Dr. Walid Phares (born December 24, 1957) is an American political scientist, author, and advisor. He served as Foreign Policy advisor to President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and as senior National Security advisor to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2011 and 2012. He joins Fox News and Fox Business regularly as the network’s Foreign Policy and National Security expert and frequently appears on national and international media. He is the Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group, a transatlantic caucus of members of the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament, founded in 2008. The objective of the caucus is to assess international security threats, economic crises, and social issues and recommend strategies and policies to the government of the United States and governments of members of the European Union. Dr. Phares briefs and testifies to U.S. Congress, the European Parliament and the United Nations Security Council on matters related to international security, democracy, and Middle East conflicts. He lectures at defense and national security institutions and serves as a consultant on international affairs in the private sector.
Phares was born in Beirut, Lebanon where he spent the first half of his life until immigrating to the United States in 1990. He received two Bachelor’s degrees from Saint Joseph Jesuit University in Beirut – the first in Public Law and the second in Political Science and Public Administration – and obtained his Master of Laws degree from l’Université de Lyon, Lyon III, France. In 1993, he obtained his Ph. D in International Studies – International Relations and Middle East Studies from the University of Miami.
Phares’ academic expertise encompasses the fields of Comparative Politics, Ethnic Conflict, and Strategic Studies. He taught in the Department of Political Science for over a decade at Florida Atlantic University and for several years at Florida International University before joining the National Defense University as a professor of Global Terrorist Strategies where he taught from 2006-2012. Most recently, Phares taught U.S. Foreign Policy at Bahcesehir University (BAU) in Washington, D.C. where he also served as Vice-President and Provost. He lectures on university and college campuses across the United States and internationally in London, Stockholm, Brussels, Strasbourg, Mexico, Geneva, Paris, Lisbon, Sao Paolo, Montreal, Rome, Berlin, Madrid, Nicosia, and Beirut. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Global Affairs, the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The Journal of International Security Affairs, the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Homeland Security Today, and other specialized journals.
He has published twelve books in three languages – English, Arabic and French – on the Middle East and international terrorism. He was first published in 1979 at the age of twenty-two, after writing three volumes on the concept of pluralism in Lebanon and the greater Middle East. His post 9/11 publications include Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West, published in 2005, The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy, published in 2007, The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad, published in 2008 and The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, published in 2010. The Coming Revolution projected popular uprisings in the Middle East before they occurred later in 2011. His most recent publication is The Lost Spring: US Foreign Policy and the Catastrophes to Avoid which predicted the rise of ISIS and the Iran Deal strategies.
In 1991, Phares was given a fellowship to pursue his PhD in International Relations, and simultaneously teach, at the University of Miami. He completed his PhD between 1991 and 1993, during which he also taught Middle East Studies and Comparative Politics as an adjunct professor at Florida International University in Miami. In 1993, he was invited to teach as a visiting professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL, thus beginning nearly a decade of teaching for the university.
The Florida Society for Middle East Studies
In 1994, Phares founded the Florida Society for Middle East Studies. As a member of the American Political Science Association and presenter at MESA and MEI conferences, Phares observed an imbalance in the way American university’s taught the region—he concluded that there was not enough depth in the subject field in research or teaching. In Phares’ opinion, two areas in particular lacked focus in the Middle East Studies curriculum in American universities – teaching and research on ethnic and religious minorities, specifically the Copts, Assyrians, Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis, and teaching and research on the rise of the jihadi threat. He founded the society on this premise in 1994 and continued advising the society through 2006.
Post 9-11 Teaching
The events of 9/11 thrust Phares into the national spotlight. His projections and predictions from the previous ten years in academic research, Congressional testimonies, and repeated warnings to the United States government of an imminent jihadi attack came to realization on that day.
His expertise was sought instantaneously in the nation’s capital—he flew frequently to Washington, D.C. in the months following 9/11 to brief members of the government and Congress. At the same time, he was spotted by national TV networks. His teaching morphed from one in the classroom, to one in media, Congress, and U.S. government agencies. In 2004, he suspended his teaching altogether in Florida when he joined the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies as an in-house fellow. He continued to teach at the Lifelong Learning Society until 2006.
