On May 30, the Middle East programs hosted a public event on Russian influence throughout the region. Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, delivered keynote remarks before joining a panel with Nonresident Senior Fellow Mark Katz and Becca Wasser of the RAND Corporation. The event also served as the roll-out for a corresponding issue brief by Mark Katz.

Russia is once again a major player in the Middle East. Moscow has notably backed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while it has a growing footprint in Iran, Turkey, and the Gulf. Russia’s return to the region has posed significant challenges for transatlantic policymaking in this era of renewed great-power competition. The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security brought together a panel of experts to discuss Russia’s growing role in the region and its economic, political, and security implications.

Atlantic Council Middle East Programs Director William Wechsler gave introductory remarks before the keynote address by Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger. Assistant Secretary Wheelbarger joined a panel discussion afterwards with George Mason University Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government Mark Katz and RAND Corporation Policy Analyst Becca Wasser.