Persian Gulf Region

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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.

  • Medical staff members in an intensive care unit assist a patient suffering from COVID-19, Amman, Jordan March 23, 2021, photo by Muath Freij/Reuters

    Report

    Exploration of Early COVID-19 Responses in Select Middle East Nations

    Mar 24, 2022

    Prior to the pandemic, many countries in the Middle East struggled with health care capacity and access. COVID-19 placed significant additional strain on health care delivery in the region. What common challenges did Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, and Tunisia face in their pandemic responses?

  • 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?

Explore Persian Gulf Region

  • Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) members hold an Islamic State flag, which they pulled down, during the war between Iraqi army and PMF against Islamic State militants in Tal Afar, Iraq, August 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Expanding the ISIS Brand

    Since its founding, the Islamic State has consistently expanded and contracted in order to achieve its objectives. To discern how ISIS might continue to expand, it makes sense to trace Al Qaeda's trajectory, which followed a similar pattern in the 2000s.

    Feb 19, 2018

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, February 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Israel Prepares to Take on Iran and Hezbollah in Syria

    Clashes between Israeli, Iranian, and Syrian forces have injected new volatility into the Middle East. This increases the likelihood of miscalculation and escalatory military action across the region.

    Feb 19, 2018

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) makes a statement as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini watches, following nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, April 2, 2015.

    Journal Article

    Saving Transatlantic Cooperation and the Iran Nuclear Deal: A View from Europe and the United States

    Strong transatlantic cooperation holds the best prospects for achieving the core common objective of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Feb 16, 2018

  • Workers repair a bridge in Mosul, Iraq, January 28, 2018

    Commentary

    If We Don't Get the Peace Right, Iraq Will Slide Back into the Morass

    Actions taken now by the United States, the Iraqi government, and private parties could determine the war-torn country's future. The message the Sunnis receive in these next six months will determine whether Iraq is on the path to stability.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump applauds in front of Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan during his first State of the Union address in Washington, January 30, 2018

    Blog

    Trump's First State of the Union: Insights from RAND

    RAND research, analysis, and expertise provide context for the issues discussed in the president's first State of the Union address, including infrastructure, North Korea, and opioids.

    Jan 31, 2018

  • Birds fly above damaged buildings in a rebel-held area in Deraa, Syria, January 25, 2018

    Commentary

    Counteracting Iran's Gray Zone Strategy in Syria

    Iran is extending its influence throughout Syria as the Islamic State's influence declines. To counter Iranian efforts and the inevitable similar actions of other countries, the United States should dedicate significant resources to crafting a strategy to prevent Tehran from taking advantage of the conflict and humanitarian crisis.

    Jan 25, 2018

  • An Iranian scratched flag with a grunge texture

    Commentary

    Unrest in Iran: An Opportunity for Democratic Change

    As the unrest that began in Iran on Dec. 28 begins to wane following a crackdown, it is difficult to assess what may come next. But this is not the first time Iranians have come out on the streets to protest and challenge authoritarian rule, nor will it be the last; the Iranian people have a long history of seeking a democratic political order.

    Jan 14, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 1, 2017

    Commentary

    Iran's Efforts to Create Instability Abroad Have Led to Protests at Home

    Iran has spent billions of dollars in its quest to be a regional leader, but its main achievement has been to spark instability across a wide swath of the Middle East. Ordinary Iranians are struggling and protesters are urging a retreat from costly foreign fights and more aid at home.

    Jan 12, 2018

  • Mosul in March 2016, under Islamic State control, when nighttime lighting had fallen by 55 percent compared to its pre-ISIS levels in January 2014

    Essay

    What Life Under ISIS Looked Like from Space

    Satellite images show how ISIS attempted to govern in Iraq and Syria, the economic damage the group left behind, and what it will take to rebuild.

    Jan 9, 2018

  • Tehran skyline with Iranian flag and Milad Tower

    Commentary

    Why the Iranian Uprising Won't Die

    The Iran uprising of 2017 is the biggest challenge Iran's theocracy has ever faced. And now, Iranians are no longer contained by the wall of fear created by the Islamic Republic.

    Jan 8, 2018

  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in the al-Khafsa area on the western bank of the Euphrates River, Syria, March 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Where Is Assad Getting His Fighters from?

    The Assad regime's defense against insurgents in Syria's ongoing civil war is being provided by forces imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Lebanon and Iraq. Most of these fighters are being trained and equipped by Iran. Could this network of foreign fighters help Iran establish a greater presence beyond the Middle East?

    Jan 4, 2018

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: January-February 2018

    This issue highlights RAND research on life inside the Islamic State and on the economic returns of early childhood investments, plus lessons for the U.S. from Britain's approach to free child care.

    Jan 3, 2018

  • A flag of Islamic State militants is pictured above a destroyed house near the Clock Square in Raqqa, Syria, October 18, 2017

    Commentary

    ISIS Could Rise Again

    ISIS has a tried-and-true playbook for bringing itself back from near death. Just a few years ago, it managed to resurrect itself after apparent defeat. And the history of that resurrection should serve as a warning of what may be coming now.

    Dec 15, 2017

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Implications of Iran's Expanding Shi'a Foreign Fighter Network

    Well-trained and resourced, Iranian-directed Shi'a foreign fighters pose a significant potential threat to U.S. interests. The more robust this network grows, the more opportunities it will have to expand abroad.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • U.S. and United Arab Emirates forces training together during an exercise in Kuwait, September 28, 2016

    Report

    U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army

    The U.S. Army should be prepared for its involvement in the Middle East and North Africa to extend into the future. Having borne the brunt of previous interventions there, the Army is well positioned to help policymakers understand both the utility and the limitations of U.S. military power in the region.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Recommendations for a Future National Defense Strategy

    Drawing from his expertise and war-game experience, David Ochmanek provides recommendations to inform a future national defense strategy. He explains that while U.S. forces are currently misaligned with challenges from the country's greatest adversaries, including China and Russia, gaps can be overcome with investments in existing technology to protect our forward bases; reach into contested areas; and identify, track, and engage enemy forces.

    Nov 30, 2017

  • U.S. soldiers approach their transport plane on Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, September 13, 2017

    Testimony

    Recommendations for a Future National Defense Strategy

    War games and analysis suggest that U.S. forces could lose the next war they are called upon to fight. The nation must invest in new field systems and military capabilities to create a robust defensive posture vis-à-vis China, Russia, and other adversaries.

    Nov 30, 2017

  • 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

  • People walk at the Grand Bazaar, a day after the presidential election, in central Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Killing Iran's Economy Won't Help the U.S.

    Iran's economy is likely to be damaged by any new U.S. sanctions, with foreign investment having already slowed in response to President Trump's rhetoric. The biggest losers will not be the Iranian regime but the Iranian people, whose striving the U.S. has long hoped would bring about a less antagonistic Iran.

    Oct 31, 2017