|The Washington Institute for Near East Policy|
|Motto||Insight and Analysis on U.S. Middle East Policy|
|Executive Director||Robert Satloff|
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. focused on United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Established in 1985, the institute's mission statement states that it seeks "to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East." The group is often described as being pro-Israel.
Martin Indyk, an Australian-trained academic and former deputy director of research for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), helped found WINEP in 1985. In 1982, following his position as Australian deputy director of current intelligence in the Middle East, Indyk started to set up a research department for AIPAC. Because of his affiliation with AIPAC, Indyk felt his research wasn't being taken seriously and so started WINEP to convey an image that was "friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way." Indyk would go on to become an American citizen, U.S. diplomat and its ambassador to Israel.
The Washington Institute is registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and derives 87 percent of its operating revenues through direct public support. As of 2005[update], its list of trustees included more than 600 names, including Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, managing editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson, real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman, and philanthropist Edgar Bronfman.
WINEP is focused on influencing the media and U.S. executive branch; this is unlike AIPAC, which attempts to influence the U.S. Congress.  Its activities include annual conferences, a Military Fellows Program that "brings together senior officers from the armed forces of the United States and key Middle Eastern allies", a Presidential Study Group it describes as a "bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission charged with drafting a blueprint for the next administration's Middle East policy", closed-door policy forums, and various publications and research programs.
At the time it was founded, the institute focused research on Arab-Israeli relations, political and security issues, and overall U.S. Middle East policy. In the 1990s, prompted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Persian Gulf War, and changes in regional strategy, the institute expanded its research agenda to cover a larger array of Middle East topics, including a "special focus on Turkey and the rise of Islamic politics."
Former Vice President Al Gore called WINEP "Washington's most respected center for studies on the Middle East." Charles Krauthammer has also praised WINEP, calling it "the number one center for information and analysis in Washington."
In a December 2003 interview on Al Jazeera, Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor and director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute, sharply criticized WINEP, stating that it is "the fiercest of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims," and describing it as the "most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States." In response, Martin Kramer, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and visiting fellow at WINEP, defended the group, saying that it is "run by Americans, and accepts funds only from American sources," and that it was "outrageous" for Khalidi to denounce Arabs that visited WINEP as "blundering dupes."
John Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago political science professor, and Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, describe it as "part of the core" of the Israel lobby in the United States. Discussing the group in their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer and Walt write: "Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks."
Members of WINEP have in turn criticized the book on multiple grounds, pointing to its "not including any interviews with current or former government officials about the lobby's influence on foreign policy", the fact that "not only has the U.S.- Israeli relationship not been a liability for either country (the central claim of the book), it has been, at least to some extent, an asset to the Arab regimes, as a strategic counterweight to radicalism", and that "foreign policies are shaped by leaders and events, not lobbies."
As of November 4, 2009, the Washington Institute's Board of Advisors included:
The Turkish Research Program is one of the centers of the institute.
The program was founded in 1995. Under the leadership of founding director Alan Makovsky and interim director Helena Kane Finn, the center introduced the Washington policymaking community to Turkey's leading political, diplomatic, military, and academic figures.
The speakers for the center's events have included, among others, Süleyman Demirel, who thanked the Institute and program for furthering relations between Turkey and the United States, and Abdullah Gül.
The Turkish Research Program's goal is to actively engage policymakers in discussion about Turkey's political, diplomatic, and strategic environment. Through its research and publications, Policy Forum luncheons, media appearances, congressional testimony, and seminars – along with special programs such as the Turgut Ozal memorial lecture series and the Turkish Military Fellowship – the Turkish Research Program attempts to discern trends in foreign relations of Turkey and the impact those trends may have on both U.S. interests and US-Turkish relations.
The Washington Institute established the Turgut Ozal Memorial Lecture to pay lasting tribute to Turgut Özal, the late Turkish president, and to raise the profile of Turkish policy issues in the Washington community. The annual event features a prominent statesman or scholarly expert on Turkey. Those featured include:,
Among the Institute's publications are a number of topical booklets, and the following books:
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