Page 1

five years on

Fellows in Focus MEI Fellows enhance the HKS intellectual community

Alumni in Action Wael Almazeedi ’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.


Mosaic 2016

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


On Campus


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






3,796 26


Students from the Middle East

Students Travelled to the Middle East

Research Fellows

Faculty Research Projects

Public Events

Event Attendees

Event Co-sponsors

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

Jan: #InTheSameBoat

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

Mosaic 2016

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

postdoctoral research

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

material interests.

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-

subsequent transitions.

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

political change.

tensions and currents within these complex

authoritarian regimes. 6

Mosaic 2016

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 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

Mosaic 2016

society or the nonprofit sector do about it? For more on Wael Almazeedi, check out his website:

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.


Mosaic 2016

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

Mosaic 2016

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.


Mosaic 2016

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”

Middle East.

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


Mosaic 2016

To see Larbi’s JMEPP interview, visit

To read the report, listen to the lectures, and more, visit 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

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

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

Mosaic 2016

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 or email

Middle East Initiative


On Campus

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

final year.

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)?

Prof. McCarthy

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.

Mosaic 2016

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

that edge.

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-


Mosaic 2016

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-

one-week course.

ing in addressing Tunisia’s economic challenges.

To learn more about JMEPP, visit To see “Inside the Middle East” videos, visit

Middle East Initiative


79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, MA 02138 617-495-4087

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 Designer: Andrew Facini, Publications and Design Coordinator, Belfer Center Editorial team: Krysten Hartman, Program Coordinator


Follow us on our various social media channels:

Julia Martin, Research Program Coordinator


Hilary Rantisi, Director


With special thanks to Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, Alexander Hall, Bennett Craig, Alison Hillegeist, and Arielle Dworkin


Mosaic 2016

Mosaic: Summer 2016  

The Middle East Initiative's Summer 2016 Newsletter

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