Nathan J. Brown



Website updated 1 June 2014

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

The George Washington University


Nonresident Senior Associate

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Carnegie web page for Nathan Brown available here



Curriculum vitae



Ph. D., Politics, Princeton University, 1987

Center for Arabic Studies Abroad, Cairo, 1983-4

M.A., Politics, Princeton University, 1983

B.A., University of Chicago, 1980


 E-mail: nbrown at

 Current and recent teaching



Graduate Seminar, “Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective” spring 2014

Graduate Seminar, “Religion and Society in the Middle East,” spring 2014

Undergraduate class, “Comparative Politics of the Middle East” fall 2013

Graduate seminar, “Comparative Politics of the Middle East,” fall 2013

Undergraduate class, “Democracy and Democratization in Global Perspective” spring 2011 


Selected interviews, testimony, and major op-eds available on the web


Egypt’s Judges Join in,” with Michele Dunne, Foreign Affairs, April 2014

Egypt Has Replaced a Single Dictator With a Slew of Dictatorial Institutions: The sad story of Amr Hamzawy and Emad Shahin,” New Republic, February 2014

What Killed Egyptian Democracy?” Boston Review, January 2014

Egypt’s Rulers Are About to Make the Same Mistake Morsi Did,” New Republic, August 2013

What's Next in Egypt?New Republic, 5 July 2013

Where Does the Muslim Brotherhood Go From Here?New Republic, 3 July 2013

Redoing the Egyptian Revolution,” Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2013

Recalibrating U.S. Policy in Egypt,” with Thomas Carothers, Washington Post, 2 May 2013

Egypt's Constitution Conundrum,” Foreign Affairs, 9 December 2012

The Revolution in Crisis,” Egypt Independent (and al-Masri al-Yom), 27 November 2012

The Long Road to a Moderate Hamas,” New Republic, 18 November 2012

Message of Gaza Violence: Hamas Can’t be Ignored,” CNN, 17 November 2012

The U.S.-Egypt Relationship Needs Therapy, Not a Divorce,” New Republic, 14 September 2012

Palestine Can Wait…For Now,” Daily Beast, 20 July 2012

Dangers Ahead for Egypt,” The National Interest, 30 May 2012

The UN’s Much-Reviled but Helpful Agency,” The Jewish Daily Forward, 28 May 2012

The Emerging Order in the Middle East,” with Sinan Ülgen, Marina Ottaway, and Paul Salem, Carnegie Policy Outlook, May 2012

Egypt’s Muddy Waters,” The National Interest, 4 April 2012

The Brotherhood Prepares for Power,” Jewish Daily Forward, 22 January 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood's Democratic Dilemma,” The National Interest, 1 December 2011

Kuwait's Short 19th Century,” Foreign Policy, December 2011

What Does the U.S. Want to Talk to the Brotherhood About?,” The National Interest, 9 August 2011

Rawls Visits the Pyramids,” The National Interest, 23 June 2011

Why Egyptians Want Mubarak Tried,” New York Times “Room for Debate,” 9 June 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood,” testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Subcommittee on Terrorism, HUMINT, Analysis, and Counterintelligence, 13 April 2011

Israel’s Challenge to the US,” New York Times, “Room for Debate,” March 11, 2010

Gaza’s Sisyphean Existence,” with Michele Dunne, The National Interest, February 26, 2009

Egypt's Constitutional Ghosts,” Foreign Affairs, 15 February 2011

The New Middle East,” with Marina Ottaway, Karim Sajapour, and Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie report, February 2008

Arab Spring Fever,” The National Interest, August 29, 2007

Democracy Works—Only Very Slowly,” International Herald Tribune, July 4, 2007

Kuwait's ThawNewsweek Interview, June 28, 2006

Unlikely Reformers: Egyptian Judges Challenge the Regime ,Jurist, June 2006

Hamas or Chaos,”, May 2006

Getting Real with Hamas,” Foreign Policy, January 2006

 Everybody in Arab World Talking About Need for Wide Ranging Reforms,” Council on Foreign Relations Interview with Bernard Gwertzman, March 2004


Recent Research









Constitutionalism, the rule of law & the politics of administration in Egypt & Iran.  (edited book manuscript with Said Arjomand; SUNY Press, 2012).

When Victory is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics, to be published by Cornell University Press, January 2012 (Arabic edition published December 2011).

