Created in June 2020, MEI’s Defense Leadership Series is a speakers' forum for current and former high-level military and defense leaders from both the United States and the Middle East to discuss the most important policy issues facing the two sides. The Series was inaugurated on June 10 with a conversation with U.S. Marine Corps General and Commander of CENTCOM Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.
In this episode, MEI Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense and Security Program Bilal Y. Saab speaks to former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Simone Ledeen, currently a Nonresident Senior Fellow with MEI's Defense and Security Program. This conversation will focus on U.S. policies toward the Middle East during the Trump administration and lessons learned. Saab will be taking audience questions throughout, and factor as many as possible into the discussion.
Simone Ledeen was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for Middle East Policy until January 2021. In this capacity, Ms. Ledeen was responsible for US Department of Defense Policy for Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. She is currently Principal at EVG Consulting, LLC.
Previously she served as the Principal Director to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism where she provided oversight of the employment of special operations forces in counterterrorism, Military Information Support Operations (MISO), Information Operations, unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter proliferation, sensitive special operations and personnel recovery/hostage issues as specified by the Secretary of Defense.
Prior to her appointment, Ms. Ledeen served as an Executive Director at Standard Chartered Bank where she led the successful launch of the bank’s multi-national financial crime compliance program in Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan.
For over a decade, Ms. Ledeen served in various US Government positions. From 2009-2010, Ms. Ledeen was the Senior US Treasury Representative to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. She began her government career in 2003 as an Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance in Baghdad, where she served as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Ms. Ledeen has an MBA from the Bocconi University School of Management in Milan, Italy and a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors from Brandeis University.