Marina Ottaway

Former Senior Associate
Middle East Program
Before joining the Endowment, Ottaway carried out research in Africa and in the Middle East for many years and taught at the University of Addis Ababa, the University of Zambia, the American University in Cairo, and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.


Ph.D., Columbia University; University of Pavia, Italy


English; French; Italian


Marina Ottaway is no longer with the Carnegie Endowment.

Marina Ottaway was a senior associate in the Carnegie Middle East Program working on issues of political transformation in the Middle East and Gulf security. A long-time analyst of the formation and transformation of political systems, she has also written on political reconstruction in Iraq, the Balkans, and African countries.

Before joining the Endowment, Ottaway carried out research in Africa and in the Middle East for many years and taught at the University of Addis Ababa, the University of Zambia, the American University in Cairo, and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Her extensive research experience is reflected in her publications, which include nine authored books and six edited ones. Her most recent publications include Getting to Pluralism, co-authored with Amr Hamzawy and Yemen on the Brink, co-edited with Christopher Boucek. She is also an author of Carnegie’s Guide to Egypt’s Transition, a website that provides background and analysis on issues that will shape Egypt’s political future, and the author of Iraqi Elections 2010, an online guide to Iraqi politics. 

Selected Publications: Yemen on the Brink, co-edited with Christopher Boucek (Carnegie, 2010); Getting to Pluralism: Political Actors in the Arab World, co-authored with Amr Hamzawy (Carnegie, 2009); Beyond the Façade: Political Reform in the Arab World, edited with Julia Choucair-Vizoso (Carnegie, 2008); Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East, edited with Thomas Carothers (Carnegie, 2005); Democracy Challenged: The Rise of Semi-Authoritarianism (Carnegie, 2003); Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion, edited with Thomas Carothers (Carnegie, 2000); Africa’s New Leaders: Democracy or State Reconstruction? (Carnegie, 1999)

  • Op-Ed Council on Foreign Relations December 5, 2012
    Egypt's Struggle for Power

    The current political crisis in Egypt reflects a real struggle for power between the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties and secular opposition parties.

  • Op-Ed National Interest November 29, 2012
    A Choice of Two Tyrannies

    The confrontation between Islamist and secular parties is the most dangerous crisis in Egypt’s unhappy political transition. The battle for control will not lead to democracy.

  • Article November 6, 2012
    Reactions to the Syrian National Initiative

    The Syrian National Initiative is unlikely to quickly bring about the desired unity among the Syrian opposition.

  • Article October 26, 2012 عربي
    Slow Return to Normal Politics in Egypt

    Egypt is inching closer to normal politics. Secularists will be forced to compete directly with Islamists for popular support to gain power or become a viable opposition.

  • Article September 17, 2012
    A Time for Statesmanship

    As anti-American unrest spreads, leaders must remember that all sides have provocateurs. U.S. statesmen should consider legally limiting extremists’ freedom to do real harm.

  • Article July 31, 2012 عربي
    Morocco: Can the Third Way Succeed?

    Real reform in Morocco remains more hope than reality. The king is firmly in control, and the only group capable of pressuring the monarchy is uninterested in politics.

  • Article June 25, 2012 عربي
    Good News Before More Battles in Egypt

    The fact that Morsi’s victory was allowed to stand marks a major change in Egypt, but it is only one step in a process of transformation that will take time, be punctuated by many acrimonious battles, and in the end may not lead to democracy

  • Article June 19, 2012 عربي
    The Tunisian Political Spectrum: Still Unbalanced

    While there is no doubt that Tunisia’s transition is proving easier than that of other countries, it is still facing considerable political problems—in addition to its very serious economic challenges.

  • Op-Ed National Interest June 15, 2012
    Egypt's Regime Fights Back

    The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court’s recent decisions allowing members of the old regime to run for office and striking down a section of the parliamentary election law puts an end to the first phase of the Egyptian transition and is a clear victory for the old regime.

  • Article June 13, 2012 عربي
    Egypt: Death of the Constituent Assembly?

    The maneuvering surrounding the formation of the Constituent Assembly may reduce the influence of Islamists in the process, but it will do so by curbing democratic practices.

  • 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.

  • Washington August 26, 2009
    Getting to Pluralism: Political Actors in the Arab World

    This volume examines the Arab world’s major political actors, assesses the weaknesses of secular parties, and evaluates how incumbent regimes have maintained their grip on power in spite of reform-oriented claims.

  • Washington November 19, 2007
    Beyond the Façade: Political Reform in the Arab World

    Reform is a politically charged issue in the Middle East. Carnegie experts force us to recognize the reality of conflicting interests and the limitations of external actors to bring about political reform, while drawing lessons on how to make international democracy promotion more effective.

  • Washington January 1, 2005
    Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East

    The United States faces no greater challenge today than successfully fulfilling its new ambition of helping bring about a democratic transformation of the Middle East. Uncharted Journey contributes a wealth of concise, illuminating insights on this subject, drawing on the contributors’ deep knowledge of Arab politics and their experience with democracy-building in other parts of the world.

