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Nawaf Obaid

Nawaf Obaid

Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Email: nawafobaid@aol.com

 

Experience

Nawaf Obaid is a Visiting Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs since September 2012. He is a Senior Lecturer at the London Academy of Diplomacy at Stirling University, a Distinguished International Affairs Fellow at the National Council on U.S. Arab Relations and a Senior Fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Currently, he serves as the CEO of the Essam and Dalal Obaid Foundation (EDOF).

From 2004 to 2007, he was Special Advisor for Strategic Communications to Prince Turki Al Faisal, while Prince Turki was the Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom & Ireland, and then the United States. And from 2007 to 2011, he worked with the Saudi Royal Court. Most recently, he served as the Special Counselor to Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2011 to 2015.

He has been a Research Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

He has a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and has a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He began his doctoral coursework at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Political Science Department and completed a Master & Doctorate in War Studies from the Department of War Studies at King's College, London University.

 

 

 

 

 

By Date

 

2016

AP Photo

October 6, 2016

"The US Should Stand with Saudi Arabia in Yemen"

Op-Ed, Defense One

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The Saudi-led campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi and Saleh rebels in Yemen is quickly approaching its year and a half mark. The intervention began in March 2015 at the request of the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to prevent the rebels from taking over the beleaguered southern city of Aden. However, despite the Saudis continually seeking a mediated political solution, the rebels have kept up their resistance and even expanded their attacks to the northern border with Saudi Arabia, shelling and causing fatalities in the Saudi cities of Najran and Jizan, prompting more airstrikes, and defying calls for a ceasefire.

 

 

AP Photo

July 21, 2016

"The myth of Saudi support for terrorism"

Op-Ed, The Washington Times

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Last Friday, the infamous “28 pages” from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks were declassified. For years, this final section of the report was kept from the public, which led some to believe that it contained evidence that the Saudi Arabian government was behind the attacks, either indirectly by financing al Qaeda or directly by providing support to the actual terrorists on the planes. Now that the pages have been released, the truth is out, and in the words of the 9/11 Commission: “[there is] no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded [al Qaeda].”

 

 

Summer 2016

Q&A: Improving U.S.-Saudi Dynamics

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Karen Elliott House, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We asked two Belfer Center experts on Saudi Arabia to tell us what should be done to improve the strained relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Nawaf Obaid, a visiting fellow at the Center, served until recently as special counselor to Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf and previously was special advisor for strategic communications to Prince Turki Al Faisal. Karen Elliott House, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and editor and former publisher at The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future, published in September 2012.

 

 

(AP Photo)

May 18, 2016

"How Saudi Arabia is tying its oil and foreign policies together"

Op-Ed, The Telegraph

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

For decades it has been standard Saudi practice to keep separate its oil and foreign policies as the Kingdom, the world’s top exporter and de facto leader of Opec, has regarded “economic energy purity” as the best strategy to sustain domestic growth and generate the international confidence needed to keep oil markets stable.

But last month, when Opec and non-Opec ministers met in Qatar, the Saudis signalled a significant policy change when they refused at the last moment to sign off on a production freeze that didn’t include the Iranians, who are still trying to recover from years of crippling sanctions.

 

 

U.S. Department of State

April 20, 2016

"Obama's Last Chance with Saudi Arabia"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

On April 21, Barack Obama will make what will most likely be his last visit to Saudi Arabia as U.S. president. This comes at a time when the clashing ideologies of the “Obama Doctrine” and the emerging “Salman Doctrine” have led the two countries to an increasingly troubling divergence of opinion and commitment vis-à-vis the primary issues affecting the Arab world: the Syrian and Libyan civil wars, the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and various Iran-sponsored revolts via terrorist proxies.

 

 

(AP Photo)

March, 30, 2016

"The Salman Doctrine: the Saudi Reply to Obama's Weakness"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Following a thorough explication of Obama’s foreign policy doctrine in a recent Jeffrey Goldberg article, it is now clearer than ever that America and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course over strategic decisions in the Middle East. This is because the “Obama Doctrine” is diametrically opposed to the emerging “Salman Doctrine,” which the Kingdom is developing in order to restore peace and a modicum of stability to the region. And while the Saudis and their allies would benefit immensely from having the United States at their side, Washington also has much to lose by distancing itself from the Saudi agenda. Since the end of World War II, American influence and standing in the Arab world has, to a large extent, been dependent on the “special relationship" with the Kingdom.

 

 

Flickr

February 29, 2016

"Why Saudis may take on Iraq’s Shiite militias"

Op-Ed, Al-Monitor

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

While the Obama administration focuses its attention on the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, it is ignoring an equally deadly and unchecked terrorist force in the Middle East: the Shiite militias of Iraq. Groups such as Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization are the main three of the nearly 40 Shiite militias working under Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, an umbrella organization created, funded and supported by Iran in mid-2014, ostensibly to take on IS. However, as the Saudis and their allies have long known, these militias are in fact a growing terrorist force that has been causing havoc and bloodshed for more than a decade in the name of a sectarian Shiite revolution.

 

 

(AP Photo)

February 16, 2016

"Saudi Arabia’s Master Plan Against ISIS, Assad and Iran in Syria"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Last week, the spokesman for the Saudi military, General Ahmed Asseri, announced that Saudi Arabia is “is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against Islamic State) may agree to carry out in Syria” and that its decision to move into the war-torn country is “irreversible." However, given that the Saudis and their allies in the newly formed Islamic Coalition are conducting massive joint operational military exercises—codenamed Northern Thunder—in preparation for very possible military interventions in the near future, it’s clear that the Kingdom-led multinational coalition will not stop at ISIS....

 

 

Simsa; Flickr

January 25, 2016

"The truth about the Saudi executions"

Op-Ed, Al-Monitor

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Saudi Arabia's execution of 47 accused terrorists on Jan. 2 drew extensive condemnation in the United States. Further, because four of the men executed were Shiites, including in particular Shiite religious leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran and consulate general in Mashhad were stormed the same day and set ablaze by rioting Iranian Basij and others.

 

2015

Pixabay

December 22, 2015

"Why Saudis formed anti-terror coalition"

Op-Ed, CNN.com

By Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and minister of defense, announced last week the formation of a kingdom-led, 34-state Islamic coalition to combat terrorism.

The statement from Riyadh cited "a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations, whatever their sect and name, which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent." The major allied partners in the group include Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.