Stephen F. Austin State University

Keynote Speakers

Middle East Conference - Keynote Speakers

Roby Barrett
Roby Barrett - Consultant Phone: 972.740.7212

Terrorism/Security Issues, Gulf region, Political Movements

Dr. Roby Barrett is the President of Stratplan International LLC and is a senior fellow with the Strategic Studies Department of the Joint Special Operations University of U.S. Special Operations Command. He has over 30 years of government, business, and academic experience in the Middle East and Africa as well as significant experience Southeast Asia. He is a former Foreign Service officer in the Middle East with a strong background in the cultural and political dynamics of historical Islamic and political development as well as terrorism issues. His posting, projects, and other assignments included Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Arabian Gulf.

He is a Scholar in the Public Policy Center at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, D.C. where he recently participated in a Scholar's Forum that resulted in a report on the 'Arab Spring' that was widely distributed within the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment. He is leading the Gulf security section of a new MEI study on Iran. He also provides commentary, whitepapers and projections on request to senior U.S. military commanders including the 'Gulf Arab state political section' of a classified report to the Chief of Naval Operations. He has been a featured speaker at USSOCOM Headquarters on several Middle East topics including Yemen and most recently Iran. He provides domestic and international media commentary on a range of issues from the Palestinian issues to nuclear proliferation, border security, and challenges of Russian and Chinese policies in the Middle East. Initially trained as a Soviet and Russian specialist, Dr. Barrett brings unique insights to the regenerated competition between Russia, China, and the United States in the Middle East and Africa.

A founder of the National History Center at the American Historical Association, Dr. Barrett specializes in the application of broad conceptual paradigms to issues of ongoing political and military conflict. He is a visiting professor at the Royal Saudi Arabian Command and Staff School-War Course focusing on Iran, Yemen and the Arabian Gulf security. He serves as the senior advisor to the Board of Directors of the Bilateral Arab-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose members include major foreign and domestic petroleum companies. He has been the lead panelist in the Congressional Fellowship Program, American Political Science Association, and Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. on Middle East and South Asian policy. He has been a featured panelist for the German Council on Foreign Relations on Middle East and Gulf Affairs and has recently held a series of seminars and interchanges on Iranian issues with German government and academic experts. Dr. Barrett also serves as a presenter and Senior Fellow on Gulf affairs, Yemen, and U.S. foreign policy for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School's Joint Service Middle East Orientation Course and in response to other special requirements.

Dr. Barrett holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern and South Asian History from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. He was an Eisenhower-Roberts fellow of the Eisenhower Institute in Washington D.C., a Rotary International fellow at the Russian and East European Institute at the University of Munich, and a Scottish Rite Research fellow at Oxford University. He is a graduate of the Foreign Service Institute's intensive two-year Arab Language and Middle East Area Studies program and the Counterterrorism Tactics course. His training also included the Special Operations course. He holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Political Science from Texas A&M University-Commerce and an M.A. in History and Political Science from Baylor University. Other honors include the Guittard Fellowship (Baylor), the Dora Bonham Graduate Research Grant (UT-Austin), the David Bruton Graduate Fellowship (UT-Austin), the Russian Language Institute Scholarship (Munich), and the Falcon Award from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Dr. Barrett has been a panelist and featured speaker at numerous events in the Middle East at the invitation of the U.S. military and by direct invitation from foreign governments. He was a featured speaker at the Bahrain MOI Gulf Security Forum (2009), a panelist and speaker the SOF Conference at the opening of the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (Amman 2009) and the Bahrain SOF Conference (2010). Through deployment briefings and other forums, Dr. Barrett supported numerous military units; five examples are the 5th Special Forces Group, 101st Airborne both in the U.S. and Iraq, Naval Special Warfare Command both in the U.S. and the Arabian Gulf, 4th Psychological Warfare Group, and 19th Special Forces Group. He has also participated in multiple security and policy forums as a panelist and guest speaker in the Arabian Gulf region. His commentary has appeared in the U.S., Latin American, European, and Middle East Press-including the Voice of America English and Pakistan Services, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, Canadian National Broadcasting System, BBC Arabic Service, Gulf News, The National Abu Dhabi, Press TV-Iran, and numerous domestic media outlets. Dr. Barrett's publications include:

Riza Demirer
Riza Demirer - Associate Professor of Finance at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Riza Demirer is an associate professor of Finance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he has taught Investment Theory, Security Analysis and Risk Management since 2003. A native of Turkey, Dr. Demirer holds a BS (Industrial Engineering) from Bogazici University, Turkey; MS (Operational Research) from Lancaster University, England; and PhD (Business) from the University of Kansas. His research interests focus on asset pricing and risk management issues in emerging stock markets and commodity, in particular energy, markets. His recent work focuses on the issues surrounding investor behavior and asset pricing in a number of emerging and frontier stock markets in Asia and the Middle East. He has recently published in Energy Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions & Money and Journal of Applied Finance. He has served as an ad hoc reviewer for academic journals and the National Science Foundation Decision, Risk, and Management Science - Economics program. Dr. Demirer is a member of the Financial Management Association, American Economic Association, Middle East Economic Association, and U.S. Association for Energy Economics.
Hisham Foad
Hisham Foad - Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies, San Diego State University
Dr. Hisham Foad received his Ph.D. in Economics from Emory University in 2006 and is currently a professor of economics and director of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies at San Diego State University. His research focuses on how international migration affects trade and investment across countries, with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Foad's research has been published in the Journal of International Money and Finance, the Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, and the Quarterly Journal of Finance to name a few and he has actively participated in research conferences around the world. Dr. Foad also regularly teaches courses on the Economics of the Middle East, Development Economics, and International Finance at San Diego State.
Nader Hashemi
Nader Hashemi - Assistant Professor, University of Denver

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver (2008-present); Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California-Los Angeles and Global Fellow, UCLA International Institute (2007-2008); Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University (2005-2007); Research Affiliate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University (2005-2006); Adjunct Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto (2004-2005); Adjunct Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo (2003-2004). Author of many articles and other publications, including most recently Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies (Oxford University Press, 2009) and The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran's Future (Melville House, 2011).
Dr. Haim Koren
Dr. Haim Koren - Israeli Ambassador to South Sudan

Dr. Haim Koren is currently the Israeli ambassador to South Sudan. He previously served as the Director of the Middle East Division, Center of Political Research in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his tenure with the Ministry, his positions have included serving as Director of the Political Planning Division, Deputy Spokesman of the Press Division, and as Consul for Press and Information. Other offices that he has held include: Consul, Consulate General of Israel, Chicago; Second Secretary, Consulate General of Israel, Alexandria, Egypt; and Director of the Program Planning Division, Embassy of Israel, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Dr. Koren earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bergen, Norway. He has served as a lecturer at the National Defense College in Israel, University of Haifa in the Department of Communications where he teaches "The Development of Arab Media." He has also taught "The Social and Political Development of Arabs in Israel" in the Middle Eastern History Department.

Dr. Koren frequently lectures on power play in the past and present of Middle Eastern history, Arab Spring revolutions, its developments and its aftermath, political agendas of Arab regimes and their influence on the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

Thomas W. Lippman
Thomas W. Lippman - Scholar, Middle East Institute

Thomas W. Lippman is a Washington-based author and journalist who has specialized in Middle Eastern affairs and American foreign policy for more than three decades, and is an experienced analyst of Saudi Arabian affairs, U.S.- Saudi relations, and relations between the West and Islam. He is a former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post, and also served as that newspaper's oil and energy reporter. Throughout the 1990s, he covered foreign policy and national security for the Post, traveling frequently to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. As an independent writer, he has visited Saudi Arabia every year but one in the past decade.

Lippman is the author of numerous magazine articles, book reviews and op-ed columns about Mideast affairs, and of five books: Understanding Islam (1982, 3d revised edition 2002); Egypt After Nasser (1989); Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy (2000); Inside the Mirage: America's Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia (2004) , and Arabian Knight: Colonel Bill Eddy USMC and the Rise of American Power in the Middle East, honored as the best biography of 2008 by the Independent Publishers Association. He is also the author of the essay on Saudi Arabia's defense strategy and nuclear weapons policy published in 2004 by the Brookings Institution Press in The Nuclear Tipping Point, a book on global nuclear proliferation. His latest book, Saudi Arabia on the Edge, was published in January 2012.

A frequent television and radio commentator on Mideast developments, Lippman has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, CNBC, ABC and Fox News, and on radio stations in New York, Boston, Phoenix and San Francisco, as well as on television stations overseas. Several of his lectures on Saudi Arabia have been televised nationally by C-SPAN. He has also been a consultant on Middle East affairs to several U.S. government agencies, including the Air Force. He is currently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, where he serves as principal media contact on Saudi Arabia and U.S. - Saudi relations. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was formerly an adjunct senior fellow there.