  • Cover - Democracy Challenged
    Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003 January 1, 2003 Washington, D.C.
    Democracy Challenged: The Rise of Semi-Authoritarianism

    During the 1990s, international democracy promotion efforts led to the establishment of numerous regimes that cannot be easily classified as either authoritarian or democratic - semi-authoritarian regimes. These regimes pose a considerable challenge to U.S. policy makers because the superficial stability of semi-authoritarian regimes usually masks severe problems that could lead to future crises.

  • Washington October 27, 2000
    Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion

    A diverse, distinguished group of democracy experts and civil society practitioners from both donor and recipient countries analyze civil society aid in five regions, including country case studies of South Africa, the Philippines, Peru, Egypt, and Romania.

  • Africa's New Leaders
    Washington December 31, 1999
    Africa's New Leaders: Democracy or State Reconstruction?

    This is an important resource for policy makers and others forced to deal with countries where democratic change is both complex and protracted.

  • BBC World News December 4, 2012
    Syria Crisis: NATO Approves Patriot Missile Deployment

    The recent NATO decision to deploy missiles along the Turkish-Syrian border has been framed in terms of a defense strategy for Turkey, but the same missiles could conceivably provide cover for refugees fleeing the violence.

  • KPCC Southern California Public Radio September 27, 2012
    President Morsi's Effect on Egyptian Foreign Policy

    Despite fears in the United States, Egyptian foreign policy under President Morsi has been marked by continuity rather than a fundamental paradigm shift.

  • International Relations and Security Network June 11, 2012
    The Arab Spring and Its Counterrevolutionaries

    Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are likely to have little influence over the final outcome of the Arab Spring. Instead, the course of political transformation across the Middle East will be determined by domestic actors.

  • Press Conference USA January 21, 2012
    Progress, Setbacks, and the State of Play in Egypt’s Political Transition

    Nearly a year after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is still engaged in fundamental political debates over the future of its political system.

  • NewsHour October 24, 2011
    What Political Models Might Shape the Arab World?

    If successful, the Tunisian elections could provide a model for other countries in the region that are experiencing political transitions.

  • Kojo Nnamdi Show October 3, 2011
    Rights for Saudi Women

    Despite King Abdullah's initiative to allow women to vote and run for office in the 2015 municipal elections, many Saudis still feel change will continue to be slow to come to Saudi Arabia.

  • Economist April 27, 2011
    The Arab Spring

    Three months into the Arab Spring and after the fall of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, protests continue across the Middle East and North Africa and the region remains in a state of flux.

  • Bloomberg TV February 11, 2011
    Egypt's Regime `Sacrificed' Mubarak

    There is little doubt that Hosni Mubarak's legacy in Egypt will primarily be seen as economic stagnation and lost regional influence.

  • Bloomberg TV February 10, 2011
    Mubarak 'Misjudges' Mood of Egyptians

    President Mubarak’s speech on February 10 disappointed Egyptian protesters and was out of touch with the situation facing Egypt.

  • Bloomberg February 1, 2011
    Beyond Mubarak

    The demonstrators in Egypt have not been placated by President Mubarak’s recent announcement that he will not stand for reelection. If Mubarak remains in power, the protests are likely to continue.

  • October 11, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Arab Youth: A Look at the Future

    Young people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four have played a central role in shaking up the old order, and while so far they have not been able to shape the policies of the new regimes, they remain key to the outcome of transitions in the region.

  • September 26, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Securing Libya's Periphery

    Nearly four decades of the Qaddafi regime’s systemic marginalization and mismanagement of Libya’s eastern and southern regions have resulted in deep security, political, and economic problems that continue to challenge the country’s transition toward democracy.

  • July 18, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Democratization in the Arab World

    The successes and setbacks of other democratic transitions can provide insight into the problems ahead for the Arab Spring.

  • June 5, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Sudan in Conflict

    Less than one year after the formal split between Sudan and South Sudan, the two countries are again wrapped in conflict with one another at the same time as they face severe internal turmoil.

  • May 31, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Egyptian Elections, Round One

    The outcome of the presidential elections will have a major impact on the future of Egypt, affecting the power of the Islamist parties, the position of the military, and its economic future.

  • Egypt; Elections; Constitution
    May 24, 2012 Brussels
    Being Egypt: What it Means for the Rest of the Arab World

    As the Egyptian presidential election draws near, violent unrest continues in Cairo affecting both the political balance in Egypt and the dynamics of change in the region.

  • May 4, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    A Discussion with Amr Hamzawy

    Amr Hamzawy, one of Egypt’s best known liberal members of parliament and one of the founding members of the Carnegie Middle East program, returned to Carnegie to discuss the transition in Egypt and the nature of the political process.

  • Islamists in Power; Ignatius; Obama
    April 5, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    Islamists in Power and the Obama Administration

    Washington Post columnist David Ignatius spoke on President Obama’s Middle East policy and response to the Arab Awakening.

  • 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.

  • February 14, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    The State of Iraq

    Iraq is facing a new crisis as the government of national unity is under severe strain and sectarian tensions increase.

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