In 2006, Phares was hired as a visiting professor then adjunct professor at the National Defense University to teach on global terrorist strategies. He taught at NDU until 2012. During this same time, he frequently lectured at U.S. intelligence agencies – FBI, NSA, DIA, U.S. Army Rangers – about Middle East history, terrorism, the rise of the jihadist movement, and geopolitics of the conflicts in the Middle East.
Most recently, Phares was a professor in U.S. foreign policy at Bahcesehir University in Washington D.C., teaching from 2013 to 2017.
Since 9/11, Phares has been an advisor to Congressional members on the House and Senate sides. Phares’ first briefing in Congress was in 1997 when he testified to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, in a hearing on the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East. In the post-9/11 era, Phares formed close professional bonds with members of Congress in the fight against terrorism, namely one with Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC), Chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis & Counter-Terrorism. He personally advised Myrick’s office and served as an academic advisor to the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the House of Representatives, to which she was Co-Chair. In 2008, they co-launched the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter-Terrorism, a transatlantic caucus of members of European Parliament and members of Congress brought together to begin a dialogue on counterterrorism strategies.
Government Agencies: Domestic and International
Phares works closely with U.S. national security agencies on counter-terrorism through geopolitical seminars and training – his relationship with the Intelligence Community has been maintained through four administrations, Democrat and Republican, since 1994. Following 9/11, his requests to brief intelligence agencies on Middle East history, terrorism, the rise of the jihadist movement, and geopolitics of the conflicts of the Middle East grew exponentially. Phares has worked closely with the FBI, NSA, DIA, Department of State, Department of Defense, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM – among others—through seminars and lectures.
Among his most impactful work internationally was his role as a lead engager with international military delegations from over sixty countries. Over the past two decades, Phares has been invited by defense and intelligence agencies around the globe to discuss international security and strategy.
United Nations: The Yazidis and Minorities Genocide and UNSCR 1559
His most recent push at the UN in New York was on behalf of a coalition of Middle East minorities, including the Yazidis, seeking to petition the Security Council to address the mass ethnic cleansing that took place from June to August 2014 in northern Iraq. Professor Phares led a delegation to meet with almost all permanent members of the UNSC in August 2014 and drafted a document that coined the actions of ISIS against minorities as “genocide.” Furthermore, Phares identified two more designations to apply in the cases of Iraq and Syria: war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last but not least, he advised that the council pursue the formation of an international tribunal to try the terror group and all others involved in the genocide. All permanent missions of the UNSC and the office of the Secretariat General received Phares’ drafted coalition memo.
In March of 2015, Phares and the delegation were received as observers to attend the debate at the Security Council session, and a resolution was issued in accordance to the group’s propositions from August.
Ten years earlier, Professor Walid Phares led an NGO delegation representing Lebanese Diaspora communities to the UN Security Council to request the withdrawal of Syrian occupation forces from Lebanon. He designed the draft memo demanding that Syria pull out of Lebanon based on international law. After a go between the US, French and other missions, the memo triggered the text of UN resolution 1559, calling on Syria to withdraw and on all militias, including Hezbollah, to disarm. The resolution and a mass demonstration in Beirut in March 2005 led to the actual withdrawal in April of that year.
Foundation for the Defense of Democracy
In 2002, Phares joined the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy as a Senior Fellow, becoming an in-house fellow upon moving to Washington, D.C. in 2004. At FDD, Phares’ expertise was in jihadist ideologies, movements, and strategies. He launched the Future Terrorism Project at FDD in 2006 where he served as the Director until 2010, gathering research and creating an FDD portfolio that tracked jihadist trends.
National Security Lectures to Foundations
As well as consulting, advising, and teaching in an academic setting, Phares has given hundreds of community lectures to a variety of groups—the three most prominent being Jewish federations, Middle Eastern and Arab moderate groups, and major Christian groups. Phares has given lectures across Florida, as well as in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, South Carolina, New Jersey, New Orleans, Denver, Virginia Beach, Pittsburgh, and more.
At numerous lectures to groups of Christian evangelicals, Phares stressed the issue of persecution of Christians in the Middle East helping garner community financial support and awareness for the plight of Middle East Christians.
Transatlantic Parliamentary Group
The Transatlantic Parliamentary Group (TAG) is a transatlantic caucus by members of the United States Congress and the European Parliament, founded in 2008. The objective of the caucus is to assess international security threats, economic crises, and social issues and recommend strategies and policies to the government of the United States and governments of members of the European Union. TAG holds annual summits and strategic conferences in Washington D.C., Brussels, and in various other European capitals.
