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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Strategic Comments

New Adelphi Book

North Africa in Transition: The Struggle for Democracies and Institutions

This Adelphi book examines how the politics, security and economies – which were largely stable for decades prior to 2011 – have changed in the four states of the Maghreb.

  • Events

    The Jihadis' Cyber Capacity and Aspiration

    15 May 2016. 

    Discussion Meeting
    Dr Aaron Brantly, Cyber Fellow, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
    IISS–Middle East, Manama
    Sunday 15 May 2016, 5–6.30pm AST

  • Events

    The Evolution of Jihadism

    20 April 2016. 

    Discussion Meeting
    Dr Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS–Middle East
    Arundel House, London
    Wednesday 20 April 2016, 5.30-6.30PM BST

  • Events

    The Islamic State's Aspirations and its Reality

    19 April 2016. 

    Corporate Breakfast
    Dr Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS–Middle East
    Arundel House, London
    Tuesday 19 April 2016, 8-9AM BST

  • Strategic Comments

    The tenuous diplomacy of the Syrian conflict

    12 April 2016. 

    International diplomacy with respect to the Syrian conflict has been episodic and generally ineffective. Greater engagement by the Syrian regime and the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 in support of negotiations on Syria's political transition have improved prospects for a political solution. But the parties remain far apart on the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a political transition, and therefore still face a steep uphill climb.

  • Expert Commentary

    Foreign Policy: Iraq report - Chances of a Shia uprising against the Baghdad government are increasing

    07 April 2016.  By Dr Toby Dodge, Consulting Senior Fellow for the Middle East I have recently returned from two research trips to Iraq, the latest one at the end of March as a member of the Atlantic Council's Future of Iraq Task Force. We got great access and I spent time talking to senior decision makers both in the Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad, with an interesting day discussing Iraqi politics with the...

  • Strategic Comments

    Turkey’s diminishing policy options in Syria

    05 April 2016. 

    The increase in the Islamic State's power vis-a-vis the moderate Syrian opposition has reduced Turkey’s ability to shape the course of the Syrian conflict in line with its long-term goals of uprooting the Assad regime and expanding its influence in the Middle East. ISIS's rise has also degraded Turkey's domestic security. Ankara currently appears caught between its inability to realise its regional objectives with respect to Syria and its refusal to moderate them, but may soon find political compromise unavoidable.

  • Strategic Comments

    US–Saudi relations: between friction and accommodation

    18 March 2016. 

    US–Saudi relations have always been transactional, driven by US strategic interests and Saudi threat perceptions. After decades of relative stability, greater US energy independence and differences over the Iran nuclear deal, the Arab Spring and Syria have caused their interests and policies to diverge. 

  • Strategic Comments

    Confronting failed government and the Islamic State in Libya

    25 February 2016. 

    The Islamic State has taken advantage of the chaos of 20 months of war in Libya to build a series of bases in the country, expanding its territory and now threatening the country’s oil ports. The United States and its allies now face hard decisions about how to confront the militant group.

  • Expert Commentary

    Foreign Affairs: The Right Way to Think About the Syria Talks

    08 February 2016.  By Samuel Charap, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia The suspension of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva seemed to validate observers’ cynicism and pessimism in the run-up to the negotiations. The talks, naysayers argue, are pointless because Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad now has a chance at victory. “Assad is winning in Syria. Russia has shifted the balance of power there dramatically,” Joshua Landis and Steven Simon wrote in Foreign Affairs...

  • Expert Commentary

    Foreign Policy: Obama’s Disastrous Betrayal of the Syrian Rebels

    05 February 2016.  By Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Middle East Security What a difference a year makes in Syria. And the introduction of massive Russian airpower. Last February, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its Shiite auxiliaries mounted a large-scale attempt to encircle Aleppo, the northern city divided between regime and rebels since 2012 and battered by the dictator’s barrel bombs. Islamist and non-Islamist mainstream rebels — to the surprise of those who have derided...

The Rise of ISIS

To mark the tenth anniversary of the IISS Manama Dialogue the IISS is publishing an Adelphi book that analyses the key challenges now faced by the Middle East.