Paul Salem

Former Director and Senior Associate
Middle East Center
tel +1 961 199 1491
Salem was director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. He works and publishes on the regional and international relations of the Middle East as well as issues of political development and democratization in the Arab world.


PhD, MA, BA, Harvard University


Arabic; English; French


Paul Salem is no longer with the Carnegie Endowment.

Paul Salem was the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. He works and publishes on the regional and international relations of the Middle East as well as issues of political development and democratization in the Arab world. 

Prior to joining Carnegie in 2006, Salem was the general director of the Fares Foundation, and from 1989 to 1999 he founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon’s leading public policy think tank. In 2002, Salem was a member of the senior review committee for the United Nations Development Program’s Arab Human Development Report. In 2006, he served as a member of the National Commission for Electoral Law Reform in Lebanon. He has also held various positions at the American University of Beirut. He is a frequent television and radio commentator on political issues relating to the Middle East and Arab world.

Salem is the author of a number of books and articles on the Middle East, including “Building Cooperation in the Eastern Middle East” (Carnegie, 2010) and “The Arab State: Assisting or Obstructing Development?” (Carnegie, 2010). He writes regularly in the Arab press and has been published in numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers, including Foreign Affairs, the National Interest, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Politico.


  • Paper December 24, 2013
    Iraq’s Tangled Foreign Interests and Relations

    A decade after Saddam Hussein’s fall, Iraq still lacks a centralized foreign policy. Until Baghdad resolves the issues polarizing the country, Iraqi foreign policy will remain disjointed and incoherent.

  • Op-Ed L'Espresso September 19, 2013 عربي
    Who Won in the Syrian Weapons Deal?

    The U.S.-Russian agreement on seizing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons defused the threat of another war in the Middle East but left many wondering what it meant for the balance of power in the region, the course of the Syrian war, and the chances of further diplomatic breakthroughs.

  • Bracing for Impact in Syria
    Article August 28, 2013
    Bracing for Impact in Syria

    A military strike on Syria might deter the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again, but it is unlikely to be a game changer in the course of the Syrian conflict.

  • Op-Ed Syria Deeply July 5, 2013
    Understanding the Regime Offensive in Homs

    The bombardment in Homs is part of an effort by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah to try to secure a corridor that links the Damascus to the coast.

  • Article June 27, 2013 عربي
    Lebanese Army’s Defeat of Salafists Buys Only Short Respite

    The latest battle between the army and a Salafist group in Lebanon might be one of the last warning signs before the country erupts into widespread sectarian fighting.

  • Op-Ed Al-Hayat April 18, 2013 عربي
    Lebanon’s Offshore Licensing Round and Regional Geopolitics

    The best way for all to benefit from the east Mediterranean’s offshore resources is to forge a path toward peace in Syria and the region and to establish frameworks for economic and security cooperation in this sector.

  • Q&A April 10, 2013 عربي
    Lebanon Averts Crisis but New Prime Minister Faces Major Challenges

    Consensus over Tammam Salam’s nomination has ensured temporary stability in Lebanon. Yet challenges for Salam in actually forming a new government and arriving at broad consensus over a new parliamentary election law remain.

  • Article March 23, 2013 عربي
    Lebanon Imperiled as Prime Minister Resigns Under Duress

    The risk of a dangerous downward spiral in Lebanon is real. It must form a new government, appoint a head of the internal security forces, and hold parliamentary elections.

  • Op-Ed Middle East Voices January 24, 2013 عربي
    The Disintegration of the Levant

    One hundred years after the countries of the Levant embarked on their journey to build modern political societies, the experiment appears to have failed.

  • Article Moyen-Orient December 31, 2012 Français عربي
    Qatari Foreign Policy: The Changing Dynamics of an Outsize Role

    While Qatar’s foreign policy is not free from important contradictions, Doha wields significant influence in the emerging Middle East and can play a positive role in helping countries in transition.

  • Paul Salem
    February 14, 2007
    The Aftereffects of the Israeli-Hizbollah War

    Five months after the end of the war, Lebanon, Israel and the region are still feeling its aftereffects. In Lebanon, the claims of victory were mixed with a sober assessment of the massive socioeconomic losses, and the popular unity during the war was followed by deep division and rising tensions.

  • BBC World News May 31, 2012
    Violence Worsens in Syria

    Syria's uprising has grown increasingly violent with no hint of reconciliation, threatening the stability of neighboring countries.

  • USA Today. December 22 December 22, 2011
    U.S. Leaves Behind a Sectarian Iraq

    Eight years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is veering towards a "Lebanonization" of its political system, with power permanently distributed along strict ethnic and sectarian lines.

