Cutting Edge Trends and Indications: Raghida Dergham’s Perspective

2022 is underway. So, too, is the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ work in pursuit of its ongoing mission: education.

To this end, the National Council ( is delighted to share [LINKED BELOW] the first of what, for the 39th year, is scheduled to be a continuum of the Council’s series of insights and analyses. A diverse and complex array of issues – among them dynamics related to Iran, Russia, and other phenomena pertaining to America’s relations with the Arab region and beyond – are examined and addressed herein. The author is the renowned international affairs specialist, Ms. Raghida Dergham.

Ms. Dergham, a Member of the National Council’s International Advisory Board, is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Beirut Institute. The Institute is an international, non-partisan, and non-governmental public policy research organization.

King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Chairman HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Ms. Dergham’s fellow National Council International Advisory Board Member, is a Member of the Institute’s governing board and Co-Chair, together with Ms. Dergham, of the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi.

A Trailblazer

Ms. Dergham is also a columnist for The National (UAE) and Annahar Al Arabi. Simultaneous to serving as President of the United Nations Correspondents Association, she was a Columnist, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, and New York Bureau Chief for the London-based Al-Hayat for 28 years.

In addition to serving as a frequent political commentator for major U.S. television networks, Ms. Dergham was for eight years an exclusive political analyst for MSNBC.

A pioneer for women in international media, Ms. Dergham is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Among them is a special recognition from the National Council, presented at the Council’s 27th Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in October 2018.

Ms. Dergham is no stranger to supporters of the National Council’s programs, projects, events, and activities. Particularly notable have been her roles in the Council’s Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conferences.

The National Council’s 30th Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference – Whither U.S.-Arab Relations? Unnerving Uncertainties Amidst Complex Realities and New Possibilities – was held this past November 17-18, 2021.

General (Ret.) David Petraeus and Ms. Raghida Dergham at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations' 2019 Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference.

General (Ret.) David Petraeus and Ms. Raghida Dergham at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ 2019 Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference.

For four years in succession (201820192020, and 2021), Ms. Dergham has conducted hour-long interviews and exchanges with former CIA Director and previous U.S. Central Command Commanding General David Petraeus (who, like herself, is a fellow Member of the National Council’s International Advisory Board). She has also chaired and served as a resource specialist for other Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference sessions.

In doing so, as in the informed analysis presented herein, Ms. Dergham has furthered the National Council’s role as an educational clearinghouse. She has thereby enhanced our awareness. She has improved our knowledge. And, she has strengthened our understanding.

“Of what?” one might ask.

It is this: she has enhanced, improved, and strengthened our ability to comprehend more clearly and accurately a range of challenges and opportunities pertaining to U.S. interests and involvement in the Arab region, the Middle East, and the Islamic world.

For that and more, we are in her debt.

Dr. John Duke Anthony is the Founding President & CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

[Ms. Raghida Dergham’s TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn profiles contain updated links to her latest writings and commentary.]

Read from Raghida Dergham:


Despair Is Forbidden. We Must Not Fear.

By Raghida Dergham

الإحباط ممنوع والمهم ألاّ نخاف

 بواسطة راغدة درغام

Dr. John Duke Anthony on “Certainties and Uncertainties Regarding Iran, the Arab Region, and the United States”

On February 6, 2020, Dr. John Duke Anthony spoke to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs on the subject “Certainties and Uncertainties Regarding Iran, the Arab Region, and the United States: What are the Implications?” A video recording of the program is available below. A podcast recording of the program is also available below as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and elsewhere.




Dr. John Duke Anthony – “Certainties and Uncertainties Regarding Iran, the Arab Region, and the United States: What are the Implications?” podcast (.mp3)

In Memory of Gene Bird

On December 10, 2010, at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., there was a memorial service commemorating the life of Eugene (“Gene”) Hall Bird. National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony was invited to attend the memorial service and, if possible, contribute a eulogistic note for remembrance.  At the time, however, Dr. Anthony was in Saudi Arabia to attend the 40th Annual GCC Ministerial and Heads of State Summit and, thus, unable to attend the commemoration. He contributed the following for Gene’s family and friends as a remembrance.

