Bilal Y. Saab

Research Associate
Associates are experts in their own field and contractually affiliated with Clingendael. Although associates are not employees of the Clingendael Institute, they comply with all policies that Clingendael staff do.


  • Conflict and Fragility
  • Security and Justice


  • Middle East & North Africa

Bilal Y. Saab is a Research Associate with Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit (CRU), specializing in the Levant and the Gulf. He studies security cooperation between the United States and its regional partners, and national security and defense processes in Arab partner countries.

Saab is currently Director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, D.C. Prior to this, Saab served as Senior Advisor for Security Cooperation in the Middle East in the Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Saab is a term member (2016-2021) with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a recipient of the International Affairs Fellowship (2018-2019) with CFR. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. He has held senior fellowships and management positions at the Atlantic Council, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Brookings, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Saab has fluency in both written and spoken Arabic and French, and experience living in the Middle East for more than two decades. He has received various analytic and leadership awards including the Thought Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council and the Abshire Inamori Leadership Award from CSIS. He has published in the print editions of The Washington Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, American Interest, The National Interest, and online with Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. Saab is often called upon to brief various parts of the U.S. and other governments. He also regularly provides commentary to international media outlets including NPR, Reuters, Washington Post and New York Times.

Saab has a BA from the American University of Beirut, and MLitt. from the University of St Andrews and an MA from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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