Dr. Dania Thafer

Dr. Dania Thafer is the Executive Director of Gulf International Forum, an institute based in Washington, D.C. that provides analysis on political, economic, social, and security issues for the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iran, Iraq and Yemen. She is also a Professorial Lecturer at the School of Foreign Service’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Her expertise is on the Gulf region’s security, U.S.-Gulf relations, and the political economy of the GCC states.

 

Dr. Thafer has been widely published and consults regularly on matters concerning the GCC and the Middle East. Dr. Thafer has a new book titled “Creative Insecurity: Institutional Inertia and Youth Potential in the GCC” published by Oxford University Press and Hurst Co. (2023). Additionally, she has co-authored two edited books “The Arms Trade, Military Services and the Security Market in the Gulf States: Trends and Implications” and “The Dilemma of Security and Defense in the Gulf Region.” Her commentary has appeared in international media outlets, including:  The New York Times, Financial Times, BBC World, Washington Post, Forbes, Al Jazeera and others. Additionally, she is regularly consulted by governmental, non-governmental, corporations and research institutions globally.

 

Previously, she was responsible for building relationships with foreign dignitaries from the Middle East at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, DC. Dr. Thafer has a master’s degree in political science from New York University, and Ph.D. in Political Science, specialized in the Political Economy and International Relations from American University in Washington, DC.

Daniel V. Berkon

Dan Berkon is the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Gulf International Forum. He is the Founder and CEO of Culmen International. He is an international expert in WMD nonproliferation, counter-illicit trafficking, and international procurement and logistics. Dan has served as an advisor on international security programs to the U.S. Departments of Defense, State, Energy, Justice and Homeland Security. His contributions have included nuclear security initiatives in the former Soviet Union, maritime security programs in Africa, border security around the world, and counterterrorism in the U.S.

Prior to founding Culmen International in 2004, Dan spent 11 years at SASI, another U.S. Government contractor. There Dan rose from Director of International Programs to the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President. In 1992, he worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce in the East Europe Business Information Center.

Dan holds an MBA in International Business from Georgetown University, and a BA in International Relations from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition to his scholarly and academic achievements, Dan is actively fluent in German! Furthermore, Dan is a personal recipient of the DoD David Packard Award for Acquisition and Logistics, the Admiral Stark Award for Innovation, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Outstanding Team Award, and the NAVAIR Award for Acquisition Excellence.

 

Ambassador Patrick Theros

Ambassador Patrick Nickolas Theros is Strategic Advisor and Senior Fellow at Gulf International Forum. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 1995-1998. Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, responsible for the coordination of all U.S. Government counterterrorism activities outside the United States. From 1991-1993, Ambassador Theros served as the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM).

 

Ambassador Theros joined the Foreign Service in 1963, and served in a variety of positions in Washington D.C., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nicaragua and Syria, including charge d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

 

In 1999, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani awarded Ambassador Theros the Qatar Order of Merit for his efforts in service of the U.S.-Qatar bilateral relationship. His commitment to national service also earned him the President’s Meritorious Service Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service (1992). Ambassador Theros has also earned four Superior Honor Awards, the highest awards for distinguished service given by the Foreign Service.

 

After his retirement from the Foreign Service Ambassador Theros assumed the office of President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in March 2000 until his retirement in 2017.

 

Ambassador Theros’ personal commitment to community and public service earned him the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (1999), as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom (2005).

 

In addition to his duties as President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, Ambassador Theros is also active in the following organizations: The Middle East Policy Council, Board of Directors; The Council of Foreign Relations, Member; The Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, Member; and The American Academy of Diplomacy, Member.

 

Ambassador Theros graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1963. He has done advanced studies at the American University in Washington, D.C., the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua, the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is married to Aspasia (nee Pahigiannis) and has three children. He speaks and reads Spanish, Arabic and Greek professionally.

Dr. Dania Thafer

Dr. Dania Thafer is the Executive Director of Gulf International Forum, an institute based in Washington, D.C. that provides analysis on political, economic, social, and security issues for the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iran, Iraq and Yemen. She is also a Professorial Lecturer at the School of Foreign Service’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Her expertise is on the Gulf region’s security, U.S.-Gulf relations, and the political economy of the GCC states.

Dr. Thafer has been widely published and consults regularly on matters concerning the GCC and the Middle East. Dr. Thafer has a new book titled “Creative Insecurity: Institutional Inertia and Youth Potential in the GCC” published by Oxford University Press and Hurst Co. (2023). Additionally, she has co-authored two edited books “The Arms Trade, Military Services and the Security Market in the Gulf States: Trends and Implications” and “The Dilemma of Security and Defense in the Gulf Region.” Her commentary has appeared in international media outlets, including:  The New York Times, Financial Times, BBC World, Washington Post, Forbes, Al Jazeera and others. Additionally, she is regularly consulted by governmental, non-governmental, corporations and research institutions globally.

