Jean AbiNader

Jean AbiNader is a Middle East analyst and writer who lives in the Washington, DC area. He produces blogs, position papers and policy studies related to US-Arab political, economic and security issues. He has been involved in US-Arab advocacy for more than 40 years, having been the first Arab American to lobby on US policies in the Middle East. He recently edited the Lebanon Policy Paper: Recommendations for a Sustainable Bilateral Relationship, a joint project of the American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL) and the Middle East Institute. He has been traveling to the region since 1972. AbiNader consults on strategic communications and organizational change for both international and US clients; has led a graduate-level seminar at Georgetown University; lectures at American University on international development and challenges in intercultural negotiations; and leads a seminar on effective negotiations at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco. His blogs can be found on and his own website,
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Lebanon’s Future as an Inclusive Democracy in Doubt

In Lebanon, October 17 marked the anniversary of the 2019 demonstrations against the government due to its mismanagement of the economy and widespread corruption. After two years, despite the fall of the government led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, there has been no investigation into the charges of corruption or capital flight that occurred, accelerating the implosion of the local currency and... Continue Reading

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Is Lebanon at Risk in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Media attention has focused on the loss of life and property in the bombardment of Gaza, the domestic skirmishes between Jewish and Arab Israelis, and Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel. Yet there are unique implications for Palestinian communities in Lebanon, too. In Lebanon, more than 470,000 Palestinians are registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Of this number, around... Continue Reading

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Expect an Uneven Rebound in MENA and Central Asia

Projections, no matter how well-grounded in analytics, are a messy business. Three years ago, COVID-19 was unheard of and then-US President Donald Trump’s politics caused uncertainty in international relations, with democracy in retreat across the world. Despite the best-informed prognostications, predictions failed to capture cross-border variables such as immigration and civil conflict that... Continue Reading

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Lebanon Hits a New Milestone

On March 2, the Lebanese lira (or pound) eroded even further into becoming a failed currency, if there is such a thing. From an official exchange rate of 3,900 pounds per US dollar for importers and manufacturers of essential food items, the “cost of scarce dollars hit 10,000 Lebanese pounds on Tuesday, said three currency dealers on the informal market, a main source of cash since banks... Continue Reading

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Not All Quiet on the Western Sahara Front

On October 21, groups of Polisario Front’s supporters blocked the highway at Guergarat, in the extreme southwest of the Western Sahara. This is in the buffer zone between territory controlled by Morocco and the land claimed by the Polisario — the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro, the rebel movement fighting for the independence of the former Spanish... Continue Reading

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Does Saad Hariri Really Believe He Can Save Lebanon?

My parents used to say, “Eat with your mouth and not your eyes.” This may be good advice for newly-minted Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He is clearly unable to resist trying once again to raise Lebanon from its deathbed, and this time the consequences may be more disastrous than just a bit of heartburn. Yes, I’m sure his supporters see this as the ultimate act of patriotism, and... Continue Reading

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Reworking US Policy in the Middle East and North Africa

US foreign policy has shifted dramatically from just a brief 20 years ago. This is not the making of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin. Rather, they are symptoms of forces that have been building since the post-Soviet era. With the ascendency of the US as the global superpower and the “Washington Consensus” as the pillar of economic development, it was easy to assume that Pax... Continue Reading

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Morocco Looks to a Future After COVID-19

Many countries are facing declining growth rates due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Morocco is no exception. Given lockdowns and flight restrictions implemented worldwide from March, the tourism and hospitality sectors — usually the third-largest component of GDP — have suffered enormous losses and almost collapsed during the first 90 days of the global response to COVID-19, the disease... Continue Reading

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There’s No Good News for Refugees in Lebanon

The Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon is just the latest in a sequence of disenfranchisements that have plagued the Middle East for generations. In 1948, just years after Lebanon was founded, the Palestinians were pushed out of their homeland by the Israelis and the Lebanese granted them refuge. Over the years, this was followed by others fleeing persecution and political turmoil. Refugees... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

The New Normal Is Nothing New

The phrase “the new normal” has been around, according to CBS News, since the end of World War I. Its use has escalated since the 2008-09 financial crisis and implies that life will never go back to the way it was, although one hardly notices any changes in the way financial markets do business, let alone the larger economy and society. Central Europe Tiptoes Into the New World After... Continue Reading

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