But for my being abroad, nothing would have pleased me more than to be with the family and friends of the late Gene Bird at the commemoration of his life and legacy today.  Many loved Gene and he loved them in return.  The emotional connections that ensued were meaningful to both.  In many cases, they enabled each to become someone different and better than they were before.

Eugene ("Gene") H. Bird

Eugene (“Gene”) H. Bird. (Family Photo).

My memories of Gene are numerous and diverse.  All are of warmth and companionship.  These feelings accompanied Gene and those closest to him all his life.  He was a man who raised the bar high.  He often set and manifested standards of physical, political, and, above all, moral courage that few could match and none could surpass.

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At the Cutting Edge: The National Council’s Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony writes to students about what is possible through the National Council’s flagship student-focused initiative, the Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League. Please share with any students who might be interested in or benefit from this program.

Fall is upon us. September is back-to-school time. You and countless millions of other students are hitting the books.

What Do You Want to Do?

What are you seeking to achieve this academic year?

Do you envision yourself as a leader? What kind? Diplomat? Policymaker? Opinion formulator? Teacher? Military officer? Entrepreneur?

Whatever your answer, do you possess the necessary and essential skills that are characteristic of great leaders?

For instance, can you:

  1. Debate within 45 seconds;
  2. Speak clearly, rapidly, and effectively;
  3. Write clearly, rapidly, and effectively;
  4. Edit clearly, rapidly, and effectively;
  5. Deploy parliamentary procedure;
  6. Organize a coalition;
  7. Draft public policy resolutions;
  8. Cultivate respect among your peers; and
  9. Empathize with others’ needs, interests, and concerns?

This academic year, if you can manage to master only one of these vital leadership skills, you will never be the same as before. Imagine what you might be able to accomplish if you can learn to employ all nine!

Students utilize parliamentary procedure during Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League sessions

Students utilize parliamentary procedure during Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League sessions. Understanding and utilizing basic rules of meetings helps to train future leaders how to consider viewpoints and make decisions in a fair, consistent, and effective manner.

At the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, cultivating these skills in students has long been our focus. In no way are we new at this – educating and training the leaders of tomorrow is something we have done for decades.

The diamond in the National Council’s tiara, so to speak, is its Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League (YLDP/MAL). Like nothing else, the program prepares students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic, private sector, and public affairs leaders.

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The Passing of a Knight: A Remembrance of Shafiq Kombargi

In the field of U.S.-Arab relations and much more, Shafiq Kombargi was an extraordinary individual. He was not just my friend. He was the friend of untold numbers of others. Those who loved and admired the man were countless. His passing brings a moment of great sadness.

Shafiq Kombargi

Numerous specialists in the Arab region and U.S.-Arab affairs never met Shafiq, and some may not even have heard of him. Yet few individuals can match the outsized positive and enduring influence that Shafiq had on so many people’s lives.

The evidence is abundant. Shafiq’s sustained imprint upon innumerable United States-affiliated educational and cross-cultural institutions is massive.

Reaching Out to Others

Shafiq’s contributions were not those of a renowned researcher, scholar, university professor, or publicist. He was none of those. Yet all who labor in one or more of those fields have long been in his debt.

Shafiq’s gifts to Arab-U.S. cooperation and cross-cultural understanding were mostly made indirectly. In various instances, his accomplishments were achieved through and apart from his decades-long career with what was originally known as the Arabian American Oil Company, which in time became Saudi Aramco, and that, to this day, operates a subsidiary entity in the United States known as Aramco Services Company. Indeed, these entities had Shafiq’s back.

Often, Shafiq’s contributions were made from behind the scenes. Reduced to a single word, he was an enabler. Certainly, in addition to the example he set in other areas of endeavor, that’s how he influenced my life; doubtless, others can say the same.

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Statement on the U.S. Presidential Announcement Regarding Jerusalem

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel not only contradicts international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and dozens of United Nations Security Council Resolutions. In a fundamental way, it threatens the security and stability of the region, undermines American national needs and key U.S. foreign policy goals, and gives the lie to those the world over who have an interest in a secure and recognized Israel living in mutual recognition with and alongside a sovereign and secure State of Palestine.

