Dr. Emile Nakhleh to speak about ISIS

Topic: ISIS and the Aftermath of the Arab Spring:  Threats and Challenges

Emile Nakhleh photo

Speaker: Dr. Emile Nakhleh, retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer (SIS-3), Research Professor and Coordinator of national security programs at UNM, a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations

Location: Santa Fe University of Art and Design, the Forum, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive

Cost: $15 CIR Members; $20 Non-members & Guests*

*Qualified students with appropriate I.D. are welcome to attend this event for free.

As Washington and the West look beyond today’s air campaign over Syria and Iraq, U.S. and European policymakers should realize that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is more than a bunch of jihadists roaming the desert and terrorizing and killing innocent civilians. It is a radical ideology, a vision, a well-financed enterprise, a sophisticated social media operation, and an army of 30,000 plus with functioning command and control. 

Military operations might degrade and slow ISIS but will not defeat the radical ideology that underpins the Islamic State.  A strategic assessment is needed of the ideological, political, and economic context in which ISIS arose. ISIS is not larger than life; it is certainly containable despite the recent media hype in the West. “Containment” of ISIS could mean the beginning of its downfall because if ISIS were contained, it would have fewer jihadist volunteers, less access to heavy weaponry, and diminishing financial resources. A long-term response should be comprehensive—military, economic, political, and ideological.  The lecture will assess the threats and challenges in 2015 to the region and to the US and will examine the factors that drive ISIS.

Click here to view a recent op-ed by Dr. Emile Nakhleh, entitled Political Islam and US Policy in 2015:


Dr. Nakhleh is a retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer (SIS-3), a Research Professor and Coordinator of national security programs at UNM, a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since retiring from the US Government in 2006, he has been consulting with different US government entities and departments on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism, and the Arab states of the Middle East. He has published frequently on the “Arab Spring” in the Financial Times and the Inter Press News Service.

At CIA, Dr. Nakhleh was a senior analyst and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program and of regional analysis in the Middle East. He was awarded several senior commendation and distinguished medals for his service, including the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Director’s Medal. Prior to his government service, Dr. Nakhleh was a Professor of Political Science and International Studies and a Department Chair at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. His research and publications have focused on political Islam and Muslim world engagement, Islamic radicalization and terrorism in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world; governance in the greater Middle East; and US policy toward the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Nakhleh holds a Ph.D. from the American University, Washington, D.C., in International Relations, an M.A. from Georgetown University in Political Science, and a B.A. from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, in Political Science.  He is the author of numerous academic books and scholarly articles including A Necessary Engagement:  Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World (Princeton University Press, 2009) and Bahrain: Political Development in a Modernizing Society (Lexington Books, 2011; originally published in 1976 and translated into Arabic in 2006).