Phares has served as the Co-Secretary General of TAG since 2008. On the opening day of the first summit in 2008, Phares said, “the jihadists main success has been to single out their foes and wage a global campaign against it. Now is the time that democracies come together and form a joint front against terrorism and address the challenge of this menacing ideology.”
Phares was the first Foreign Policy advisor of five to be named personally by Presidential candidate Donald Trump in March 2016 at a meeting with The Washington Post’s editorial board. The advisor was lambasted for over two months by Trump’s various and sundry opponents in American politics and media as well as by radical forces outside the US, including pro-Iran regime groups and radical Islamist sympathizers. Phares conducted some of his highest intensity media and diplomatic work during the campaign. He engaged in a strong informational campaign, reaching out to American, European, Latin American, Arab, and international press with dozens of interviews, statements and reports highlighting the campaign’s foreign policy agenda – the agenda which later became the foundation of the Trump administration’s broader policies. Phares also met with many diplomats and foreign dignitaries at their request to answer questions about then candidate Trump’s agenda. Both in the media and with diplomats, he strongly defended the campaign’s announcements and future policy plans.
In his statements and meetings during the campaign, Dr. Phares addressed many issues and crises that would unfold in 2017 and 2018 while they were still in their infant stages, including what he called “the east-Asia conflicts”—the North Korean crisis, China’s expansion, as well as Japan and South Korea’s worries during the spring and summer of 2016. Phares reassured numerous diplomats and journalists that the United States under the leadership of President Trump would not abandon its allies in the region.
Phares also met with many European diplomats and officials visiting Washington, DC, including members of the European Parliament, to discuss US-European relations in light of the agenda Trump revealed in his foreign policy and convention speeches during 2016. He reassured our European partners of the commitment the United States would have towards the transatlantic alliance and common security under President Trump.
In the same vein, the Foreign Policy advisor engaged with Latin American foreign ministers, ambassadors and diplomats from—among others—Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. He gave several interviews to Hispanic and Portuguese language press, to help better explain the campaign’s ideas towards this hemisphere. Phares argued that despite the criticism Trump received for his statements regarding refugees and the U.S.-Mexico border, both countries were bound to cut a deal to regulate their relationship.
The largest policy communication network Phares developed was with Arab, Middle Eastern and African representatives, from areas where criticism of US policy in general, and of the Trump agenda in particular, was the highest. The Foreign Policy advisor conducted relentless interviews with Arab media, explained the agenda to dozens of ministers, lawmakers, ambassadors and diplomats and traveled to and from the region to conduct deeper research about radicalization and indoctrination, including to Egypt and the UAE. As early as 2014, Phares encouraged a new partnership with Egypt which was later embodied by then candidate Trump meeting President Sisi. He initially advised Trump to set up the concept of an “Arab Alliance,” which the administration embraced when the President traveled to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip in May 2017. Phares was behind the concept of establishing safe zones in Syria since 2012 and stressed the necessity of U.S. involvement to protect the minorities in the Middle East, a subject he has defended for decades. As it was said already last year, Phares’ ideas did land in the White House.
In addition, Professor Phares launched a coalition of Middle Eastern and liberal Muslims leaders to demonstrate that a Trump administration wouldn’t be “Islamophobic”—as the candidate’s foes accused. (See here)
In October of 2011, Phares was named as senior National Security advisor to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He advised Romney until the election in 2012 and co-chaired the campaign’s Middle East & North Africa Working Group along with Mary Beth Long and Meghan O’Sullivan. Their team developed regional strategies and policies for a Romney White House—including those on terrorism, positioning civil societies and regional development.
As Romney’s senior National Security advisor, Professor Phares was in constant engagement with American and international media and lawmakers. In a Breitbart interview in July of 2012, Phares argued that the United States under President Romney would “partner with civil societies in the Middle East and consolidate alliances.” Later in 2012, Phares spoke of Romney’s strategic policy for the region stating – “Romney put Iran in the center stage of his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy for a rational reason. Iran’s regime is meddling in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah and backing Syria’s Assad, the latter is committing massacres in Syria. This policy has failed and an alternative one is needed. Besides, President Obama will claim the killing of Bin Laden, but al Qaeda is expanding. Hence there is a failure in the war on terror.”
