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, Palestinian politics, and Arab law and constitutionalism to the endowment. 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 Islamist movements and their role in politics in the Arab world.

In 2009, Brown 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 has served on advisory committees for Human Rights Watch and the committees drafting the Palestinian and Iraqi constitutions. He has also served as a consultant to USAID, the United Nations Development Program, and several NGOs.

Brown is the author of 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).

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs April 2, 2014
    Egypt’s Judges Join In

    The institutions of the Egyptian state that used to command respect because they were seen as being above the political fray—the judiciary as well as the army—now seem to be very willing participants in the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Other Publications Chr. Michelsen Institute Insight March 31, 2014
    Egypt’s Constitutional Cul-De-Sac

    Egypt’s 2014 constitution failed to deliver on the promise of the 2011 uprising and has resulted in a political order in which important state institutions have insulated themselves from the political process, placing themselves in a supervisory position over the entire political system.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post March 25, 2014
    Why Do Egyptian Courts Say the Darndest Things?

    Egypt’s main legal problem is an authoritarian political order and an isolated judiciary that softens some of its rough edges but enforces other ones.

  • Op-Ed Immanent Frame March 11, 2014
    Political Islam Becomes Less Political

    Political Islam is hardly dead, but the movements that lead Islamism into the formal political process are likely to be just a little bit more leery of that path almost everywhere—and perhaps totally shut out of it in Egypt.

  • Article February 13, 2014 عربي
    The Egypt Effect: Sharpened Tensions, Reshuffled Alliances

    Throughout the Middle East, the overthrow of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi has heightened Islamist-secularist tensions and pushed actors toward zero-sum politics.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy February 11, 2014
    The Sisi Spring

    Regardless of its policy performance, a Sisi presidency is not likely to be a disaster. It may disappoint many but it is unlikely to collapse and might evolve in a variety of ways.

  • Op-Ed New Republic January 26, 2014
    Egypt Has Replaced a Single Dictator With a Slew of Dictatorial Institutions

    Egypt’s political affliction is not one dictatorial person but a host of dictatorial institutions, and much of Egyptian society is a happy participant rather than cowering victim in the wave of repression.

  • Q&A December 27, 2013 عربي
    An Anticlimactic Referendum in Egypt

    Egypt’s new constitution and referendum are more likely to exacerbate tensions and divisions in the country’s politics than to form part of a democratic transition.

  • Article December 4, 2013 عربي
    Egypt’s Draft Constitution Rewards the Military and Judiciary

    The leaders of Egypt’s pre-2011 institutions may see an opportunity in the current popular climate to retake—and even broaden—the powers they enjoyed under Mubarak.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy November 20, 2013
    Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood Under Pressure

    The Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated political party, Hadas, have not been immune to the growing regional backlash against Islamist movements.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • July 21, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Divided Palestine—A Barrier to Peace?

    While Prime Minister Netanyahu was received warmly on his recent visit to Washington, progress on the peace process remains in doubt. If direct negotiations are to resume, the split among Palestinians will hamper—and arguably prevent—the ability of President Abbas to negotiate on behalf of the divided people.


Areas of Expertise

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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