Previously, she was responsible for building relationships with foreign dignitaries from the Middle East at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, DC. Dr. Thafer has a master’s degree in political science from New York University, and Ph.D. in Political Science, specialized in the Political Economy and International Relations from American University in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Patrick N. Theros

Ambassador Patrick Nickolas Theros is Strategic Advisor and Senior Fellow at Gulf International Forum. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 1995-1998. Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, responsible for the coordination of all U.S. Government counterterrorism activities outside the United States. From 1991-1993, Ambassador Theros served as the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM).

Ambassador Theros joined the Foreign Service in 1963, and served in a variety of positions in Washington D.C., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nicaragua and Syria, including charge d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In 1999, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani awarded Ambassador Theros the Qatar Order of Merit for his efforts in service of the U.S.-Qatar bilateral relationship. His commitment to national service also earned him the President’s Meritorious Service Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service (1992). Ambassador Theros has also earned four Superior Honor Awards, the highest awards for distinguished service given by the Foreign Service.

After his retirement from the Foreign Service Ambassador Theros assumed the office of President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in March 2000 until his retirement in 2017.

Ambassador Theros’ personal commitment to community and public service earned him the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (1999), as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom (2005).

In addition to his duties as President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, Ambassador Theros is also active in the following organizations: The Middle East Policy Council, Board of Directors; The Council of Foreign Relations, Member; The Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, Member; and The American Academy of Diplomacy, Member.

Ambassador Theros was born in 1941 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and attended public schools in Michigan, Ohio and the District of Columbia. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1963. He has done advanced studies at the American University in Washington, D.C., the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua, the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is married to Aspasia (nee Pahigiannis) and has three children. He speaks and reads Spanish, Arabic and Greek professionally.

Dr. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

Dr. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow. Dr. Ulrichsen is a Baker Institute Fellow for the Middle East. Working across the disciplines of political science, international relations and international political economy, his research examines the changing position of Persian Gulf states in the global order, as well as the emergence of longer-term, nonmilitary challenges to regional security. Previously, he worked as a senior Gulf analyst at the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies between 2006 and 2008 and as co-director of the Kuwait Program on Development, Governance and Globalization in the Gulf States at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 2008 until 2013.

Dr. Daniel Serwer

Professor Daniel Serwer (Ph.D., Princeton) directs the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also a Senior Fellow at its Center for Transatlantic Relations and affiliated as a Scholar with the Middle East Institute. His current interests focus on the civilian instruments needed to protect U.S. national security as well as transition and state-building in the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans. His Righting the Balance: How You Can Help Protect America was published in November 2013 by Potomac Books. Formerly vice president for centers of peacebuilding innovation at the United States Institute of Peace, he led teams there working on rule of law, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance and gender. He was also vice president for peace and stability operations at USIP, where he led its peacebuilding work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Balkans and served as Executive Director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing interethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans. As a minister-counselor at the U.S. Department of State, Serwer directed the European office of intelligence and research and served as U.S. special envoy and coordinator for the Bosnian Federation, mediating between Croats and Muslims and negotiating the first agreement reached at the Dayton peace talks. From 1990 to 1993, he was deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, leading a major diplomatic mission through the end of the Cold War and the first Gulf War. Serwer holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Princeton University, an M.S. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Haverford College. He speaks Italian, French and Portuguese, as well as beginning Arabic.

Dr. Tarik M. Yousef

Dr. Tarik M. Yousef is Senior Non-Resident Fellow. He is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Council on Global Affairs. Prior, he served as Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings Doha Center and was a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. He is a research fellow with the Economic Research Forum in Cairo.

His career has spanned the academic and think tank world at the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings. His involvement with public policy includes working in the Middle East Department at the International Monetary Fund, the Middle East and North Africa region at the World Bank, and the UN Millennium Project.

He has contributed more than 75 articles, chapters, and reports, and co-edited several volumes including most recently “The Belt and Road Initiative: China-Middle East Cooperation in an Age of Geopolitical Turbulence” (Brookings Doha Center and the Shanghai Academy for Social Sciences, 2019); “Public Sector Reform in the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons of Experience for a Region in Transition” (Brookings Press, 2020); and “The Gulf Cooperation Council at Forty: Risk & Opportunity in a Changing World” (Brookings Press, 2021).

