Syria may be the theatre where Western interests clash most directly with those of Iran. Russian and Western policies have also come into direct clash over Syria. In these clashes, Russia and Iran have been tactical allies, but their goals are not wholly congruent and their partnership shows fragility.
This instalment in the IISS Manama Dialogue 2017 Discussion Series explored the involvement by these two powers in Syria. This series, focusing on political, economic, social, and security challenges in and around the Middle East and North Africa, will be held before and after the December IISS Manama Dialogue. This event was a timely discussion of the current security and political challenges in Syria, the roles that Iran and Russia have played in the conflict, and what can be expected in the months to come.
This event was chaired by Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS–Americas. It took place at the IISS–Americas, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington DC 20037.
Dr Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. He has written primarily about Moscow’s relations with the Middle East (especially the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula) for over 35 years. During 2017, he was a visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (January–March), and then at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki (April–September). In 2018, he will be a Fulbright Scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London (January–March), and then the Sir William Luce Fellow at Durham University in the UK (late April–late June).
Dr Neda Bolourchi is a Research Associate at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) at Columbia University. At INCITE, she continues her research examining how religion, modes of violence, economic development, and institutions of law affect state–society relations and political events. Bolourchi completed years of archival research and oral history work in Iran, Syria, and Armenia for her doctoral dissertation as well as her law degree. She has been awarded three Andrew W. Mellon fellowships, three Middle East Institute fellowships, two FLAS fellowships, and one multi-year fellowship from the Thurgood Marshall Fund for Justice, among others. Neda has forthcoming articles slated for publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Islamic Monthly, Encyclopædia Iranica, and the Iranian Studies Journal. She has written for a host of Jane's publications as well as Praeger Security International, among others. She consults for a variety of news agencies and organisations. She previously worked on matters of civil litigation and white collar criminal defence at Guidepost Solutions and Skadden Arps.
Mark Fitzpatrick is the Executive Director of the IISS–Americas, as well as head of the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme. He joined IISS in 2005, after 26 years at the State Department, and moved back to Washington in December 2015. His research focus is on preventing nuclear dangers through non-proliferation, nuclear security, and arms control. Follow Mark Fitzpatrick @FitzpatrickIISS.