  • Paul Salem
    America Abroad Media April 13, 2011
    Tehran Rising: Persian Power in an Unstable Region

    Hezbollah is a key ally to Iran and a chief player in Tehran's agenda to expand its influence and advance its interests throughout the Middle East.

  • Paul Salem
    Al-Jazeera February 15, 2011
    Arab Anger

    As Arab populations angered by social injustice take to the streets, their governments are trying to buy their way out of trouble with promises of reform and wage rises.

  • Paul Salem
    Newshour February 3, 2011
    In Lebanon, Assassination Inquiry Proves Divisive, Could Rekindle Unrest

    The U.N.-backed international tribunal's investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could either help end Lebanon's political violence or shatter the country's fragile stability after decades of civil war.

  • Fox News February 1, 2011
    Middle East: Brave New World For The U.S.?

    As the popular uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak continues and the pro-western government of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is replaced by a government supported by Hezbollah, the United States is losing key allies in the region.

  • 938 Live January 8, 2010
    Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian Protests

    The most serious development of the Iranian protests has been the challenges to Ayatollah Khamenei, which are unprecedented and open up new questions about the potential for real, significant constitutional change.

  • June 30, 2009
    Arab Reactions to Iran's Election: A View from Beirut

    While Europe and the United States have been vocal in their response to the turmoil in Iran, its neighbors in the Arab world have been noticeably silent.

  • NPR's All Things Considered May 22, 2008
    Lebanon Takes Steps to End Political Stalemate

    The pro-western government in Lebanon has struck a deal with the opposition, 18 months after the Hezbollah led-leadership resigned from the cabinet. Paul Salem, the director of the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beruit, talks with Michele Norris about key parts of the deal.

  • Paul Salem
    Radio Free Europe August 15, 2006
    Middle East: A Look at Who Gained, Who Lost

    It took a United Nations resolution to end the fighting between Israel and Hizballah, but that hasn't stopped each side from claiming victory. RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher asked Paul Salem, director of the Middle East Center at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to tally up the wins and losses.

  • September 18, 2013 Washington, DC
    Raising the Stakes on Syria: The U.S. Policy Debate and Regional Dynamics

    In the wake of President Obama’s national address, U.S. allies and adversaries are struggling to assess the implications of the Russian proposal on Syria’s chemical weapons and what Washington’s next steps will be on Syria.

  • June 25, 2013 Beirut
    Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Impact and Recommendations

    The ongoing armed conflict in Syria is forcing Syrians to take refuge in neighboring countries, causing an especially predictable negative impact on Lebanon. This spillover effect not only changes the dynamics of Lebanon’s social, economic, and political equation, but also creates wider implications for the region.

  • June 6, 2013 Beirut
    The Changing Dynamics of the Syria Crisis

    The two-year-old Syrian conflict sharply escalated in recent weeks, hence necessitating a renewed U.S.-Russian effort to find a solution to the crisis and solve inner tensions within the Syrian opposition.

  • April 12, 2013 Beirut
    The Russia-Middle East Connection: The Arab Spring and its Impact on Russia’s Muslims

    Since the Arab Spring first broke out in December 2011, Russian policymakers have viewed regional developments with unease. They now wonder what rising Islamist parties in the Middle East will mean for Russia's relationship with its own Muslim minority.

  • March 20, 2013 Beirut
    The Mythical Alliance: Russia’s Syria Policy

    Deadlock at the UN Security Council has so far dashed international hopes for finding an end to the Syrian crisis. The United States and Russia must now find a practical mechanism for implementing political transition in Syria.

  • March 15, 2013 Beirut عربي
    Opening Doors: Gender Equality and Development in the Middle East and North Africa

    Although Arab states have made admirable progress in reducing the gap between men and women in areas such as access to education and health care, more female participation in the region’s political and economic life is still needed.

  • February 8, 2013 Washington, D.C.
    The Battle for Syria

    As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad clings to power, proxy battles among neighboring countries are helping determine which armed factions will emerge victorious from the rubble.

  • January 16, 2013 Beirut عربي
    Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

    Global economic, health, and social disparities are not explained by culture, climate, or geography. Instead, man-made political and economic institutions are what underlie economic success, or the lack thereof.

  • July 10, 2012 Beirut
    The Aftermath of Libya’s First Elections

    Establishing national unity and building the framework for a sustainable democratic government in Libya will be crucial tasks during the General National Congress' historic first months in power.

  • June 29, 2012 Beirut عربي
    Perceptions and Realities of Turkey’s Role in a Changing Arab World

    As aftershocks of the Arab Spring continue, Turkey struggles to define its role in a turbulent and rapidly changing Middle East.


Areas of Expertise

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