Acting Director, Security Assistance Monitor


Elias joins CIP with several years of experience in foreign affairs research and human rights advocacy. He was previously with the Atlantic Council as part of their external relations team. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, he was a Campaigns and Research Officer with Crisis Action, an international civilian protection advocacy organization.


While with Crisis Action, based both in Beirut, Lebanon, and Washington D.C., Elias provided in-depth research and analysis to a global coalition of civil society organizations campaigning for civilian protection in South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. He holds a Bachelors degree in International Relations from American University, with a focus on Middle East politics and U.S. foreign policy.

Latest News

Militarization of the Middle East began long before the US invasion of Iraq

by Elias Yousif


Security Assistance Monitor

Drawing out the trends and patterns that have defined U.S. Middle East strategy over the past two decades is essential to understanding why American engagement with the region has proved so dissatisfying.

What it cost to kill Soleimani

by Elias Yousif


Security Assistance Monitor

For those who hoped 2020 would offer an opportunity to set a gentler course in U.S. foreign policy, it took just three days for President Trump to shatter those aspirations. The targeted killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani on January 3 injected global panic into the New Year, with actors on all sides scrambling to avert the prospect of a full-scale war.

Amidst Rising Tensions, an Opportunity in the Arab Gulf

by Elias Yousif


Security Assistance Monitor

The very real threat of open conflict between the United States and Iran still looms large in the wake of September’s attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations. What remains of the Iran nuclear deal is quickly crumbling, and we’ve arrived at the logical conclusion of several years of escalating hostility between the United States, its Gulf allies, and Iran. Fortunately, staring down the barrel of war has had a sobering effect on Saudi, Emirati, Iranian, and American policymakers, who have all sent limited but noteworthy signals of their desire to reduce tensions. The Trump administration, already mired in more crises than it can manage, should not miss the opportunity these signals present to walk the region back from the brink.

This is Why America Fights Forever Wars

by Elias Yousif


Security Assistance Monitor

When President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. troops from Syria who had been acting as a buffer between America's bitterly opposed Kurdish and Turkish allies, he didn't cite any change in the security landscape, any new strategic calculations, or any grand diplomatic bargain to ease tensions on this volatile fault line. Instead, he simply noted that he was fulfilling a longtime campaign promise to end the perennial deployment of U.S. troops to far-flung parts of the world.

American Friendships Wither in Syria

by Elias Yousif


Security Assistance Monitor

Trump’s seemingly unplanned decision to remove US troops from Northern Syria, who have acted as a buffer between Turkey and US Kurdish allies, is just the latest, if not the most flagrant, demonstration of the fragility of American commitment to the region. The results are sure to be tragic. Just days after the announcement, Turkish troops have begun crossing the border into Syria, setting the stage for all-out conflict between a NATO ally and the Kurdish forces who have spent years fighting alongside US troops to dislodge the Islamic State.

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