Nathan J. Brown

Nonresident Senior Associate
Middle East Program
Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics.


PhD, MA, Princeton University
BA, University of Chicago


Arabic; English

Contact Information


Nathan J. Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics. Brown brings his special expertise on Islamist movements, Egyptian politics, Palestinian politics, and Arab law and constitutionalism to Carnegie. Brown’s latest book, When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics, was published by Cornell University Press in early 2012. His current work focuses on religion, law, and politics in the Arab world.

In 2013, Brown was named a Guggenheim Fellow; four years earlier, he was named a Carnegie scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. For the 2009–2010 academic year, he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In addition to his academic work, Brown serves on the Middle East and North Africa advisory committee for Human Rights Watch and the board of trustees at the American University in Cairo. He has previously served as an advisor for the committee drafting the Palestinian constitution, USAID, the United Nations Development Program, and several NGOs. For 2013-2015 he is president of the Middle East Studies Association, the academic association for scholars studying the region.

Brown is the author of Between Religion and Politics (with Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie 2010); Resuming Arab Palestine (University of California Press, 2003); Constitutions in a Non-Constitutional World: Arab Basic Laws and Prospects for Accountable Government (SUNY Press, 2001); and The Rule of Law in the Arab World: Courts in Egypt and the Arab States of the Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 1997). He also edited The Dynamics of Democratization  (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

  • Mutual Escalation in Egypt
    Op-Ed Washington Post February 9, 2015
    Mutual Escalation in Egypt

    Egypt may be upon a new and deadlier phase in which the extremists on each side fulfill their prophecies of a fight to the death between good and evil.

  • Article February 4, 2015 عربي
    Building a Better Post-Oslo Era

    The United States and Europe should encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to use international organizations and law as an alternative to violence.

  • Syria in Crisis December 29, 2014
    The Middle East in 2015: What to Watch

    Carnegie scholars assess the Middle East in the year ahead, including potential game changers that could have a big impact for the future of the region.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy December 1, 2014
    The Vote to Boycott Israel’s Universities

    The Middle East Studies Association insists that whatever one’s opinion of the campaign to boycott Israeli academic institutions, the principles of academic freedom protect the right of faculty to advocate for, as well as against, such boycotts.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post October 30, 2014
    In Defense of U.S. Funding for Area Studies

    These days, area studies supported by Title VI of the Higher Education Act are in the crosshairs.

  • Article October 9, 2014 عربي
    Egypt’s Resurgent Authoritarianism: It’s a Way of Life

    In the absence of parliament, the Sisi government is laying the foundation for officials to act with sweeping powers—and little accountability.

  • Op-Ed Forward September 30, 2014
    Netanyahu’s Convenient Lies About ISIS and Hamas

    Israel argues that all forms of terrorism are different sides of the same coin and have civilization as their target. But lumping Hamas and the Islamic State together may be counterproductive for Israel in the long run.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post September 22, 2014
    Avoiding Old Mistakes in the New Game of Islamic Politics

    The U.S. leadership and foreign policy community are ill-equipped to understand the non-military aspects of the struggle against the Islamic State.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy August 18, 2014
    How Egypt Prolonged the Gaza War

    As negotiations on a lasting cease-fire in Gaza grind on in Cairo, it’s not only the animosity between Israel and Hamas that is complicating the talks—it’s also Egypt’s role as mediator.

  • Q&A July 28, 2014 عربي
    What the Gaza War Means for the Middle East

    With intensifying international pressure to end hostilities, a brief lull in fighting currently prevails in Gaza. But a formal ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has proven elusive.

  • Between Religion and Politics
    Washington September 21, 2010
    Between Religion and Politics

    As Islamist movements in the Arab world become more politically active, they are struggling to pursue their moral and religious agenda under unfriendly or repressive regimes.

  • Middle East
    November 19, 2014 Brussels
    Europe in the New Middle East

    After the EU floundered in its initial response to the Arab Spring, it now has to reconsider some of the fundamental tenets of its strategic approach to the Middle East.

  • September 12, 2013 Washington, DC
    Twenty Years After Oslo: The Search for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

    A panel of U.S. and regional experts assess the legacy of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the outlook for progress toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • July 31, 2013 Washington, DC
    The New Political Order/Disorder in Egypt

    In the wake of the June 30 popular uprising and the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, a new political order is taking shape in Egypt.

  • May 8, 2013 Washington, DC
    Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Egypt

    The Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, and a host of state institutions dedicated to Islam are being reshaped profoundly by their growing involvement in politics, often in ways that are difficult to predict and even more difficult for their leaders to control.

  • March 15, 2012 Brussels
    The Arab Awakening One Year On: What Kind of Partner Can Europe Be?

    A year has passed since the first uprisings in Tunisia spurred a fundamental change in the dynamics of Europe’s southern neighborhood, creating a host of domestic and external challenges for the region and its neighbors.

  • October 6, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Post-Revolutionary Egypt: New Trends in Islam

    The ongoing revolutionary changes in Egypt have brought new Islamist actors to prominence and posed sharp questions about the constitution, the official religious establishment, and the electoral process.

  • May 31, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Middle East Uprisings: Options for the United States

    The transformations underway across the Middle East present both an opportunity and a challenge for U.S. policy in the region, as new actors enter the political stage with positions, goals, and political weight that are still difficult to judge.

  • October 15, 2010 Brussels
    The New Middle East Peace Process – Growing Regional Apathy?

    According to some recent polls, there is growing apathy in the Arab world for the peace process and the plight of the Palestinian people.

  • Panelists at the discussion
    September 29, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Towards a Palestinian State: Is Institution-Building Succeeding?

    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government is midway through an ambitious two-year plan to build the necessary infrastructure for a viable Palestinian state. One year on, what progress have the Palestinians made?

  • September 29, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Between Religion and Politics

    As Islamist movements in the Arab world become more politically active, they are struggling to pursue their moral and religious agenda while navigating daily political tussles. In the face of repressive regimes, they have achieved some popular support, but enjoyed few concrete successes.


Areas of Expertise

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