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The War in Gaza as an Opportunity for Reassessing the Israeli-Iranian Confrontation

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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.


The war in Gaza has provided further evidence for the alarming consequences of the escalating confrontation between Iran and Israel. For the first time, Iran has used the Hamas attack and the war to implement its strategy of simultaneously activating its regional network of allies and proxy organizations against Israel.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has adopted an anti-Israeli position. However, the escalating friction between the two states, especially during the last decade, has evolved from a primarily ideological to a strategic conflict revolving around national interests and security concerns. While Israel was not the sole or even the primary factor in the development of Iran’s strategic doctrines, its overt and covert activities against Iranian interests have become a catalyst and motivating factor for the utilization of Iran’s strategic capabilities against it.

The war in Gaza provides an opportunity to reassess Israel’s long-standing conceptions, including those related to Iran, and to establish up-to-date strategic goals based on the political and security situation that will emerge at the end of the current conflict. Any reassessment of Israel’s strategy toward Iran must take into account the ramifications of the war in Gaza, looking for ways to develop a new regional architecture that will help to decrease the factors enabling Iran to bolster its regional influence. Israel will have to consider not only how to force Iran to bear the cost of its hostile anti-Israeli policy but also how to shape a new strategic reality that limits Iran’s ability to expand its influence next to its borders. In reassessing its strategy, Israel should redefine its security interests, focusing on realistic, achievable goals and minimizing actions that exacerbate the friction with Iran and contribute to the vicious circle of continuous escalation.

Iran, the 'Unification of the Arenas', and the War in Gaza

The war in Gaza has presented Iran with a significant opportunity to implement the concept of the “unification of the arenas.” This strategy involved simultaneously activating a network of allies and proxy organizations cultivated by Iran over recent decades. The idea behind it was to enhance operational coordination among non-state entities operating within the “Resistance Front,” led by Iran, with significant involvement from Hezbollah. The objective was to mount a coordinated effort to challenge Israel from the south (Gaza Strip), east (West Bank), and north (Lebanon and Syria) to bolster Iran’s deterrence capacity, enhance the effectiveness of anti-Israeli and anti-American forces in a military campaign, and divide responsibilities among various elements of the pro-Iranian axis.1Amir Hossein Vazirian, “Iran’s unification of the arenas campaign against Israel: Foundations and prospects”, Middle East Institute, September 26, 2023. Iran’s unification of the arenas campaign against Israel: Foundations and prospects | Middle East Institute ( As Itamar Rabinovich asserted, the war in Gaza should be viewed in a broader context, primarily driven by Iran’s efforts to challenge Israel on multiple fronts.2Itamar Rabinovich, “This is the first Iranian-Israeli war”, Haaretz, October 26, 2023,

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has consistently pursued an anti-Israel policy. The religious and ideological hostility towards Israel continues to be a crucial element of the Iranian regime’s doctrine. The revolutionary ideology unequivocally rejects Israel’s existence, epitomized by the slogan, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iranian officials have consistently reiterated the need to eliminate Israel. Iranian state leaders and the official media have unanimously defined Israel as a cancerous growth that should be removed. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has stated that the only way to solve the Middle East crisis is to destroy the “Zionist regime,” which he considers the root of the region’s crisis.3Farhad Rezai, “Iran’s dangerous game”, The Jerusalem Post, October 11, 2023.

If revolutionary ideals solely determined Iran’s policy, it would have joined the war in Gaza or at least engaged Hezbollah in an all-out confrontation with Israel from the very beginning.

At the same time, understanding this ideological doctrine is insufficient for comprehending Iran’s policy on Israel. If revolutionary ideals solely determined Iran’s policy, it would have joined the war in Gaza or at least engaged Hezbollah in an all-out confrontation with Israel from the very beginning, especially when a historic opportunity to accomplish the revolutionary vision of eliminating Israel seemed imminent. The fact that Iran did not take such actions is evidence of its rational and pragmatic approach rather than an expression of moderation. Although the revolutionary vision of destroying Israel has never been abandoned, Iranian policy is increasingly focused on strategic goals set by its leadership based on varying security needs and changing interests.

