Washington Institute for Near East Policy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Winep logo.jpg
MottoInsight and Analysis on U.S. Middle East Policy
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Executive DirectorRobert Satloff
Jump to: navigation, search
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Winep logo.jpg
MottoInsight and Analysis on U.S. Middle East Policy
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Executive DirectorRobert Satloff

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. focused on United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Established in 1985,[1] the institute's mission statement states that it seeks " is to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them."[2]


Martin Indyk, an Australian-trained academic and former deputy director of research for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), helped found WINEP in 1985.[3] In 1982, following his position as Australian deputy director of current intelligence in the Middle East, Indyk started to set up a research department for AIPAC.[4] Because of his affiliation with AIPAC, Indyk felt his research wasn't being taken seriously and so started WINEP to convey an image that was "friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way."[5][6] Indyk would go on to become an American citizen, U.S. diplomat and its ambassador to Israel.[6]

The Washington Institute is registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and derives 87 percent of its operating revenues through direct public support.[7] The Institute only accept donations from American citizens, foundations, corporations and institutions. As of 2005, its list of trustees included more than 600 names, including Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, managing editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson, real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman, and philanthropist Edgar Bronfman.[7]


The Washington Institute accesses the policy process from many angles: the written word, the spoken word, and personal contact. In addition to producing research materials ranging from policy briefs to full-length monographs, the institute hosts frequent policy forums, special publication events, and private roundtable briefings.[8] WINEP also hosts an annual policy conference which convenes leading policymakers, journalists, diplomats, and experts in Washington, DC for a day of in-depth discussion and debate on the key issues facing America in the volatile Middle East.[9]

At the time it was founded, the institute focused research on Arab-Israeli relations, political and security issues, and overall U.S. Middle East policy.[10] In the 1990s, prompted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Persian Gulf War, and changes in regional strategy, the institute expanded its research agenda to cover a larger array of Middle East topics, including a "special focus on Turkey and the rise of Islamic politics."[10]

According to The New York Times, the Institute has earned a reputation for solid scholarship, is committed to the peace process, and is supportive of Israel, a relationship with which it believes helps advance U.S. security interests.[11] However, the Institute does not identify as "pro-Israel," saying "the moniker projects two false impressions — first, that the institute does not value American interests above special pleading for a foreign power and second, that the institute must be 'anti' others in the region (Palestinians, Arabs)." It adds:

This shorthand terminology perpetuates "old thinking" that views the Arab-Israeli conflict as the key dividing line in a region where the division between moderates versus radicals is a more accurate prism through which to understand local politics. On the personal level, this one-dimensional description of the institute's quarter-century of research does a disservice to the many current and former United States government officials and military officers at the institute over the years as well as the numerous institute scholars from Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Morocco and other Middle Eastern countries over the years who have undertaken impeccable research on a broad array of topics.[12]

In 2011, the Institute devised a report entitled "Imagining the Border", which received much attention for drafting maps that sought to reconcile the Palestinian demand for sovereignty over the West Bank and the Israeli demand for control over most of the Jewish population there. The report drew heavily on statistical data, and proposed certain "land swaps" to ensure that a future Palestinian state would be viable and have quality land. The Institute gave briefings to senior American, Israeli, and Palestinian government officials about the maps.[13][11]

Current Programs[edit]

The Washington Institute currently supports eight in-house research programs:[14]

  • The Program on Arab Politics focuses on social, political, and economic developments in the Arab world.
  • The Project on the Middle East Peace Process is committed to providing America's policymakers with timely analysis on issues of critical concern to Israel and its Arab neighbors.
  • The Gulf and Energy Policy Program focuses on the conservative Arab Gulf states and the key role these countries play collectively as a primary source of the world's oil and natural gas.
  • The Iran Security Initiative aims to generate critical analysis, private dialogue, public debate, and operational recommendations designed to address the many challenges posed by Iran.
  • The Military and Security Studies Program engages policymakers and educates the public on a range of issues that deeply affect the vital security interests of the United States.
  • The Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence is a leading center for the analysis of terrorist groups, state sponsors, logistical and financial support networks, and counterterrorism policy.
  • Project Fikra is a multiyear program of research, publication, and network-building designed to generate policy ideas for promoting positive change and countering the spread of extremism in the Middle East.
  • The Turkish Research Program actively engages policymakers in discussion about Turkey's political, diplomatic, and strategic environment.


