American University of Beirut

Arab and International Affairs




    The Arab and International Affairs Program (AIA) studies general trends of world politics from the perspective of their influence on Arab realities. More specifically, it examines the impact of policies designed and pursued by major international actors, states and international organizations, on policies in Arab countries. The program focuses on the analysis of foreign policies in Arab countries as they are shaped by regional and national developments. It seeks to contribute towards informing the making of foreign policy drawing on research-based activities, contacts with the diplomatic community and other exchanges with actors concerned.

    The AIA component will involve a number of programs which will carry out research and analysis on a wide range of issues pertaining to contemporary international affairs, participate in national and international debates and academic networks, and focus on disseminating high quality publications, including policy-relevant research. 

    Building on the outcomes of dialogues at the institute in the 2017-2018 academic year, a group of Lebanese and Syrian researchers reflected on launching research and establishing a space for free-thinking, study and dialogue around Syria and Lebanese-Syrian relations, both on a state and societal level, the development and intertwining of these bilateral relations, the occurrence of these exchanges, and the implications of these common issues in Lebanon and Syria, in the framework of the profound transformations that the Arab region and the world are witnessing since the start of the Arab uprisings. 

    Furthermore, the program included conversations and research partnerships on local economies in Syria, post-war economic recovery and reconstruction, and socio-economic development, reflecting on the concept of decentralization and peacebuilding.

    ​Goals and Aims

    The Arab and International Affairs component of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs seeks to harness both the policy-related and international relations research of AUB’s internationally respected faculty in order to enhance the Arab world’s input into regional and global issues, to raise the quality of international affairs-related debate and decision-making in the region, and to enrich the quality of interaction among scholars, officials and civil society actors in the Middle East and abroad.

    Thus, the objective of the IA component at IFI is to strengthen research, analysis and information sharing from a local, regional and global perspective, particularly with respect to issues surrounding the United Nations, refugees and internally displaced persons, and climate change negotiations. The IA component’s unique integration of international affairs and policy-relevant/policy-oriented research will create productive synergies and ensure the relevant capacity and expertise to effectively frame and conduct high-caliber studies.

    IFI aims to fund and promote research programs that would provide insights and analysis to:

    • Improve our understanding of international affairs; 
    • Develop a rich academic environment in the Middle East;
    • Inform public-policy decisions made by regional leaders and decision-makers.

    The main three research axes followed by the program are:

    1. Ideologically-motivated violent extremism groups, transnational trends and political islam movements in a changing regional order.

    2. The evolving geo-political order in the MENA region, the role of regional and international institutions (UN, Arab league, GCC), and the resurgence of middle power competition in the regional battlefields.

    3. Lebanese foreign policy, Lebanese-Syrian relations, and refugee repatriation in the discourse and diplomatic practices of foreign policy making centers in Lebanon.​​

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