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.

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in Riyadh, October 24, 2017

    Commentary

    Saudi Arabia and Iran May Be Headed Toward War

    America should encourage Tehran and Riyadh to settle their differences, not facilitate aggressive Saudi action. Otherwise, the region will be plunged into an even bigger crisis—without an end in sight.

    Nov 13, 2017

  • Iran's army servicemen with the national flag attend the opening ceremony of the airborne platoon competition, part of the International Army Games 2017, in Guangshui, Hubei province, China, July 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Saudi Shakeup Gives the U.S. an Opening with Iran

    If Saudi Arabia forces a showdown with Iran, the U.S. will find itself in the middle of it. Washington and Tehran need to come to an understanding so as not to further inflame the region. Demonizing Iran for all the ills of the Middle East is counterproductive and will lead to further escalation.

    Nov 13, 2017

  • Nigerien soldiers prepare their magazines for a dismounted patrol during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017

    Commentary

    The Real Questions We Should Be Asking About Niger

    In the wake of the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger, Americans are embroiled in a pointless political squabble. The focus should be on developing a greater understanding of the risks and benefits of U.S. counterterrorism operations abroad.

    Oct 30, 2017

  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman (L) speaks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (R) during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in Moscow, Russia, October 4, 2017

    Commentary

    King Salman and Putin Deals Leave the U.S. Out in the Cold

    Riyadh plans to invest in Russian energy assets and possibly arms. The deals will lead to the manufacture of arms in Saudi Arabia and likely the transfer of military technology. These agreements thwart the U.S.- and EU-led sanctions regime and send an important signal to Washington.

    Oct 4, 2017

  • A Middle Eastern woman driving

    Commentary

    Female Drivers Can Put Saudis on Road to Enhanced Growth

    Allowing women to get behind the wheel will likely lead to significant long-term changes in Saudi Arabia's economy and the participation of women in the labor force.

    Sep 29, 2017

  • A checkers game depicting Saudi Arabia vs. Iran

    Commentary

    State Competition, Not Sectarianism, Key Driver of Middle East Politics

    Sectarianism is real and dangerous in the Middle East, but the region is more complicated. The next leaders in Iran and Saudi Arabia, under pressure from youthful populations and worsening economic challenges, may no longer see value in a costly sectarian agenda.

    Aug 3, 2017

  • A tank belonging to special forces of the Libyan army enters the area of clashes with Islamist militants in their last stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, July 5, 2017

    Commentary

    How the Gulf Row Could Tear Libya Apart Even Further

    Since Gadhafi was removed from power, Gulf nations have been vying for position in Libya through proxy forces to influence political outcomes. Current tensions between Qatar and its neighbors are adding to the instability.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • Coalition Forces commanders and Combined Air Operations Center members attend a Bastille Day ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Time for Quiet Diplomacy, Not Taking Sides

    Disputes within the Gulf Cooperation Council are inevitable given differing threat perceptions and political interests, but there is no reason for the U.S. to pursue policies that aggravate the differences and risk fueling greater instability. Instead, Washington could assure both sides that it will support any agreement they reach.

    Jun 7, 2017

  • Shi'ite worshippers attend Friday prayer in the Great Mosque of Kufa near Najaf, Iraq, March 31, 2017

    Report

    The Future of Sectarian Relations in the Middle East

    Sectarianism is shaping developments across the Middle East. But sectarianism is only one lens for understanding the region's conflicts, and some of its drivers are amenable to policy interventions.

    May 22, 2017

  • Anti-government protesters outside Sana'a University raise their fingers and fists in the air while chanting for a new Yemen, February 25, 2011

    Report

    Undermining Violent Extremism in Yemen

    In the past 50 years, Yemen has faced significant political instability, including multiple civil wars. Why might Yemenis reject political violence despite persistent conflict and unrest? And how can the United States and its partners undermine violent extremism?

    May 22, 2017

  • News Release

    China Invests Warily in Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to become more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE's deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, December 14, 2015

    Report

    China Invests Warily in the Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to get more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Sami Dayan (center), an al Qaeda militant, is escorted by police in a courtroom holding cell in Sanaa, Yemen, April 22, 2014

    Commentary

    A Persistent and Resilient Adversary: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    The history of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula catalogues every dimension of frustration in combatting terrorism. But is it possible that the United States and its Gulf allies are finally getting the measure of AQAP?

    Aug 22, 2016

  • News Release

    Cooperation Among the Arab Gulf States Is Key to U.S. Interests and Regional Stability, Despite Friction

    The increased influence of Arab Gulf states in regional affairs such as the fighting in Syria and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has raised the stakes for relations between the six nations and poses significant consequences for stability.

    Jul 28, 2016

  • Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and interior ministers from Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain before their meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 27, 2016

    Report

    The Outlook for Arab Gulf Cooperation

    Understanding what binds and divides the six Gulf Cooperation Council states can help policymakers prepare for future trends in a region with high stakes for U.S. strategic interests.

    Jul 26, 2016

  • Students hold a placard and candles during a vigil after a terror attack on Dhaka, Bangladesh, in Agartala, India, July 3, 2016

    Commentary

    Is the Surge in Terrorist Attacks Coincidence or Coordinated Campaign?

    Whatever the investigations of recent terrorist attacks reveal, the facts may be portrayed (or ignored) to fit narratives written even before the blood has dried.

    Jul 11, 2016

  • Officials count the ballots after the polls are closed in Cairo, Egypt, June 17, 2012

    Commentary

    It's Too Soon to Write Off the Arab Spring as a Failure

    Pessimistically declaring the Arab Spring a failure in 2016 would be as naive as optimistically declaring it a success in 2011. Something comes next—but what?

    Jun 15, 2016

  • Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, speaks at RAND's headquarters campus in Santa Monica, California, June 1, 2016

    Blog

    A New Middle East: Rhodes Scholars, Not Radicals

    United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba visited RAND to discuss what he sees as the UAE's progress as an emerging power in the Middle East and a reliable ally of the West. Despite threats to the region, the next generation of young people is spreading a culture of optimism, opportunity, and openness.

    Jun 2, 2016

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    A Conversation with His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, Ambassador Al Otaiba describes his vision for a stable, tolerant, and prosperous Middle East.

    Jun 1, 2016

  • The sun sets over Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

    Announcement

    The Middle East After the Arab Spring

    A new book by RAND's Shelly Culbertson mixes travel memoir, reporting, and analysis across six Middle Eastern countries, presenting diverse experiences of the Arab Spring.

    Apr 19, 2016