Christopher Boucek

Former Associate
Middle East Program
Boucek was an associate in the Carnegie Middle East Program where his research focused on security challenges in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa.


Ph.D. and M.A., School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; B.A., Drew University 


November 4, 2011

Dear Friend,

I write to share the sad and shocking news that our colleague and friend Chris Boucek died of a heart attack on November 2 at home.

Chris joined the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East program near the outset of his career. He not only met but far exceeded our expectations. As those of you who know his work appreciate, he made a big impact in many communities in the Middle East and in the US.  In a very short time, he built up a unique body of expertise on Islamic extremism in the Arabian Peninsula and the Sahel. He had recently returned from Yemen, full of thoughtful analysis on where the region was heading. From academia to the military, his insights and advice were in wide demand.  He was also a sparklingly nice human being, of quiet warmth and humor who leaves a very big hole behind. We will miss him deeply: he was an admired colleague and a great friend.

We invite you to contribute your thoughts and memories of Chris to a book we are preparing for his family. If you would like to contribute a comment, please click on the image above. Your note will be included in the book.

A memorial education fund for Chris's young daughters has been established, and gifts can be sent to:

College of America
c/o Raymond James & Associates, Inc.,
Attention: M.S. McCormick
550 West Washington Street, Suite 1050
Chicago, Illinois

In Sadness,
Jessica Mathews


Christopher Boucek was an associate in the Carnegie Middle East Program where his research focused on security challenges in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa. He was a leading authority on disengagement and rehabilitation programs for Islamist militants and extremists and a recognized expert on terrorism, security, and stability issues in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

He frequently briefed U.S. and European governments and government agencies on terrorism, Islamist militancy, and security issues in the Arabian Peninsula, and regularly provided expert analysis for domestic and international media.  

His research projects included clerical politics in Saudi Arabia and the confluence of challenges to Yemeni stability.  He provided expert testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.  

Before joining the Carnegie Endowment, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and lecturer in Politics at the Woodrow Wilson School. He was also previously a media analyst at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., and worked for several years at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London. From 2003 to 2005, he was a security editor with Jane’s Information Group.

Boucek had written widely on the Middle East,  terrorism, and counter-radicalization for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Independent, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Atlantic Monthly, Jane’s Intelligence Review, Journal of Libyan Studies, Strategic Insights, and Terrorism Monitor.

  • Evolution of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
    Op-Ed Orient IV November 1, 2011
    Evolution of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    In order to improve security and stability in Yemen, U.S. policy should focus on addressing the systemic sources of instability in the country.

  • Yemen After Saleh’s Return and Awlaki’s Exit
    Q&A October 27, 2011
    Yemen After Saleh’s Return and Awlaki’s Exit

    While recent U.S. drone strikes in Yemen have been successful, Washington can’t rely on a remote control to defeat terrorism. Improving governance and the lives of Yemenis will do more to reduce violence than drones ever will.

  • Saudi Arabia and Iran as rivals
    Q&A September 20, 2011
    Rivals—Iran vs. Saudi Arabia

    The Arab awakening is changing fronts in the proxy battles between Saudi Arabia and Iran as the two rivals vie for greater influence in a new Middle East.

  • Christopher Boucek on terrorism from Saudi Arabia
    Q&A September 12, 2011
    Terrorism Out of Saudi Arabia

    Washington and Riyadh have enjoyed a successful relationship in combating global terror and Saudi Arabia is remarkably effective in containing the terrorist threat—but if the country loses focus on this priority, terrorism could come back with a vengeance.

  • The Saudi Eleven
    September 7, 2011
    Carnegie Guide to the Saudi Eleven

    The Carnegie Endowment offers a first-of-its-kind interactive site to explore the people, places, and organizations that impacted the lives of eleven prominent Saudi terrorists known as the “Saudi Eleven.”

  • Testimony July 19 July 19, 2011
    Yemen’s Challenges Demand a Balanced Approach

    Washington must do more to address underlying sources of instability—a collapsing economy, rampant corruption, unemployment, and resource depletion—if Yemen is to avoid becoming a failed state.

  • Yemen in Crisis
    Op-Ed National Interest July 6, 2011
    Yemen in Crisis

    Until Yemen is able to address its confluence of crises, including poor governance, rampant corruption, major security concerns, unemployment, and a lack of desperately needed resources, terrorists operating in the country will continue to pose a threat to the international community.

  • U.S.-Saudi Relations in the Shadow of the Arab Spr
    Q&A June 21, 2011
    U.S.-Saudi Relations in the Shadow of the Arab Spring

    Tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia are seemingly on the rise as protests continue to roil the Arab world. Some fear that an unfriendly relationship with Riyadh will damage Washington’s interests in the region.

  • Higher Stakes in Yemen
    Q&A June 14, 2011
    Higher Stakes in Yemen

    The sooner Yemen can move past the current political crisis, the sooner its serious challenges of poor governance, unemployment, resource depletion, and a collapsing economy can be tackled.

  • The New Face of al-Qaeda?
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy May 18, 2011
    The New Face of al-Qaeda?

    While Washington should be worried about the increasing prominence of Anwar al-Awlaki, the popular Yemeni-American preacher, he won't supplant Osama bin Laden as the head of al-Qaeda and the leader of the global jihadi movement.

