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

    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?

    Mar 24, 2022

  • 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

Explore Persian Gulf Region

  • Iraqis celebrate as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces victory over Islamic State in Mosul, in Baghdad, Iraq, July 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Islamic State 2.0

    Many of Iraq's Sunnis are frustrated with the slow pace of reconstruction and a Baghdad government they consider too friendly to Iran. The U.S. needs to shift from supporting military operations in cities such as Mosul to helping the Iraqi government better address political grievances. Failure risks sowing the seeds of ISIS's resurgence.

    Aug 10, 2017

  • Civilians carry their belongings as they walk between destroyed buildings by clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 23, 2017

    Multimedia

    Making Victory Count After Defeating ISIS

    In this Call with the Experts, senior policy researcher Shelly Culbertson discusses the challenges ahead to ensure peace and stability following the defeat of ISIS in Mosul. Media relations director Jeffrey Hiday moderates the call.

    Aug 4, 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

  • Report

    Report

    Implications of the Security Cooperation Office Transition in Afghanistan for Special Operations Forces: An Abbreviated Report of the Study's Primary Findings

    Presents findings from six historical case studies in which the mission of special operations forces in each of the six countries transitioned over time to include some level of inclusion in the U.S. embassy's Security Cooperation Office.

    Aug 1, 2017

  • An Iraqi flag is seen amid destroyed buildings in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 23, 2017

    Report

    How to Achieve Stability in Iraq After ISIS

    After major combat operations against ISIS in Mosul, recovery and stability will require redoubled efforts by Iraqis and the international community. How well humanitarian, security, and other needs are addressed will affect the immediate stabilization of Iraq, including whether civilians can return home.

    Jul 24, 2017

  • People walk in front of the remains of the University of Mosul, which was burned and destroyed during a battle with Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq, April 10, 2017.

    Commentary

    Moving Beyond Mosul

    The Islamic State group has been defeated in Mosul. But this military routing isn't enough to ensure lasting stability, either in Mosul or in Iraq more broadly. What comes next will require careful planning, diplomacy, implementation, and coordination.

    Jul 18, 2017

  • Rebel fighters walk out from a cave that was used by Islamic State militants, after they captured the area from them, on the outskirts of the northern town of al-Bab, Syria, February 2, 2017

    Multimedia

    The Evolving Terrorist Threat

    As ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria, are terrorist attacks more likely or less? How is the group evolving? What about al-Qa'ida? To answer these questions, RAND convened a group of terrorism experts.

    Jul 12, 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

  • Iraqi soldiers pose with the Islamic State flag in al-Shura, Iraq, which they recaptured on October 30, 2016

    Blog

    Vickers, Crocker, Bergen, and Mudd Headline RAND ISIS Conference

    Panelists at a RAND conference on ISIS agreed that efforts to protect the U.S. homeland and conduct campaigns to dismantle extremist groups have had success. But many long-term challenges to the broader world order remain that will require strategic patience.

    Jul 6, 2017

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking at the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, July 5, 2014

    Commentary

    Is ISIS Leader Baghdadi Still Alive?

    The Russian military announced that it might have killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in an airstrike in Raqqa. Would his death weaken the group or will ISIS continue to adapt, evolve, and expand like al Qaeda did?

    Jun 22, 2017

  • A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units watches smoke rise after a coalition airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, June 16, 2017

    Commentary

    The Islamic State's Disposable Army

    To leaders of the Islamic State group, murder of its own and collective suicide are keys to its defense strategy. The group targets malcontents and the most suggestible, knowing they are desperate to belong to something and willing to die for it.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district in Raqqa's southeastern outskirts, Syria, June 7, 2017

    Commentary

    When the Caliphate Falls, What Then for U.S. Policy?

    The eventual fall of ISIS-controlled Raqqa will necessitate a review of U.S. policy in Syria. Policymakers can start thinking about the questions it will raise now.

    Jun 16, 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

  • Vehicles drive near Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River, in the town of Tabqa, after Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured it from Islamic State militants, Syria May 12, 2017

    Commentary

    Developing a Comprehensive Strategy for Countering the Islamic State

    Despite substantial policy and military focus, U.S. attempts to stop the Islamic State group have met with only varying degrees of success. A patient, long-term U.S. investment in governance—including a renewed commitment to addressing the root causes of instability in the Middle East—is needed in Iraq and Syria.

    Jun 5, 2017

  • A student in the Army's first Cyber Basic Officer Leader Course uses a field computer to probe for a targeted wireless network signal during a field training exercise at Fort Gordon, Georgia, February 1, 2017

    Commentary

    What Happens After ISIS Goes Underground

    As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria suffers defeats on the battlefield, it is expanding its cyber presence to continue to encourage attacks abroad. The more the group relies on cyberspace, the more likely it will expose important segments of its organization to detection and disruption.

    May 30, 2017

  • Supporters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrate his victory in the election, in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Why Trump's Pressures on Iran Won't Benefit America

    The Trump administration has demonstrated a renewed policy of pressure against Iran. In doing so, it risks losing the ability to leverage the greatest potential source of change in Iran: millions of Iranians who want a better country at peace with the world.

    May 25, 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

  • 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

  • A former Islamic State prison in the town of Tabqa, after Syrian Democratic Forces captured it from Islamic State militants, Syria, May 12, 2017.

    Commentary

    ISIS: Weakened but Still Potent

    ISIS is being defeated as an insurgency while preparing to transform into a clandestine terrorist group. But ISIS will continue to pose a serious threat to the countries where it operates and to the Western nations that it targets as it evolves.

    May 18, 2017

  • Displaced Iraqi people pass a torn Islamic State banner as the battle between the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and Islamic State militants continues nearby, in western Mosul, Iraq, April 23, 2017

    Commentary

    Can the Islamic State Survive Financially?

    Significant gains have been made in attacking the Islamic State's cash and diminishing its ability to finance high-frequency attacks in Iraq and Syria. But the group may retain enough money to support sporadic attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

    May 15, 2017