Former Vice President Al Gore called WINEP "Washington's most respected center for studies on the Middle East."[2] Charles Krauthammer has also praised WINEP, calling it "the number one center for information and analysis in Washington."[2]


In a December 2003 interview on Al Jazeera, Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor and director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute, sharply criticized WINEP, stating that it is "the fiercest of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims," and describing it as the "most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States."[15] In response, Martin Kramer, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and visiting fellow at WINEP, defended the group, saying that it is "run by Americans, and accepts funds only from American sources," and that it was "outrageous" for Khalidi to denounce Arabs that visited WINEP as "blundering dupes."[16]

John Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago political science professor, and Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, describe it as "part of the core" of the Israel lobby in the United States.[17] Discussing the group in their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer and Walt write: "Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks."[17]

Members of WINEP have in turn criticized Mearsheimer and Walt's book on multiple grounds, pointing to its "not including any interviews with current or former government officials about the lobby's influence on foreign policy",[18] the fact that "not only has the U.S.- Israeli relationship not been a liability for either country (the central claim of the book),[19] it has been, at least to some extent, an asset to the Arab regimes, as a strategic counterweight to radicalism",[19] and that "foreign policies are shaped by leaders and events, not lobbies."[20]

In October 2003, the Zionist Organization of America criticized WINEP for "embracing a delegation of representatives of the Fatah terrorist movement".[21]

Notable current and former scholars[edit]

Several current and former members of WINEP have served in senior positions in the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush,[22][23] Bill Clinton,[6] George W. Bush,[6] and Barack Obama.[24]

Board of Advisors[edit]

As of November 4, 2009, the Washington Institute's Board of Advisors included:[25]

In Memoriam


  1. ^ "About Us." Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 13 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Our Mission". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  3. ^ Sterns, Peter N. (2008). "American Israel Public Affairs Committee". Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World 1. Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-19-517632-2. "AIPAC also has an active relationship with various elements of the executive branch of government. In this regard, in 1985 it set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israeli 'think tank,' that essentially served as a proxy." 
  4. ^ Fayazmanesh, Sasan (2008). The United States and Iran: sanctions, wars and the policy of dual containment. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-415-77396-6. 
  5. ^ Ottoway, David B. (March 24, 1989). "Mideast Institute's Experts and Ideas Ascendant; Latecomer's Go-Slow, Small-Steps Approach Finds Favor With Bush Administration". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b c d Fayazmanesh, Sasan (2008). The United States and Iran: sanctions, wars and the policy of dual containment. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-415-77396-6. 
  7. ^ a b "A Guide to Think Tanks and Iran". U.S. News and World Report. September 19, 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  8. ^ "Mission & History". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  9. ^ "2014 Policy Symposium". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  10. ^ a b "Our History". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  11. ^ a b Mark Landler (January 22, 2011). "Trying to Break Logjam, Scholar Floats an Idea for a Palestinian Map". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ An Institute's Views
  13. ^ Makovsky, David (September 11, 2011). "Mapping Mideast Peace". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/about/research-programs
  15. ^ From Washington Al Jazeera, December 11, 2003. (Arabic only)
  16. ^ Columbia’s Radical Caravan by Martin Kramer, New York Sun, January 6, 2004.
  17. ^ a b Mearsheimer, John J.; Walt, Stephen M. (2007). The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Macmillan. pp. 175–6. ISBN 978-0-374-17772-0. 
  18. ^ Fishman, Ben (August 27, 2007). "Missing the Point". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. National Interest Online. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  19. ^ a b Makovsky, David (September 8, 2009). "Why Walt, Mearsheimer, Still Wrong". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. JewishWeek.com. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  20. ^ Ross, Dennis (July/August 2006). "Foreign Policy Is Shaped by Leaders and Events, Not Lobbies". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  21. ^ "ZOA Criticizes Dennis Ross & Winep For Embracing Fatah Terrorist Delegation". Zionist Organization of America. October 27, 2003. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  22. ^ Ismael, Tareq Y.; Ismael, Jacqueline S. (1994). The Gulf War and the new world order: international relations of the Middle East. University Press of Florida. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-8130-1264-3. 
  23. ^ The myth of the `Jewish lobby' 20 (20). Frontline. 2003-10-10. 
  24. ^ Obama’s Influential Mideast Envoy to Resign
  25. ^ "Board of Advisors". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. self-published. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 

External links[edit]