Middle East

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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.

  • A view from space of the Middle East, West Asia, and East Europe at night, photo by wael alreweie/Getty Images

    Report

    Reimagining U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

    Feb 23, 2021

    Long-standing U.S. policies in the Middle East that rely on defeating threats and keeping partners on “our side” have fallen short. What if the U.S. approach shifted from focusing on the threat of the day to a positive vision of a region supported by increased diplomatic and economic investments?

  • Project

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy

    Jun 17, 2016

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) brings together analytic excellence and regional expertise from across the RAND Corporation to address the most critical political, social, and economic challenges facing the Middle East today.

Explore Middle East

  • News Release

    News Release

    Israelis Unwilling to Risk Two-State Solution; Palestinians Only Interested in Variant That Israelis Cannot Accept

    Israelis across the political spectrum prefer the status quo to the two-state solution, and Palestinians are only willing to accept a two-state solution that Israelis will be unable to accept.

    Feb 10, 2021

  • An aerial view shows the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims, in the Palestinian city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, November 2, 2020, photo by Ilan Rosenberg/Reuters

    Report

    Alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    The two-state solution has dominated efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. But Israelis across the political spectrum prefer the status quo to the two-state solution, and Palestinians are interested in a variant that Israelis cannot accept. Is there a viable alternative?

    Feb 10, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Two Air Force F-22 Raptors fly over Syria, February 2, 2018, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott/Air National Guard

    Report

    Airpower Was Indispensable to Defeating ISIS

    Some argue that airpower could have been applied more vigorously in Operation Inherent Resolve to have more quickly defeated ISIS. Airpower was essential, but ground forces led by Iraqi and Syrian partners were needed to destroy the Islamic State as a territorial entity.

    Feb 5, 2021

  • Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    Multimedia

    Under the Biden Administration: Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    RAND senior international/defense policy researcher Heather Williams discusses the current landscape for improving the strained relationship between the United States and Iran.

    Feb 4, 2021

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani wait prior to signing the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    Commentary

    Implementing Arab Gulf Reconciliation

    As the Arab Gulf states prepare to engage with a new U.S. administration, their recent reconciliation announcement offers an opportunity to advance their interests as well as mutual interests with the United States. But the Gulf states' intent to end their feud will very likely not be sufficient unless the agreement is deepened through confidence-building measures and expanded by reaching a parallel understanding with Turkey.

    Jan 27, 2021

  • News Release

    News Release

    Interest in a U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint May Be Growing, So Advocates Need to Provide More Details

    As the Biden Administration takes over, some U.S. policymakers have expressed interest in a new approach to America's role in the world: a realist grand strategy of restraint under which the U.S. would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence and end or renegotiate some security commitments.

    Jan 22, 2021

  • A world map puzzle with a piece on top, photo by Yuriy Panyukov/Adobe Stock

    Report

    A U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint

    Some U.S. policymakers have expressed interest in a realist grand strategy of restraint. Under this approach, the United States would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence, and end or renegotiate some security commitments. What are the policy implications of embarking down this path?

    Jan 21, 2021

  • Blog

    The Most Popular RAND Research of 2020

    Here are the RAND research projects that resonated most in 2020, a year unlike any in living memory. Topics include remote learning, election disinformation, income inequality, and more.

    Dec 21, 2020

  • Blog

    Supporting Working Women, the Intelligence Community, Refugees: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on supporting America's working women, challenges facing the next Director of National Intelligence, how Syria's forever war is creating forever refugees, and more.

    Dec 4, 2020

  • Children play together at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria, June 13, 2020, photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Syrian Forever War Has Created Forever Refugees

    Without a formal peace agreement that commits to safety for returnees and creates a foundation for investment in Syria's demolished infrastructure, Syrians will not go home. They fear returning because of reports of returnees being arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.

    Nov 24, 2020

  • A boy with followers of the Houthi movement carries a rifle during a rally to commemorate the Ashura, the holiest day for Shi'ite Muslims, in Sanaa, Yemen, August 30, 2020, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Commentary

    Yemen's Chaos Creates a New Opportunity for the Biden-Harris Team

    More than one-quarter million Yemenis have been killed in the nation's civil war. And 150,000 children have died from starvation and left Yemen on the brink of collapse. The foundations of peace must be Yemeni-led, but there is much that the new U.S. administration could do to support the process.

    Nov 24, 2020

  • Blog

    Schools and COVID-19, Health Care Resources, Leaving Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on allocating scarce but lifesaving resources during a pandemic, insights from America’s educators, the lopsided telework revolution, and more.

    Nov 20, 2020

  • Syrian refugees living in Jordan work under Jasmine, a project which hires and trains Syrian refugee women to create handicrafts, in Amman, Jordan, July 11, 2016, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Commentary

    Five Strategies to Address Employment Hurdles Faced by Young Syrian Women Refugees

    Young Syrian women refugees face enormous challenges in finding meaningful work in host countries, with many relying on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs. How can employment obstacles be addressed for young Syrian women refugees in a post–COVID-19 environment?

    Oct 30, 2020

  • U.S. Marines engage targets during a live-fire demonstration near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, Sept, 7, 2018, photo by Cpl. Carlos Lopez/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    In the Middle East, Russia and China Expand Their Influence

    While the United States is concerned primarily about a resurgent China's inroads in the Middle East, it is also nervous about the gambits of a revanchist Russia. As the United States decides when and how to contest China and Russia—in and beyond the Middle East—it will have to resist alarmism as vigorously as complacency.

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar are seen during talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Islamic State in Afghanistan Is Down, but Not Out

    The Afghan Taliban is on the verge of entering into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government in a peace deal facilitated by the United States. Washington seems to be holding out hope that the deal will stabilize the country. But the Islamic State Khorasan Province remains a concern. The Islamic State in Afghanistan may be down, but it's not out.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Syrian refugees cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, 149 miles east of Amman, December 5, 2013, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Report

    Stabilizing Eastern Syria After ISIS

    Eastern Syrian communities are no longer occupied by ISIS but they are in a fraught political environment where the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have both expanded their presence and some ISIS fighters remain. What are the region's most urgent needs and is there a viable strategy to build near-term stability?

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Blog

    The Evidence on Kids and COVID-19, China's Use of Big Data, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what we know (and what we don't) about kids and COVID-19, how China is using big data, the future of telemedicine, and more.

    Sep 4, 2020

  • The port of Beirut and its construction cranes, destroyed by an explosion of ammonium nitrate on August 4, 2020, photo by Karine Pierre/Hans Lucas Pictures/Reuters

    Commentary

    Addressing Lebanon's Ailments, Acute and Chronic

    The recent explosion in Beirut has again led to calls for political and economic reforms in Lebanon. The country has an economy in crisis, corruption, few job opportunities, and an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Sustained global investment is needed if Lebanon is to recover over the long run.

    Sep 1, 2020