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Launched in March 2016 under the chairmanship of current Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute, Bilal Y. Saab, the Gulf Policy Working Group (GPWG) in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Middle East Peace and Security Initiative (MEPSI) seeks to address the most critical and complex strategic challenges facing the United States and its Arab Gulf partners – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

With a select membership comprising renowned thought leaders and practitioners from both the United States and the Arab Gulf region, GPWG will be an important Washington platform for credible, impactful, and constructive debate on US-Arab Gulf affairs. GPWG will convene on a quarterly basis and will host distinguished guests from the public policy and expert communities of the United States and the Arab Gulf region to speak on issues pertaining to security, defense, politics, energy, science and technology, and economic trends.

In 2016, discussions will include the following topics:

  1. Post-Camp David Summit Action Plan
  2. NATO’s Strategic Partnerships with Arab Gulf States
  3. Iran’s Alternative Futures after the JCPOA
  4. The Future of Saudi Arabia and the US-Saudi Relationship
  5. Bahrain, US Policy, and the Future of the Fifth Fleet
  6. Gulf Security and the Role of Extra-Regional Powers
  7. Regional Proxy Warfare and the Evolution of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Power Struggle

Senior Advisors

Jim Jones
Bill Burns
Jim Mattis
Jon Allen
Jim Dobbins
Frances Townsend
David Petraeus
Wendy Sherman


Saab BilalBilal Y. Saab is Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Middle East Peace and Security Initiative (MEPSI). He leads a large research program on Arab Gulf defense and security and chairs both the Gulf Policy Working Group and the ISIS War Game Series.

Saab has extensive experience working as a political-military analyst, adviser, and corporate manager on the Middle East, with a focus on the countries of the Levant and the Gulf Cooperation Council. He is regularly called upon to brief various executive and legislative agencies in the U.S. Government. His prolific writing has been published in reputable academic journals, policy magazines, and international newspapers. He appears regularly on various shows and editions of CNN, BBC, NPR, France 24, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya. Saab’s latest publications on the Arab Gulf region include Beyond Camp David: A Gradualist Strategy to Upgrade the US-Gulf Security Partnership (May 2015, with Barry Pavel); Artful Balance: Future US Defense Strategy and Force Posture in the Gulf (March 2015, with Barry Pavel); and The Gulf Rising: Defense Industrialization in Saudi Arabia and the UAE (May 2014).

Saab holds an undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and postgraduate degrees from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is fluent in both written and spoken French and Arabic.

For a more detailed biography, please see here.