Middle East Policy Council
The Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that produces analysis and commentary on issues impacting U.S. national interests in the Middle East. It was founded in 1981 under the stated mission to "expand public discussion and understanding of issues affecting U.S. policy in the Middle East." The MEPC's website states that it is interested primarily in "contributing to the American understanding of the political, economic, and cultural issues that affect U.S. interests in the Middle East." 
MEPC was originally named the American Arab Affairs Council and was co-founded by Richard Curtiss and George Naifeh. Richard Curtiss later founded the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and George Naifeh remained president of the MEPC until 1991. Subsequent presidents include George McGovern (1991-1997) and Charles W. Freeman, Jr. (1997-2009). Frank Anderson was the president of the MEPC from 2009 to April 2012. Anderson served in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for 26 years. He served three tours of duty in the Middle East as an agency station chief, headed the Afghan Task Force (1987-89), and was chief of the Near East and South Asia Division. The Board announced in late 2013 that Ford M. Fraker had been appointed as the new president of the organization.
The Council advances its mission through three programs: the quarterly journal Middle East Policy; the Capitol Hill Conference Series for policy makers and their staffs; and professional development workshops for K-12 educators through the Teach Mideast arm.
According to the Council web site:
"Fresh thinking and new insights have been our stock in trade from the beginning. The policy practitioners, analysts, economists and academics appearing in our venues have provided a wide diversity of views on the region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan and from Central Asia to Oman. They question conventional wisdom and explain complex issues without oversimplifying them. A receptive audience has welcomed these efforts from the appearance of the first issue of the journal."
Established in 1993, the Capitol Hill Conference Series is aimed at members of Congress and their staffs, opinion leaders and members of the media. According to the Council web site "the starting point for each forum is the same: What are the interests of the United States in the Middle East, and how should they be realized?"
Recent Capitol Hill Forums include:
- The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and the Obama Doctrine" (4/12/16)
- The ISIS Threat to U.S. National Security (1/21/16)
- Iran and the Arab World (7/16/15)
- The Syrian Humanitarian Crisis (4/21/15)
- Managing, Ending and Avoiding Wars in the Middle East" (1/20/15)
- The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Has the U.S. Failed? (10/15/14)
- Obama's Foreign Policy and the Future of the Middle East (7/21/14)
- U.S. Commitments to the Arab Gulf States (4/23/14)
- Crisis in Syria: What are the stakes for Syria's neighbors? (7/16/13)
- The Future of Israel and Palestine (4/25/13)
- U.S. Grand Strategy in the Middle East: Is There One? (1/16/13)
- Policy Choices for the New Administration (10/17/12)
- Crisis in Syria: What are the U.S. Options? (7/23/12)
- The Transformation of Political Islam in the Arab Awakening: Who are the Major Players? (4/11/12)
- Israel, Turkey & Iran in the Changing Arab World (1/5/12)
- A Reawakened Rivalry: The GCC v. Iran (10/7/12)
- Arab and Israeli Peace Initiatives: A Last Chance for Negotiations? (7/25/11)
- The Arab Uprisings and U.S. Policy: What is the American National Interest? (4/28/11)
- Israeli - Palestinian Peace: What is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can it be Achieved? (1/20/11)
- The United States in Middle Eastern Eyes: A Reliable Security Partner or a "Problem to be Managed?" (10/14/10)
- U.S. Policies Toward Israel and Iran: What are the Linkages? (7/13/10)
- Gulf Oil & Gas: What are the Producers Thinking? (4/22/10)
- Eighteen Months and Beyond: Implications of U.S. Policy in Afghanistan (1/7/10)
Video archives from these events are available on the Council website and the events are streamed live.
Since 1985, the workshops of Teach Mideast have been conducted in nearly all fifty U.S. states, reaching over 20,000 teachers.
