Sean Yom finished his Ph.D. at the Department of Government at Harvard University in June 2009, with a dissertation entitled "Iron Fists in Silk Gloves: Building Political Regimes in the Middle East." His primary research explores the origins and durability of authoritarian regimes in this region. His work contends that initial social conflicts driven by strategic Western interventions shaped the social coalitions constructed by autocratic incumbents to consolidate power in the mid-twentieth century--early choices that ultimately shaped the institutional carapaces and political fates of these governments. While at CDDRL, he will revise the dissertation in preparation for book publication, with a focus on expanding the theory to cover other post-colonial regions and states. His other research interests encompass contemporary political reforms in the Arab world, the historical architecture of Persian Gulf security, and US democracy promotion in the Middle East. Recent publications include articles in the Journal of Democracy, Middle East Report, Arab Studies Quarterly, and Arab Studies Journal.