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Middle East and the Gulf

Middle East and the Gulf

With a local office, the IISS has long been involved in the Middle East, attracting leading global policy-makers to its summits on regional security. IISS-Middle East works closely with other offices on research into Iran's nuclear programme, the Arab Spring and other topics.

Expert: Sir John Jenkins

Sir John Jenkins

Executive Director, IISS-Middle East

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Jordan's pragmatism and current challenges

Jordan faces refugee pressure and the threat of jihadist infiltration from Syria, as well as a weak economy. Amman will have to strike a delicate balance between security cooperation with the United States against the Islamic State and cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states against the Assad regime to ensure it gleans maximum strategic rent.


  • Events

    The IISS Manama Dialogue 2016

    09 December 2016. 

    12th Regional Security Summit
    Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Manama
    9-11 December 2016

  • Strategic Comments

    Libya’s faltering new government

    21 September 2016. 

    The new UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has based itself in Tripoli. But the GNA has failed to muster an effective nationwide military capability and is rivalled for national authority by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HOR), which controls the Libyan National Army, Libya's most cohesive armed organisation, as well as Libya's oil ports. Although GNA-linked forces have decimated the Islamic State in and around Sirte, the new government's unsteady hold on Tripoli is vulnerable to HOR challenge.

  • IISS Voices

    Jonathan Stevenson: Explaining US policy stasis in Syria

    12 September 2016.  The fragile hope is that the deal tentatively struck last week by John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov for the US and Russia to coordinate counter-jihadist operations and restrain opposition and regime military activity, respectively, will produce a durable ceasefire in Syria and re-energise political talks. As Jonathan Stevenson explains, prospects for success are dubious.

  • Strategic Comments

    India and Pakistan’s evolving relationships with the Gulf

    08 September 2016. 

    The relationships of South Asian rivals India and Pakistan with Gulf countries are evolving and strengthening. India’s focus has shifted towards security and defence cooperation, though it does not seek a dominant or partisan role. Pakistan will continue to try to balance its relations with Gulf Arab states and those with Iran, while its most important bilateral relationship will continue to be with Saudi Arabia.

  • Expert Commentary

    Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion: The Evolution of Modern Jihadism

    01 September 2016.  By Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS–Middle East Political Islam has generated two ideological strands that use religious ideology to advance their goals, namely, Islamism and jihadism. On the one hand, Islamists have formulated a political paradigm premised on Islamic teachings that are adaptable to the secular framework of the modern state and have, therefore, endured both as domestic and global political actors. On the other hand, jihadis have rejected...

  • Expert Commentary

    War on the Rocks: "Assad or we burn the country"

    24 August 2016.  By Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Prior to the uprising that ignited in Syria in 2011, whenever I discussed politics with my urbanite Syrian interlocutors, they would often tell me: "You, the Lebanese, you are violent, corrupt, sectarian, with no sense of a nation or a state." (I also noted that Iraqis would endure similar lecturing). Frankly, they were largely right, but their real point lay somewhere else. The...

  • IISS Voices

    Jonathan Stevenson: ISIS's bad week

    18 August 2016.  In light of ISIS's recent setbacks, the group’s strategic decline in the broader Middle East is more a trend than an aberration, argues Jonathan Stevenson.

  • Expert Commentary

    Democracy and Security: How the CT Community Failed to Anticipate the Islamic State

    29 July 2016.  By Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS–Middle East This article is a critique of the dominant approach within the counter-terrorism (CT) community that failed to analyze IS’s trajectory as a distinct group since at least 2006. We argue that two factors account for this failure. The first concerns the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), the law that was enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks...

  • Strategic Comments

    Jordan’s pragmatism and current challenges

    15 June 2016. 

    Historically, Jordan has handled the challenges of being located in a contested region with effective pragmatism. It now faces refugee pressure and the threat of jihadist infiltration from Syria, as well as a weak economy. Amman will have to strike a delicate balance between security cooperation with the United States against the Islamic State and cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states against the Assad regime to ensure it gleans maximum strategic rent.

  • Events

    Egypt's Islamist Insurgency: Dynamics and the Security Response

    07 June 2016. 

    Discussion Meeting
    Mokhtar Awad, Research Fellow, Program on Extremism at George Washington University
    Arundel House, London
    Tuesday 7 June 2016, 12.30–1.30PM BST

Adelphi Book

North Africa in Transition

This Adelphi examines how the politics, security and economies have changed in the four states of the Magrheb.