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The Silk Road to Power

China’s Ambitions in the Middle East and Strategic Implications for the Western Alliance

Image Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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This commentary is published as part of IPD’s project and policy paper series, The Middle East in a Multipolar World.


China’s strategic interests in the Middle East are expanding. It leverages a wide range of foreign policies to pursue those interests. Beijing’s interactions with the region emphasize economic and political relations, not security ties. In recent years, the scope of China’s engagement has grown, including facilitating the renormalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran and expanding the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS to include Middle Eastern countries. Since October 7, the PRC has maintained a stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict consistent with its approach over the last twenty years, but it increasingly worries that the conflict will expand into a broader regional war. Due to overlapping interests between the PRC, the US, Canada, and NATO, the Middle East may be a region where these powers can prioritize cooperation over competition. All these states share common interests in the region. Washington, Beijing, Ottawa, and Brussels should explore opportunities to jointly pursue solutions to regional challenges, such as resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, preventing the spread of the Israel-Hamas war into a regional conflict, ensuring the continued flow of energy and other commerce, promoting economic development in the region, and limiting the operations of violent extremist organizations.


Over the last thirty years, China’s strategic interests in the Middle East have grown.1For the purposes of this article, the Middle East is defined as the members of the League of Arab States as well as Iran, Israel, and Turkey. China is now the top trade partner of almost every country in the region, an increasingly significant source of foreign direct investment, and a rising political power that shares many interests with regional countries. Beijing’s relations with the Middle East are driven by its desires to acquire resources and markets, foster support from the twenty-five states in the region for its international interests and conduct, ensure countries in the region do not criticize and challenge its actions in Xinjiang, advocate for causes of countries in the global south, and protect its citizens and businesses across the region.

The PRC leverages a wide range of foreign policy tools to facilitate its relations with the Middle East, including cooperation forums (the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum- CASCF, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation- FOCAC, and the Shanghai Cooperation Forum- SCO); special envoys for the Middle East (focused on the Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli conflict) and Syria; free trade agreement negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Israel, Palestine, and the African Continental Free Trade Area; strategic partnerships with every major country in the region except Israel; special economic zones; United Nations Peacekeeping Operations; multilateral antipiracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden; and a base in Djibouti. The Middle East is also an important region for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI), and Global Civilizational Initiative (GCI).

For decades, China has portrayed itself as a balanced actor in the Middle East that maintains positive relations with every country in the region.

For decades, China has portrayed itself as a balanced actor in the Middle East that maintains positive relations with every country in the region. It also highlights its lack of  colonial history in the region compared to European countries and the United States. More than anything else, Beijing’s engagement with the region emphasizes economic and political interactions. Although there are some security elements of the PRC’s behaviour, they are dwarfed by other aspects of interaction. Its security footprint is limited. There is little indication that China wants to provide security guarantees for countries in the region. In this way, the PRC’s behaviour varies dramatically from that of the United States, which maintains a robust security presence in the region.2For an in-depth analysis of China’s role in the Middle East in the post-Cold War Era, see Dawn C. Murphy, China’s Rise in the Global South: The Middle East, Africa, and Beijing’s Alternative World Order, Stanford University Press, 2022.

China’s Emerging Approach to the Middle East

Although PRC-Middle East relations have steadily developed over decades, Beijing’s efforts to engage with the Middle East have accelerated over the last few years. In 2022, the SCO expanded to include Iran as a formal member. Turkey has expressed an interest in membership and five out of six GCC member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) together with Egypt have become dialogue partners.3Turkey is already a dialogue partner.

Media reports over the last couple of years indicate that the PRC may be pursuing a base in the UAE.4John Hudson, Ellen Nakashima and Liz Sly, “Buildup resumed at suspected Chinese military site in UAE, leak says,” The Washington Post, April 26, 2023, The US Department of Defense has also expressed concerns that China may be considering the UAE as a location for a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military logistics facility.5 U.S. Department of Defense, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” Annual Report to Congress, 2023,

Late in 2022, for his second trip outside of China since the beginning of COVID, Chinese President Xi Jinping travelled to Saudi Arabia for a bilateral meeting with Saudi leadership as well as the first-ever summit-level meeting of the CASCF and a summit with GCC leaders.

