
as Minister for Economic Infrastructure
MEI. He was interviewed by the Harvard
Professionals and the U.S. Department
and Sustainable Development as well
Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and
of Commerce. He also participated in
as Economic Advisor to Tunisia’s newly
Policy (JMEPP). He also guest lectured at
numerous national and international con-
appointed Prime Minister, Mehdi Jomaa.
HBS and HKS, and led a student-focused
ferences and meetings, speaking directly
Poor social and economic conditions behind the uprisings deteriorated
strategic and bureaucratic factors that have shaped today’s reality.
The transitional cabinet was to guide the
session at MEI on the challenges of leader-
to policymakers, presenting the findings
during the transitions, while reforms needed to level the playing field and
The group also waded into the deeply divided internal politics of
country to free and fair elections and ce-
ship in transitional governments.
of his study group, and joining the World
develop institutions never materialized.
both Palestine and Israel.
People in the region want more than political transitions. Narrow political
Final discussions revolved around the future of U.S. policy on Israel
Economic Forum’s Expert Group on the
ment the country’s democratic transition.
reforms, undermined once robust social welfare protections, leading to a breakdown in the old social contract that eventually triggered the uprisings.
issue. Danin began the group with a focus on history, providing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and a review of the historical, political,
After his service, Larbi joined the Middle
Larbi set a rigorous research agenda
East Initiative as a Kuwait Foundation
focused on the history of economic reform
Visiting Scholar to reflect on the historic
in Arab countries before the uprisings.
Larbi’s contributions to the MEI and HKS
events unfolding since the Arab uprisings,
His aim was to survey successful tran-
communities measured up to his initial,
sitions across the developing world to
ambitious goal. Whether reframing the
Institutionalized social dialogue holds great promise to facilitate public
escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, dysfunctional
identify models for promoting inclusion
analysis of the Arab uprisings toward
debate essential to build consensus for a new, inclusive social contract.
political transitions in the wake of the Arab Spring, and increasing
and participation in government. He also
social and economic factors or engag-
examined core economic issues in the
ing with students, fellows and faculty,
Middle East, co-authoring an Economic
his extraordinary passion and wealth of
Research Forum policy brief on improv-
knowledge left a lasting impact.
Larbi presents on “Leading Tunisia’s Transition”
reforms pursued by political elites during the transitions did not and cannot deliver the profound societal transformation needed to realize the ambitions of the uprisings.
and Palestine. Danin asked students to debate the priority level that peace efforts might and should be given in shaping policy toward a region now reeling from conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen,
The United States and Europe must support successful cases. Just as the Arab uprisings spread by example, failed transitions will shape perceptions of what is possible. The power of success stories, however modest, should be taken seriously as a driver for positive change.
U.S. preoccupation with Iran and East Asia. What weight should the next U.S. president give the issue? What weight will they give, and why? How effective can the U.S. be amidst polarized domestic politics and a frozen peace process? What can break the stalemate?
ing the business environment in MENA and contributing to the Middle East
To see Larbi’s JMEPP interview, visit
To read the report, listen to the lectures, and more, visit
belfercenter.org/ArabSocialContract Middle East Initiative
“This is the kind of work places like HKS should be doing: it’s research, but embedded in real world problems.” Asim Khwaja
MEI Faculty Affiliate
want a thousand flowers to bloom initially. You can’t manage a
relationship where [policymakers] want a solution yesterday.” The
thousand flowers. Eventually you want to figure out which ones
‘smart’ approach is methodological and takes time; it “requires
are succeeding, water them more and help them grow. That’s the
a certain mindset, and a willingness to believe in that mindset.”
art of policymaking: knowing when something’s succeeding and
Researchers must also prove their value in the short term, as pol-
building on it, and conversely redesigning reforms that aren’t
icymakers cope with pressures to deliver. “Policymaking is in real
working as well. But you want to be guided not just by passions,
time, and when we engage with policymakers we need to respect
excitement and intuition but also by hard evidence. The role that
and recognize that constraint.” To accommodate real constraints
we as researchers play is to help guide that conversation so that
on both sides, Khwaja’s team envisions a trade-off: researchers
decisions are made on really solid ground.”
generate quicker insights in succinct policy briefs for policymakers, who in turn cultivate patience among constituents for longer
Smart Policy Design and Implementation
term impact. Khwaja considers building this mutually sustaining relationship the greatest challenge.
The Smart Policy Design and Implementation model is a
But the biggest challenges present the highest payoffs. “If we
five-step cycle: identify the problem; diagnose the underly-
succeed in demonstrating the power of [Smart Policy Design and
ing cause(s); design appropriate solution(s); gather data and
Implementation] in the Saudi labor market, I can imagine other
Working “Smart” in Saudi Arabia
evidence while testing those solutions; and refine the solution
departments – education, health, commerce, etc – taking note and
as needed. Involving researchers at the
saying, ‘This is the kind of approach we want.’
first step is essential. “When we come in
If we succeed here, I’m encouraged that others
Asim Khwaja on transformation in the Kingdom and the future of policymaking
at the problem identification stage, it’s
will follow. That would be a pretty big change.”
mei faculty affiliate “It’s an exciting time to be working
Saudi Arabia’s large youth population is also motivated to work,
by your problem. It’s also empowering
on labor market issues in Saudi Arabia” says Asim Khwaja, Sum-
but there are “mismatches between their expectations and what
for policymakers. This creates a positive
itomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Devel-
jobs are available,” as well as “employers’ expectations of workers’
dynamic in that we’re not here to evaluate.
This endeavor has helped Khwaja re-imagine
opment Professor of International Finance and Development and
productivity. These are first-order problems in labor markets:
We’re here to calibrate: to use evidence,
the relationship between data, government
Co-Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard
how do people choose education levels? How do they choose
data, and existing theories to give the best
and policy design. “At the meta-level, what
Kennedy School’s Center for International Development. In June
careers? How do they look for jobs? What happens when they’re
possible shot at solving your problem. We
we’re trying to unpack is, ‘what is the art of
2016, the country approved its National Transformation Pro-
unemployed? And these issues are particularly critical for youth
keep recalibrating to get to the impact that
policymaking?’ How do we internalize the
gram 2020, spurring 24 government bodies to set new economic
because their first experience in the labor market may color
we both care about. Our incentives are
fact that the art of policymaking is inherently
development goals within “Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.” As the
what’s going to happen for them in future.”
perfectly aligned: as researchers, we care
future of oil remains uncertain, this largescale reform agenda sig-
exciting for us because we get to be driven
about impact; obviously policymakers want
The Future of Policymaking
Courtesy of Evidence for Policy Design
data-driven process, particularly given how the
world of data is changing around us?”
nals to Khwaja and his colleagues that the new Saudi leadership
Like neighboring Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia’s many migrant
impact. The challenge is just to build that relationship and level
is opting for a fresh approach: informed, iterative policymaking
workers create yet another layer of labor dynamics. “How do
of trust. That’s the higher-level mission.”
based on data, evidence and experimentation – precisely what is
you satisfy your economy’s growing needs for both skilled and
at the core of EPoD’s Smart Policy Design and Implementation
unskilled labor? You want to leverage the global workforce as
It seems intuitive for HKS – perched squarely at the intersection
real-time data” inspires Khwaja. Policymakers and researchers
best you can, but simultaneously give your population incentives
of research and practice – to break this ground. “This is the kind
must consider how to “leverage emerging real-time, rapid, mas-
to acquire the right skills. It’s not about either/or; it’s about how
of work places like HKS should be doing: it’s research, but it’s
sive information flows.” Khwaja reflects, “To the extent that we
to leverage the complementarities between these two.”
categorically embedded in real world problems.” Furthermore,
can do so, the possibilities are endless.”
Gender, Youth and Migrant Labor
This new age of “policymaking in the modern era of big data, of
Khwaja sees HKS’ greatest contribution as a conduit to the For economists like Khwaja, Saudi Arabia faces fundamental
Fortunately, Gulf economies’ ample resources enable them to
broader academic community, having already engaged faculty
Listen to the full interview at belfercenter.org/SaudiLabor
challenges found in labor markets around the globe. “One of the
respond to these challenges. “What’s fascinating about these
from 13 top universities on the Saudi project.
biggest issues is women in the workforce: getting women into the
economies is that they actually have launched a really ambitious
Learn more about the EPoD’s Labor Market Research in Saudi Arabia at epod.cid.harvard.edu/saudi-labor-market
workforce, employed, paid, and into careers which are mean-
set of reform programs. For us as researchers, it’s an exciting re-
ingful and rewarding for them. This is an issue the world over…
gion because you don’t actually have to convince the policymaker
though Saudi Arabia has more stark manifestations of these chal-
to do [or fund] something.
