Tamara Cofman Wittes

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Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.[1] She directed the Center from March 2012 through March 2017. From November 2009 through January 2012, she was a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the United States Department of State.[2] Wittes has written about U.S. foreign policy, democratic change in the Arab world and about the Arab–Israeli conflict.


Wittes served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs from November 9, 2009 until January 31, 2012. She coordinated policy on democracy and human rights for the bureau and oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). She also helped establish the State Department's Middle East Transitions office, and served as Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions.

Wittes started at the Brookings Institution in late 2003 and was a research fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy until 2007, when she became a senior fellow. Her book, Freedom's Unsteady March: America's Role in Building Arab Democracy, was published in 2008. She has also worked at the United States Institute of Peace and the Middle East Institute. She received her Ph.D. (2000) and MA (1995) from Georgetown University and her BA (1991) from Oberlin College.[3] Her dissertation mentor at Georgetown was the late Professor Christopher C. Joyner.

In September 2014, Wittes joined the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute.[4] She is also a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of Women in International Security. She serves on the advisory board of the Israel Institute and of Divergent Options.

Personal life[edit]

Wittes is a graduate (1987) of East Lansing High School in East Lansing, Michigan. She is married to Benjamin Wittes.

Selected publications[edit]

  • How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process (editor and contributor) (Washington: US Institute of Peace Press, 2005)
  • Freedom's Unsteady March: America's Role in Building Arab Democracy (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2008)[5]