About Us

Mission Statement

The Project on Middle East Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to examining how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East and how the U.S. can best support that process. Through dialogue, research, and advocacy, we work to strengthen the constituency for U.S. policies that peacefully support democratic reform in the Middle East.
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  • Democracy is an inalienable right. Every political community has the right to govern itself democratically through free, fair and open processes and institutions.
  • Democracy functions differently in every country in which it is practiced. This diversity is a central reason why democracy is a universal value and can be adopted successfully by any society.Each country’s citizens, through deliberative processes, have the right to determine the specific nature of their democracy.
  • America’s fundamental values call for the U.S. to support democracy. America was founded on the principles of democratic governance and freedom of expression, yet its policy towards the Middle East has often sacrificed democracy at the altar of other interests.To be true to its basic principles, America must consistently and credibly support democracy abroad.
  • Supporting democracy in the Middle East is in America’s long-term interest. Continued support for the Middle East’s authoritarian status quo will jeopardize American national security and economic interests.While genuinely promoting democracy requires the courage to bear short-term risks, free and open political processes will ultimately reduce incentives to resort to violence.
  • The U.S. cannot be neutral on democracy in the Middle East. The billions of dollars the U.S. provides to Middle Eastern governments each year in economic aid and military assistance reflect America’s substantial and enduring interests in the region and preclude any pretense of neutrality on democracy.The U.S. must carefully examine the consequences of its actions on political reform.
  • The U.S. has the potential to make a positive impact on democratization in the Middle East. America has a credibility gap on democracy because it often tolerates authoritarian behavior by friendly regimes while calling for democracy and regime change in unfriendly ones.By consistently supporting democracy, America will begin to overcome this legacy and repair its credibility gap.
  • The U.S. must respect democratic outcomes. In the short term, free and fair elections may result in some governments that are less favorable to U.S. interests.Regardless, America must respect democratic processes.The long-term benefits of improved credibility and democracy outweigh the short-term costs.
  • Democracy cannot be imposed. Engagement through peaceful means, such as dialogue and diplomacy, is the only legitimate and effective way to promote democracy in the region.The U.S. can and will help but, ultimately, stable and secure democracies in the Middle East can only be built from within.

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Through Research, Advocacy, and Civil Society Partnerships, we work to strengthen support for genuine democratic development in the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Research: We support innovative research driven by rigorous analysis and actionable policy options in a wide array of publications. Our mission is to educate and inform policy makers and the public on how genuine democracies can develop in the Middle East, and how the U.S. can best support that process.
  • Advocacy: We promote a consistent and credible pro-democracy foreign policy toward the Middle East through government relations, leveraging relationships with policymakers on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. The advocacy program also works with a broad coalition of activists and advocates in Washington and the Middle East to highlight key issues and empower those who share a commitment to supporting democracy and human rights in the region.
  • Civil Society Partnerships: We collaborate with NGOs in the region to build their capacity and increase the impact of regional think tanks and advocacy organizations. In a healthy democracy, advocacy organizations and think tanks serve as critical links between government and engaged citizens. Building off its own experiences, POMED guides and mentors its partners in producing policy analysis and developing policy recommendations for their national policymakers, mirroring the role played by POMED in Washington. For more on this program, click here.


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Board of Directors

  • Thomas O. Melia (Chairperson), Adjunct Professor, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs; Fellow, George W. Bush Institute; USAID Assistant Administrator (2015-2017)
  • Andrew Albertson, Management Associate, Creative Associates
  • J. Scott Carpenter, Deputy Director, Jigsaw (formerly Google Ideas), Google
  • Michele Dunne, Director & Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Stephen Grand, Executive Director of the Middle East Strategy Task Force, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council
  • Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
  • Steven Heydemann, Janet Wright Ketcham ’53 Chair in Middle East Studies, Smith College
  • Lionel Johnson, President, Pacific Pension & Investment Institute
  • Jim Kolbe, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States and Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1985-2007
  • Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Michael Shor, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP

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