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For the Media

Was Obama’s Mideast Speech a Game Changer?

WHO:  Akbar Ahmed the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. The former Pakistani Ambassador to England has advised General Petraeus, the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and met with Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, in addition to other high-ranking officials. During his time in the civil service of Pakistan, he served as the assistant commissioner in Abbotabad and also political agent in South Waziristan and Commissioner in Baluchistan.

Clovis Maksoud diplomat-in-residence; and director, Center for the Global South is a diplomat, Mid-East journalist, and lawyer.  Maksoud served as the League of Arab States’ special envoy to the 1974 in addition to serving as ambassador to India and Southeast Asia in the 1960s.  Currently, he is a member of the United Nations Development Program advisory board on Arab human development reports.   Maksoud was senior editor of the daily Al-Ahram in Cairo, and editor-in-chief of Al-Nahar, a Beirut Arabic language weekly.

Ghiyath Nakshbendi executive-in-residence, Kogod School of Business possesses more than 30 years of professional finance experience. He was a financial advisor at the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in Kuwait and a financial advisor at the Kuwait Investment Authority.  He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses including the Fundamentals of International Business, the Global Marketplace, Export-Import Management, Microfinance, and Project Finance. His research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa regions as they relate to the financing of water projects, public-private partnerships, and foreign direct investment.

WHAT:  Available for radio, television, and print interviews

WHEN:  May 19 – ongoing

American University, in-studio, or via telephone.


Washington, DC (May 19)—American University experts Akbar Ahmed, Clovis Maksoud, and Ghiyath Nakshbendi possess more than 100 years of combined experience in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Whether serving as ambassadors, financial experts, or journalists, they can offer unique, expert analysis of President Obama’s speech today on the U.S. re-alignment of policy in the region to reflect the blossoming Arab Spring for fledgling democracies in Egypt and Tunisia, or the rising tensions in Libya and Syria.  Each can also interpret how Muslims around the world will receive President Obama’s message.  Was today’s message as promising as his Cairo speech nearly two years ago which was full of hope or was it met with more skepticism as Israeli-Palestinian negotiations appear stalled and economic opportunity is as bleak as ever? These experts are uniquely suited to address these issues and others.


American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.