President Trump’s first stop on his first overseas trip was to Saudi Arabia before proceeding on to Israel and Europe last May. During his meetings in Riyadh, he heaped praise on Saudi leadership and seemingly offered unqualified support for the Saudi led coalition in its war against Shia Islam in contrast to his predecessor’s more nuanced policies. Yet Trump quietly extended support for the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran thereafter. Middle East experts Emile Nakhleh and Evelyn Early will explore and discuss ramifications of these and other policy changes and challenges for the US in this crucial region in the short and long term.
Emile Nakhleh is a retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer, a Research Professor and Director of the newly launched Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico, a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since retiring from the US Government in 2006, he has consulted on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism, and the Arab states of the Middle East. He has published frequently on the “Arab Spring” in the Financial Times and the LobeLog blog. At the CIA, he was a senior analyst and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program and of Regional Analysis in the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. from the American University, Washington, D.C., in International Relations, an M.A. from Georgetown University in Political Science, and a B.A. from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, in Political Science. He is the author of numerous academic books and scholarly articles. He and his wife, Ilonka Lessnau Nakhleh, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Evelyn A. Early,diplomat and anthropologist, served in the Senior Foreign Service and taught at the universities of Notre Dame, New Mexico, and Houston. Dr. Early’s postings were Khartoum, Rabat, Damascus and Prague. Stateside she was seconded as policy adviser and subject matter expert on popular Islam and pan-Arab media, to be Deputy Commandant of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. She has conducted research in Lebanon on Shi’a voluntary associations; in Egypt on traditional urban women; and in Syria on political culture.
Her publications include: Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing with an Egg and a Stone, the co-edited Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East, so popular in university courses it is in the third edition, “Telepreachers and Talk Shows: The Fight over Egyptian Airwaves,” “Syrian Television Drama: Permitted Political Discourse,” “Fertility and Fate,” “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.