Phares’s book The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, which predicted the Arab Spring, was endorsed by candidate Romney in 2010, whose book No Apology quoted Phares’ expertise several times in Middle East affairs.
Phares’ expertise in geopolitical conflicts stems from an academic and professional career dedicated to the topic. In the 1980s, Phares’ research focused on ethnic-religious coexistence in Lebanon, and was the topic of his first book, Pluralism in Lebanon, published in Arabic in 1979. Additionally, he studied Syria’s and Israel’s subsequent intervention in Lebanon as well as Arab world regimes in the Cold War – Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt.
After immigrating to the United States in the 1990s, Phares observed and committed extensive research and time in media to the Israel-Palestinian peace process, the rise of the Taliban, and Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. In the time immediately preceding 9/11, Phares provided expert assessment and policy analysis on the United States intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005.
Since 2010, Phares has advocated for the formation of the Arab coalition. This concept was one of Phares’ major contributions to the Trump campaign in 2016, and is a policy currently being unfolded by the administration. In 2010 and 2011, Phares supported the Arab upheaval and was the first to predict the Arab Spring from Tunisia, to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Phares was highly critical of the signing of the Iran Deal, seeing it as a key to the Iranians to expand their influence and power in the region. Phares closely studies the rise of the Iranian opposition to the regime.
Phares’ decades-long study of local, regional, and transnational Jihadi groups has made him one of the world’s foremost experts on Salafist movements and the ideology that spawns and motivates them. He has leveraged this extensive body of knowledge to produce a predictive ‘map’ of the progressive stages of Islamist influence within cultures, a map he applies to specific scenarios to produce timely and cogent analyses of world conflicts, the war on terror, and the war of ideas, for numerous US and foreign governmental and non-governmental organizations.
In the 1980s while living in Beirut, Phares’ research focused on pro-Soviet terrorism in the Middle East and the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Upon immigrating to the United States, Phares’ research on counter-terrorism was primarily related to Hezbollah, the rise of al-Qaeda and its organization against the United States, the Taliban, and jihadists. Phares’ research paid particular attention to the 1992 jihadist conference in Khartoum, a conference he referenced when providing an assessment to the 9/11 commission. In the time since 9/11, Phares has committed extensive research to assessing what policies the United States government should advance in relation to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, and ISIS.
Phares has served as an academic advisor to several human rights and minority groups, based in the United States and internationally, and leads delegations to the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, and the United Nations Secretariat General and UN Security Council.
Shortly after completing university in Lebanon, Phares published several pieces that shed light on Christian communities in the Middle East, including Copts, Assyrians, South Sudanese, and Lebanese Christians. In Lebanon, he worked to advance policy that would lead to a federal system for the nation’s government to ensure human rights for all Lebanese.
In the 1990s, Phares formed the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights in the Muslim World with Reverend Keith Rodrick. He served as an academic advisor of the coalition. His goal was to work on international and U.S. policy towards minority groups in the Middle East and North Africa. In 1995, he was the co-chair and speaker of a Columbia University conference on slavery in Sudan and Mauritania. Following the conference, the issue of slavery in Sudan was embraced by a large coalition of U.S. human rights organizations. Phares assisted in garnering American support of the South Sudanese and was a member of the American Anti-Slavery Group.
In 1997, Phares began advising Congress on human rights of religious minorities in the Middle East under Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), current United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Phares’ testimony to Congress led him to serve as an advisor of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998.
In the next decade, Phares made more advances in U.S. Congress as well as in the United Nations for human rights – launching the Coalition for Middle East Democracy out of the Senate and working with Lebanese NGOs to urge the United Nations to demand that the Syrian army pull out of Lebanon. The result of the latter was UN Resolution 1559, calling on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. Much of his post 9/11 work centered as well around Kurdish NGOs and their aim to protect the Kurdish identity and recognize their right to self-determination in the Middle East.
Since 2010, Phares has worked with domestic and international organizations supporting minorities in the Middle East including Yazidis and Iraqi Christians. He also worked with Egyptian NGOs in 2013 to help their civil society rise up against the Muslim Brotherhood regime.
Beginning in 1994, Phares has served as an expert witness in U.S. immigration courts. With a background and law and years of research in geopolitical conflicts and human rights, Phares was called on in numerous political asylum cases. Until 2000, Phares assisted defense lawyers as a court expert in political asylum with his area of expertise covering Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. After 9/11, he was called onto provide expertise in cases of the aforementioned nations as well as Iraq, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. By 2010, Phares’ asylum cases covered Morocco to Afghanistan, and was sought by courts across the nation.
