March 21 saw the NCAFP host Ambassador (ret.) Gerald M. Feierstein for a discussion of the current state of affairs in Yemen. Ambassador Feierstein delved deep into the history of the country and the region to provide essential context for the understanding of the ongoing civil war. To Ambassador Feierstein, "the root causes of the ongoing civil conflict in Yemen lie in the failure of Yemeni society to address and resolve the popular anger and frustration arising from political marginalization, economic disenfranchisement, and the effects of an extractive, corrupt, rentier state."
In addition to serving at the senior vice president of the Middle East Institute, Ambassador Feierstein retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career with the personal rank of Career Minister. As a diplomat he served in nine overseas postings, including three tours of duty in Pakistan, as well as assignments in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Tunisia. In 2010, President Obama appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
In addition to his career-long focus on the Near East and South Asia, Ambassador Feierstein also played a prominent role in developing and implementing State Department policies and programs to counter violent extremism. As Deputy Coordinator and Principal Deputy Coordinator in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism bureau, he led the development of initiatives to build regional networks to confront extremist groups as well as to counter terrorist financing and promote counter-terrorism messaging. He continued to focus on defeating terrorist groups through his subsequent tours as Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan and as Ambassador to Yemen.