The Dynamics of Democratization: Dictatorship, Development, and Diffusion (edited book, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011)

Between Religion and Politics (with Amr Hamzawy; Carnegie Endowment, 2010)

The Struggle over Democratization in the Middle East (edited with Emad Eldin Shahin; Routledge, 2009)

Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003)

 Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World: Arab Basic Laws & the Prospects for Accountable Government   (SUNY Press, 2001)

 The Rule of Law in the Arab World: Courts in Egypt and the Gulf  (Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Peasant Politics in Modern Egypt (Yale University Press, 1990)








Research and commentary on Islamist Parties in the Arab World available on the web

Political Islam Becomes Less Political,” Imminent Frame, Social Science Research Council blog, March 2014

The Brotherhood Withdraws Into Itself,” Project on Middle East Political Science memo, January 2014

Roundtable on the Future of Political Islam,” Jadaliyya, November 2013

Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood under Pressure” (with Scott Williamson), Foreign Policy, November 2014

Islam and Politics in the New Egypt,” Carnegie Paper April 2013

When Victory Becomes an Option: The Muslim Brotherhood Confronts Success,” Carnegie Paper, January 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood as Helicopter Parent,” Foreign Policy, 27 May 2011

The Brotherhood’s Coming-Out Party,” Carnegie commentary, 24 March 2011

Will Slow and Steady Win the Race?Foreign Policy, 28 February 2011

Islamists: Politics Beckons Once Again,” Carnegie commentary 22 February 2011

The Irrelevance of the International Muslim Brotherhood,” Foreign Policy, 20 September 2010

The Muslim Brotherhood's (and Egypt's) Qutb Conundrum,” Foreign Policy, 17 May 2010

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Islamist Participation in a Closing Political Environment,” with Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie paper, March 2010

Kuwaiti Democracy in Crisis,” Islam On Line, May 2009

Kuwait’s 2008 Parliamentary Elections: A Setback for Democratic Islamism,” Carnegie web commentary, May 2008

The Draft Party Platform of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Foray Into Political Integration or Retreat Into Old Positions?” with Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie Paper, January 2008

What Islamists Need to be Clear About: The Case of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,” Carnegie Web Commentary, February 2007 (with Amr Hamzawy and Marina Ottaway)

Pushing Toward Party Politics?  Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement,” Carnegie Paper, January 2007

[Note: Mohammed Hussein Al-Dallal of the Islamic Constitutional Movement issued a response to this paper]

Jordan and Its Islamist Movement: The Limits of Inclusion?” Carnegie Paper, November 2006

Islamist Movements and the Democratic Process in the Arab World: Exploring Gray Zones,” Carnegie Paper No. 67, March 2006, with Amr Hamzawy and Marina Ottaway








Work on Palestinian politics available on the web

Can the EU Revive the Cause of Middle East Peace?” (with Dimitris Bouris), Carnegie article, May 2014

No Horizon in a Perpetually Unsustainable Palestine,” Carnegie article, June 2013

"Requiem for Fayyadism,” Foreign Policy, 17 April 2013

Gaza Five Years On: Hamas Settles in,” Carnegie Paper June 2012

Is Hamas Mellowing?” Carnegie Web Commentary, 17 January 2012

Palestine: The Fire Next Time?” Carnegie Web Commentary, 6 July 2011

No Savior for Palestine,” Foreign Policy 17 June 2011

Palestinians: The Unsustainable May No Longer be Sustainable,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 22 February 2011

Studying Palestinian Politics: Scholarship or Scholasticism?” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, November 2010

Fayyad Is Not the Problem, but Fayyadism Is Not the Solution to Palestine’s Political Crisis,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 17 September 2010

Are Palestinians Building a State?” Carnegie Web Commentary, June 2010

After Abu Mazin? Letting the Scales Fall From Our Eyes,” Carnegie Web Commentary, November 2009

Palestine: the Schism Deepens,” Carnegie Web Commentary, August 2009

The Green Elephant in the Room: Dealing with the Hamas Party-State in Gaza,” Carnegie Web Commentary, June 2009

Palestine and Israel: Time for Plan B,” Carnegie Policy Brief, February 2009

Middle East Peacemaking Has Failed,” Foreign Policy, February 2009

Another Look at Israel’s Hamas Portfolio,” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2009

Pointers for the Obama Administration in the Middle East: Avoiding Myths and Vain Hopes” Carnegie Web Commentary, January 2009

Can Cairo Reassemble Palestine?” Carnegie Web Commentary, November 2008

Palestinian Presidential Elections,” Carnegie Web Commentary, July 2008

Sunset for the Two State Solution?” Carnegie Policy Brief No.58, May 2008

The Road Out of Gaza,” Carnegie Policy Outlook No. 39, February 2008

The Peace Process Has No Clothes: The Decay of the Palestinian Authority and the International Response,” Carnegie Web Commentary, June 15, 2007

Requiem for Palestinian Reform: Clear Lessons from a Troubled Record,” Carnegie Paper, February 2007

What Can Abu Mazin Do?” Carnegie Web Commentary, October 20, 2006, updated June 15, 2007

Living with Palestinian Democracy,” Carnegie Policy Brief No. 46, May 2006

Aftermath of the Hamas Tsunami,” Carnegie Web Commentary, February 2, 2006

Evaluating Palestinian Reform,” Carnegie Paper 59, June 2005

Translation and commentary on draft Palestinian constitution (May 2003 draft), published by the Palestinian Center for Public Survey Research, October 2003

“The Palestinian Reform Agenda,” Peaceworks report No. 48, United States Institute of Peace, December 2002

Democracy, History, and the Contest over the Palestinian Curriculum,” paper presented at the Adam Institute Conference on “Attitudes toward the Past in Conflict Resolution,” Jerusalem, November 2001

The International Controversy Concerning Palestinian Textbooks,” lecture delivered at the Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, December 2002.

 Short summary of research on Palestinian textbooks that originally appeared in “Teaching about Terrorism” a publication of CAJE, the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. 








Work on Egyptian politics available on the web

Grading Egypt’s Roadmap to Democracy,” Foreign Policy, May 2014

Egypt’s constitutional cul-de-sac: Enabling military oversight and a security state in a nominally democratic order,” Chr. Michelsen Institute Insight, March 2014

The Sisi Spring,” Foreign Policy, February 2014

An Anticlimactic Referendum in Egypt,” Carnegie Q and A, December 2013

Egypt’s Draft Constitution Rewards the Military and Judiciary” with Michele Dunne, Carnegie article, December 2013

Egypt’s al-Azhar Steps Forward,” with Ahmed Morsi, Carnegie article, November 2013

One Word Will Define Egypt’s Constitution,” Foreign Policy, November 2013

Egypt’s Daring Constitutional Gang of 50,” Foreign Policy, September 2013

Mrs. Lincoln’s Egyptian Constitution,” Foreign Policy, 20 August 2013

Egypt’s Wide State Reassembles Itself,” Foreign Policy, 17 July 2013

It’s Not About Civil War,” Al-Sada, 15 July 2013

After the Egyptian Coup,” Carnegie Q and A, 4 July 2013

Will June 30 Be Midnight for Morsi’s Cinderella Story?Foreign Policy, 27 June 2013

Egypt’s Judiciary Between a Tea Ceremony and the WWE,” with Mokhtar Awad, Foreign Policy, 14 May 2013

The Battle over Egypt’s Judiciary,” Al-Sada, 8 May 2013

Egypt’s Constitution Swings Into Action,” with Zaid al-Ali, Foreign Policy, 27 March 2013

Egypt’s New Mufti,” Foreign Policy, 12 February 2013

Great Sanhuri’s Ghost!Foreign Policy, 25 January 2013

Can Egypt’s Democratic Uprising Be Redeemed?” Carnegie article, 25 December 2012

Islam in Egypt's New Constitution,: with Clark Lombardi, Foreign Policy, 13 December 2012

Egypt’s State Constitutes Itself,” Foreign Policy, 19 November 2013

Egypt’s Constitution: Islamists Prepare for a Long Political Battle,” Carnegie article, 24 October 2012

Still Fighting the Last War? Egypt's Judges after the Revolution,” Al-Sada, 16 October 2012

Egypt’s Constitutional Racers Stagger Toward the Final Lap,” Foreign Policy, 1 October 2012

Egypt Tries to Reconstitute Itself,” Carnegie article, 6 September 2012

Egypt’s Ambiguous Transition,” Carnegie article 6 September 2012

Morsi’s Ramadan Surprise,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 13 August 2012

The Egyptian Political System in Disarray,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 19 June 2012

Cairo’s Judicial Coup,” Foreign Policy, 14 June 2012

Fasten Your Seatbelts: Judicial Turbulence Ahead,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 6 June 2012

A Guide through the Egyptian Maze of Justice,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 6 June 2012

Egypt and the Islamic Shari`a: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 15 May 2012.

Will Egypt Get a New Interim Constitution?” Foreign Policy, 23 May 2012

Egypt’s Transition in Crisis: Falling into the Wrong Turkish Model,” with Marina Ottaway, Carnegie Web Commentary, 30 March 2012

Egypt’s Transition Imbroglio,” Foreign Policy, 16 April 2012

Midnight for the SCAF’s Cinderella Story,” Foreign Policy 19 March 2012

Egypt’s Judges in a Revolutionary Age,” Carnegie Paper, February 2012

The Evolution within the Revolution,” Foreign Policy 28 February 2012

Landmines in Egypt’s Constitutional Roadmap,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 7 December 2011

Post-Revolutionary Al-Azhar, Carnegie Paper, October 2011

Can the Colossus Be Salvaged? Egypt’s State-Owned Press in a Post-Revolutionary Environment,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 22 August 2011

The Trial of the Century,” Foreign Policy, 3 August 2011

Egypt’s Revolution Stumbles Forward,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 15 June 2011

A Haphazard Constitutional Compromise,” Carnegie Web Commentary (with Kristin Stilt), 11 April 2011

Why Nobody Noticed What Egypt’s Opposition Has Won,” Foreign Policy, 28 March 2011

Egypt’s Revolution Struggles to Take Shape,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 17 March 2011

Egypt's Syndicalist Future?” Foreign Policy. 8 March 2011

Egypt’s Draft Constitutional Amendments Answer Some Questions and Raise Others,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 1 March 2011

The Struggle to Define the Egyptian Revolution,” Foreign Policy, 17 February 2011

An Observer’s Guide to Egyptian Succession,” Carnegie Web Commentary, 17 November 2010

Egypt—Don’t Give up on Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Policy Brief, June 2007 (with Michele Dunne and Amr Hamzawy)

Egypt’s Controversial Constitutional Amendments,” Carnegie Web Commentary, March 2007 (with Michele Dunne and Amr Hamzawy)

Can Egypt’s Troubled Elections Produce a More Democratic Future,” with Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie Policy Outlook, December 2005

Egypt’s Judges Step Forward: The Judicial Election Boycott and Egyptian Reform,” with Hesham Nasr,” Carnegie Policy Outlook, May 2005







Work on Arab legal systems available on the web

Why Won’t Saudi Arabia Write down its own Laws,” Foreign Policy, 23 January 2012

Americans, Put Away Your Quills,” Foreign Policy, 8 November 2011

Do Tunisians Agree on More Than They Realize?Foreign Policy, 9 August 2011

Constitutional Rebirth: Tunisia and Egypt Reconstruct Themselves, report presented to the United Nations Development Program, August 2011 (in English and Arabic)

Islamic law and the Egyptian constitution; two article with Clark Lombardi

Do Constitutions Requiring Adherence to Shari`a Threaten Human Rights? How Egypt's Constitutional Court Reconciles Islamic Law with the Liberal Rule of Law,” 21 American University International Law Review 379-435 (2006)

The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt on Islamic Law, Veiling and Civil Rights: An Annotated Translation of Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt Case No. 8 of Judicial Year 17 (May 18, 1996),” 21 American University International Law Review 437 (2006)

“Islam, Human Rights, and Constitutionalism,” video of lecture delivered at Middlebury College, March 2, 2007

The Religious Aspects of Arab Constitutions,” video of lecture delivered at Catholic University, February 22, 2006

Criminal Justice and Prosecution in the Arab World,” study prepared with Hesham Nasr and Jill Crystal for the United Nations Development Program, Program on Governance in the Arab Region,” October 2004

Constitutions and Accountable Governments in the Arab world,” 2003 Constitution Address, Dickinson College, September 2003

Judicial Independence in the Arab World,” study prepared with Dr. Adel Omar Sherif of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt for the United Nations Development Program, Program on Governance in the Arab Region, September 2002

Arab Judicial Structures,” study prepared for the United Nations Development Program, Program on Governance in the Arab Region, August 2001

Mechanisms of Accountability in Arab Governance: The Present and Future of Judiciaries and Legislatures in the Arab World,” study prepared for the United Nations Development Program, Program on Governance in the Arab Region, December 2001

“Women and Law in the Muslim World,” unpublished paper, 1996

Arab Administrative Courts and Judicial Control of the Bureaucracy,” paper presented to the annual conference of the Structure of Government Section, International Political Science Association, Ben-Gurion University, Israel , February 1997