Dr. Amy Austin Holmes

Dr. Amy Austin Holmes headshot

Dr. Amy Austin Holmes

Research Professor of International Affairs; Program Director, FAO Regional Skill Sustainment Initiative

Full-time Faculty

Department: Institute for Security and Conflict Studies


Dr. Amy Austin Holmes is Research Professor of International Affairs and Acting Director of the Foreign Area Officers Program at George Washington University. Dr. Holmes has published widely on the global American military posture, the NATO alliance, non-state actors, revolutions, military coups, and de-facto states. With more than 15 years global experience conducting research in the Middle East and Europe, including various conflict zones, she is a noted expert on issues of American foreign policy and international security.

Dr. Holmes earned her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and previously served as a tenured Associate Professor at the American University in Cairo. She has held Visiting Scholar positions at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, the Weatherhead Center also at Harvard University, and at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Dr. Holmes is the author of three books and more than 50 articles. 

Her first book Social Unrest and American Military Bases in Turkey and Germany since 1945 (Cambridge University Press) analyzed seven decades of American security relations with NATO allies Turkey and Germany. Her second book Coups and Revolutions: Mass Mobilization, the Egyptian Military and the United States from Mubarak to Sisi (Oxford University Press) was informed by her experience of living in Egypt throughout the period of revolutionary upheaval. Her third book Statelet of Survivors: The Making of a Semi-Autonomous Region in Northeast Syria (Oxford University Press) is based on a pioneering field survey of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) she conducted in Northeast Syria over a period of seven years. Dr Holmes is leading a new project that involves the creation of the largest dataset in existence on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict covering four decades, in order to analyze how it has transformed across time and space.

In addition to her academic career, Dr. Holmes served as an advisor at the U.S. Department of State through a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship, where she first worked in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, focused on Iraq and Syria.  She then also served on the Turkey Desk in the Office of Southern European Affairs, which covers Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she also served as a volunteer lecturer at the Kyiv School of Economics during the summer of 2023, where she taught a course on Global Disinformation.

Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University

Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Books

Statelet of Survivors: The Making of a Semiautonomous Region in Northeast SyriaOxford University Press, forthcoming January 2024

Coups and Revolutions: Mass Mobilization, the Egyptian Military, and the United States from Mubarak to SisiOxford University Press, 2019

Social Unrest and American Military Bases in Turkey and Germany since 1945, Cambridge University Press, 2014


Peer-Reviewed Articles and Chapters

“Dead States and Living Legacies: From the Republic of Mount Ararat to Northeast Syria” in The I.B. Tauris Handbook of the Late Ottoman Empire: History and Legacy, edited by Khatchig Mouradian and Hans-Lukas Kieser, forthcoming 2024

“Dual Refusal: How the Labor Movement Almost Toppled the Bahraini Monarchy”, in: The I.B. Tauris Handbook of Sociology and the Middle East, edited by Fatma Müge Göçek and Gamze Evcimen, December 2022

Myths of Military Defection in Egypt and Tunisia” (co-authored with Kevin Koehler) Mediterranean Politics, July 2018

“Working on the Revolution in Bahrain: From The Mass Strike to Everyday Forms of Medical Provision” Social Movement Studies, July 2015

“On Military Coups and Mad Utopias”, in: A Region of Resistance, South Atlantic Quarterly, 113:2, Duke University Press, spring 2014

“The Base that replaced the British Empire: De-Democratization and the US Navy in Bahrain”, Journal of Arabian Studies June 2014

“There are weeks when Decades happen: Structure and Strategy in the Egyptian Revolution” Mobilization, 17(4), December 2012, p 391-410


Selected Policy Reports, Articles, and Op-Eds

Five Years of Airstrikes: Turkish Aggression and International Silence in Sinjar”, (co-authored with Diween Hawezy and Brett Cohen) International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, 2 August 2021

Threats Perceived and Real: New Data and the Need for a New Approach to the Turkish-SDF Border Conflict,” The Wilson Center, Occasional Paper, No. 39, May 2021

Biden-Harris Should Lead on Women’s Rights and Help End Syrian Conflict”, Council on Foreign Relations Blog, March 26, 2021

The Capitol Invasion was a Coup from Below”, Foreign Policy, January 13, 2021

The United States Can Counter Putin and Assad With a Light Footprint in Syria”, Foreign Policy, October 21, 2020

Despite Ceasefire Agreement, Turkey Implicated in More Than Eight Hundred Violations,” Council on Foreign Relations Blog, October 13, 2020

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces” MERIP, Summer 2020

Syrian Yezidis under Four Regimes: Assad, Erdogan, ISIS, and the YPG,” Wilson Center, July 2020

Q&A with Amy Austin Holmes.” Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. (Spring 2020)

SDF’s Arab Majority Rank Turkey as the Biggest Threat to NE Syria: Survey Data on America’s Partner Forces”, The Wilson Center, October 7, 2019

Women, Minorities, and Military Aid to Egypt” Washington Institute, August 9, 2018

Civil Society from Alexandria to Aswan: Survival Strategies” Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, May 31, 2018

What Egypt’s racist campaign against Nubians reveals about Sisi’s regime” The Washington Post, April 19, 2018

“Tightening the Noose on Egypt’s Civil Society” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Sada Middle East Analysis, June 1, 2017

The Attack on Civil Society outside Cairo” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Sada Middle East Analysis, January 26, 2017

Sisi’s US Army War College Thesis: 10 Years Later”, op-ed in Mada Masr, March 15, 2016

What are the Kurdish Women’s Units Fighting For?” The Washington Post, December 23, 2015

What the Battle for Kobane says about U.S. overseas military bases” Washington Post, February 2, 2015

Why Egypt’s Military Orchestrated a Massacre” Washington Post, August 22, 2014

Before the Bloodletting: A Tour of the Rabaa Sit-in”, Cairo Review of Global Affairs, August 16, 2013

The Royals’ New Rules: Backsliding in Bahrain”, Cairo Review of Global Affairs, February 27, 2013