In March 2023, building on previous diplomatic efforts of Oman and Iraq, Beijing successfully facilitated an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to renormalize their relations.6Joint Trilateral Statement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the People’s Republic of China,” March 10, 2023, After that high-profile demonstration of the PRC’s increasing willingness and ability to contribute to the mediation of hotspot issues in the region, in the spring of 2023, Beijing also reinvigorated its efforts to contribute to the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and announced a strategic partnership with Palestine.7“China inks ‘strategic partnership’ with Palestinian Authority as it expands Middle East presence,” Associated Press, June 14, 2023,; and  “China, Palestine upgrade toes to ‘milestone’ strategic partnership,” June 14, 2023,

In August 2023, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) announced plans to expand to include members from the Middle East. Four out of six of the new members were from the region: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE.8Julian Borger, “Brics to more than double with admission of six new countries,” The Guardian, August 24, 2023, The other two proposed members were Argentina and Ethiopia. Although Argentina ultimately decided to decline the invitation, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all confirmed that they plan to join the organization.9“South Africa says five countries confirm they are joining BRICS,” Reuters, January 31, 2024,

The PRC has maintained a stance consistent with its approach to the Palestinian-Israel conflict over the last two decades. China considers the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the core threat to peace and security in the Middle East.

After the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel, the PRC’s current and potential role in the Middle East was further thrust into the spotlight. As events on the ground have unfolded, the PRC has maintained a stance consistent with its approach to the Palestinian-Israel conflict over the last two decades. China considers the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the core threat to peace and security in the Middle East. The Palestinian-Israel conflict has been a centrepiece of China’s political discourse with the Arab States, reflected in declarations of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. Since 2002, its Special Envoy for the Middle East has attempted to contribute to the resolution of the conflict.10For an in-depth discussion of China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East, see Murphy, China’s Rise in the Global South, ch. 5. For over 20 years, the PRC has advocated for peaceful negotiations, an end to violence, a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, a return of the Golan Heights to Syria, a cessation of Israeli settlements in occupied territories, the establishment of an international supervisory mechanism, and the utilization of a multilateral mechanism to resolve the conflict.

Although it is different from its material support for Palestinian groups during the Mao era, China’s behaviour over the last twenty years has been Palestinian-leaning, including in its United Nations Security Council voting. Over the years, it has consistently criticized what it considers to be Israel’s disproportionate responses towards the Palestinians and violations of international law.

At this point, the PRC is deeply concerned the Israel-Hamas war could escalate into a much broader conflict. China views the Middle East as a region of instability that is ripe for conflict and interstate war. In particular, it expresses concerns that violence could increase between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq, as well as the Houthi in Yemen.11Dewey Sim, “Israel-Gaza war: China will ‘do anything’ to restore peace, but ‘prospects are worrying’, envoy says,” The South China  Morning Post, October 23, 2023, The PRC also likely worries that conflicts between those Iranian proxies and Israel could ultimately draw Iran into direct conflict with Israel or the United States. A broader war in the region could further threaten China’s shipping through the Middle East, cause global oil prices to rise, and pose a danger to Chinese citizens and businesses in countries involved in the conflict. China’s top interests in the Middle East are economic. A regional war would pose significant risks to those interests.

Since October, the PRC has highlighted how its approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict differs from the US. Much of that framing is centred on criticism of the US role in the Middle East, support for Israel, and broader US international behaviour that the PRC considers to be hegemonic. Although Beijing’s current stance on the Israel-Hamas war is consistent with its past approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there are indications that Israel increasingly feels abandoned by the PRC and that China’s stance could undermine Israeli national interests. Although China’s relations with Israel may be damaged by its current approach to the conflict, it is likely Beijing’s position on the Israel-Hamas war will positively resonate with the Arab World, the Muslim-majority world, and many countries in the Global South more broadly.

Policy Recommendations

The United States’ National Security Strategy stresses the importance of global competition with China.12The White House, “National Security Strategy,” October 2022, Canada and other NATO members have a number of concerns about China’s domestic and global behaviour, including aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan, treatment of Uyghurs, foreign interference around the world, and economic and political policies that do not align with the liberal international order. Yet in the Middle East, China, the US, Canada, and NATO members share common interests, including resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, preventing the spread of the Israel-Hamas war into a much larger regional conflict, ensuring the continued flow of energy and other commerce through the region, promoting economic development, and limiting the operations of violent extremist organizations, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, in the Middle East and globally.

Compared to other regions of the world (e.g., the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America), the Middle East may be one area where the US, China, and NATO could prioritize cooperation over competition. Due to overlapping interests and China’s rising economic and political power and influence in the Middle East, the current US focus should be on how to work with China to address regional challenges. In addition to potentially contributing to peace, security, and development in the Middle East, cooperating on these issues may serve to stabilize US-China and NATO-China relations in a region where interests are less vital compared to the Indo-Pacific and Europe.

