Persian Gulf Region

The Persian Gulf region — which includes Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq — contains an estimated 50 percent of the world's oil reserves and thus plays a strategic geopolitical role. RAND has a strong presence in and focus on the region, with an office in Doha, focusing primarily on domestic and regional issues such as education and development and on assisting U.S. and allied military forces in the region.

  • People walk near a burned bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran, November 20, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don’t Expect a Thaw in Iran

    Iran's recent protests could mark the beginning of a new chapter in Iran's domestic politics. Whatever happens inside the country, though, it will not likely change Iran's foreign policy.

    Dec 11, 2019

  • Blog

    Hong Kong, Reducing Crime, Medical Marijuana: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what the U.S. can do about Hong Kong, reducing crime in Chicago, medical marijuana, and more.

    Dec 6, 2019

  • Iranians protest against increased gas prices, on a highway in Tehran, November 16, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    Commentary

    With Chaos in the Streets of Iran, Here’s How the United States Could Help the Iranian People

    The Iranian people deserve American support. But current U.S. policies are hurting the cause that Iranians are fighting for while failing to achieve any strategic objectives.

    Dec 3, 2019

  • Blog

    Medicare, Climate Change, 'Superbugs': RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on opening Medicare to Americans at age 50, how to assess climate change plans, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," and more.

    Nov 22, 2019

  • An Iraqi demonstrator gestures during the ongoing anti-government protests in Najaf, Iraq, November 18, 2019, photo by Alaa Al-MarjaniReuters

    Commentary

    The Arab Spring in the Upside-Down

    Where the original Arab Spring protests removed authoritarian leaders, the current demonstrators in Iraq and Lebanon are trying to topple popularly elected governments. This could have dramatic implications for the future of representative democracy in the Middle East.

    Nov 21, 2019

  • A demonstrator reacts as he walks in front of Iraqi security forces during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, November 14, 2019, photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Overestimate the Power of Iraqi Protests

    As protests in Iraq grow, a “good news” narrative seems to be developing that they are a significant blow to Iranian influence. But the bigger story is not who is up and who is down between Washington and Tehran; it is that yet another Arab public has taken to the streets demanding change.

    Nov 14, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015, photo by Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding Russia's Intervention in Syria

    Russia's military intervention in the Syrian civil war began in 2015. This decision was the result of an extraordinary set of political and military circumstances. What might cause Moscow to take similar actions in other conflicts beyond its immediate neighborhood?

    Oct 31, 2019

  • A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, in Erbil, Iraq October 21, 2019, photo by Azad Lashkari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Syrian Withdrawal: Where Things Stand

    Without an orderly process for its national security decisions, the Trump administration has defaulted to the worst option regarding Syria. The sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces has left an opening for Russia to exploit. It also left the Kurds, a U.S. partner, to fend off a Turkish assault.

    Oct 21, 2019

  • A convoy of U.S. vehicles after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq, October 21, 2019, photo by Ari Jalal/Reuters

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Provides a Boost to ISIS

    President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria could provide the ISIS terrorist group with the time and space to regrow its organization and extend its networks throughout the Middle East. The longer-term strategic effects of the decision could reverberate in the region for years to come.

    Oct 21, 2019

  • A Turkish army howitzer is positioned near the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019, photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Indecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    Core qualities of statesmanship and statecraft have been notably lacking in charting the U.S. administration's Syria end game. This has compounded the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.

    Oct 18, 2019

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017, photo by TIMA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran, the Unitary State

    Current and future U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with the premise that the Islamic Republic is the sum of its parts and that to try to empower moderates or disempower hard-liners is naive. Rather, Washington should strive to deal with Iran as it is, not as Washington wishes it were.

    Oct 18, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags at a rally marking the 10th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon August 13, 2016, photo by AZIZ TAHER/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran's Proxies Are More Powerful Than Ever

    The Trump administration has pursued a so-called maximum pressure strategy designed to alter the course of Iran's foreign and security policies, which relies heavily on sanctions to change Iranian behavior. Financial sanctions are an important part of any counterterrorism strategy. But they aren't enough.

    Oct 16, 2019

  • Blog

    Virtual Societal Warfare, Iran, Opioids: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the risk of virtual societal welfare, Iran's domestic debates, federal policy options for supervised consumption sites, and more.

    Oct 11, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Winning the Peace in Iraq: Don't Give Up on Baghdad's Fragile Democracy

    Following years of war, Iraq's parliamentary government is stable and concerned with governance rather than sectarianism. But the work is not yet complete, and the author stresses diligence and patience before a lasting peace can be achieved.

    Oct 11, 2019

  • Iraqis watch as a truck burns on a roadside after an attack by suspected insurgents on a highway west of Baghdad February 15, 2006, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Realities of Civil War

    Civil war is not a pretty thing to see or be a part of. Those understandably engaged with the intense debate over whether or not the president should be impeached should not suggest that impeachment would result in civil war in our country. There are peaceful means available for us as Americans to follow in order to solve the problems at hand.

    Oct 9, 2019

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2019, photo by West Asia News Agency via Reuters

    Report

    Why Iran's Domestic Debates Should Matter to the United States

    Iran's internal debates play a critical role in framing, molding, and selling foreign and security policies. Understanding areas of both consensus and division among Iranian elites is key to developing a realistic policy on Iran and ensuring successful engagement in any future negotiations.

    Oct 9, 2019

  • World map in red pixels on a dark background, photo by Lidiia Moor/Getty Images

    Report

    Are States Using Cyber Operations to Coerce Others?

    Cyber operations have become another tool of statecraft. But have any cyber operations sponsored by Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea met the definition of cyber coercion? If so, how? And what should the United States do to respond?

    Sep 17, 2019

  • Commercial Book

    Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America's Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy

    The dramatic insider account of why we invaded Iraq, the motivations that drove it, and the frustrations of those who tried and failed to stop it, leading to the most costly misadventure in US history.

    Sep 17, 2019

  • An Israeli soldier stands guard under an Israeli national flag in the Jordan Valley near the Jewish settlement of Maale Efrayim, January 2, 2014, photo by Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

    Commentary

    Israel’s War with Iran May Be Going Too Far

    Israel has a right to defend itself from Iranian threats to its country. American leaders should consider balancing support for Israel's efforts to counter Iran with firm redlines about activities negatively impacting American interests.

    Sep 16, 2019

  • Loading cargo onto a container ship in Istanbul, Turkey, photo by Czgur/Getty Images

    Report

    Potential Benefits of Economic Integration in the Levant

    A comprehensive free trade agreement among six of the core Levant nations—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey—could increase their average gross domestic product by 3 to 7 percent. It could also reduce regional unemployment rates by 8 to 18 percent.

    Sep 16, 2019