As well as serving as an expert witness in cases on political asylum, Phares’ expertise on counter-terrorism was sought by the U.S. and foreign governments in terror cases. In January and February of 2003, Phares served as an expert witness on behalf of the Dutch Government in a Rotterdam terror case. Later that spring, Phares assisted the U.S. government as a federal expert on terrorism in a major terror case in Detroit.
Phares serves as Fox News Channel’s expert on Foreign Policy and National Security and as a contributor to al-Arabiya. He is highly sought after by local, national, and international news organizations for his expert analysis and commentary on terrorism and the Middle East.
As well as being a contributor on Fox News Channel and al-Arabiya, Phares joins local, national, and international news organizations on a regular basis to share his expert analysis. He has given interviews on MSNBC, CNBC, NBC, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, Voice of America TV, and several of their local affiliates; the Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBS Canada, Canadian TV, and Global TV in Canada; BBC TV, Sky News International, and France 24 as well as its English and Arabic variants in Europe; Al Jazeera TV, Alhurra TV, Abu Dhabi TV, Al Arabiya TV, and LBCI in the Middle East; and Russia Today TV. He appears on European, Arab, South Asian and Latin American news shows and is a frequent contributor to many US and international radio programs including BBC English and Arabic and French Canadian Radio.
Since 1979, Phares has published eleven books, many monographs, and numerous scholarly articles on Middle East conflicts and international terrorism. A number of his books were translated to or published in French, Spanish, Arabic, Yugoslav, and Russian. Several of his articles have appeared in U.S. and international journals, magazines, periodicals, and newspapers such as the Middle East Quarterly, Global Affairs, Journal of Middle East and South Asian Studies, Journal of International Security Affairs, Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, Homeland Security Today, and other specialized journals.
Phares’ celebrated work on the clash of identities and civilizations in Lebanon, Al-Taadudiya fi Lubnan (Eng.: Pluralism in Lebanon), was published in Arabic in 1979 (Kaslik University Press) at the age of 22, the same year he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Public Law from Saint Joseph Jesuit University. During the 1980s, he entered a series of public dialogues based out of Beirut, Lebanon, with Islamic fundamentalist and Arab nationalist intellectuals published in the daily press, after which he published several of books, among them, Hiwar Dimucrati (Eng.: Democratic Dialogue) (Manshurat el-Tagammoh, 1981); Treize Siecles de Lutte (Eng.: Thirteen Centuries of Struggle) (Mashreq International Press, 1982); and Al-Thawra al Islamiya al Khumaynia (Eng.: The Islamic Khomeinist Revolution) (Dar el-Sharq Press, 1986). His first articles appeared in the Arab press in the early 1980s.
His first post-9/11 book, Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America (Palgrave Macmillan, November 2005), became a Foreign Affairs Magazine bestseller in 2006. It was included in congressional summer readings and was since widely read across the national security and intelligence community in the US and in Europe. The following year Phares published an international version in English titled Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West. A Spanish version was published by Madrid Think Tank FAES under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Jose Aznar. A Serbo-Croat was also published.
His next book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy (Palgrave and Macmillan) was published in March 2007. In March 2008, he published The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad (Palgrave Macmillan). Phares’ books were featured on US Congressional and British House of Commons reading lists in 2007. NBC military analyst Col. Jack Jacobs said of Phares’ expertise in 2006: “He is the only one who understands how the strategic mind of the Jihadist operates.”
The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, published in 2010, projected the uprisings in the region before they occurred later in 2011. Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC), former Chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis & Counterintelligence, spoke of “The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East” saying:
“In the book, which includes analysis he had already provided to my office, several committees, and the Anti-Terrorism Caucus, Dr. Phares projected the rise of civil societies in the Middle East against dictatorships and radical movements. He also foresaw the race between the seculars and pro-democracy activists on one side, and the Islamists, Salafists and jihadists on the other. As the uprisings unfolded, Dr. Phares provided timely and accurate analysis that which suggested that the region’s youth, women, and minorities will be the primary energizing force behind the upheaval, while Islamist and jihadi movements would engage opportunistically later to co-opt the revolts.” A versian was released in Russian as well.