The decision rewards Israel’s continued violent appropriation of Palestinian land and resources. It de facto legitimizes Israel’s subjugation and dehumanizing occupation of the Palestinian Arab Christian and Muslim people. It pulls the rug out from beneath what little was left of any American pretense at an honest and effective approach to an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord with Jerusalem as the national capital of both peoples. In so doing, it antagonizes allies, provokes partners, galvanizes extremists, and inflames anti-U.S. sentiments across the globe.

The United States’ friends and allies, including those not only in the Arab world but in virtually every other corner of the earth as well, have clearly warned about the consequences of such a move. They have underscored the sensitivity of the question of Jerusalem to billions worldwide. Given the importance of the city to all three of the monotheistic faiths – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — America’s decision undermines its stated efforts to bring a fair and viable solution to the seemingly intractable conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

President Trump’s decision moves the Palestinian people further from a fair and just end to their illegal occupation. Ultimately, it undermines efforts to achieve the reality of physical and military security, political stability, and a degree of peace without which there can be no realistic prospect, let alone any likely achievement, of sustained prosperity.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit and nongovernmental organization, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations as a matter of policy takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

The 1990-1991 Kuwait Crisis Remembered: Profiles in Statesmanship

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For the last twenty-seven years, today has marked the anniversary of an infamous event: Iraq’s brutal invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait, which began on August 2, 1990, and which was brought to an end on February 28, 1991. The regional and international effects of numerous aspects of the trauma then inflicted upon Kuwait remain ongoing. Like Kuwait itself, the world, even now, has yet to fully recover.

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony was one of the first American civilians into Kuwait following its liberation. He would return there twelve times over following year with delegations of American leaders tasked with assisting in one or more facets of the war-torn country’s reconstruction. He is here with his escort observing one among over 650 of Kuwait’s oil wells set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi armed forces. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

Over a quarter century later, important postwar facets of what Iraq did to Kuwait fall short of definitive closure. And they defy effective description. The international legal requirement that an aggressor provide prompt, adequate, and effective compensation for a war’s victims was not honored at the end of hostilities. Despite continuing United Nations-supervised efforts to collect on this inhumane debt, what is due has still not been paid.

The Missing in Action and Context

A full accounting of Kuwait’s and other countries’ missing citizens swept up and carted off to Iraq in the war’s waning hours – in the immediate aftermath of the conflict its main cause celebre – continues to remain incomplete.  The reason is not for lack of effort.  After Kuwait’s liberation, an informal and unofficial effort was mounted by George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to provide an estimate of the MIAs’ status.

The focus group included diplomats, scholars, media representatives, American armed forces’ civil affairs personnel, and other individuals who fought to liberate Kuwait. Their unscientific consensus reported that more than 400 of the missing Kuwaitis died after they were captured. The fate of more than 200 of the missing, however, was unknown.

In the immediate hours and early days following Kuwait’s liberation, when none of the country’s electric power, desalination water purification plants, and far more of the country’s infrastructure were left operative, and domestic security prospects had been rendered uncertain, armed personnel carriers and mounted automatic weaponry units were omnipresent in the country. Photo: Dr. John Duke Anthony.

That possibly countless others remain missing is no small matter. The numbers in question, to some, may seem few. Not so, however, for those among the loved ones who tear up at the thought of them. Not so either for those who, despite the absence of grounds to warrant optimism for a fortuitous ending to their pining, and continue to wait and pray for their return.

We Americans would do well to stop and think about this for a moment. We are often criticized, and rightly so, for having an empathy deficit when it comes to understanding the suffering of people in other countries and situations. An irony in this needs to be understood and underscored. The irony is that many in the United States demand that people in other countries understand us. For those in front of an American Consular Officer with ticket in hand to visit a friend or relative in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, or wherever, but who lack such empathy along with the understanding and civility that comes with it, they need to be wished good luck in obtaining a visa to the United States.

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