Yousef has served on the boards of the Middle East Economics Association; United Nations Development Programme Human Development Reports; Arab Human Development Report; Arab Knowledge Report; Gender Economic Research and Policy Analysis in the Arab World; The Social and Economic Survey Research Institute; the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum; and the Arab Banking Corporation.

Dr. Courtney Freer

Dr. Courtney Freer a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at Gulf International Forum and a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Emory University. Previously, Dr. Freer was Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre. From 2015-2020, she was a Research Officer for the Kuwait Programme at the LSE Middle East Centre. Her work focuses on the domestic politics of the Gulf states, particularly the roles played by Islamism and tribalism. Her book Rentier Islamism: The Influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gulf Monarchies, based on her DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford and published by Oxford University Press in 2018, examines the socio-political role played by the Muslim Brotherhood groups in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. She previously worked at the Brookings Doha Center and the US–Saudi Arabian Business Council. Courtney holds a BA from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the George Washington University.

Dr. Kenneth Katzman

Dr. Kenneth Katzman is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at Gulf International Forum. Dr. Katzman is a Senior Fellow at The Soufan Center. His work focuses on geopolitical and regional dynamics in the Middle East—with a focus on Iran—as well as United States strategy. In late 2022, Dr. Katzman retired from his longtime position as a Senior Analyst with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), an arm of the U.S. Congress that provides analysis and advice to members of the U.S. Congress in their legislative and oversight responsibilities. In that post, Dr. Katzman served as a senior Middle East analyst, with special emphasis on Iran, Iran-backed groups operating in the Middle East and South Asia, the Persian Gulf states, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During his more than 30-year tenure at CRS, he provided reports and briefings to Members of Congress and their staffs on U.S. policy on these countries and issues, and provided analysis of related legislative proposals. On about a dozen occasions, he has testified before various Committees and Subcommittees of Congress on his areas of expertise. He also participated in several congressional delegations to the region at the Member and staff level. During 1996 and again during July 2001—March 2002, he was assigned to the majority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to work on Middle East issues, including organizing hearings and helping to draft legislation such as the Iran Sanctions Act (1996).

As a well-known expert on the region, Dr. Katzman has delivered numerous presentations and briefings at conferences and meetings in Washington D.C. as well as throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia. He has also written numerous articles in various outside publications, including a book entitled The Warriors of Islam: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (Westview Press, 1993) which was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation. Since 2017, he has been a contributor to The Soufan Center, including serving as a key drafter of several of the Center’s reports on U.S. policy toward Iran. Dr. Katzman has been quoted frequently on the region and appeared in many regional media, including Al Jazeera, Al Hurra, Al Arabiya, Sharq News, Al Araby, and Al Ghad TV.

In recent years, Dr. Katzman has worked with numerous region-related think tanks and institutions. He has authored scholarly articles for organizations including The Atlantic Council, the Gulf International Forum, the Arab Gulf State Institute of Washington, and the Arab Center D.C. Among his earlier outside publications, during 1998, he wrote expert working papers on the ballistic missile capabilities of Iran and Iraq for the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (“Rumsfeld Commission”). In late 1999, and again in 2010, the Atlantic Council published his detailed monographs on U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Dr. Katzman holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University (1991).  During May 1985—June 1989, Dr. Katzman was an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he prepared written reports for U.S. Middle East policymakers on leadership dynamics in Iran, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf states. Two years in the private defense consulting industry followed his tour at the CIA.

Dr. Ali Alkandari

Dr. Ali Alkandari is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at Gulf International Forum. He is a history professor at Kuwait University specializing in Islamist movements, social transformations, and the contemporary history of the Gulf. Dr. Alkandari holds Masters of Arts in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and received his PhD from the University of Exeter in 2014 in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He is currently the head of Kuwait University Faculty Association KUFA. He also served as a member of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students from 2010 to 2013, serving as its president during his final year. He has appeared widely as a contributor on Gulf media networks, including Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, Mont Carlo, and Al Arabi.

Professor David Des Roches

Professor David Des Roches is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies. Prior to this, he was the Defense Department director responsible for policy concerning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Prior to this assignment, he has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, as senior country director for Pakistan, as NATO operations director, and as deputy director for peacekeeping. His first job in government was as a special assistant for strategy and later as the international law enforcement analyst in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He graduated from the United States Military Academy and obtained advanced degrees in Arab Politics from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, in War Studies from Kings College London, and Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. He has also attended the Federal Executive Institute, the German Staff College’s Higher Officer Seminar, the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, and the US Army Command and General Staff College.

 

Subscribe to Receive Latest Updates from GIF.