Rethinking the Future of the Middle East

february, 2024

07feb9:10 am10:20 amRethinking the Future of the Middle East


(Wednesday) 9:10 am - 10:20 am


USF Student Center

200 6th Ave S

Event Details

This panel will evaluate the security situation and U.S. involvement in the region. Live Q&A to follow.

Speakers for this event

  • Adib Farhadi

    Adib Farhadi


    Dr. Adib Farhadi, Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict at the University of South Florida, specializes in geoeconomics, geopolitics, and religion & conflict, particularly within the "Silk Road" Central and South Asia (CASA) region. He authored "Countering Violent Extremism by Winning Hearts and Minds" and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Great Power Competition book series. Formerly holding senior positions for Afghanistan, Dr. Farhadi has advised and contributed extensive research to the U.S. government, the United Nations, and international organizations. A frequent presenter, he covers topics like religion, conflict and peacebuilding, Great Power Competition, Sustainable Development, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), and the geoeconomics of the Middle East and the CASA region. Dr. Farhadi holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Canberra, an M.A. from New York University, and a B.S. from East Carolina University.


  • Amb Alberto M. Fernandez

    Amb Alberto M. Fernandez

    Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

    Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a position he held from 2015 to 2017. He previously served as President of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), a US-funded Arabic-language news organization, from 2017 to 2020.  Prior to joining MEMRI, Ambassador Fernandez was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer from 1983 to 2015 and served as the State Department’s Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications from 2012 to 2015. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Sudan. He held senior public diplomacy positions at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Guatemala, Kuwait, and in the Department’s Near East Affairs (NEA) Bureau. A refugee from Cuba, he speaks fluent Spanish and Arabic in addition to English.

    Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

  • Arman Mahmoudian

    Arman Mahmoudian

    Ph.D. candidate in Politics and International Affairs at the University of South Florida (USF)

    Arman Mahmoudian is a Ph.D. candidate in Politics and International Affairs at the University of South Florida (USF). He also works as a research assistant at the USF Global and National Security Institute with a focus on Russia and the Middle East. Additionally, Arman. serves as an adjunct faculty member at the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College, where he offers courses on Russia, the Middle East, and International Security. Outside of academia, he frequently provides expert analysis in the media, having appeared on notable networks such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC. He has also contributed articles to leading publications including The Atlantic Council, The National Interest, and The Stimson Center, among others.

    Ph.D. candidate in Politics and International Affairs at the University of South Florida (USF)

  • Joanne Cummings

    Joanne Cummings

    Joanne Held Cummings retired as a Foreign Service Officer from the U.S. Department of State with multiple awards. She served in a variety of leadership positions in Embassies from Yemen to Micronesia, and she was most recently the POLAD to the Combined Joint Task Force against ISIS (CJTF-OIR) from 2018 to 2020. In her role as a United States Foreign Service Officer, Ms. Cummings led a U.S. diplomatic mission, political and economic units, and served as advisor to senior military commanders in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the broader Middle East. She led U.S. humanitarian programs on displacement in Iraq. Prior to the State Department, Ms. Cummings advised institutions across the Middle East on education and development through her offshore company in Cyprus. During her international life and career, Ms. Cummings gained extensive diplomatic, national security, and humanitarian experience across the Middle East and North Africa (including Turkey and Iran), Central Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Oceania. She was awarded numerous State Department and Department of Defense awards, including Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) of 2019 and the U.S. Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award.

  • Sidra Hamidi

    Sidra Hamidi

    Dr. Hamidi’s research is in security studies, international law, and global governance. She was previously a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Her articles have been published in International Affairs and the European Journal of International Relations. She is currently working on a book which explores the politics of recognition in Israel, India, and Iran’s nuclear programs.

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