Brett McGurk

National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

Brett McGurk is the National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. He served as special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the U.S. Department of State. In this assignment, McGurk led a global coalition of 68 members and coordinated all aspects of U.S. policy related to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. McGurk previously served as deputy special presidential envoy from 2014-15. In President Barack Obama’s administration, he served as a senior advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs with a focus on Iraq and other regional initiatives, as a special advisor to the National Security Staff, and as senior advisor to Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Christopher Hill, and James Jeffrey in Baghdad, Iraq.

During President George W. Bush’s administration, from 2005-09, McGurk served as director for Iraq and then as special assistant to the president and senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, McGurk served as a lead negotiator and coordinator during bilateral talks with the Iraqi government on both a long-term strategic framework agreement and a security agreement to govern the temporary presence of U.S. forces and the normalization of bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States. For these and other assignments he received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor and Superior Honor Awards.

McGurk had earlier served as a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority and then the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad under Ambassador John Negroponte. He is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, where he served as senior editor of the Columbia Law Review. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Dennis Jacobs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and Judge Gerard E. Lynch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He holds a BA in political science with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Connecticut, and has held fellowship positions at Harvard University and the Council on Foreign Relations.

UAE Security Forum 2021: U.S.-Gulf Relations in a Changing Region

From December 7-9, UAESF 2021 assessed geopolitical trends in the region.