Frederic Wehrey

Senior Associate
Middle East Program
Wehrey’s research focuses on political reform and security issues in the Arab Gulf states, Libya, and U.S. policy in the Middle East more broadly.


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 Gulf political and security affairs, Libya, and U.S. policy in the Middle East.

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 articles have 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 Foreign Relations Committee.

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

  • Op-Ed Washington Post April 17, 2015
    The Iran Deal Sharpens the Persian Gulf Region’s Sectarian Divide

    The nuclear deal’s potential benefits to sectarian relations in the Gulf have been offset by the escalating violence in Yemen and a wave of Sunni triumphalism.

  • Journal of Democracy April 15, 2015
    The Authoritarian Resurgence: Saudi Arabia’s Anxious Autocrats

    Since the 2011 Arab uprisings, Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been non-ideological, realist, and defensive in intent, but negative in its implications for democracy.

  • Syria in Crisis March 26, 2015
    Into the Maelstrom: The Saudi-Led Misadventure in Yemen

    Military victory may not be the goal of the airstrikes in Yemen. The Saudis could use them to gain greater leverage in power-sharing negotiations.

  • Syria in Crisis March 5, 2015 Русский
    Rising Out of Chaos: The Islamic State in Libya

    The presence and influence of the Islamic State continues to spread in the civil war chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya, inserting itself into an already messy conflict between the rival Operation Dignity and Operation Dawn.

  • Op-Ed Atlantic February 9, 2015
    The Battle for Libya’s Oil

    Nearly three and a half years after Libyan rebels and a NATO air campaign overthrew Muammar al-Qaddafi, the cohesive political entity known as Libya doesn’t exist. There is no central government, but rather two competing claims on legitimacy and sovereignty.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs February 2, 2015
    Libya’s War-Weary Make Peace?

    Misrata offers reasons for guarded optimism when it comes to Libya’s future as a unified state.

  • Syria in Crisis January 23, 2015 Русский
    After King Abdullah, Continuity

    Despite the speculations over the effects of Saudi succession, the kingdom’s foreign policies are likely to remain unchanged and have been remarkably consistent since the reign of King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz.

  • Syria in Crisis December 29, 2014
    The Middle East in 2015: What to Watch

    Carnegie scholars assess the Middle East in the year ahead, including potential game changers that could have a big impact for the future of the region.

  • Op-Ed Lawfare December 17, 2014
    Mosul on the Mediterranean? The Islamic State in Libya and U.S. Counterterrorism Dilemmas

    Like everything else in the country, the jihadist field in Libya is highly fragmented and hyper-localized. And the rise of the Islamic State has stirred significant debates within this fractured community about how to respond.

  • Year in Crisis December 10, 2014
    Photo Essay: Libya’s Path to Civil War

    An exclusive, on-the-ground look at Libya as it fractures.

  • 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.

  • 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
    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 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.

  • October 29, 2014
    The Iran Factor and Regional Calculations

    This panel assessed Iranian interests and influence in the region in the context of the fight against the Islamic State and the continuing Syrian civil war.

  • September 24, 2014 Washington, DC
    Libya’s Civil War

    Nearly three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in the throes of a bitter civil war. Its political and security institutions are split along complex fault lines that defy easy categorization.


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