Alan G. Misenheimer
Alan G. Misenheimer - Department of Strategy and Policy at National War College

A career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Misenheimer joined the National War College faculty in July 2010. His 27-year State Department career has focused primarily on U.S. policy in the Middle East, including assignments as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Kuwait (2007-09) and Yemen (2002-04). Other assignments include a year as Director of the Office of Iran Affairs; three years as Country Director for Arabian Peninsula Affairs; three years working sanctions and other issues in the UN Security Council; two eventful years as Desk Officer for Iraq (1990-92); and service at the U.S. Embassies in Amman, Cairo, Rabat and Tunis.

Mr. Misenheimer spent 2009-10 in Iraq, serving as Political Advisor to the Commanding General of Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I); and subsequently as the U.S. Ambassador's Senior Advisor on Arab-Kurd issues, based in Kirkuk.

Prior to joining State, he served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

A native of North Carolina, Mr. Misenheimer holds a BA (Classics/Political Science) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a MSFS (International Economics/Arabic) from Georgetown University; and a MS (National Security Strategy) from the National War College. He had the good fortune to meet Ana Maria Silva, his wife of 25 years, during service at the U.S. Embassy in London early in his career. They have two children, Sofia (23) and Alexandre (17).

Augustas Richard Norton
Augustas Richard Norton - Professor of International Relations and Anthropology and Director of Institute for Iraqi Studies, Boston University

Augustus Richard Norton is a faculty member of both International Relations and Anthropology. He is also a Visiting Professor in Politics of the Middle East at the University of Oxford and a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. His research experience in the Middle East spans nearly three decades, including residences in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon. His current research interests include inter-sectarian relations in the Middle East, reformist Muslim thought, and strategies of political reform and opposition in authoritarian states. In the 1990s he headed a widely-cited three-year project funded by the Ford Foundation that examined state-society relations in the Middle East and thequestion of civil society in the region. It is indicative of his interests that many of his courses are often cross-listed with the departments of Anthropology and Political Science. He has held academic appointments at New York University and the United States Military Academy. In 2006 he was an adviser to the Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission). He is a member of the BostonStudy Group on Middle East Peace.

Norton's books include Hezbollah: A Short History, the two volume collection Civil Society in the Middle East , Amal and the Shi'a: Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon , The International Relations of the PLO (senior editor), Political Tides in the Arab World (co-author), UN Peacekeepers (co-author), and Security in the Middle East: New Perspectives (in Arabic). His recent articles have appeared in Current History, Foreign Policy, International Spectator, Journal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Journal, The Nation, and in leading newspapers. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Middle East Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Political Science Association. He is a co-founder of the Boston Forum on the Middle East and the Conference Group on the Middle East.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan - Senior Fellow, The Jamestown Foundation and Scholar, The Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C. Phone: 703.534.9410

Dr. Ryan is currently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and a Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President at The Middle East Institute (2008-2009). The White House appointed him as Vice President in The Millennium Challenge Corporation (2006-2008). Dr. Ryan also held senior positions in the Departments of State, Defense, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after joining the U.S. federal government in 1979 as a Middle East/North Africa analyst for the Department of Defense. Areas: Al-Qaeda and associated groups, terrorism, military and security issues, counternarcotics, U.S. foreign assistance, Islam.
Marvin Weinbaum
Marvin Weinbaum - Scholar-in-residence, Middle East Institute

Marvin G. Weinbaum is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and served as analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003. He is currently a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. Professor Weinbaum has his doctorate from Columbia University in 1965, and he joined the Illinois faculty in the same year. At Illinois, he served for 15 years as the director of the Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Dr. Weinbaum was awarded Fulbright Research Fellowships for Egypt in 1981-82 and Afghanistan in 1989-90, and was a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in 1996-97. Additionally, Dr. Weinbaum has been the recipient of research awards from the Social Science Research Council, the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, IREX, the American Political Science Association, and other granting agencies.

After retiring at Illinois, Professor Weinbaum has held adjunct professorships at Georgetown and George Washington universities, and lectures regularly at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. At the State Department he was a recipient of its Superior Honors Award. Since leaving the department, he has assumed numerous consultancies with government agencies and in the private sector, both in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Weinbaum's research, teaching, and consultancies have focused on the issues of national security, state building, democratization, and political economy. He is the author or editor of six books, including South Asia Approaches the Millennium: Reexamining National Security, co-edited with Chetan Kumar in 1995, and Afghanistan and Pakistan: Resistance and Reconstruction in 1994. In all, Dr. Weinbaum has written more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, mostly about Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, but also on Egypt and Turkey. Among his recent publications are book chapters for edited volumes dealing with the U.S.-Pakistan partnership in counterterrorism, Pakistan's political culture, state building and security in Afghanistan, the intertwined destinies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the politics of human rights in Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan.