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.

  • Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 25, 2020, photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Biden Can't Turn Back the Clock on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    Enacted in 2016, the Iran nuclear deal was predicated on a geopolitical context that no longer exists. Addressing Iran's nuclear program today may require a different solution.

    Mar 1, 2021

  • A U.S. Air Force 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35 Lighting II conducts an inflight refueling in the skies above the United Arab Emirates, May 8, 2020, photo by Tech. Sgt. Kat Justen/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    What the UAE Weapons Deal Says About the United States and Its Alliances

    Various U.S. administrations have long wanted U.S. allies to do more, but in many parts of the world the most logical partners are authoritarian states with different interests than those of the United States. The sale of military equipment to the United Arab Emirates provides just the latest example.

    Mar 1, 2021

  • Blog

    Teachers Quit Due to Stress, Peace in Yemen, America's Middle Class: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how stress leads teachers to quit their jobs, U.S. strategy in the Middle East, America's shrinking middle class, and more.

    Feb 26, 2021

  • 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

    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?

    Feb 23, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Reimagining U.S. Strategy in the Middle East: Sustainable Partnerships, Strategic Investments (Executive Summary)

    In this summary, researchers assess the advantages and trade-offs of a reimagined Middle East strategy where strategic goals link to a broader understanding of stability that prioritizes reduced conflict, better governance, and greater development.

    Feb 23, 2021

  • News Release

    News Release

    Traditional U.S. Approaches to Middle East Not Working: Reimagined Strategy Would Lean Less on Massive Arms Sales, More ...

    U.S. policies in the Middle East are built on outdated “legacy” aid packages, massive arms sales, and a disproportionate focus on the Iranian threat that fail to advance American interests—or help the region's people—and need to be rethought.

    Feb 23, 2021

  • Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a rally marking the anniversary of launching their motto (Sarkha) in which they call for death to America and death to Israel in Sanaa, Yemen, June 28, 2019, photo by Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters

    Report

    Building an Enduring Peace in Yemen

    Peace in Yemen will require a coordinated approach to security and an international body with the influence, mission, and resources to support what will be a decades-long process of reconciliation, reconstruction, and redevelopment. To succeed, this body must be led by Yemenis, giving them a clear voice and stake in shaping their future.

    Feb 22, 2021

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    The Role of U.S. Airpower in Defeating ISIS

    The United States used airpower in Syria and Iraq to halt ISIS's momentum and help defeat the organization, without committing a large number of ground forces.

    Feb 12, 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

  • 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

    Radicalization, the Gender Pay Gap, Israel-UAE Deal: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the potential for a new era of radicalization, insights into the gender pay gap, why the Israel-UAE deal doesn't merit the hype, and more.

    Aug 21, 2020

  • Israeli and Emirati flags flutter along a highway following the agreement to formalize ties between the two countries, Netanya, Israel, August 17, 2020, photo by Nir Elias/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Israel-UAE Deal Doesn't Merit the Hype

    Some have called the Israel-UAE normalization agreement a geopolitical earthquake. But the hyperbole is not warranted; this deal is unlikely to be a strategic game changer in the Middle East.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and his entourage meet with Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, January 23, 2016, photo by Khamenei.ir / CC BY 4.0

    Commentary

    What to Watch to Understand the Sino-Iranian Relationship

    Beijing and Tehran are in the process of finalizing an ambitious partnership covering a range of security and economic issues. The United States should not overreact to shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, and should instead keep an eye out to assess the evolution of the relationship and take stock of what is delivered instead of what is merely promised.

    Aug 13, 2020

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia arrive for a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019, photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can America Weaken the Russia-Iran Axis?

    America's slow-motion retreat in Syria could embolden Iran and Russia and perhaps lead them to underestimate U.S. resolve to protect its interests in the Middle East. Clearer U.S. priorities and more deliberate engagement could reduce risk and help avoid miscalculation.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • Blog

    COVID Learning Loss, Russian Trolls, Artificial Intelligence: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on helping students recover learning losses, fighting Russian trolls, racial disparity in unemployment benefits, the race for AI leadership, and more.

    Jul 17, 2020

  • A view of a damaged building after a fire broke out at Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility, in Isfahan, Iran, July 2, 2020, photo by Wana News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    An Israeli Escalation Against Iran?

    Israeli involvement in recent attacks on Iran would not be surprising, and more such attacks might be coming. However, Israel's bet that the Iranians will not respond is risky. It's hard to control escalation when things are so volatile, especially as hardline Iranian leaders may increase pressure to retaliate.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • Supporters of the Houthi movement attend a rally to mark the 4th anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen's war, in Sanaa, Yemen, March 26, 2019, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Report

    Could Yemen's Houthis Be the Next Hizballah?

    Iran turns to sponsor-proxy relationships to expand its reach in the Middle East while minimizing the risk of inviting direct conflict. The Houthis give Iran reach into Yemen and the Red Sea, providing a means to harass its rival, Saudi Arabia. Will Iran further invest in the Houthis?

    Jul 13, 2020

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    Institution Building in Weak States: The Primacy of Local Politics

    The international community‘s approach to building state institutions needs its own reform. This innovative book proposes a new strategy, rooted in a rigorous analysis of recent missions.

    Jun 26, 2020