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The Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative 



The Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies’ Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), with the generous support of the State of Qatar, is launching the Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative for North Africa (IKSI), a landmark program dedicated to enhancing scholarship on the political economies, and internal dynamics of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania.  


Given the current very limited - existence of any think tanks dedicated to the study of North Africa, a greater understanding of the region, its shortcomings and potential, is needed to give these countries the attention they deserve on the U.S. agenda. The IKSI, led by scholar and FPI Senior Fellow Hafed Al-Ghwell, will focus on this overlooked region and draw more attention towards its vast potential. 

The Executive Director of FPI, Cinnamon Dornsife added her welcome to the IKSI “Through holistic approaches and research examining North Africa's dynamics, the initiative will leverage critical expertise and drive informed engagement to merge scholarship with policy on a range of issues, such as economic integration, migration, democratization, and counterterrorism. By giving prominence to and centering local perspectives, IKSI will serve to fill the gap in contemporary analyses of the North African countries, boosting prospects of tackling some of the region's most intractable challenges. In addition, the initiative will serve to inform policy makers shape perceptions and overturn harmful misconceptions while building bridges to enhance engagement and unleash the region's untapped potential.




North Africa holds great strategic and political importance for the United States and Europe as the region faces many challenges but also has enormous potential. With a combined coastline of 5,800 km (3600 miles), the region encompasses more than 100 million inhabitants with an estimated cumulative GDP of nearly $600 billion as of 2013. The region is culturally and politically set apart from the rest of Africa and is closely associated with the Middle East and Southern Europe. Its population belonging to the Arab and Berber ethno-linguistic groups and is mainly of the Sunni Muslim faith. North Africa holds many natural resources and is especially rich in oil, natural gas, and phosphates. The beautiful landscape and rich history attract many tourists and the increasingly qualified young population keeps the countries dynamic and bears great economic potential. 


Until now, the region remains largely underrepresented on the Washingtonian scene. Beyond military and security concerns, due to spreading instability and consequent proliferation of terrorist activity, political and economic interests are of importance for the United States. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also increased the importance of the North African region, as Europe looks elsewhere for oil and natural gas. 


The region has been destabilized by the tumultuous uprisings of the Arab Spring. Tunisia has been able to transition to a democracy in the last few years, making it the only success story in the Arab world. Libya, on the other hand still suffers from a raging civil war and instability that is a major concern for Europe, the rest of North Africa, and the Sahel countries. Libya’s future remains insecure as the country lacks a central government able to control its territory. Morocco and Algeria avoided the worst of the upheavals, but a major political shift has been under way in Algeria in the past year. 


The Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative for North Africa analyzes, researches, advances and advocates for critical policy changes for the Northern African region on the U.S. and European governmental levels. The initiative develops research and critical thinking that are consolidated and shaped into effective policy then channeled into practical proposals to help influence decisions by Washington and EU policy makers. 


We will develop a task force focused on these issues with the collaboration of other universities, thinks tanks, international organizations and NGOs. 


The Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative for North Africa hosts a series of round tables and panel discussions on important topics on the agenda.  


If you are interested in supporting the Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative or for other related inquiries, please contact: 


Hafed Al Ghwell 

Executive Director, Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative (IKSI)  

Senior Fellow, The Foreign Policy Institute, The Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Email: hafed.alghwell@jhu.edu 


Lana Bleik

Senior Research Program Coordinator, Ibn Khaldun Strategic Initiative (IKSI) 

The Foreign Policy Institute, The Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies 

Email: lbleik1@jhu.edu