Phares published several booklets and essays including on some on Iran’s regime, Lebanon and Middle East minorities.
In 2013, Phares published a book in French titled Du Printemps Arabe a l’Automne Islamiste by Hugo House in Paris, where he argued that the initial “Arab Spring” had opened the path for civil societies to rise and democratize, but the organized Islamists were faster and seized power in several countries in the region.
Phares’ latest book is “The Lost Spring: US Foreign Policy and the Catastrophes to Avoid,” which predicted the rise of ISIS and the Iran deal strategies. Phares projected the rise of a post Al-Qaeda Jihadi movement, just few months before ISIS seized parts of Syria and Iraq. He also warned about a deal with the Iran regime one year before the Iran Nuclear Deal was signed by the Obama Administration, then canceled in 2018 by the Trump Administration.
A complete list of Phares’ books can be found below.
- Phares, Walid. The Lost Spring. New York, London: Palgrave Macmillan. 2014. Text.
- Phares, Walid. Du Printemps Arabe a l’Automne Islamiste. Paris: Editions Hugo. 2013. Text.
- Phares, Walid. The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2010. Text.
- Phares, Walid. The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2008. Text.
- Phares, Walid. The War of Ideas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2007. Text.
- Phares, Walid, Future Jihad, Terrorist Strategies against the West. New York, London, Palgrave MacMillan. 2006. Text
- Phares, Walid. Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America. New York, London: Palgrave Macmillan, St Martin’s Press. 2005. Text.
- Phares, Walid. Lebanese Christian Nationalism: The Rise and Fall of an Ethnic Resistance. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. 1995. Text.
- Phares, Walid. [The Background of the Iranian Khumainist Revolution]. Khalfyat al‑Thawra al‑Iranya al‑Khomeinya. Beirut: Sawt-el Mashreq Publications. 1987. Text.
- Phares, Walid. [Democratic Thought in its Confrontation with the Concepts of Arabization and Assimilation]. Al‑Fikr al‑Dimucrati al‑Masihi al‑Lubnani fi Muwajahat Utruhat al‑Ta’rib wal Tathwib. Beirut: Al Mashriq Publications. 1980. Text.
- Phares, Walid. [Pluralism] Al‑Taadudya Fi Lubnan. Jouneih, Lebanon: Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. 1979. Text.
Phares was born in 1957 in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. He is the third child of father Halim [Clement], a lawyer, playwright, translator, and professor, and mother Hind Phares. He grew up with his older brother Sammy and older sister Liliane. His family traces its history back to 1717 in the village of Ghouma in northern Lebanon, where Phares would often spend summers. Prior to that, Phares’ ancestors can be traced to the historic town of Akoura, founded in the 6thcentury.
Members of the extended Phares family lived in France, where Phares traveled to in his youth. Before immigration to the United States, the cultures that most influenced Phares in his young life were Lebanese, French, and Arab cultures. Phares grew up listening to western and regional music, and developed a taste for many genres because of his multi-cultural exposure: Levantine and Classical Arabic music, French, British, and American music, Mediterranean music, and Italian and Spanish music.
Primary and Secondary Education
Phares grew up speaking Lebanese, a dialect consisting of the modern-spoken version of Aramaic with Arabic words. In primary school, he began French and Arabic instruction, with English instruction beginning in the 5th grade. He attended private, Catholic schools throughout childhood.
For secondary school, Phares attended a private, co-educational school, the French Lycee of Beirut. He excelled in translation. Outside of coursework in history, geography, and philosophy, he enjoyed competing in sports including running, tennis, basketball and skiing. In running, Phares competed at the national level; his specialty event was the 3km race.
ADULT LIFE IN LEBANON
The summer before his first year of university, the Lebanese Civil War began. The entirety of his time at St. Joseph University, where his father was previously a professor, was during the war. During this time, many of his friends emigrated from Lebanon – Dr. Phares was one of the few who stayed.
In 1979, Phares published his first book in Arabic on pluralism in three volumes: the first on pluralism in Lebanon, the second on pluralism in the world, and the third on pluralism in contemporary Lebanon. That same year, he completed his degree at St. Joseph University in Public Law. During his time in school, his father would send him to meet with great intellectuals, including erudite Fuad Afram Bustani, founder of the Lebanese Universty, Dr. Charles Melk, co-writer of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and former President of the UN General Assembly, and Charles Helou, President of Lebanon from 1964-1970. This gave him an intense and advanced exposure to politics and philosophy which was much broader than his exposure at school.
