Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assil is a political scientist and Middle East scholar. He is a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. His current work focuses on great-power competition and regional dynamics in the Middle East. He brings expertise in conflict resolution, honed through leadership roles in grassroots movements and Track II dialogues.
Between 2012 and 2014, Al-Assil served as a resident fellow with the Orient Research Centre (ORC) in Dubai, and he continued to be a nonresident senior fellow with ORC until 2020. Al-Assil co-designed and managed a 'Track II Strategic Dialogue' focusing on U.S. and GCC relations between 2016 and 2020. The dialogue had eight rounds and included different think tanks, experts, and former government officials from Washington D.C., and the Gulf countries.
Al-Assil has an extensive background in grassroots movements, civil society, and community organizing. He is a founding member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement which was formed in 2011 to promote nonviolence as a way to achieve social and political change in Syria, and to raise global awareness about the struggle of Syrians in their quest for liberty. The movement had activities in Syria, Europe, Canada, and the United States. He served as its elected president between 2012-2016. In 2011, Al-Assil was detained by the Syrian secret police from a nonviolent protest against the Assad regime in Damascus. He was interrogated and tortured for four days at Mazzeh Military Airport.
In addition to his affiliation with MEI since 2015, Al-Assil held different fellowships including a fellowship at the Center for Public Leadership and Edward S. Mason Fellowship, both at Harvard University, and a fellowship at the Orient Research Centre in Dubai. During his time at Harvard Kennedy School, Al-Assil served as president of the Harvard Arab Student Association (HASA) for the academic year of 2018-2019. He served on the board of the Harvard Arab Alumni Association (HAAA) from 2020 to 2022.
Al-Assil has testified at the UN and has been published and quoted in a variety of media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Time, BBC, and NPR. He appears regularly on TV stations, such as Sky News, France24, and AlArabiya, and was a guest lecturer at Harvard University, American University in Washington D.C., and George Washington University.
He created and hosted Podcast AlAwsat (in Arabic) and the weekly video series Ara' min Washington (Opinions from Washington) between 2020 and 2022. Besides politics, he is a self-taught abstract artist who explores the nexus between identity, conflict, and art.
Al-Assil earned his doctorate in international relations at Johns Hopkins Schools of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) His dissertation focused on the US relationships with the Arab Gulf states through the lens of great-power competition.
Doctor of International Affairs (DIA), Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.
Master in Public Administration (MPA), Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Essex, Essex Business School.
Countries of Expertise
Gulf, Syria, Regional relationships across the Middle East
Issues of Expertise
Great-Power Competition, Conflict and Track II Dialogues, Geopolitics of Energy and Climate Change, Regional Security, Social Movements, and Political Economy.
Twitter Handle: @IbrahimAlAssil