Challenges Ahead ge t i nvolv e d
Smart Policy Design and Implementation is not without difficulties. Khwaja anticipates obstacles in garnering long-term buy-in
lenges. But the Saudis are obviously trying to get women in the
embedded in a systematic, evidence-driven,
workforce, period. There’s demand, there’s desire by the govern-
“Now the challenge is you can’t do everything…how do you con-
– and not just in Saudi Arabia. “The Smart Policy Design and
ment,” and as Khwaja points out, “this is half your workforce.”
verge to address the smaller but still ambitious issues? You don’t
Implementation principles are different from the usual kind of
Are you a researcher or policymaker who wants to use EPoD’s model or just interested in staying up to date? Visit the EPoD website at epod.cid.harvard.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle East Initiative
In the Field
Anoud Allouzi, MPP ’16
Heli Mishael, MPP ’17
students Anoud Allouzi arrived in Cambridge from Amman in the fall of 2014 as part of the inaugural cohort of Emirates Leadership Initiative
students In 2012, Heli Mishael, MPP ’17, founded
within Morocco, and to determine
(ELI) Fellows. Reflecting on her two years at HKS, she shared highlights of
Shades Negotiation Program (SNP), an executive nego-
what lessons from this country’s
tiation and leadership training program for mid-career
experience could be exported to
her HKS experience, findings from her work on women’s empowerment in Jordan, and her hopes for the future of the region.
Israeli, Palestinian and international professionals.
EU member states as they grapple
What did being an Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellow mean to you?
With support from Harvard’s Program on Negotiation,
with an unprecedented influx of
Mishael shaped SNP into one of the leading non-state
refugees and migrants.
The ELI Fellowship was a home for me far away from my own
organizations in the region focused on cross-cultural
home. We were a group of six during my first year and a group of
ten the second. The weekly meetings were a critical opportunity to
MEI and the Harvard Humani-
reflect on my overall experience and be reminded of the purpose of
This summer, Mishael will apply the skills she devel-
tarian Initiative, is an experiential
why I was at HKS. Everyone is so busy here. In this fast-paced envi-
oped at SNP and during her first year at HKS through
learning opportunity for students
ronment, you need the time and space to explore and reflect upon
an internship in Tel Aviv at ANU (which means “we”
to develop their negotiation,
the many opportunities we have. The ELI Fellowship provided a
in Hebrew), a civil society organization that engages
critical thinking, and communi-
base from which to do so. It also allowed us to hone softer skills like
a community of over 70,000 Israeli and Palestinian
cation skills as they navigate the
leadership, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving.
activists to advocate for social justice and equality. At
evolving political, professional and
My career interest is to focus on political and economic develop-
ANU, Mishael supports campaigns on education and
technical tensions among major stakeholders. Mishael
ment. These softer skills complement the analytical skills I mastered
environmental health by helping leaders to develop
pointed out that because the students came from a
public narratives that convey a compelling message to
variety of disciplines, including economics, medicine,
seek positive change in their communities. One of five
politics, sociology and education, it “challenged us to
students supported by MEI with a travel grant for a
consider different perspectives in our analyses and take
summer internship, Mishael will spend three months
a holistic approach to developing solutions.” To build
in Israel before returning to HKS for her second and
on the winter field study course, Mishael volunteered
during the spring semester at the Harvard Immigra-
through my courses and will be very beneficial for my future work. to understand why.
“The ELI Fellowship allowed me the space to explore and reflect.”
What were some of the recommendations you offered to the Ministry of Labor in Jordan as part of your Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE)?
My PAE was designed to examine how Jordan can better include
the motivators that
women in the workforce. My partner and I traveled to Jordan
shape and inspire
and the UAE, and our research yielded three key recommenda-
us so we can share
tions. First, the country should focus on gender mainstreaming to
our stories on what moves us to act. During my second year, I was
demonstrate the importance of working women to the economy.
selected as a teaching assistant for Arts of Communication, which
This would include gender awareness campaigns through a variety
was one of my greatest accomplishments at HKS. Being a TA was
of media platforms, transparency policies for companies to disclose
an excellent opportunity to stay immersed in this work and to help
employee composition, and reforming school curricula to focus
my peers develop vital communication skills.
helps his students to deeply examine
on women’s rights. Second, establish public-private partnerships
tion and Refugee Clinical Program, supporting it in
“...enabling others to acheive shared purpose in the face of uncertainty.”
representing clients from around the world who seek protection from human rights abuses or exile. Next year, Mishael plans to build on the experiences of her first year and focus on education, specifically civic and peace education. She will also be a teaching fellow for Prof. Marshall Ganz’s course, Public Narrative,
What was one of your most meaningful experiences outside of your coursework?
