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Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)

Crisis Group Role

Maria Fantappie is Senior Adviser at the International Crisis Group working on security, conflict, politics, governance, and social issues on Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish regions. Between January and August 2018, she served as Senior Strategic Adviser on Security Sector Reform Coordination to the EU mission in Iraq, seconded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Maria has conducted fieldwork in Iraq and Syria since 2009 and has engaged policymakers on her research at some of the highest levels of government in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. 

Areas of Expertise

  • Civil-Military relations
  • Institutions and social change in the Middle East
  • Iraq, Syria, Kurdish politics

Professional Background

Maria first joined Crisis Group in 2012.  In 2018, she was seconded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the EU mission in Iraq where she advised the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) on the implementation of the security sector reform program with special focus on Iraq’s national security legislation.

Before joining Crisis Group, Maria was a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut and associate researcher at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO). She has taught at American University of Iraq in Suleimani and Sciences Po Paris. Maria completed her PhD at King’s College London, Department of War Studies, and earned an MA and MPhil with distinction from Sciences Po Paris, Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

Selected Publications

In addition to publishing numerous research outputs and policy reports for Crisis Group and Carnegie, Maria’s writing appeared in Foreign Affairs, The New York TimesRevue Moyen Orient and Ashark al-Awsat, among others. She is also a contributor to Limes, the Italian Review of Geopolitics, and has published for the Istituto Affari Internazionli (ISPI).


  • English
  • French
  • Arabic
  • Italian

In The News

6 Nov 2019
[Iraqi] people make a direct connection between the failure and the corruption of the Shia political establishment, both politicians and some clerics, and the Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs. Washington Post

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)
4 Oct 2019
As protests continue to rage across Iraq, both government *and* civic leaders are responsible for charting a way forward and averting new violence. Twitter

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)
18 Aug 2019
[A rocket attack on Baghdad's Green Zone] was a way to test the limits of the Americans. Whoever did it is aware that the red line for the Trump administration is bloodshed. Financial Times

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)
9 Apr 2019
The designation of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] as a terrorist group actually has more impact in the countries neighbouring Iran than Iran itself. Financial Times

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)
28 Mar 2019
The problem with this administration in the U.S. is that it is all about money and boots on the ground, but that is not how it works in the [Middle East]. It is all about relationships. New York Times

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)
26 Oct 2017
For the Sunnis, there's a lack of political cohesion about exactly what they want. [Iraq's] Abadi government has never needed the Sunnis more than now. The New York Times

Maria Fantappie

Senior Adviser, Iraq (Consulting)

Latest Updates

Widespread Protests Point to Iraq’s Cycle of Social Crisis

A surge in street protests in Iraq has left some 110 people dead and exposed a rift between the government and a population frustrated by poor governance, inadequate services and miserable living conditions. To avert further violence, the authorities and protesters should open dialogue channels.

After the Aramco Attack: A Middle East One Step Closer to Its “1914 Moment”

On 14 September, strikes of uncertain provenance hit Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities, taking some 50 per cent of the kingdom’s oil production temporarily offline. Crisis Group offers a 360-degree view of the attacks and their implications for Middle Eastern and international peace and security.

A New Generation of Activists Circumvents Iraq’s Political Paralysis

Researching the talks on forming a new Iraqi ruling coalition, our Senior Adviser for Iraq Maria Fantappie finds a country whose youth, women, civil society, officials and even politicians are hungry for bottom-up change to a stalemated, top-down system of governance. 

Also available in العربية
Q&A / Middle East & North Africa

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Regional Elections Test a Brittle Status Quo

The fallout continues to settle after Iraqi Kurdistan’s fraught independence referendum one year ago. In this Q&A, our Iraq Senior Adviser Maria Fantappie surveys the political landscape ahead of the first regional legislative elections since the plebiscite.

Twilight of the Kurds

Kurdish officials once dreamed of forging their own state out of the ashes of the war against the Islamic State. Now they are fighting for their very survival.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Also available in العربية