MEI-CENTCOM Conference

The MEI-CENTCOM Annual Conference is a flagship event of MEI’s Defense and Security Program


It convenes top CENTCOM leadership and staff as well as some of the world’s leading Middle East scholars and practitioners to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the United States and its regional partners. Unique in the U.S. public policy and think tank communities, this two-day conference features speeches by CENTCOM leaders in addition to multiple policy-relevant panels on a range of strategic, political, military, and economic issues in the region.

2022 Conference


The second MEI-CENTCOM Annual Conference on Feb 3 & 4 will feature multiple virtual panels over two days as well as a physical keynote address by CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. at MEI headquarters on Feb 3. Closing remarks will be issued by Vice Admiral James Malloy, CENTCOM Deputy Commander on Feb 4.

Please note that, except for Gen. McKenzie's keynote, attendance for the conference is by invitation only, and the sessions will be held under Chatham House Rule.

Day 1 Agenda

February 3, 2022


9:00 – 9:10am

Introductory Remarks and Overview

Bilal Y. Saab Senior Fellow and Director, Defense and Security Program, MEI

9:10 – 10:15am

Keynote Address

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. Commander, U.S. Central Command

Amb. (ret.) Gerald Feierstein (moderator) Senior Vice President, MEI

10:20 – 11:20am

U.S. Middle East Policy after the Afghanistan Withdrawal

Amb. Paula Dobriansky Senior Fellow, Harvard University JFK Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs; Board of Governors, MEI

Paul Salem President, MEI

Michael Yaffe Vice President, Middle East and North Africa Center, United States Institute of Peace

Deborah Amos (moderator) Reporter, NPR

11:25 am – 12:25 pm

China and Russia in the Middle East

Jon B. Alterman Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Olga Oliker Program Director, Europe and Central Asia, International Crisis Group

Nadege Rolland Senior Fellow, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Brian Katulis (moderator) Vice President for Policy, MEI

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Iran: Alternative Scenarios

Kenneth M. Pollack Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Dennis Ross William Davidson Distinguished Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Kori Schake Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
American Enterprise Institute

Karen DeYoung (moderator) Associate Editor and Senior National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post

1:30 pm

Closing Remarks

Bilal Y. Saab Senior Fellow and Director, Defense and Security Program, MEI

Day 2 Agenda

February 4, 2022


9:00 – 10:00 am

Leveraging the Abraham Accords: U.S.-Arab-Israeli Security Cooperation

Karen Gibson Nonresident Senior Fellow, Defense and Security Program, MEI

Michael Patrick Mulroy Nonresident Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Yemen Steering Initiative, MEI

Bilal Y. Saab Senior Fellow and Director, Defense and Security Program, MEI

Missy Ryan (moderator) Reporter, The Washington Post

10:05 – 11:05 am

The Proliferation of Destabilizing Technologies in the Middle East

Lt. Col. Katie Crombe Director of Strategy and Plans, U.S. Special Operations Command Central and Nonresident Scholar, MEI

Andrew Milburn Nonresident Senior Fellow, MEI, and author of "When the Tempest Gathers"

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael K. Nagata Distinguished Senior Fellow on National Security, MEI

Alexander Ward (moderator) National Security Reporter, Politico

11:10am – 12:10 pm

The Future of Afghanistan and Global Jihadism

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza Non-resident Scholar, MEI

Bruce Hoffman Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, Council on Foreign Relations 

Marvin G. Weinbaum Director, Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies, MEI

Joyce Karam (moderator) Senior Correspondent, The National

12:15-1:15 pm

Closing Remarks

Vice Admiral James Malloy Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command

Bilal Y. Saab (moderator) Senior Fellow and Director, Defense and Security Program, MEI