He engaged in public discussions with Islamic Fundamentalist and Arab Nationalist intellectuals in the 1980s out of Beirut. He published a number of books including Hiwar Dimucrati (Democratic Dialogue, 1981) and al Thawra al Islamiya al Khumaynia (The Islamic Khomeinist Revolution, 1986). Dr. Phares formed a number of NGOs and Unions, took part in local public policy, and appeared in the local and international media. He lectured in a number of countries in the Middle East and worldwide—France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Brazil, Uruguay, Cyprus and Canada.
In 1982, he became a member of the bar in Beirut. His heart was not in practicing law – instead his mind was in public issues and politics – but practicing law in Beirut gave him an understanding of Lebanese and Middle Eastern legal systems.
He engaged himself in politics, co-founding a political party, the Social Christian Democrats, based on a small political movement, the “Social Christian Democratic Union,” composed of intellectuals, professors, and professionals. The party called for the establishment of a federal system in Lebanon, for democratic elections, for the guarantee of human and civil rights, and for a neutral Lebanon and the Middle East. In 1986, Phares was invited to represent the Social Christian Democrats in a coalition of parties, both left and right of center, known as the Lebanese Forces. The coalition’s goal was to liberate Lebanon from the Syrian army which invaded the country in 1976 and disarm all militias after liberation. Phares served as Director of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Lebanese Forces, a role that has been frequently misconstrued and unfairly made controversial, due to coalition’s military force. Phares equates the coalition’s military force to the Continental Army. Phares resigned from his role in representing the Social Christian Democrats in the Lebanese Forces at the end of 1988.
From 1988-1990, Phares served as Secretary General of the World Maronite Union.
LEAVING LEBANON: IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
In October 1990, the Syrian army invaded the last free areas of Lebanon including the enclave of Beirut where Phares lived. If he chose to stay in Lebanon, he would have had to reject every book and article he had published. He chose to leave Lebanon on two conditions: he would not live under occupation, and he saw a chance for something bigger.
Phares was aware of the threat against the west and against America that was brewing in Lebanon. In immigrating, he wanted to warn America about the forth-coming wave of Jihadists coming to attack.
Upon leaving Lebanon, he traveled first to France but felt that his call was to America – where he arrived on December 4, 1990. His first decision in Miami was to pursue a PhD in international relations because he wanted an American degree.
SMEAR CAMPAIGNS & CRITICISM
The first coordinated, open attack in the media against Phares by militants, took place in 1999. An article, written by an official of a U.S.-based Islamist group CAIR, claimed Phares was a “deputy commander” of the Lebanese Forces during the 1980s – a claim that is clearly false. In 2002, the author of the attack was found guilty by a U.S. Court of “aiding terror Jihadi group Lashkar Taiba of Pakistan.”
A second smear in mainstream media was published in The Atlantic in 2005, where Phares was referred to as an “Islam critic.” The article was published after Phares’ service as a U.S. government expert on Jihadism in the Detroit terror case of 2002 and 2003. From then to today, Phares has strongly rejected the argument that he is an Islam critic, citing it as a false and weak argument. The author of the accusation was accused herself of supporting Jihadi Salafis in India by many Indian online critics.
In 2010, a pamphlet titled “Fear Inc.” attacked many U.S. national security experts blaming them for “Islamophobia”— Phares’ name was mentioned as using “Islamophobia” as a tool in lectures to national security audiences. Phares rejected this attack. The author went on to be criticized by many in the national security field as close to Muslim Brotherhood circles. Likely, the goal of “Fear Inc.” was to cut off experts, including Phares, from being used by the U.S. government in training and lectures.
Another attempt to intimidate the U.S. government into abandoning Phares’ scholarship in foreign policy and national security took place in 2011 in an article published by CAIR. The Islamist organization issued a press release that again attacked Phares for having been “a high ranking official” in the Lebanese Forces in the 1980s – falsely stating that he was part of military operations. The aim of the CAIR attack was to dissuade the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Representative Pete King, from inviting Phares to testify to the committee on domestic Jihadi activities. Congressman King dismissed the CAIR request and issued a statement that Professor Phares was one the committee’s advisors. Phares testified several times to Congress in the years that followed.
