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Rebuilding Arab Defense: US Security Cooperation in the Middle East

Bilal Y. Saab
Rebuilding Arab Defense: US Security Cooperation in the Middle East
ISBN: 978-1-955055-39-0
ISBN: 978-1-955055-44-4
2022/249 pages/LC: 2021053960
"Well-written and impeccably researched, Rebuilding Arab Defense makes an invaluable contribution to scholarship and US policy on security sector assistance." —Daniel L. Byman, Georgetown University

"Saab's expertise is truly impressive. He writes with clarity and conviction on a topic whose policy prominence and strategic significance are only going to increase." —Michael Nagata, US Army Lieutenant General (Ret.), former SOCCENT Commander

"At a time when the US is looking to reduce its defense commitments in the Middle East, it has become vitally important to find better ways to help our allies there defend themselves. It is for this reason that Bilal Saab's terrific Rebuilding Arab Defense is so important. Saab lays out in clear, straightforward fashion what institutions are required, and how the US and our Arab allies can build them together."—Kenneth M. Pollack, American Enterprise Institute

"Bilal Saab has written a sharp and comprehensive analysis of US military assistance programs in the Middle East. His advice is well worth heeding."—Anthony C. Zinni, US Marine Corps General (Ret.), former CENTCOM Commander

"An excellent book.... Saab correctly diagnoses the problems of security cooperation on both our end and that of our Arab partners and provides bold yet applicable solutions."—James N. Mattis, US Marine Corps General (Ret.), former US Secretary of Defense

"Rebuilding Arab Defense should be mandatory reading for Middle East security scholars and practitioners alike." —Joseph L. Votel, US Army General (Ret.), former CENTCOM Commander


After decades of US military assistance in the Middle East—providing expensive weapons systems and conducting military exercises—why are the military capabilities of US allies in the region still lacking? Why does it matter? And what can be done to remedy the status quo?

Bilal Saab addresses these vexing questions through a set of in-depth case studies. Identifying the pitfalls of diverse assistance programs, Saab convincingly demonstrates the importance of institution building in efforts to achieve effective security cooperation in a region that remains of great strategic significance.


Bilal Y. Saab is senior fellow and director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute.


  • The US–Arab Security Partnership.
  • US Military Assistance: Old vs. New Model.
  • Saudi Arabia: Rebuilding Everything.
  • Jordan: Still Falling Short.
  • Lebanon: Working Against All Odds.
  • The United Arab Emirates: Breaking New Ground.
  • Cultural and Structural Challenges.
  • Achieving Security Cooperation.