GIS Expert Dr. Amatzia Baram is a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow, as well as a professor emeritus at the Department of the History of the Middle East and Director of the Centre for Iraq Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel.
Professor Baram was born in Kibbutz Kfar Menachem in southern Israel and raised and educated there. He served as an officer and commanded tank units in the Armored Corps during his regular military service from 1956 to 1960 and while in the reserves.
After release from regular military service, he worked on the kibbutz farm before graduating in biology and teaching sciences at the kibbutz high school.
He decided on a career change following the Six Day War in 1967 and started his education as an historian of the modern Middle East and Islam in 1971. He was “on loan” to the Iraqi desk at Military Intelligence as an analyst when the Iraq-Iran War began in 1980.
Professor Baram completed all three of his degrees at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1986 for a dissertation on Baathi Iraq. He has taught at the University of Haifa since then.
Since 1989, Professor Baram has served as a resident fellow at a number of international research institutions.
He was a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford, UK, in 1989 and again in 1990. He was a Senior Fellow in Washington, D.C., at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars three times (in 1990, 1994-1995 and 2005) and twice at the U.S. Institute of Peace (in 1997-1998 and 2003-2004). He was also at the Brookings Institution in 2002-2003.
Professor Baram was a Senior Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. In 1998-1999 and 2010-2011 he taught as a Goldman Chair Professor at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
He wrote studies and lectured on Iraqi society (with an emphasis on the tribes of Iraq) for the American military between 2005 and 2009. He served as chairman of the Department of Middle East History and as Director of the Jewish-Arab Center in Haifa University and in the Institute for Middle East Studies. He is the founder and director of the Center for Iraq Studies at the University of Haifa. Professor Baram’s main fields of study have been: 1. Iraq 1920-2013: politics, religion, culture and society, with an emphasis on 1968-2011; 2. Tribe and state in the Middle East; 3. The Arab Shia; 4. Political Islam; 5. Baathi Syria.
Since 1980 Professor Baram has advised the Israeli government and since 1986 also the U.S. government (during the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush administrations) on Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Professor Baram has been interviewed by most of the world’s leading TV and radio stations (including CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, the BBC, as well as Canadian, German, Italian, Dutch and Japanese broadcasters). He has also been interviewed by and published articles in leading newspapers (such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, the Financial Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs). He has published four books and some 70 articles in professional magazines. In December 2010 Professor Baram and two colleagues published a book titled Iraq between Occupations: Perspectives from 1920 to the Present (edited by Palgrave MacMillan). In 2014 Professor Baram completed his latest book: The Conversion of Saddam Husayn: Ba’thi Iraq from Militant Secularism to Islam 1968-2003.