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Middle East expert, frequent CNN guest Fouad Ajami dead at 68

By Shelby Lin Erdman
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Noted Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami passed away Sunday
  • Ajami lost his battle with cancer at the age of 68
  • Ajami is described as "a great intellect"
  • Ajami was born in Lebanon and was a naturalized U.S. citizen

(CNN) -- Described as "one of the most brilliant Middle East scholars of our time," author, foreign policy expert and Stanford University fellow Fouad Ajami died Sunday from cancer at the age of 68.

In a statement from Stanford's Hoover Institution, where Ajami was the senior fellow, director John Raisian said the school "will forever miss his superb scholarship, quick wit and gentle spirit ... whose life and intellectual contributions influenced so many."

Ajami was a longtime frequent guest on CNN, who made regular appearances on "AC360" and the "Situation Room."

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper tweeted out his condolences Sunday saying he greatly admired Ajami.

"He was a great intellect and was full of grace and compassion. It's been an honor to know him," Cooper said.

"He cared deeply about world events, and all those who knew him will miss his eloquence, his compassion, and his kindness," Cooper added.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer was a student of Ajami's at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

"I'm so sad to learn the brilliant Mideast scholar Fouad Ajami has passed away," Blitzer wrote in a tweet Sunday. "My deepest condolences."

Ajami was a naturalized citizen who was born in southern Lebanon in 1945.

He was an American University professor and award-winning author, who wrote more than a half-dozen books on the Middle East and Arab issues.

Raisian says Ajami's writings included some 400 essays on Arab and Islamic politics.

In addition to his studies and his writings, Ajami was a contributing editor for U.S. News and World Report and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ajami is survived by his wife Michelle.

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