Frederic Wehrey

Senior Associate
Middle East Program
tel +1 202 939 2232
Wehrey’s research focuses on security affairs, civil-military relations, and identity politics in North Africa and the Gulf.


PhD, International Relations, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
MA, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University


Arabic; English


Frederic Wehrey is a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He focuses on security affairs, civil-military relations, and identity politics in North Africa and the Gulf. His most recent Carnegie publications include U.S.-Arab Counterterrorism Cooperation in a Region Ripe for Extremism with Michele Dunne (2014), Ending Libya’s Civil War: Reconciling Politics, Rebuilding Security (2014), and A New U.S. Approach to Gulf Security (2014).

His commentary and articles appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, Washington Quarterly, Current History, Survival, Sada, the Journal of Democracy, Small Wars and Insurgencies, the Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, and the Chicago Journal of International Law. He has been interviewed by major media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, PBS NewsHour, NPR, BBC, and CNN. He routinely briefs U.S. and European government officials on Middle East affairs and has testified before the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He is the author of a book exploring Sunni-Shi’a relations in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, entitled Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings (Columbia University Press, 2013), which was named one of 2014’s Top Three Books on the Middle East by Foreign Affairs magazine.

Prior to joining Carnegie, he was a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Wehrey is also a twenty-year veteran of the active and reserve components of the U.S. Air Force, with tours across North Africa and the Middle East, including Iraq, where he earned the Bronze Star in 2003.

He holds a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University and a Master’s in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. He studied Arabic at Cairo University, the University of Jordan, and the Yemen Language Center in Sana’a.

  • Op-Ed Wall Street Journal May 12, 2016
    Struggling to Fight Islamic State in a Fractured Libya

    Militias have figured out that signing up for the campaign against self-proclaimed Islamic State is the best way to get legitimacy and attention. Whether or not they intend to use outside support solely against the Islamic State is another story.

  • Q&A April 18, 2016 عربي Русский
    Saudi Arabia’s Changing International Role

    Riyadh is displaying a new foreign policy activism under the leadership of King Salman and his powerful son.

  • Testimony Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 3, 2016
    The Path Forward in Libya

    Libya’s fragmentation and the devolution of power—to armed militias, tribes, and towns—has created a power vacuum that the Islamic State is exploiting.

  • Op-Ed Washington Post February 17, 2016
    Why Libya’s Transition to Democracy Failed

    A confluence of fateful missteps during and after the revolution set Libya on a downward spiral that will probably take years to reverse.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs February 7, 2016
    The Next Front Against ISIS

    Any strategy to combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Libya should aim to bridge Libyan political divides while channeling assistance in a way that promotes cooperation between rival forces.

  • Op-Ed Atlantic January 7, 2016
    What’s the Saudi-Iran Feud Really About?

    The notion that Iran and Saudi Arabia are predestined for rivalry due to an ancient divide fails to account for domestic and regional trends that may be out of their control.

  • Paper October 14, 2015 عربي Русский Full Text
    Imagining a New Security Order in the Persian Gulf

    The Iranian nuclear agreement presents an opportunity to take a first step toward creating a new security order in the Gulf, one that could improve relations between Iran and the Gulf Arab states and facilitate a lessening of the U.S. military commitment.

  • Op-Ed New York Times October 1, 2015 中文 عربي
    Is Libya Headed for Another Qaddafi?

    The rise of General Khalifa Hifter, Libya’s most powerful and polarizing force, raises doubts about the future of democracy in Libya.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs July 14, 2015
    Bridging the Gulf in the Gulf: Regional Peace After the Iran Deal

    Now that a nuclear deal has been reached, the United States and its GCC allies need to focus on constructive engagement with Iran and a new and more inclusive Gulf security architecture.

  • Syria in Crisis June 24, 2015
    Taking on Operation Dawn: The Creeping Advance of the Islamic State in Western Libya

    As the Islamic State establishes a foothold in the ongoing war in Libya, it attempts to peel away disenchanted groups from established parties as it did in Syria.

  • Columbia University Press December 17, 2013
    Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

    Although religious differences and regional influences play a role, the rise of sectarianism in the Gulf is ultimately rooted in longstanding problems of governance and elite manipulation of Sunni-Shia identities.

  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace April 17, 2013
    Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara

    The Sahara suffers from a perfect storm of weaknesses. Foreign assistance that relies exclusively on counterterrorism will only exacerbate the problems.

  • March 24, 2016 Beijing
    China’s Emerging Role in a Tumultuous Middle East

    Instability in the Middle East remains widespread, but China continues to deepen its economic and diplomatic ties with the region.

  • June 24, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Fragile Sahel: Transnational Threats and Sustainable Solutions

    Long neglected by outside powers, the Sahel region stands at the strategic nexus of a number of growing challenges facing the African continent, Europe, and the wider Middle East.

  • April 21, 2015 Washington, DC
    Building Peace in Libya: A Conversation with Wafa Bugaighis

    As the conflict between Libya’s political factions drags on, its humanitarian and economic crisis deepens. Meanwhile, the Islamic State is exploiting the vacuum wrought by the fighting and the absence of coherent, capable institutions.

  • April 13, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Regional Implications of the Deal

    It remains to be seen whether the Iran nuclear deal will encourage Tehran to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East, with potentially significant regional consequences.

  • April 13, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Iran Nuclear Deal

    What are the short and long-term obstacles to finalizing and sustaining a nuclear deal with Iran, and how would a U.S.-Iran nuclear détente impact ongoing conflicts and long-standing alliances in the Middle East?

  • March 12, 2015 Washington, DC
    Libya’s Revolution and Its Aftermath

    More than three years after the fall of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, Libya is wracked by worsening civil war, foreign intervention, and the rise of transnational terrorism groups like the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

  • March 3, 2015 Washington, DC
    Future Trends in the Gulf

    Amid a region beset by civil wars and terrorism, the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council are facing growing challenges from an increasingly youthful population, aging rulers, economic pressures, and a new information environment.

  • January 29, 2015 Beirut عربي
    Transitions and Security in North Africa: External and Internal Factors

    Four years after efforts to topple authoritarian regimes in North Africa, the road to democratic governance is still incomplete.

  • November 24, 2014 Washington, DC
    Jihadist Movements in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq: Inevitable Rise or Policy Failure?

    How has U.S. policy failed to anticipate current developments of jihadist movements from Afghanistan to Syria?

  • November 3, 2014 Washington, DC
    From Hizbullah to the Islamic State

    From humble beginnings in the 1980s, Hizbullah’s political clout and public perception have trended upward, thanks to a communications strategy that has adapted to changes in the local and regional environment.

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