  • Rand Corporation April 14, 2011
    Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists

    Deradicalization programs will likely remain a necessary part of larger counter-radicalization and counterterrorism strategies. To succeed, deradicalization programs must include affective, pragmatic, and ideological components and considerable aftercare.

  • Yemen on the Brink
    Washington September 23, 2010
    Yemen on The Brink

    Without addressing Yemen's immediate security challenges—including a civil war in the North, a secessionist movement in the South, and a resurgent al-Qaeda organization—the country's long-term economic and governance issues cannot be resolved.

  • Yemen
    Newshour September 19, 2011
    Amid Renewed Violence in Yemen, It's Unclear Who is in Charge

    Yemen continues to face political uncertainty and escalating violence, and it remains unclear who is in charge and what steps need to be taken to achieve a stable transition of power.

  • Viewpoint with James Zogby June 13, 2011
    Power Struggle in Yemen

    In a negotiated settlement to the political crisis and power struggle occurring in Yemen, the youth protesters who first took to the streets are likely to be cut out of any final deal, which will be made by the political elites.

  • CSPAN's Washington Journal June 11, 2011
    Yemen on the Edge

    As international attention remains focused on the protests calling for the removal of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s manifold economic problems threaten Yemen and the region.

  • WHYY Radio June 9, 2011
    The Crisis in Yemen

    While the political crisis in Yemen is important, the failure of the country's economy could be catastrophic, with potentially serious consequences on a regional and global scale.

  • Diane Rehm Show June 8, 2011
    The United States, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring

    The Arab Spring is causing tension in the close relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. There is a growing sense in Riyadh that Saudi and U.S. national security interests may be increasingly divergent.

  • PBS Newshour April 25, 2011
    Upheaval, Uncertainty in Yemen as Saleh Weighs Exit

    Although Yemen’s President Saleh has indicated a willingness to step down, the situation in Yemen remains unstable. Many protesters feel their demands are still not being met, even as al-Qaeda expands its presence in the country and Yemen’s economy continues to fail.

  • Leonard Lopate Show April 7, 2011
    The Regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is Teetering

    An orderly transition of power in Yemen that avoids creating a vacuum with the departure of President Saleh is critical in order to meet the demands of the protesters and maintain stability in the country.

  • MSNBC March 25, 2011
    Unrest Explodes in Yemen

    Yemen’s President Saleh has indicated that he is ready to relinquish power. It is important that the United States, its European partners, and Saudi Arabia assist Yemen during its critical transition period.

  • American Public Media March 23, 2011
    Discontent in Yemen Rises

    Yemen's failing economy and diminishing oil supply, combined with rising popular protests against the president, have placed the country in a tenuous position.

  • PBS Newshour March 21, 2011
    In Yemen, 'Too Many Guns and Too Many Grievances' as President Clings to Power

    While Yemen has become a haven for al-Qaida, it is also a quiet U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism. Now its ruler of more than 30 years is under pressure from demonstrators, his generals, and diplomats to step aside.

  • Ten Years After 9/11: Managing U.S.-Saudi Relation
    September 12, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Ten Years After 9/11: Managing U.S.-Saudi Relations

    Ten years after the September 11 attacks caused tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the two countries are facing a crisis of relations in the wake of the Arab Spring.

  • May 31, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Options for the United States

    Washington’s response to the Arab Spring was crafted in the context of competing priorities: the challenge of managing simultaneous land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an increasingly assertive Iranian regime, international terrorism, climate change, and an economic recession.

  • 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.

  • March 31, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Oil Prices and Middle East Turmoil: The Economic Consequences

    Turmoil in the Middle East has injected huge uncertainty into oil markets. Could unrest spread to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or others in the region and disrupt oil supplies? What will be the consequences for the global recovery? What can policy makers do?

  • March 3, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Will Tahrir Come to Saudi Arabia?

    As cries for change gain momentum across the region, what is the future of the Saudi state? Will the House of Saud make serious efforts at reform?

  • September 30, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Corruption in Yemen: Screening of Destructive Beast

    Corruption is the root cause of Yemen’s stagnated growth, wasting vital resources, time, and human capabilities. Combating corruption should be a central part of any strategy to reduce instability and improve the lives of Yemeni citizens.

  • June 4, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Libya: The Second Year of Normalization

    Libya is now in the second year of full normalization with the United States, following decades of frozen diplomatic relations. The country still faces many domestic challenges, including the presence of radical Islamist groups and the challenges of transition and reform after years of international isolation.

  • June 1, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    The Rise of Anwar al-Awlaki

    Radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki's powerful appeal to violent extremists, ties to al-Qaeda, and apparent inspirational role in the failed Christmas Day bombing and the Fort Hood shooting have made him a high priority target for the Obama administration.

  • March 19, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Tribal Conflict and Resolution in Yemen

    Since Yemen became a policy priority three months ago, there has been much discussion about the emergence of under-governed spaces in the country as host for Al-Qaeda. It is critical to understand how these alternatively governed areas function, deal with conflict, and how traditional methods of conflict resolution work.

  • March 10, 2010 Brussels
    Yemen: A New Challenge for Europe?

    Experts fear that Yemen is rapidly becoming a center for radicalization and a haven for extremists. At the same time, a confluence of looming domestic challenges threatens to bring the country to its knees, with potentially destabilizing consequences for the region.


Areas of Expertise

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