Emile Nakhleh

Beyond Al-Qa’ida: Different Faces of Political Islam and Why it Matters to Us

Lecture Date: Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dr. Emile Nakhleh,
Consultant & Former Senior CIA Officer

The Arab Spring has resulted in the emergence of political Islam on the Arab political scene, especially in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. We also see vestiges of political Islam in Yemen and Bahrain. After Assad, political Islam is expected to play a central role in Syrian politics. Political Islam refers to political organizations that pursue a political and social agenda in accordance with their interpretation of their faith. A key challenge for the US is whether Islamic parties would hijack the democratic process and marginalize the liberal secular segments of the population, which led the revolution in the first place. Another challenge centers on the increasing military role of radical “jihadists” in Syria and growing terrorism in Africa, particularly Nigeria, Mali, and Somalia.

Emile Nakhleh is an expert on Middle Eastern society and politics and on political Islam. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Research Professor at the University of New Mexico. He previously served in the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993-2006, first as scholar in residence and chief of the Regional Analysis Unit in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis and subsequently as director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program. Until 1993 Nakhleh taught at Mount St. Mary’s University, where he was the John L. Morrison Professor of International Studies. Nakhleh’s publications include, among others, “A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World” (2009), “Bahrain: Political Development in a Modernizing Society” (1976 and 2011), and “The Gulf Cooperation Council: Policies, Problems, and Prospects” (1986). Nakhleh holds a PhD from American University, an MA from Georgetown University, and a BA from Saint John’s University, Minnesota.

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