The Growing Friction Between Iran and Israel

Over the past two decades, there has been a discernible increase in Iran’s efforts to intensify its activities adjacent to Israel’s borders and even within Israel itself. In addition to Iran’s ideological hostility toward Israel, the strategic conflict between the two countries has escalated in recent years due to the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, “the campaign between wars” launched by Israel in Syria, Israel’s heightened countermeasures against Iran, and frequent statements by Israeli politicians advocating military action against the Islamic Republic. Iran now perceives Israel not only as an illegitimate entity that must be wiped off the map but also as a growing menace to its national security. At the same time, Iran’s attainment of nuclear threshold status; possession of sophisticated weapons systems, including long-range missiles and drones; consolidation of its regional status; and ongoing support for terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic organizations, pose a strategic threat to Israel’s national security.

Those developments prompt discussion regarding the extent to which Israel’s centrality in the Iranian strategic doctrine is a permanent aspect dictated by a revolutionary worldview or reflects an Iranian response to geostrategic changes in the Middle East, particularly in response to Israeli policy.4Raz Zimmt, “From Ideological Animosity to Strategic Rivalry: The Evolution of Iran’s Perception of Israel”, Strategic Assessment, Institute for National Security Studies, February 24, 2024. While there is no doubt that Iran poses a threat to countries in the Middle East, especially Israel, it is worthwhile to reexamine the fundamental assumption that the Islamic Republic’s DNA predestines the centrality of Israel in Iran’s policy and security doctrine and cannot be changed. This discussion is now more critical than ever before because the war in Gaza provides Israel with an opportunity to reassess long-standing conceptions, including those related to Iran, and to establish up-to-date strategic goals based on the political and security situation that will emerge at the end of the current conflict.

The Undesirable Consequences of Israeli Strategy Towards Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has consistently prioritized the survival of its regime against internal and external threats, shaping its overarching national security doctrine. Perceiving itself in a challenging environment surrounded by failed or weak nations, terrorist groups, and foreign interventions, Iran’s primary objective is to safeguard its borders, territorial integrity, unity, sovereignty, and national security.5Ariane M. Tabatabai, A. No conquest, no defeat: Iran’s national security strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020). While the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the diminishing military capabilities of Iraq following the Gulf Wars were seen as favourable developments, new challenges have emerged, particularly from the events in Syria and Iraq over the past two decades. The civil war in Syria was a significant concern for Iran, fearing that the collapse of the Syrian regime could lead to similar efforts against Iran by the United States. Syria also played a crucial role in fulfilling Iran’s security needs, specifically in supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, a strategic asset for deterring Israel. The rise of the Islamic State in 2014 further heightened Iran’s concerns, adding a new dimension to its national security considerations.

Despite the considerable challenges posed by the evolving Middle East landscape since 2003, the Islamic Republic has adeptly utilized these circumstances to advance its regional influence and bolster its military capabilities. Leveraging events such as the US invasion of Iraq and the Arab Spring, Iran aimed to establish a regional bloc under its leadership, encompassing Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This strategic approach reflects a broader doctrine emphasizing the importance of expanding Iran’s activity beyond its political and geographic borders to address external threats. Over the past decade, Iran has embraced a “forward defence” or “offensive defence” strategy, seeking to neutralize threats at the earliest possible stage.6Hamidreza Azizi, “The concept of “forward defence”: How has the Syrian crisis shaped the evolution of Iran’s military strategy?” Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), February 2021.*1utvs79*_ga*MzcwOTI1NDI3LjE2OTg5MTQ3OTg.*_ga_Z66DSTVXTJ*MTcwMDgwNjc1My4yLjEuMTcwMDgwNjg1MS42MC4wLjA

This approach has involved proactive measures to engage potential adversaries far from Iran’s borders, underscoring the evolution of Iran’s strategic doctrines beyond its historical animosity toward Israel. While Israel has been a longstanding adversary, the reciprocal threat perception between the two countries intensified in the second decade of the Islamic Republic. In the 1980s, Iran’s focus was primarily on the conflict with Iraq, believing that the liberation of Jerusalem depended on defeating Saddam Hussein. However, the regional upheaval in 2011 set the stage for a slow-motion collision between Israel and Iran. Syria’s civil war transformed into a battleground for the two states, particularly as Iran intensified efforts to establish a long-term military presence in Syria. The nuclear agreement signed in 2015 allowed Israel to shift its focus to the northern theatre in the “campaign between wars.” This campaign, initiated by Israel, initially targeted the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, but its focus later shifted to Hezbollah’s precision missile project. By 2019, Israel expanded the campaign to thwart Iran’s attempts to fund Hezbollah through a fuel-smuggling system and the transfer of weapons. Israeli leaders openly acknowledged their responsibility for these actions, signalling a new phase in the campaign between wars.7Ofer Shelah & Carmit Valensi, The campaign between wars at a crossroads: CBW, 2013–2023: What lies ahead? (INSS Memorandum, 227, November 2023).

To counteract perceived Israeli encirclement, Iran has intensified its determination to establish a presence near Israel's borders through a network of proxies.

Israel’s covert and overt actions against Iranian interests have shifted Iran’s focus, making Israel its primary adversary. Iran perceives Israel’s increased involvement in neighbouring countries, such as Azerbaijan and the Kurdish territories in northern Iraq, as aggressive and aimed at undermining its regional influence. To counteract perceived Israeli encirclement, Iran has intensified its determination to establish a presence near Israel’s borders through a network of proxies. After the conclusion of the Syrian civil war, Iran sought to strengthen its military and civilian foothold in Syria. This involved deploying proxies, including local Syrian groups, Iranian-influenced Syrian army units, and Hezbollah, near the Israeli border. Iran expanded its objectives beyond supporting the Assad regime, aiming to amass substantial military capabilities in Syria, including missiles, rockets, drones, air defence systems, and advanced weaponry. In addition to its activities in Syria, Iran has increased efforts to expand its influence in the Palestinian theatre. Iranian leaders, led by Supreme Leader Khamenei, emphasized the imperative of extending the “Palestinian resistance” from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Iranian comments about events in the West Bank coincide with Israel’s discoveries of growing Iranian activity in the region, including attempts to establish intelligence infrastructure, create terrorist networks disguised as civil organizations, and deliver explosives via drones.8Raz Zimmt, “Declarations of senior Iranian officials concerning the West Bank point to intensifying Iranian effort to expand its influence in this arena”, Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, February 13, 2023.

The Iranian nuclear program, initiated in the late 1980s, should also not be viewed solely in the context of Israel. Iran’s decision to renew the nuclear program in the mid-1980s was made as a countermeasure to Iraq’s mass destruction capabilities, especially considering the significant setback Iran experienced in its war with Iraq. Developing a threshold nuclear military capability is considered by the Iranian leadership as essential for deterrence and regime survival. Nevertheless, Israeli threats to prevent Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities have contributed to Iran’s sense of being under threat. While covert Israeli activities against Iran’s nuclear targets have delayed its nuclear progress to some extent, they seem to have triggered Tehran’s decision to increase its uranium enrichment levels to 20% after the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and later to 60% following the explosion at the Natanz enrichment facility in April 2021.9“Iran President calls 60% enrichment an answer to Israel’s “evilness”,” Ynet, April 14, 2021.

The Way Out of the Collision Course

The fact that Israel has become a motivating factor for Iran’s decision to impose further pressure against it does not imply that Israel should ignore the risks posed by the Iranian threat or adopt a passive approach to it. However, any discussion of the required Israeli strategy toward Iran must acknowledge that Israeli actions have escalated tensions with Iran, prompting it to accelerate its offensive efforts both regionally and in the nuclear sphere. Iran remains a significant regional power and is unlikely to abandon its efforts to consolidate its regional influence or its pursuit of a military nuclear option, seen as crucial for the regime’s survival. Israel should acknowledge this reality and redefine its security interests concerning Iran, focusing on realistic, achievable goals and minimizing actions that exacerbate the friction with Iran and contribute to the vicious circle of continuous escalation.

Any discussion of the required Israeli strategy toward Iran must acknowledge that Israeli actions have escalated tensions with Iran, prompting it to accelerate its offensive efforts both regionally and in the nuclear sphere.

Dialogue, let alone reconciliation, between Israel and Iran is not on the agenda at this stage. It is highly doubtful that the Islamic Republic will agree to any channels of communication, whether direct or indirect, without a substantive change in the Iranian leadership and its worldview, which outright rejects the very existence of Israel. Even the departure of Supreme Leader Khamenei is unlikely to change the Islamic Republic’s fundamental stance toward Israel. The current political elite in Iran is profoundly hardline and comprised mainly of former members of the Revolutionary Guards, particularly veterans of the Iran-Iraq War. They have been raised in Iran with minimal exposure to Western education or influence. In foreign policy, their stance tends to be hawkish, ultra-nationalistic, and defiant toward the West. They view the West as in decline and believe Iran should adopt an aggressive policy to pursue regional influence and international power.10Ali Alfoneh, “Generational change in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force: Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi,” American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (No. 2, March 2012).


To this day, the Islamic Republic’s hostility toward Israel has remained one of the cornerstones of its foreign policy. Nevertheless, Israel’s policies undeniably influence how the Iranian leadership perceives Israel as a threat and shape Iran’s strategy toward Israel. Although the root of Iranian hostility toward Israel lies in the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Iran’s strategic doctrine over the years, vis-à-vis both internal and external threats to its national security, was not initially shaped by its conflict with Israel.

However, as direct conflict and friction escalated between the two countries, Israel became a catalyst for Iran’s decision to apply its strategic doctrines, including the use of proxies, asymmetric warfare, “forward defense,” and “strategic depth,” against it. The Iranian leadership views Israel as an aggressor seeking to change the rules of the game and the balance of deterrence, with Iran positioning itself as the party forced to respond to this aggression. This shift means that Iran’s conflict with Israel, once primarily an ideological one, now increasingly revolves around national interests and security concerns.

Iran’s conflict with Israel, once primarily an ideological one, now increasingly revolves around national interests and security concerns.

Reassessing Israel’s strategy toward Iran must take into account the ramifications of the war in Gaza, which has reshaped the regional dynamics, affecting Iran as well. Iran’s success in advancing its political goals in the region largely hinges on the outcomes of the war in Gaza. Should Israel fail to neutralize Hamas’s governing and military capabilities, leading to a prolonged state of anarchy in the Gaza Strip, Iran will continue to maintain its influence, hindering efforts toward regional normalization with Israel. Conversely, the removal of Hamas from power, the formation of a transitional government until a political arrangement can be achieved, the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and the renewal of the Arab-Israeli normalization process are likely to give rise to a new political reality that could help to diminish the influence of the pro-Iranian axis and undermine Iran’s regional position.

Policy Recommendations


Iran's regional influence persists despite efforts from Israel, the international community, and Arab nations. Recognizing Iran as a regional power, the US and Israel need a realistic approach, avoiding maximalist goals.


Iran's strengths should be acknowledged, but so should its limitations and constraints. While enhancing military capabilities, Iran faces significant weaknesses, and overlooking these may hinder identifying opportunities to curb its influence.


Iran's regional impact extends beyond military strength, encompassing soft power. Relying solely on military capabilities is insufficient; alternative influences and opportunities for the Arab states must be considered. Furthermore, a carrot-and-stick approach is inadequate in curbing Iran’s ambitions to extend its influence in the region; instead, a strategy to diminish the factors that enable Iran to continue its regional influence is required. 


Iran's expansion thrives in regions marked by instability. Political adjustments and de-escalation could limit Iran's opportunities, emphasizing the need for alternative influences to balance Iranian dominance.


Addressing Iran's regional involvement requires providing Arab countries with alternatives to Iranian influence, particularly in the economic field. Détente in the Middle East may offer opportunities for Gulf countries to deepen their regional involvement, reducing dependence on Tehran.


A reassessment of Israel's strategy toward Iran should consider the consequences of the war in Gaza. The outcome in Gaza could shape a new political reality, influencing Iran's regional position. Collaboration with the US and moderate Arab countries will be essential in countering the multifaceted Iranian threat post-war.


The challenge faced by Iran is not limited only to its regional activities. Although there is a connection between the various elements of the threat (nuclear, military, regional subversion and support for terrorism, cyber, etc.), dealing with each of these elements separately and using different tools is more realistic and preferable.

Written By:
Raz Zimmt
Dr. Raz Zimmt is a Senior Researcher focusing on Iran at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). He is also a research fellow at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel-Aviv University. His main research interests are politics, foreign relations, and society in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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

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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

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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

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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

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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