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. He was previously a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.


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: The Struggle for Security in Eastern Libya (2012); The Precarious Ally: Bahrain’s Impasse and U.S. Policy (2013); The Forgotten Uprising in Eastern Saudi Arabia (2013); Perilous Desert: Sources of Saharan Insecurity, co-edited with Anouar Boukhars (2013); and Building Libya’s Security Sector, co-authored with Peter Cole (2013).

Prior to joining Carnegie, he was a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he was the lead author of monographs on the domestic roles of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Saudi-Iranian rivalry, and the strategic impact of the Iraq War in the Middle East. In 2008, he led a RAND strategic advisory team to Baghdad, focusing on post-surge challenges in support of Multinational Forces–Iraq.

Wehrey is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and has completed tours in Turkey, Uganda, Libya, Algeria, and Iraq, where he earned the Bronze Star in 2003.   

His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, Washington Quarterly, Current History, the International Herald Tribune, 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 new 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), named one of 2013’s top five books on the Middle East by Foreign Policy magazine.

  • Testimony House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security April 3, 2014
    Congress Should Repeal Law Obstructing U.S. Assistance to Libya

    Washington’s ability to deliver effective and flexible support to Libya’s fragile post-revolution government is vital to the country’s future.

  • Op-Ed National Interest March 27, 2014
    The Gulf’s Achilles’ Heel

    The political impasse of Bahrain is a festering wound in the Gulf. If left unaddressed, it will eventually threaten U.S. assets and people.

  • Policy Outlook March 10, 2014 عربي
    A New U.S. Approach to Gulf Security

    The United States must focus more on promoting political and security sector reforms in the Gulf that are critical to long-term regional stability by better integrating its use of military and diplomatic tools.

  • Op-Ed Atlantic February 28, 2014 عربي
    The Battle for Benghazi

    A new security landscape has emerged in Benghazi—one marked by a tenuous division of labor between formal forces led by the military and informal forces comprising the Islamist militias.

  • Op-Ed United States Institute of Peace February 18, 2014
    Ominous Divide: Shiite Iran v Sunni Gulf

    The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not driven primarily by a Sunni-Shiite divide or even Arab-Persian ethnic differences. The conflict is informed by two radically different models of government and two very different visions of regional order.

  • Article February 13, 2014 عربي
    The Egypt Effect: Sharpened Tensions, Reshuffled Alliances

    Throughout the Middle East, the overthrow of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi has heightened Islamist-secularist tensions and pushed actors toward zero-sum politics.

  • Sada Discussion Threads January 31, 2014 عربي
    The Army’s Role

    Much of the actual progress is being made at the local level, at the direction of local councils and respected tribal elders.

  • Op-Ed Lawfare January 26, 2014
    The Roots—and Blowback—of the New Sectarianism

    What is missing in the interpretations of sectarianism and identifying its roots is a focus on the role of institutions and the agency of political actors in deliberately invoking and amplifying sectarian passions.

  • Other Publications The Uneasy Balance December 6, 2013
    Combating Unconventional Threats in the Gulf

    There is a clear convergence of interests between the Gulf Cooperation Council and the West in combating terrorism and piracy. But there are and will continue to be differences over the nature of domestic, political, and ideological challenges, and how best to address them.

  • Can Washington Help Avert Libya’s Downward Spiral?
    Testimony Senate Foreign Relations Committee November 21, 2013
    Can Washington Help Avert Libya’s Downward Spiral?

    There is a window of opportunity to help improve Libya’s security situation, but the United States must proceed cautiously and deliberately.

  • 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.

  • PBS Newshour March 28, 2014
    What’s Behind the Widening Division Between U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

    The discord between Saudi Arabia and the United States stems from a series of disagreements about the way the Middle East is unfolding, including in Iran, Syria, and Egypt.

  • BBC World News America October 10, 2013
    Libya’s Security Situation

    Grievances against Libya’s Zeidan government by the militias are not ideological but rather reflect the government’s inability to deliver services, its lack of transparency, and the way Zeidan governs.

  • VOA Press Conference June 8, 2013
    On Libya and Saudi Arabia

    Post-Qaddafi Libya faces a number of significant challenges as it struggles to rein in militias and build political, economic, and security institutions.

  • KSA2 January 14, 2013
    The Chuck Hagel Nomination

    The nomination of Chuck Hagel for U.S. defense secretary comes at a time when promoting America’s strategic interests will frequently compete with the pressures induced by the current era of austerity.

  • FM4 ORF Austrian Radio November 13, 2012
    A No Fly Zone Over Syria?

    Despite rising levels of violence in Syria, the United States should focus less on intervention and more on planning for the day after the fall of the regime.

  • Kojo Nnamdi Show September 26, 2012
    Behind The Protests in Libya

    Protests in Libya sparked an order to disband the country's rogue militias, but this is only the first step to security in Libya. Good governance and building an army are the long term solutions to Libya's challenges.

  • CNN International September 24, 2012
    How Big a Threat is al-Qaeda in Libya?

    The ultimate solution to the security challenges in Libya resides in improved governance and the construction of a cohesive national army.

  • Diane Rehm Show September 13, 2012
    The Killing Of U.S. Diplomats In Benghazi

    The turmoil in the Middle East, highlighted by the assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, is fraught with security implications for the region.

  • PBS NewsHour September 12, 2012
    Libyan Salafists Assert Power with Embassy Attacks

    Since Libya established a secular democracy, conservative Muslims in Libya, known as Salafists, have felt disenfranchised. The attack on the American embassy is in part an effort to gain public attention.

  • BBC August 1, 2012
    Syria's Increasingly Brutal Civil War

    As violence continues to spiral out of control in Syria, all signs point to a protracted struggle for the future of Syria.


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