In addition to featuring its journal articles and videos and transcripts from the Capitol Hill Conference Series, the MEPC web site contains various other recurring article series as of November 2010. Middle East In Focus is a weekly synopsis of news and commentary from Middle Eastern and other international media. This survey complements a digest of Timely Articles from the region also available on the web site. Senior fellow Mark N. Katz contributes a weekly series The War on Terror in Perspective where he addresses "the nature of the 'War on Terror', the regional impact of American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. policy choices after withdrawing from these conflicts, and the larger geopolitical context in which this 'war' is taking place." Political risk analyst Ian Siperco also writes about political developments in the region.
On February 23rd, 2012, the Council released an exclusive journal article written by Syria expert Joshua Landis titled "The Syrian Uprising of 2011: Why the Asad Regime is Likely to Survive to 2013." This article outlined four main reasons why the Asad regime would hold on through 2012: its strong military, weak fragmented opposition, lack of international intervention and factors related to the structure of the Syrian economy.
In expressing alarm over former MEPC president Chas Freeman's nomination to the NIC in early 2009, Weekly Standard contributing editor Michael Goldfarb claimed that MEPC funds from Saudi Arabia were for "the funding of a Saudi lobby that could widen the range of debate, i.e. counter the Israel lobby." Mr. Goldfarb's phrase "Saudi lobby" referred to an article by Washington Times writer Eli Lake where he wrote that "Since 1997, Mr. Freeman has been president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a Washington think tank. In 2007, he accepted a $1 million donation from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud that, according to a press release at the time, was meant for "future projects" for the council." Mr. Lake went on to write that "In an interview in 2006 with the Saudi-U.S. Relations Information Service, Mr. Freeman said, 'These are obviously very difficult times for any organization attempting to promote better understanding and stronger ties between the United States and the Arab world. Attitudes are extremely negative. Financial support has been very negatively affected both by the deterioration in the atmosphere [and] the sense on the part of many of our Arab donors that nothing can be done to fix the negative image of the Arabs in the United States at present.' The interview was publicized last week on the blog of a former foreign policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steven J. Rosen."
According to non-profit disclosure forms, The Middle East Policy Council's 2007 total receipts were $731,000.
- President- The Hon. Ford M. Fraker, Former Ambassador, Saudi Arabia; Former Senior Adviser, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co.
- Vice President- Anne Joyce, Editor, Middle East Policy
- Executive Director- Dr. Thomas R. Mattair, Assoc. Editor, Middle East Policy
The MEPC board of directors includes the following individuals:
- Chairman - Hon. Richard J. Schmierer, Former Ambassador, Oman
- Vice Chairman - The Hon. William A. Rugh, Former President, AMIDEAST; Former Ambassador, U.A.E.
- Member- Mrs. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
- Member - The Hon. Mark Hambley, International Managing Director, Apollo Security; Former Ambassador, Lebanon
- Member- Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, USMC (ret.),Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command
- Member- Dr. Omar Kader, Chairman and CEO, Paltech
- Member- Mr. Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
- Member - Dr. Philip Mattar, President, Rittenhouse Investments
- Member- Hon. Ronald E. Neumann, President, American Academy of Diplomacy; Former Ambassador to Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan
- Member - Mr. Paul Oliver, Vice President of Middle East and Africa, Boeing
- Member - Dr. Fuad A. Rihani, Consultant, Research and Development, Saudi Binladin Group
- Member - The Hon. Patrick Theros, President, U.S. - Qatari Business Council; Former Ambassador, Qatar
- Ex Officio - Ms. Anne Joyce, (Secretary of the Corporation)
- Ex Officio - Dr. Thomas R. Mattair, (Executive Director of the Corporation)
- President Emeritus- The Hon. Chas W. Freeman Jr., Chairman, Projects International; Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Former President, Middle East Policy Council
- Michael Goldfarb, Weekly Standard, Schumer Calls Rahm, Concern Grows About Saudi Lobby Feb 27, 2009
- Eli Lake Obama's Intelligence Pick Linked to Saudi Arabia, Feb. 27, 2009, Washington Times.