Geneive Abdo


Geneive Abdo is a former fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. She was most recently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. Her current research focuses on the shifting political and religious alliances within Shia communities in the Middle East. She has worked at several Washington-based think tanks, including the Atlantic Council and the Stimson Center. She was a non-resident scholar at the Brookings Institution from 2013-17. She was also a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University from 2016-19.

Her vast publications include monographs, books, and works in scholarly journals. Her newest publication is a chapter in the edited volume, The Gulf Cooperation Council at Forty: Risk and Opportunity in a Changing World (Brookings Press, 2023). Abdo is the author of four books on the Middle East, including The New SectarianismThe Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi’a-Sunni Divide (Oxford University Press, 2016). Her other books, also published by Oxford, include a groundbreaking study of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt. Abdo has received many awards for her scholarship, including the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Abdo also was the recipient of the Nieman Fellowship for study at Harvard University.

She was formerly the liaison officer for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative established by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which aimed to improve relations between Islamic and Western societies. Before joining the U.N., Abdo was a foreign correspondent, where her 20-year career focused on coverage of the Middle East and the Muslim world. From 1998 to 2001, Abdo was the Iran correspondent for The Guardian and a regular contributor to The Economist and the International Herald Tribune. She was the first American journalist to be based in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Her thousands of articles and commentaries on Islam and the Middle East have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Washington Postand other publicationsShe is a frequent speaker at universities, think tanks, and international institutions in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Blog Post content-type in which the post is published

The Violence in Gaza: Arab Public Opinion Matters

Israel’s devastating war in Gaza may change the political dynamics not only in the Middle East but in the United States, too.

Publications content-type in which the post is published

Sadr's Inevitable Comeback: How Will He Reenter the Political Game?

For the first time since 2005, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has no clear political role and no formal road map to get back into politics until elections are held again in 2025. So where does this leave him and the Sadrist movement?

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After Sistani: Is There a Successor to Continue His Legacy?

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has played a key role in Iraq’s religious and political spheres, particularly as a staunch opponent of vilayet e-faqih.

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Iraq Protest Movement Defies Odds, Outperforms in Elections

Results from Iraq’s elections show that a determined young generation can organize and win seats, no matter the obstacles placed in the way by a political system most Iraqis lost faith in long ago. 

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Low Turnout, But Glimmer of Hope in Iraq's Elections

AGSIW's Geneive Abdo spoke with Akeel Abbas, an expert on Iraqi politics and sectarian identities, to discuss the results of Iraq's October 10 parliamentary elections.

Iraq's October Elections: A Game Changer or More of the Same?

On September 7, AGSIW hosted a discussion on Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections.

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Sadr’s Boycott Threat Puts Election Timeframe in Question

Muqtada al-Sadr’s announcement that he will boycott upcoming parliamentary elections has thrown the electoral process into disarray at a time when the future stability of Iraq depends on legitimate and transparent elections.

The Long Game in Iraq: Are Shia Clerics and Activists Finding Common Cause To Confront the State?

On June 29, AGSIW hosted a discussion of Geneive Abdo's recent paper examining cooperation between influential Iraqi clerics and civil society activists.

Sectarian Identities and the Rise of Nationalism in the Middle East

On June 9, AGSIW and SEPAD hosted a discussion examining sectarianism and nationalism in the Middle East.

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Kadhimi Triumphs Over the Militias, At Least for Now

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s arrest and detention of a powerful militia commander signals significant changes in Iraq as the country prepares for parliamentary elections.

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The Long Game in Iraq: Shia Clerics, Activists Find Common Cause To Confront the State

A new generation of Iraqis fighting for a reimagining of their country have formed an informal alliance with Iraqi clerics – a radical departure from the trend in most Arab states.

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Clerics Support Protesters’ Call for Reforms, Walk Fine Line in Iraqi Politics

The outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections will be a test of clerical influence in Iraq and of the hold that protesters can continue to exert over Iraqi politics.

In Crucial Election Year for Iraq, Could the Protest Movement Tip the Scale? 

On Wednesday March 3, AGSIW hosted a discussion examining the potential impact of youth protests on elections in Iraq.