A Finnish and Israeli citizen, Mishael focused her
which offers students “an opportunity to develop their
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields
studies during her first year at HKS on immigration,
capacity to lead by translating values into actions,
to increase the number of years that women stay in the workforce.
I was part of the team that organized the annual spring Palestine
specifically states’ parallel policies for migrants who
and by accepting responsibility for enabling others to
And last, reform Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) to target the in-
Trek. Each year, we took 120 students to Palestine and Israel to give
transit and those who wish to stay. She participated in
achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty.”
active female population by increasing the minimum wage, setting
them a firsthand experience of the politics of the region, with an
the January 2016 field study course in Morocco and
labor quotas and developing a talent pipeline.
emphasis on the Palestinian narrative that is rarely represented in
Italy, which brought together sixteen Harvard graduate
western media. During the eight days of the trip, the trekkers got
students to explore issues of migration to, from, and
to offer income-contingent student loans for those who major in
This annual course, supported by
What was your favorite course at HKS?
to meet with governmental officials, activists, CSOs, and business
Arts of Communication with Prof. Tim McCarthy was hands-down
executives, all while enjoying the beauty and culture of Palestine.
my favorite course. His classroom was my safe space on campus
The first year I led the trek also happened to be my own first visit
where I learned how to improve on my weaknesses by developing
to Palestine. My mother is from Nablus and to be able to share her
my speech writing and delivery skills. Every day at HKS, we are
homeland with so many of my classmates who were interested in
reminded to ask what we can do, but rarely have the opportunity
learning more about the region was incredibly moving.
Middle East Initiative
Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Learning JMEPP: Celebrating Five Years “There are some natural tendencies that we have to make a poor decision. If we study decision theory, we can learn to overcome most heuristics and biases.” Dr. Richard Zeckhauser Harvard Kennedy School
When the participants arrived in Cambridge, they immediately began applying concepts and strategies they had
student publication The student-run Harvard
Then, former U.S. Ambassador to
been exposed to in the online module. Their first case study,
Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy (JMEPP)
Turkey Francis Ricciardone vis-
“Bakra Beverage,” was led by Faculty Chair Kessely Hong.
released its fifth edition in June 2016.
ited Harvard just before Turkey’s
During this case they tested their ability to employ a variety
November election re-run amidst
of negotiation strategies over the terms of a distribution
Over the past five years, MEI has supported JMEPP’s
escalating violence between
contract between a fictional soft drink distributor and a
mission to provide cutting-edge analysis on issues of policy
Kurdish and Turkish forces and
beverage manufacturer in the Middle East. The exercise
relevance to the Middle East and North Africa. Originally
challenges to press freedoms. De-
required them to recognize changing circumstances, notice
launched in 2011, JMEPP evolved from a printed journal
spite these tensions, Ricciardone
key information, make accurate judgments, reduce the
to today’s hybrid print/interactive online publication that is
highlighted Turkey’s compar-
executive education The May 2016 customized
probability of a bad outcome occurring, and minimize the
forward-thinking, empirically-grounded, and accessible.
ative democratic advantage to
Executive Education workshop for MEI’s Kuwait Program at
impact of a bad outcome should one occur.
other nations in the region while
Harvard Kennedy School piloted an exciting, new element:
Designed for a wide audience composed of policymakers,
emphasizing the need for a strong civil society to maintain
an online pre-program module to introduce the 44 partic-
academics and casual readers, JMEPP engages its audience
ipants to decision analysis and behavioral economics. The
through issue and concept analyses, interviews with schol-
idea behind the module, designed by Strengthening Learn-
ars and practitioners, book reviews, photojournalism and
After a major rift in Iran-Saudi relations in January 2016,
ing And Teaching Excellence (SLATE) at HKS, was to use
more. JMEPP encourages active debate and fresh perspec-
JMEPP held another timely interview with Iran expert
a virtual learning environment to familiarize participants
tives in considering the contemporary policy challenges and
Karim Sadjadpour, who offered a nuanced take on the
with some of the concepts they would encounter during the
opportunities in the region.
conflict. His perspective pushed beyond tired sectarian
weeklong “Decision-Making Strategies under Risk and Un-
narratives and drew attention to the numerous geopolitical
certainty” program. This allowed the participants to engage
power struggles in which these regional powers have entan-
more fully with the material on the first day of the program.
gled themselves over the past four decades.
