The Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative (SMESI) pays tribute to Brent Scowcroft’s efforts to ensure a cohesive and robust relationship between the US and the region. Those associated with the Initiative engage on a myriad of critical, pan-regional topics, to include: China, Russia, and great power competition in the Middle East; the future of Iran; impending regional security challenges; the politics of Middle East states and decision-making of its leaders; intraregional tensions and conflict; climate and human security challenges; interstate warfare; emerging technologies and their impact on strategic relationships; and the underlying threats facing regional states. SMESI provides policymakers fresh insights into core US national security interests by leveraging its expertise, networks, and on-the-ground programs to develop unique and holistic assessments on the future of the most pressing strategic, political, and security challenges and opportunities in the Middle East.
Featured in-depth research & reports
Issue Brief May 30, 2023
China’s subsea-cable power in the Middle East and North Africa
By Dale Aluf
Dale Aluf analyzes China’s campaign to make countries in the region more dependent on Chinese networks, while reducing its own dependence on foreign cables. China’s growing presence in the Middle East and North Africa’s cable industry is significant because Beijing has the power to shape the route of global internet traffic by determining when, where, and how to build cables.
Issue Brief Jun 6, 2023
How monarchies end
By Stephen Grand
Stephen R. Grand flips the analytical script on the spate of notable books covering “How Democracies Die.” Democracies can corrode and crumble, but so can autocracies. Why are there no books being published about how kings and queens, emperors and caliphs, cease to rule—either because their throne is transformed into a more ceremonial post or because they lose power entirely? For Arab monarchs, there are several apparent lessons to be learned.
Report Mar 14, 2023
Improving Gulf security: A framework to enhance air, missile, and maritime defenses
By The Gulf Security Task Force
Looking at decades of US support and operations in the Gulf and recognizing a continued, arguably growing, air and maritime threat from Iran, the Atlantic Council Gulf Security Task Force developed a framework on how to best protect US and allies’ interests in this sensitive, always relevant region.
Featured event highlights
New Atlanticist Jan 29, 2024
Qatar’s prime minister sees progress on Israel-Hamas hostage negotiations—but warns regional tensions are ‘boiling up’
By Katherine Walla
At an AC Front Page event, Al-Thani discussed talks that took place in Paris over the weekend, which he said made “good progress” on mapping a way out of the conflict.
Event Recap Nov 12, 2021
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki: No region in the world feels the dangers of strategic confusion more than the Middle East
By Yaseen Rashed
On November 2-3, the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative hosted a conference with TRENDS Research and Advisory addressing “Middle East Security in a Changing World: Building a Sustainable Regional Security System.”
Event Recap Oct 27, 2022
UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Al Mheiri: Middle East at the heart of new climate reality
By Madeline Hart
An Atlantic Council conference on climate change and security in the Middle East brought together high-level officials from across the region to explore innovative solutions.
Featured commentary & analysis
MENASource Oct 6, 2023
The India-Middle East Corridor: a Biden Road Initiative?
By Jean-Loup Samaan
Economists and regional experts expressed their reservations on the feasibility—both politically and financially—of a corridor that would redraw the map of infrastructure across Eurasia.