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Experts on Kurdistan and Arab-Israeli Affairs Join the Washington Institute

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two experts with first-hand knowledge of critical Middle East issues — Haisam Hassanein and Bilal Wahab — have joined the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the research organization announced today. Hassanein, the organization’s Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Fellow, will focus on Arab-Israeli economic relations. Wahab, who joins the Institute as a Soref Fellow, will study governance in Iraq with a special focus on the Iraqi Kurdish region.

"In this period of monumental shifts in the region regarding the relationship between the Arab states and Israel, along with the emergence of Iraqi Kurdistan as an important partner of the United States, the addition of Haisam and Bilal could not come at a better time," said Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff. "Their expertise and research in the coming year will help benefit the Institute greatly as we work to inform the U.S. policy discussion on these two critical issues."

Hassanein’s fellowship is made possible by the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation. Wahab’s fellowship is named in memory of Helene and Samuel Soref, generous benefactors of The Washington Institute. Each fellowship aims to help recent master's and doctoral graduates transition from pursuing purely academic research to producing high-quality policy analysis on critical issues on the U.S. policy agenda in the Middle East.

“To join the Washington Institute is a true honor,” said Wahab. “One cannot live in the Middle East or study foreign affairs without understanding U.S. policymaking. As an Institute fellow I will have the opportunity to see firsthand how policy is made and to offer insight on Kurdish affairs, my area of expertise.”

Hassanein, who served as an intern with the Institute in 2014, is pleased to return. “It’s a privilege to work alongside the prolific scholars of the Institute,” he said. “I look forward to contributing to research on economic normalization between Israel and Arab Sunni States.”

Hassanein was born in Egypt and immigrated to the United States with his family at age 16. He received his BA from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania and, after his Institute internship, he completed his master’s degree at Tel Aviv University where he was named graduate school valedictorian.

Wahab, a native of Iraqi Kurdistan, joins the Institute from the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani, where he established the Center for Development and Natural Resources. He earned his PhD from George Mason University; his MA from American University in Washington, DC, where he was among the first Iraqis awarded a Fulbright scholarship; and his BA from Salahaddin University in Erbil, Iraq.

About The Washington Institute: The Washington 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.

Media Contact: Ian Byrne, 202-452-0650, email.