In September 2011, immediately after Presidential candidate Mitt Romney appointed Phares as one of his senior national security advisors, a smear campaign was launched against Phares. A series of pieces appeared in a synchronized fashion on a number of far-left, pro-Iran, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood sites. Among the attackers, were bloggers at Salon, and the Daily Beast. The most significant attack was by Mother Jones magazine, in a piece that alleged that Phares was a key player in the Lebanese Forces and that he had been an advisor to its commander, both facts being erroneous. The slander piece was based on the CAIR press release from the same year and on a pro-Hezbollah source in Lebanon. The piece aimed at pressuring Romney to dismiss Phares as an advisor, which he refrained from doing. The 2011 and 2012 virulent campaign against Phares included a savaging of his Wikipedia page, targeted by pro-Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and far-left online operatives. Several attempts to restore the page to a factual reporting failed, as the management of Wikipedia refused to freeze the page and to conduct an investigation. Since 2012, Phares has been in a battle against hostile elements on his Wikipedia page that constantly smear him.
In March of 2016, after Presidential candidate Donald Trump named Phares as one of his foreign policy advisors, an axis of online operatives, likely the same axis, waged a smear campaign similar to the one of 2011. It lasted the entire campaign and still exists. In addition to the usual pro-Iran regime, Ikhwan and far-left bloggers, the 2016 slander campaign included the Washington Post and, to a certain degree, the New York Times and other opposition media to Trump. The pieces recycled falsified accusations and added nothing of substance—they were simply a rehash of the attacks during the Romney campaign.
Analysts in Phares’ circle concluded that the aim of both campaigns in 2011 and 2016 was to tarnish Phares’ reputation and block him from being appointed at an executive branch position. Further attacks against in al Jazeera, operating under Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood and in al Akhbar, close to Hezbollah and Iran, confirmed that the campaigns against Phares since the 2000s have been waged by sympathizers of radical and hostile political forces in the region. These players view Phares as an intellectual with influence, capable of exposing Jihadism in all of its forms, Khomeinist and Ikhwan, and bringing awareness to the US public and the international community.
ATTACKS ON WIKIPEDIA
During the smear campaigns against Phares, conducted by far-left, pro-Iran regime and pro-Muslim Brotherhood operatives, his Wikipedia page was specifically targeted. Several waves of authors misrepresenting the history and work of Phares on Wikipedia stretched over almost eight years, from 2011 to 2018. Two stages are clearly distinguished: the first when Phares was named Senior National Security Advisor to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in September 2011, and the second when Phares was named Foreign Policy Advisor to Presidential candidate Donald Trump in March 2016.
The 2011-2012 campaign to disfigure Phares’ resume and reputation aimed at pressuring Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his potential Administration to drop Phares’ name as a member of the national security team, for fear that he would provide strategic advice against Iran’s regime and the Islamist forces in the Middle East. The attempts failed, as Romney didn’t remove Phares. The opposite occurred – he tasked Phares with additional responsibilities in shaping his Middle East strategy. The Wikipedia smear failed, but the negative material was never removed.
Phares’ team and several Wikipedia readers attempted to remove the false material tarnishing Phares’ page and offer facts. The management of Wikipedia removed the additions of Phares’ team and insisted on maintaining the slander editing. Phares team researched the editors allowed by Wikipedia to trash Phares identity, and found among them at least two who had their IP addresses traced back to the Bir Hassan region in Lebanon, one of Hezbollah’s zones of control, south of Beirut. The Walid Phares Wikipedia page has since been controlled by extremist elements to ensure Phares loses credibility within the U.S. government and isn’t entrusted by the government with related tasks – in Congress or the Executive Branch.
Another wave of slander activities against Phares’ Wikipedia page was triggered after Presidential candidate Donald Trump named him as one of his foreign policy advisors in March 2016. Immediately after, his Wikipedia page was seized again by hostile operatives who systematically posted all smear articles and blogs which were published in parallel. Phares’ team attempted to post pieces that responded to the slander, but Wikipedia officials removed them and maintained the smearing ones, confirming the coordination between the party waging the attacks in the media and Wikipedia editors.
The two slander campaigns that targeted Phares’ Wikipedia page have proven that the latter doesn’t represent facts about the author’s life, achievements or even his positions and publications. His Wikipedia is considered by him, and his colleagues and friends, as an example of fake news fabrications. Phares has reserved his rights to take legal action against Wikipedia.