Bruce Riedel

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

Bruce Riedel is a nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy. He previously served as director of The Intelligence Project at Brookings. Riedel retired in 2006 after 30 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency, including postings overseas. He was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to four presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House. He was also deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Near East and South Asia at the Pentagon and a senior advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.

Riedel was a member of President Bill Clinton’s peace process team and negotiated at Camp David and other Arab-Israeli summits and he organized Clinton’s trip to India in 2000. In January 2009, President Barack Obama asked him to chair a review of American policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, the results of which the president announced in a speech on March 27, 2009.

In 2011, Riedel served as an expert advisor to the prosecution of al Qaeda terrorist Omar Farooq Abdulmutallab in Detroit. In December 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron asked him to brief the United Kingdom’s National Security Council in London on Pakistan.

Riedel is the author of “The Search for al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future” (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad” (Brookings Institution Press, 2011; translated into Persian), “Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back” (Brookings Institution Press, 2013),  “JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA and the Sino-Indian War” (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), “Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR” (Brookings Institution Press, 2017), and “Beirut 1958: How America’s Wars in the Middle East Began” (Brookings Institution Press, 2019). He is a contributor to “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (Brookings Institution Press, 2009), “The Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East” (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) and “Becoming Enemies: U.S.-Iran Relations and the Iran-Iraq War, 1979-1988” (Brookings Institution Press, 2012). His book “What We Won: America’s Secret War in Afghanistan, 1979-1989” (Brookings Institution Press, 2014) won the gold medal for best new book on war and military affairs at the INDIEFAB awards. His new book is  “Jordan and America: An Enduring Friendship” (Brookings Institution Press, 2021).

Riedel is a graduate of Brown (B.A.), Harvard (M.A.), and the Royal College of Defense Studies in London. He has taught at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, and he has been a guest lecturer at Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown, and other universities. Riedel is a recipient of the Intelligence Medal of Merit and the Distinguished Intelligence Career Medal.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Counterterrorism
    • Arab-Israeli issues
    • Persian Gulf security
    • India and Pakistan
  • Past Positions

    • Special Advisor, NATO, Brussels, Belgium (2003-2006)
    • Member, Royal College of Defense Studies, London, U.K. (2002-2003)
    • Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs, National Security Council (2001-2002)
    • Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs, National Security Council (1997-2001)
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near East and South Asian Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense (1995-1997)
    • National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asian Affairs, National Intelligence Council (1993-1995)
    • Director for Gulf and South Asia Affairs, National Security Council (1991-1993)
    • Deputy Chief Persian Gulf Task Force, Central Intelligence Agency (1990-1991)
    • Various assignments, Central Intelligence Agency (1977-1990)
  • Education

    • M.A., Harvard University, 1977
    • B.A., Brown University, 1975
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