Frederic Wehrey

Senior Associate
Middle East Program
Wehrey’s research focuses on political reform and security issues in the Arab Gulf states, Libya, and U.S. policy in the Middle East more broadly. He was previously a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.


PhD, International Relations, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
MA, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University


Arabic; English


Frederic Wehrey is a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He focuses on Gulf political and security affairs, Libya, and U.S. policy in the Middle East. 

His most recent Carnegie publications include: The Struggle for Security in Eastern Libya (2012); The Precarious Ally: Bahrain’s Impasse and U.S. Policy (2013); The Forgotten Uprising in Eastern Saudi Arabia (2013); Perilous Desert: Sources of Saharan Insecurity, co-edited with Anouar Boukhars (2013); and Building Libya’s Security Sector, co-authored with Peter Cole (2013).

Prior to joining Carnegie, he was a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he was the lead author of monographs on the domestic roles of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Saudi-Iranian rivalry, and the strategic impact of the Iraq War in the Middle East. In 2008, he led a RAND strategic advisory team to Baghdad, focusing on post-surge challenges in support of Multinational Forces–Iraq.

Wehrey is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and has completed tours in Turkey, Uganda, Libya, Algeria, and Iraq, where he earned the Bronze Star in 2003.   

His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, Washington Quarterly, Current History, the International Herald Tribune, Survival, Sada, the Journal of Democracy, Small Wars and Insurgencies, the Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, and the Chicago Journal of International Law. He has been interviewed by major media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, PBS NewsHour, NPR, BBC, and CNN. He routinely briefs U.S. and European government officials on Middle East affairs and has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He is the author of a new book exploring Sunni-Shi’a identity politics in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, entitled Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprising (Columbia University Press, 2013), named one of 2013’s top five books on the Middle East by Foreign Policy magazine.

  • Article August 27, 2014 عربي
    Backdrop to an Intervention: Sources of Egyptian-Libyan Border Tension

    Egypt and its Gulf backers need to end their harmful meddling in Libya’s affairs under the guise of counterterrorism. It is destabilizing both Libya and Egypt.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post July 28, 2014 عربي
    What’s Behind Libya’s Spiraling Violence?

    Libya is clearly entering a dangerous new phase, but conventional readings of its politics misdiagnose the problem and offer solutions that will fail or even make things worse.

  • Op-Ed International New York Times July 7, 2014 عربي
    Taking Sides in Libya

    To avoid throwing the country into further chaos, Libyans must focus on forging a consensus government, build security institutions, and recommit itself to a broad-based national reconciliation and the drafting of an equitable constitution.

  • Op-Ed Politico Magazine June 18, 2014 中文
    Obama’s Dangerous New Terror War

    It’s important to understand the limits of U.S. assistance: It can help build security institutions, but it cannot shape how those institutions are commandeered for personal, political, or communal aims.

  • Op-Ed CNN June 17, 2014
    To Beat ISIS, Exploit Its Contradictions

    It is vital that any response to ISIS—Iraqi, Iranian, or American—be designed to exploit the divisions and contradictions within the organization and the coalition it has formed.

  • Article June 9, 2014 عربي
    Gulf Calculations in the Syrian Conflict

    Gulf states’ reasons for intervention in Syria are complex, and their policies are unpredictable and frequently contradictory.

  • Op-Ed Los Angeles Times May 29, 2014
    Libya’s General In His Labyrinth

    Libya is facing the worst violence since its 2011 revolution, thrusting the country into a new phase of its troubled transition and posing new challenges for the United States.

  • Article May 22, 2014 عربي
    Elusive Equilibrium: America, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in a Changing Middle East

    Washington hopes to foster a new and improved relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but that may be a distant dream. Enmity between the two rivals runs deep.

  • Testimony House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform May 1, 2014
    Beyond Benghazi: Libya’s Security Crisis and How the United States Can Help

    Libya must undertake large-scale institutional reforms in order to resolve its security crisis, and U.S. assistance to Libya is vital as the country grapples with continued violence and instability.

  • Testimony House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security April 3, 2014
    Congress Should Repeal Law Obstructing U.S. Assistance to Libya

    Washington’s ability to deliver effective and flexible support to Libya’s fragile post-revolution government is vital to the country’s future.

  • Columbia University Press December 17, 2013
    Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

    Although religious differences and regional influences play a role, the rise of sectarianism in the Gulf is ultimately rooted in longstanding problems of governance and elite manipulation of Sunni-Shia identities.

  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace April 17, 2013
    Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara

    The Sahara suffers from a perfect storm of weaknesses. Foreign assistance that relies exclusively on counterterrorism will only exacerbate the problems.

  • Radio France International August 27, 2014
    UAE Airstrike on Libya Without U.S. Approval “a Very Big Deal”

    It is unusual for a U.S. ally to launch airstrikes without informing the United States.

  • PBS Newshour July 28, 2014
    Understanding the Complex Web of Conflict in Libya

    The real story of Libya is that there is no one faction that can really compel or coerce the others.

  • Carnegie Council May 28, 2014
    Sectarian Politics in the Gulf

    Sectarianism is a local institutional governance phenomenon that needs to be addressed through political reform in the Gulf, through ending discrimination, and through greater participation in governance.

  • PBS Newshour March 28, 2014
    What’s Behind the Widening Division Between U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

    The discord between Saudi Arabia and the United States stems from a series of disagreements about the way the Middle East is unfolding, including in Iran, Syria, and Egypt.

  • BBC World News America October 10, 2013
    Libya’s Security Situation

    Grievances against Libya’s Zeidan government by the militias are not ideological but rather reflect the government’s inability to deliver services, its lack of transparency, and the way Zeidan governs.

  • VOA Press Conference June 8, 2013
    On Libya and Saudi Arabia

    Post-Qaddafi Libya faces a number of significant challenges as it struggles to rein in militias and build political, economic, and security institutions.

  • KSA2 January 14, 2013
    The Chuck Hagel Nomination

    The nomination of Chuck Hagel for U.S. defense secretary comes at a time when promoting America’s strategic interests will frequently compete with the pressures induced by the current era of austerity.

  • FM4 ORF Austrian Radio November 13, 2012
    A No Fly Zone Over Syria?

    Despite rising levels of violence in Syria, the United States should focus less on intervention and more on planning for the day after the fall of the regime.

  • Kojo Nnamdi Show September 26, 2012
    Behind The Protests in Libya

    Protests in Libya sparked an order to disband the country's rogue militias, but this is only the first step to security in Libya. Good governance and building an army are the long term solutions to Libya's challenges.

  • CNN International September 24, 2012
    How Big a Threat is al-Qaeda in Libya?

    The ultimate solution to the security challenges in Libya resides in improved governance and the construction of a cohesive national army.


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