Tamara Cofman Wittes, an expert on Middle East democracy and development, will return to the Brookings Institution as a senior fellow and director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings President Strobe Talbott announced today.
Wittes, who will rejoin Brookings on March 1, 2012, has been serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where she coordinated policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East, and oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative. She also served in the State Department as deputy special coordinator for Middle East Transitions. Wittes was previously a senior fellow in the Saban Center at Brookings from 2003 to 2009, where she directed the Middle East Democracy and Development Project.
“At this critical time in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, we are fortunate to have Tammy’s leadership and expertise,” said Talbott. “Tammy is an extraordinary scholar and returns to Brookings with a wealth of experience. Her most recent efforts to promote the political, economic, and social empowerment of citizens in the Arab World make her ideally suited to lead the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.”
“I’m very pleased to be returning to Brookings in this new role, leading the excellent team of scholars at the Saban Center and the Brookings Doha Center,” Wittes said. “The historic changes under way in the Arab world are of crucial importance to America’s long-term relationships within the region. With its regional presence and profile, Brookings is perfectly positioned to help us understand events and inform sound public policy in the U.S. and Middle East region.”
Prior to joining Brookings in 2003, Wittes served as Middle East specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace and as director of programs at the Middle East Institute in Washington. Wittes was one of the first recipients of the Rabin-Peres Peace Award, established by former President Bill Clinton in 1997.
Wittes holds a B.A. in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies from Oberlin College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security. She is the author of Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy (Brookings Press, 2008).
In welcoming Dr. Wittes’ return to Brookings, Martin Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings, also expressed deep appreciation to Kenneth Pollack who has served as director of the Saban Center since 2009. “Ken provided outstanding leadership to the Saban Center during a tumultuous time in the Middle East. We are delighted that he will be staying at Brookings as a senior fellow in the Saban Center where he will be devoting himself full-time to policy research.”