Amb. Silliman will discuss the challenges and opportunities of the Biden administration in light of the changing landscape of the Middle East. Such changes include the Gulf states as regional players, JCPOA and Iran, human rights reform in Saudi Arabia, and other regional power alliances. These changes will be taking place within the context of a post-Covid pandemic economic recovery and climate change.
Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman is president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He previously served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2016-19 and U.S. ambassador to Kuwait from 2014-16. From 2013-14, he served as a senior advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, working on Iraq issues and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Silliman was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq from 2012-13, minister counselor for political affairs in Baghdad from 2011-12, and deputy chief of mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008-11. He joined the Department of State in 1984.
Silliman served as director and deputy director of the Department of State’s Office of Southern European Affairs, as political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, and as the regional officer for the Middle East in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He worked as a political officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, as the desk officer for Lebanon, and as a staff assistant to the assistant secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Silliman began his career as a visa officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and a political officer in Tunis, Tunisia.
In 2018, Silliman received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Donald J. Trump. He has received numerous awards from the Department of State, including the Secretary’s Award for Public Outreach in 2007 and senior performance awards. Silliman received the Sinclaire Language Award in 1993 and the W. Averell Harriman Award for outstanding junior officer in 1988 from the American Foreign Service Association. He retired from the Foreign Service in April 2019 after 35 years.
Silliman received a Bachelor of Arts in political science, summa cum laude, from Baylor University in Texas, where he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Master of Arts in international relations from the George Washington University. Silliman speaks Arabic and French. He is married and has two adult children.
In addition to his position as president of AGSIW, Silliman also serves on the board of advisors of the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, which helps American businesses expand their international business and trade ties, especially in the Middle East and Gulf region. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy.