Ambassador (ret.) Gordon Gray

Gordon Gray, Kuwait Professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Affairs

Ambassador (ret.) Gordon Gray

Kuwait Professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Affairs

Full-time Faculty


Office Phone: 202-994-2765
The Elliott School of International Affairs Foggy Bottom Campus 1957 E Street, NW, Room 512K Washington DC 20052

Gordon Gray is the Kuwait Professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. government after 35 years of public service, Ambassador Gray was the Deputy Commandant at the National War College. He was the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia from 2009 until 2012, witnessing the start of the Arab Spring and directing the U.S. response in support of Tunisia’s transition. From 2008-2009, he served in Iraq as Senior Advisor to the Ambassador, focusing on governance and infrastructure in the southern provinces. 

Ambassador Gray was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 until 2008; his responsibilities included the promotion of U.S. interests in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, and oversight of the bureau’s Regional Affairs office. His other foreign assignments included Egypt (where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2002 until 2005), Canada, Jordan, Pakistan, and Morocco, where he began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer. He twice received the Presidential Meritorious Service award.

Before joining the faculty at the Elliott School, Ambassador Gray was a Professor of Practice at Penn State’s School of International Affairs. He was previously Chief Operating Officer at the Center for American Progress and, before that, Executive Vice President at the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Ambassador Gray is a non-resident fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Ambassador Gray serves on the Board of Directors of Amideast and the Tunisian-American Young Professionals Association and on the Advisory Council of the Middle East Institute’s North Africa and Sahel program. He is a member of the American Foreign Service Association and the American Academy of Diplomacy.  

Ambassador Gray received his B.A. from Yale and his M.A. from Columbia, as well as an honorary M.S. from the National Defense University. He and his wife have three adult children. In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys distance running.   

M.A., Columbia University
B.A., Yale University

IAFF 6118 - Diplomacy and Statecraft

IAFF 6378 - U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

IAFF 6378 - North Africa After the Arab Spring

IAFF 3188 - U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

- “Support Civil Society in Tunisia,” Newsweek (March 28, 2023)

- “Whither U.S.-Tunisian Relations After Saied’s Disastrous December?,” The National Interest (December 26, 2022)

- “Focus Assistance to Tunisia – Don’t Suspend It,” The National Interest (September 18, 2022)

- “Deploy All the Instruments of Statecraft, Not Just the Military Ones,” Manara Magazine (July 2, 2022)

- “Heed the Lessons of 2011 to Prevail in Ukraine,” Just Security (June 28, 2022)*

- “The U.S. Can no Longer Ignore Tunisia’s Fight for Democracy,” The Hill (March 2, 2022)

- “Can Tunisia’s Civil Society Save its Democracy?,” The Diplomatic Pouch

 (October 8, 2021)    

- “Playing the Long Game with the World’s Arab Countries,” The National Interest

 (August 26, 2021)

- “A Tale of Two Presidents,” The Diplomatic Pouch (August 5, 2021)

- “Tunisia: What’s Next?,” The Diplomatic Pouch (August 4, 2021)

- “The Biden Administration and Tunisia:  Off to a Good Start,” The Hill (July 14, 2021)  

- “The Parable of a Beekeeper,” The Foreign Service Journal (July/August 2021)

- “Why Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a Great Pick for the UN,” The National Interest

  (January 26, 2021) *

- “What the Tunisian Revolution Taught Me,” The Foreign Service Journal

   (January/February 2021) *

- “Ce que l'élection de Biden signifie pour la Tunisie,” Leaders (November 9, 2020)

- “Hope Springs Eternal,” The Foreign Service Journal (November 2020) *

- “A New Vision for America’s North Africa Policy,” The National Interest (August 29, 2020)*

- “Will the Next Administration Restore Diplomacy in the Middle East?,” The Hill

    (June 25, 2020) *

- “A Special Class of Diplomat,” The Foreign Service Journal (March 2020)

- “Running After the Revolution,” The Arab Weekly (January 17, 2020) *

- “A Despot’s Death in Tunisia,” The National Interest (October 27, 2019) *

- “How President Béji Caid Essebsi Helped Build Tunisia’s Democracy,” The National Interest (August 1, 2019) *

- “America Should Support Tunisia’s Democracy,” The National Interest (July 7, 2019) *

- “Lessons Learned from a Dictator’s Overthrow,” Journal of Diplomacy (April 26, 2019)*

- “Wanted: Patient Diplomacy in Yemen,” The National Interest (March 16, 2019)

- “Why Pompeo Must Prioritize U.S. Diplomacy,” The National Interest (April 11, 2018)

- “Case 339 - Tunisia and the Start of the Arab Spring,” Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University (2017)

- “Nobel Peace Prize Honors the Resilience of the Tunisian People,” TIME (October 9, 2015)

- “From Revolution to Transition in Tunisia,” The Ambassadors Review (2011)


Articles marked with an asterisk were translated into French by Leaders, a Tunisian publication.