Washington should actively coordinate with Beijing on ways the PRC could leverage its positive relations with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and other regional countries and regional organizations to de-escalate tensions and push for diplomacy.

In this vein, China and the US can work together to contribute to regional stability amid the rising tensions across the region. One immediate area for cooperation is attempting to prevent the escalation of the Israel-Hamas war from turning into a larger conflict. Washington should actively coordinate with Beijing on ways the PRC could leverage its positive relations with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and other regional countries and regional organizations to de-escalate tensions and push for diplomacy. 

Another area for cooperation would be for the US and China to engage in joint efforts to contribute to the resolution of the longer-term Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Those efforts will likely need to occur after the current hostilities subside, but considering its strong relations with all involved parties and growing influence across the region, China does have a potential role to play in longer-term efforts to resolve the conflict. Many countries view China as a more balanced actor on this issue compared to the US, which provides a unique opportunity for the US to work with China to jointly engage and involve all the key parties to the conflict in supporting a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US and China should explore other opportunities for de-escalation and diplomatic engagements in the region. For example, China could continue to operate as an honest broker between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the GCC.

China, the US, Canada, and NATO could also find ways to jointly provide maritime security in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, given their strategic importance. Recent media reporting indicates China has been expressing concerns to Iran about how Houthi actions are impacting shipping in these areas, and the US has encouraged China to play a larger role in protecting these SLOCs.13Jackie Northam, “China is mostly quiet on Houthi attacks in the Red Sea,” NPR, February 23, 2024, At this point, the PRC’s actions to protect the SLOCs have been limited, likely due to Beijing’s interpretation of the Houthi’s disruptive behaviour as a response to the Israel-Hamas war. That said, in the longer term, protection of the SLOCs in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea is a shared interest between China, the US, Canada, and NATO, so these issues should at least be discussed in a more formal way and a context broader than the current conflict.

The US, NATO, Canada, and China should also creatively think about other ways to leverage other shared interests in the region. Although China’s behaviour in Xinjiang will make counter-terrorism cooperation complicated, efforts should be made to consider ways to collaborate on that issue in the region. Counterpiracy is another potential area for cooperation. China has actively participated in anti-piracy in the Gulf of Aden since 2008, so there is a precedent on which to build future cooperation.

Finally, there are even potential ways the US, Canada, other NATO countries, and China could cooperate on economic projects in the region in a way that aligns with the various economic plans of local countries, for example, with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the United Arab Emirates’ Vision 2031, and  Egypt’s Vision 2030. The US, Canada, NATO, and China all have an interest in an economically vibrant Middle East that moves away from fossil fuels and diversifies its economy. Economic development also supports other shared interests in the region, including addressing some of the potential root causes of domestic instability and terrorism in less developed countries in the Middle East. Economic interactions with Middle Eastern countries do not need to be a zero-sum game. The US, Canada, other NATO countries, and China should look for opportunities to pursue joint economic and development projects with specific countries in the region as well as with regional organizations.


China’s strategic interactions in the Middle East are clearly expanding, especially in the last several years. The PRC leverages a wide range of economic, political, and security foreign policy tools to pursue its interests in the region. Since October 7, an urgent need has grown for China, the US, Canada, and NATO to prioritize cooperation over competition in the Middle East. All these states have shared interests in the region, including resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, preventing the spread of the Israel-Hamas war into a much larger regional conflict, ensuring the continued flow of energy and other commerce through the region, promoting economic development, and limiting the operations of violent extremist organizations, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Now is the time to find opportunities to cooperate to address these regional challenges. If China, the US, Canada, and NATO work together, they could potentially make headway in addressing some of the region’s most complicated challenges.

An urgent need has grown for China, the US, Canada, and NATO to prioritize cooperation over competition in the Middle East. All these states have shared interests in the region, including resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Leaders in Washington, Beijing, Ottawa, and Brussels should work together to identify areas for potential cooperation. This type of coordination could help alleviate concerns among regional countries that they must pick sides between great powers. It also could provide much-needed stability in Sino-American, Sino-Canadian, and Sino-NATO relations. Ultimately, China and the US, Canada, and NATO will likely continue to have tense bilateral relations and interactions in regions where they have vital interests, for example, Indo-Pacific and Europe. That said, due to shared interests between the US, Canada, NATO, and China in the region, the Middle East need not become an arena for great power competition and conflict.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Written By:
Dawn C. Murphy
Dr. Dawn C. Murphy is an Associate Professor of National Security Strategy at the U.S. National War College at National Defense University.
Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  


Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security


Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.


Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.



Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 


Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 



Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.


Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.


Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.



Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor