With the Israel-Hamas War ongoing on Lebanon’s southern border, the country’s multiple interconnected crises have compounded. How has the security situation evolved? What is Lebanon’s role within the broader Axis of Resistance and the broader geopolitical web? What are the repercussions on regional security stability of their involvement? How have the economic and social challenges facing the country been exacerbated by the war? Has the unstable regional security situation diminished confidence in an IMF deal for the country? What are the potential solutions or strategies to address Lebanon’s economic downturn amid the crisis? What is the role of U.S. soft power and credibility in Lebanon? And how has U.S. policy toward Lebanon evolved since 2019 and during the Israel-Hamas War and impacted Lebanon’s stability? The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host an expert panel to discuss four critical themes — security, governance, democracy, and stability — in Lebanon and innovative solutions for resolving Lebanon’s associated crises in each of these spheres.
Amb. Edward M. Gabriel
President and CEO, American Task Force on Lebanon
Senior Fellow and Director of Strategic Outreach, Middle East Institute
Lamia Moubayed Bissat
President of the Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan
Senior Policy Advisor on Iran, Freedom House
Fadi Nicholas Nassar, moderator
U.S.-Lebanon Fellow, Middle East Institute
Detailed Speaker Biographies
Edward M. Gabriel is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, having served from November 1997 to March 2001, during which time a new U.S.-Morocco strategic relationship was launched on political, military and economic levels. He has an extensive background in international affairs, having convened multilateral policy forums involving national security, environmental, and trade and energy issues. He has been involved in matters of Russian and European nuclear non-proliferation and has been active in advising the U.S. government on Mideast policy matters. Currently, Amb. Gabriel is President and CEO of The Gabriel Company, LLC, which advises American corporations and international entities on investment and policy strategies and projects. He is the President and CEO of the American Task Force on Lebanon, Co-Chairman of the American Schools of Tangier and Marrakech, Chairman of the Moroccan American Center, and a member of the boards of AMIDEAST, the Arab American National Museum, the Arab American Institute, and The Keystone Center.
Patricia Karam is currently Senior Policy Advisor on Iran at Freedom House, where she plays a leading role in crafting Freedom House’s policy agenda and advocacy strategy for promoting democracy and human rights in Iran. She was, most recently, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Director at the International Republican Institute (IRI). Prior to that, as MENA director at the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Karam was responsible for research, advocacy, grant-making, and technical assistance projects aimed at improving natural resource governance. As deputy director at the International Center for Transitional Justice, Karam oversaw educational transitional justice programs in three languages in Barcelona, Morocco, and South Africa. Karam has also held a combination of senior management, fundraising, and grants-making roles at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Iraq Foundation, and the Iraq Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as New York University’s Trauma Studies Program. She has published widely on the politics of the MENA countries and the dynamics of authoritarianism and conflict in the broader Middle East region.
Firas Maksad is the director of strategic outreach at MEI, where he collaborates with MEI's leadership to oversee strategic engagements crucial to the organization's operations. These engagements involve working with the U.S. administration, Congress, think tanks, and MEI's key partner organizations. Firas is a member of MEI’s core leadership team. In addition to his role as Director of Outreach, Firas is also a Senior Fellow at MEI. He is a recognized expert on the politics of Lebanon and Syria, the geopolitics of the Arab Gulf, and the broader dynamics of the Middle East region. Firas is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, where he teaches graduate courses on the Middle East at the Elliott School for International Affairs. His writings have appeared in top-tier publications such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy Magazine, Foreign Affairs, and the Los Angeles Times. Firas frequently offers expert commentary on U.S. politics and the Middle East for global news networks, including BBC, CNN, CNBC, Al Arabiya, and others. Firas holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree, as well as an honors certificate in International Business from Georgetown University. He completed his undergraduate degree in Political Studies at the American University of Beirut.
Lamia Moubayed Bissat heads the Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan at the Lebanese ministry of Finance. She has been nominated Vice President of the Committee of Experts in Public Administration (CEPA) by the U.N. Secretary-General . She is also a member of the board of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration. She contributed to founding the GIFT-MENA network of civil service training schools in the MENA and the MENAPAR network of research in public administration. She authored and contributed to more than 41 publications and founded the semi-peer reviewed journal Assadissa Journal of Public Finance and State Building. She is a lecturer of public management and governance at the Institute of Political Studies of the Université Saint Joseph, Beirut. Moubayed was awarded the “Légion d’Honneur” and the “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” for her significant contributions to the development of cooperation between France, Lebanon, and the MENA region.
Fadi Nicholas Nassar is U.S.-Lebanon Fellow at the Middle East Institute and Director of the Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University (LAU). He is also a Research Fellow at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, the oldest Lebanese-based think tank, and a Fellow at The Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation (SEPAD) project based at Lancaster University's Richardson Institute. His work focuses on international humanitarian and relief interventions in fragile and conflict settings, democratization, and U.S. foreign policy and Middle Eastern politics. Nassar’s upcoming book examines the U.N.’s mediation efforts in Syria and his articles on U.S. foreign policy and Middle Eastern politics.
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