Former Trump Officials Launch Mideast Think Tank

Group will promote Arab-Israeli peace and combat anti-Semitism

Former Trump advisers Victoria Coates and Ellie Cohanim / Twitter and Wikimedia Commons
June 30, 2021

Two former top Trump administration officials are teaming up to start a Middle East-centered think tank that will combat growing anti-Semitism and work to expand peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

The group, which will be formally announced on Thursday, will be housed at the Center for Security Policy, a hawkish D.C.-based think tank, and be led by Victoria Coates, who served as a deputy national security adviser for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs in former president Trump's National Security Council. Ellie Cohanim, a former deputy State Department special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, will also join the outfit, which will act as the center's principal arm for Middle East and North Africa initiatives.

"As America confronts China and COVID, we also have to maintain our commitment to our friends and partners in the Middle East," Fred Fleitz, the center's president and CEO, said in a statement announcing the initiative. "Victoria and her team will ensure the important groundwork laid by the Abraham Accords is supported and America's commitment to Israel and fighting global anti-Semitism is maintained."

The center's Middle East and North Africa program is being launched as Israel pursues peace agreements with its Arab neighbors. Coates played a central role in paving the way for the Trump administration to broker a historic peace accord between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Coates said the group will focus on building out these agreements and fighting anti-Semitism as it continues to rise in America and across the globe.

"The Middle East and North Africa region is the vital fulcrum between east and west, and is home to not only some of the most sensitive transportation lanes on the planet, but also to much of the world's energy reserves," Coates said in a statement. "As our historic Arab partners begin to join together with our greatest [Middle East and North Africa] ally, Israel, there are enormous opportunities to advance American interests across the economic and security sectors. The Center's new [Middle East and North Africa] initiative will be focusing on how to leverage the U.S. presence in the region to the benefit of all."

The group will also coordinate the center's long-running study of Iran and the U.S.-Israel alliance.