Middle East

Featured

As the center of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths; the world's main source of petroleum; and a religious, political, and ethnic tinderbox, the Middle East plays a considerable role in world affairs. RAND research on the region covers a wide range of cultural, economic, educational, military, and political topics, including in-depth examinations of Qatar, Palestine, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Israel.

  • cmepp_theme_image_2957662907_bea5e336c7_o

    Project

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy

    Jan 8, 2013

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) provides expertise on the Middle East. CMEPP analysts are in touch with political, social, economic, and technological developments in and around the region. Through research and analysis, CMEPP helps public and private decision makers solve problems, tackle challenges, and identify ways to make society safer, smarter, and more prosperous.

Explore Middle East

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov shake hands at a news conference in Moscow, August 29, 2014

    Blog

    Why Iran Can't Walk Away from Nuclear Talks So Easily

    If the public inflexibility of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif isn't mere diplomatic posturing, they would be gambling not only with their own political futures, but the futures of 80 million Iranians as well.

    Sep 26, 2014

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile in the Persian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

    The United States and five of its partner nations are conducting strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria using fighters, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft, and Tomahawk Land Attack missiles. RAND experts discuss the bombings and possible ramifications.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • French President Francois Hollande arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris to speak about French airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants, September 19, 2014

    Blog

    Does France Have the Master Plan to Defeat ISIS?

    In Mali, France stopped jihadists from taking over, ejected them from the country almost entirely, and struck a major blow to their ability to threaten France and the region. This success story provides important lessons for the U.S. debate about how to deal with ISIS.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani

    Blog

    Afghanistan's Best Bet

    On Sunday, Ashraf Ghani was declared the victor in a contest to determine Afghanistan's next president. The process has been infuriating but the end product of this mess was the best possible outcome: best for Afghanistan, best for the region, and best for the United States.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Paratroopers depart Lielvarde Airbase, Latvia, Sept. 8, 2014, at the conclusion of a NATO exercise involving over 2,000 troops from 10 nations that focuses on increasing interoperability and synchronizing complex operations

    Blog

    The More Options, the Better

    Preserving the ability of the United States to choose how it will respond to global events is essential. And maintaining options is critical to the calculus.

    Sep 23, 2014

  • Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the Islamic State, take part in field training in the province of Najaf, September 16, 2014

    Blog

    War Is Not the Word

    Iraq, not the United States, is at war with ISIS. This distinction is important because it helps everyone understand each country's role.

    Sep 18, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a live televised address on his plans for military action against the Islamic State, September 10, 2014

    Blog

    Will Obama's Light-Footprint Strategy Be Successful Against ISIS?

    President Obama's campaign against ISIS militants marks a notable strategic shift in the conduct of warfare against terrorists and insurgents. It eschews the use of overwhelming force and embraces a light-footprint strategy that relies on precision strikes from U.S. aircraft, clandestine ground units, and local allies.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State take part in field training

    Testimony

    Reconciliation May Be the Best and Only Way to Defeat the Islamic State in Iraq

    Addressing root causes of insurgencies and reconciliation have historically proven to be lasting means to defeat insurgent groups. While this approach could be the best way to overcome the Islamic State in Iraq, monumental obstacles make success questionable.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • Report

    Health Sector Reform in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq: Financing Reform, Primary Care, and Patient Safety

    This report summarizes work on health financing, primary care, and quality and patient safety in Kurdistan: policy options, plans to achieve policy objectives, and implementation of a new management information system.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a joint news conference with Egypt's foreign minister in Cairo, September 13, 2014

    Blog

    The U.S. Can't Count on Regional Support in the Fight Against ISIS

    Regional governments may put some of their differences aside to help fight ISIS. But in a region rife with turmoil and multiple internal fissures, Washington cannot count on its confrontation with ISIS as its partners' overriding priority.

    Sep 16, 2014

  • Kurdish Peshmerga forces guard their position near Tal Afar, west of Mosul against Islamic State militants

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Strategy on ISIS

    President Obama outlined a strategy last week to deal with the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIS. RAND experts discuss the speech and the follow-up efforts so far.

    Sep 15, 2014

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss President Obama's Speech Announcing ISIS Strategy

    RAND researchers Dalia Dassa Kaye, Ben Connable and Christopher Chivvis hosted a media conference call on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to discuss the President Obama's speech announcing his strategy to address the regional and global threat of ISIS. Media relations manager Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Sep 11, 2014

  • A resident of Tabqa city on a motorcycle waves an Islamist flag in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, August 24, 2014

    Blog

    To Defeat the Islamic State, Follow the Money

    ISIS, likely the world's richest terrorist organization, has bills to pay and mouths to feed. If U.S. President Obama wants to defeat them, he should follow the money.

    Sep 10, 2014

  • An Islamic State militant uses a loud-hailer to announce to residents of Tabqa city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, August 24, 2014

    Blog

    How ISIS Funds Its Reign of Terror

    ISIS raises much of its money just as a well-organized criminal gang would do. It smuggles, it extorts, it skims, it fences, it kidnaps and it shakes down. Although supposedly religiously inspired, its actions are more like those of an organized criminal cult.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • Afghan election workers count ballot papers for an audit of the presidential run-off in Kabul August 27, 2014

    Blog

    Afghanistan Back to the Brink

    The impasse between the Abdullah and Ghani camps has grown so significant that some senior Afghan political and security officials considered imposing an interim government, a move tantamount to a coup.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • India's Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel march during a rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, January 4, 2013

    Blog

    Let's Talk About Kashmir

    When U.S. combat troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in December 2014, and training units follow two years later, the dynamics that once turned northern India's Kashmir into both a target and an incubator of global terrorism may return. This would threaten U.S. security, as well as that of the region.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting in Ankara, June 10, 2014

    Blog

    Nuclear Deal or No Deal, Don't Expect Iran Changes

    The impeachment of Iranian science minister Faraji-Dana, the latest in the struggle between Iran's so-called moderates and hard-liners, is likely a sign of troubling times ahead. Rouhani is the West's best hope of the nuclear issue being addressed, but a deal could energize his rivals in their bid to stave off change.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • Palestinians walk past a mosque and water tower damaged by Israeli air strikes and shelling in Khuzaa, in the southern Gaza Strip

    Blog

    The Grim Lessons of “Protective Edge”

    For all the attempts to find technological quick fixes or enforce a permanent settlement, Operation Protective Edge has highlighted that a war of attrition, known as a “long war,” remains the only viable strategy in the current environment.

    Sep 3, 2014

  • Members of Kurdish Peshmerga force stand guard at Sulaiman Pek front line, August 31, 2014. Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants.

    Blog

    A Broad Approach to Countering the Islamic State

    Recent analysis about how to defeat the Islamic State tends to be based on no more than intuition, a general sense of history, or a small number of cases of questionable comparability. A study of 71 historical cases of counterinsurgencies should help provide empirical evidence to this important debate.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Research Brief

    The Conflict in Syria: Understanding and Avoiding Regional Spillover Effects

    Researchers examined the literature of armed conflict to determine the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency, then examined how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

    Aug 27, 2014