Institute Congratulates Ambassador Barbara A. Leaf on Confirmation as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
Leaf is the former Ruth and Sid Lapidus Fellow at The Washington Institute
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Institute for Near East Policy congratulates Ambassador Barbara A. Leaf on her confirmation as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, the top Mideast policy position at the State Department.
“The Institute congratulates Ambassador Leaf on this outstanding appointment,” stated Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff. “Barbara brings to this position a lifetime of experience as a Foreign Service officer and an analyst. She has an expert’s understanding of the dynamics of the Middle East, a diplomat’s relationship with leading officials in the region, and an insider’s grasp of how to make policy in Washington, D.C. In her new role, Barbara will continue to serve the nation with wisdom and insight.”
Ambassador Leaf was the Institute’s Ruth and Sid Lapidus Fellow and the head of its Program on Arab Politics between her retirement from the State Department in 2018 and her January 2021 appointment as special assistant to the president and senior director for Middle East and North Africa affairs on the National Security Council.
Ambassador Leaf joined the Institute following an impressive career at the U.S. Department of State, culminating in her ambassadorship to the United Arab Emirates from 2014-2018. During her diplomatic career, Ambassador Leaf served in high-level positions at Foggy Bottom and abroad. Before arriving in Abu Dhabi in 2014, she served as deputy assistant secretary of state for the Arabian Peninsula in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq; directed the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basrah, Iraq; and served as the department’s first director of the Office of Iranian Affairs. In addition, she had postings in Rome, Sarajevo, Paris, Cairo, Tunis, Jerusalem, and Port-au-Prince.
In her role at the Institute, Ambassador Leaf became a sought-after voice on U.S. relations with Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Iran. She testified numerous times in front of key committees in the U.S. House and her analysis appeared widely in the media.
Ambassador Leaf is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, additionally holding a master's degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. She speaks Arabic, French, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian.
Media Contact: Anna Brown, 202-230-9550, email.
About The Washington Institute: The Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.