The learning tool provided the participants the opportuni-
In March 2016, JMEPP joined MEI’s monthly focus on Syr-
ty to watch videos about hypothetical decision scenarios,
ia. UNRWA Director-General Pierre Krähenbühl addressed
explore interactive diagrams, and check their understanding
Following the sessions in strategic negotiation, the exec-
of the material by answering formative assessment ques-
utives learned from Professor Malcom Sparrow about the
tions and defining key terms. As online learning continues
importance of designing a risk-control system. Professor
to grow in popularity and studies of its effectiveness capture
Sparrow introduced the concept of a harm-reduction
In 2014, JMEPP and MEI launched the “Inside the Middle
region. Former political director for the UN’s Syria Envoy
the attention of educators, this dynamic module challenged
framework, where leaders must “spot emerging problems
East” video series to increase online content and add anoth-
Mouin Rabbani also laid out an insightful, sometimes sting-
the executives to think about how to use economic thinking
early and suppress them before they do much harm.” This
er dimension to JMEPP’s coverage of regional policy issues.
ing analysis of the UN’s peacebuilding efforts in Syria.
to help make decisions and consider what common behav-
theory directly related to the core of the online module and
The series offers students the opportunity to interview MEI
ioral biases might affect their analyses.
Dr. Richard Zeckhauser’s sessions on how to make effective
guest speakers or visiting fellows and scholars to explore
In addition to these high-profile interviews, JMEPP main-
decisions in spite of behavioral biases. Emphasizing that
their work in greater depth.
tained a consistent online presence, posting weekly news
the many complexities of Syria’s proliferating conflict and Editor-in-Chief Kristin Wagner interviews MEI Visiting Scholar Hedi Larbi.
“many decisions under uncertainty give you the opportu-
the need for political leadership on the tough issue of humanitarian protection for Palestine refugees across the
updates and analyses, along with in-depth stories and op-
nity to acquire information before you make a subsequent
This year, interviews spanned a range of topics with top
eds. Complemented by the fifth print edition, this year saw
decision,” Dr. Zeckhauser walked participants through addi-
policymakers and academics. The series included two
JMEPP continue to grow toward becoming a strong pres-
tional cases for them to practice using decision trees to map
former ministers with governing experience in the Arab
ence in the Middle East policy discourse in years to come.
out options with a systematic and quantified approach. The
transitions: former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Gebril
previous exposure to decision trees and other negotiation
discussed Libya’s political future, and Hedi Larbi, MEI Vis-
concepts through the online module ensured the execu-
iting Scholar and former Tunisian Minister for Economic
tives arrived in Cambridge ready to engage deeply with the
Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, on the role of
material and maximize their time with faculty during the
international financial institutions and political state-build-
ing in addressing Tunisia’s economic challenges.
To learn more about JMEPP, visit hksjmepp.com. To see “Inside the Middle East” videos, visit goo.gl/RyXY0e.
Middle East Initiative
79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, MA 02138 617-495-4087 hks.harvard.edu/middleeast
The Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School is dedicated to addressing public policy issues in the Middle East by convening academic and policy experts, collaborating with regional partners, and developing the next generation of leaders. Through research, teaching, policy analysis and community engagement, MEI fosters synergies with the region to advance knowledge and build capacity.
Middle East Initiative MOSAIC 2016 Editor-in-Chief: Chris Mawhorter, Events Administrator email@example.com Designer: Andrew Facini, Publications and Design Coordinator, Belfer Center firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial team: Krysten Hartman, Program Coordinator email@example.com
Follow us on our various social media channels:
Julia Martin, Research Program Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Hilary Rantisi, Director email@example.com
With special thanks to Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, Alexander Hall, Bennett Craig, Alison Hillegeist, and Arielle Dworkin
The Middle East Initiative's Summer 2016 Newsletter