Bilal Y. Saab is a political-military analyst on the Middle East and U.S. policy toward the region. He specializes in the Levant and the Gulf, and focuses on security cooperation between the United States and its regional partners, and national security and defense processes in Arab partner countries. He is currently completing a book, tentatively titled Rebuilding Arab Defense: The Tragedy of U.S. Security Cooperation in the Middle East, to be published by Lynne Rienner Publishers in 2021.
At the Middle East Institute, Saab is Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Defense and Security Program. Prior to MEI, Saab served as Senior Advisor for Security Cooperation (SC) in the Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, with responsibilities for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). In his capacity as the Department of Defense’s lead on security cooperation in the broader Middle East, Saab supported the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy's responsibility for SC oversight by leading prioritization and strategic integration of SC resources and activities for the USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility.
Saab is a term member (2016-2021) with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a recipient of the International Affairs Fellowship (2018-2019) with CFR. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. He has held fellowships and research and management positions at Brookings, Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies' James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and the Atlantic Council.
Saab has fluency in both written and spoken Arabic and French, and experience living in the Middle East for more than two decades. He has received various analytic and leadership awards throughout his career including the Thought Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council and the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Award from CSIS.
A prolific and widely published author in peer-reviewed academic and policy journals including the print editions of The Washington Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, American Interest, and The National Interest and the online editions of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, Saab is often called upon to brief and testify before various executive and legislative agencies in the U.S. government and other governments around the world. He regularly provides commentary to international media outlets including CNN, NPR, PBS Newshour, Reuters, Washington Post and New York Times.
BA, American University of Beirut; MLitt., University of St Andrews; MA, University of Maryland, College Park
Countries of Expertise
Bahrain, Iran, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE
Issues of Expertise
Arms Control; Defense; Insurgency; Regional Security; Security Cooperation; Strategy; Terrorism; US Middle East Policy