Elections in Lebanon and Iraq: Understanding the Results and Implications for U.S. Policy

May 22, 2018
9:30 am -

Event Video

Speakers (from left to right): 
Tony Badran, FDD Research Fellow
Hanin Ghaddar, Friedman Visiting Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations
Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Event Description

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosted a breakfast conversation on the outcome of the elections in Iraq and Lebanon and what they mean for U.S. policy. The conversation took place on Tuesday, May 22, from 9:15am to 10:45am, and featured FDD Research Fellow Tony Badran; Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute Hanin Ghaddar; and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad. The discussion was moderated by FDD Senior Vice President Jonathan Schanzer.

Elections in Lebanon and Iraq
Understanding the Results and Implications for U.S. Policy

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
9:30am – 10:45am

In Lebanon, the first parliamentary elections since 2009 have unsurprisingly resulted in a big win for Iran’s proxy, the terrorist group Hezbollah. In Iraq, the first ballots cast since the defeat of the Islamic State, appear to have left one coalition led by an old U.S. nemesis, Muqtada al-Sadr, as the top vote getter, with a second coalition dominated by pro-Iranian militias as the runner up. Negotiations are now underway in both countries to form governments whose composition and programs will have significant implications for America’s interests in the Middle East.

In recent years, U.S. policy in Lebanon and Iraq has focused on counterterrorism and building state institutions, especially in the security sector, as the best means to counter Iranian influence. How successful have those efforts been? Should the U.S. continue to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)? In Iraq, how much leverage will Iran wield and what will be the response of the country’s Sunnis and Kurds?

Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Lebanon, Hezbollah, Syria, and the geopolitics of the Levant. Born and raised in Lebanon, he has testified to the House of Representatives on several occasions regarding U.S. policy toward Iran and Syria. He is a columnist and Levant analyst for Tablet magazine. His writings have appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and The Weekly Standard.

Hanin Ghaddar is the inaugural Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute, where she focuses on Shia politics throughout the Levant. The longtime managing editor of Lebanon’s NOW news website, she shed light on a broad range of cutting-edge issues, from the evolution of Hezbollah inside Lebanon’s fractured political system to Iran’s growing influence throughout the Middle East. In addition, she has contributed to a number of U.S.-based magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and Foreign Policy. Prior to joining NOW in 2007, Ghaddar wrote for the Lebanese newspapers As-Safir, An-Nahar, and Al-Hayat, and also worked as a researcher for the United Nations Development Program regional office. A native of Al-Ghazieh, Lebanon, she holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in Middle East studies, both from the American University of Beirut.

Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad served as US Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations. He is a Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and President and CEO of Gryphon Partners, an international advisory firm. Ambassador Khalilzad was born and raised in Afghanistan, and studied at the American University of Beirut, where he received his BA and MA. Later he received his PhD from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer is Senior Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers.  A former research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Schanzer has published numerous books, including State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State and Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine. Dr. Schanzer testifies often before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media.

Event Video


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