Panel: Challenges in Syria and Iraq

What are the facts of Iranian deployments (own forces and directed militias) in Syria and Iraq? What is the U.S. strategy for reducing Iran’s direct and indirect military presence in Syria and in reducing Iranian influence in Baghdad post-Mosul? What strategies are Arab states and Turkey pursuing? How should Washington measure success in pushing back on Iran in the complex arenas of Syria and Iraq?
Wednesday, July 12
3:00 - 4:15 pm
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Middle East Institute
1319 18th St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036

Event Information

Countering Iran's growing influence in the broader Middle East is a major goal of the Trump Administration. President Trump forcefully reinforced this policy on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel. But what does this mean? The administration has so far upheld the JCPOA with Iran and tolerated Iranian-backed proxies in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Iran, meanwhile, has continued to build up its conventional military and missile capacities and doubled down on its asymmetric military networks in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. U.S. bombs have struck Iranian-backed militias propping up the Assad regime in Syria. Is U.S. policy changing?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted a conference titled Challenges in U.S. Iran Policy, which aimed to examine and assess the outlines of U.S. policy toward Iran, addressing its overall goals, the strategies being pursued, and the measurement of failure and success.

What are the facts of Iranian deployments (own forces and directed militias) in Syria and Iraq? What is the U.S. strategy for reducing Iran’s direct and indirect military presence in Syria and in reducing Iranian influence in Baghdad post-Mosul? What strategies are Arab states and Turkey pursuing? How should Washington measure success in pushing back on Iran in the complex arenas of Syria and Iraq?

Panelists:

Mohammed Khalid Alyahya

Nonresident fellow, The Atlantic Council
Mohammed Khalid Alyahya is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Middle East Center. He is also a research fellow at the Gulf Research Center and serves on the advisory board for the Future Trends in the GCC Program at Chatham House. He was an associate fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies from 2014 to 2015. Alyahya is a Saudi Arabian political analyst and commentator. His writing has been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, the Guardian, Al-Monitor, the Royal United Services Institute, the Telegraph, Al Arabiya, and the Huffington Post.

Matthew McInnis

Resident Fellow, AEI
J. Matthew McInnis is a resident fellow at the AEI and the former senior expert for Iran at the U.S. Central Command from 2010-2013. At AEI he focuses on Iran’s intentions, strategic culture, and military posture as well as Tehran’s activities throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. McInnis also works on broader US defense and regional security issues in the Middle East and on the effectiveness of the U.S. intelligence community. He is regularly called to give expert testimony before Congress, and his public writing has been frequently featured in The National Interest and Newsweek as well as The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, Fortune, CNN, Real Clear Defense, and other media. Before joining AEI, McInnis served as a senior analyst and in other leadership positions for the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense, where he worked on Iran, Iraq, and the larger Middle East; counter proliferation; and East Asian security issues. From 2006-2007, he served in senior leadership and advisory positions with both Multi-National Force–Iraq and Multi-National Corps-Iraq in support of Generals George W. Casey Jr., David Petraeus, and Raymond T. Odierno.

Randa Slim

Director for Track II Initiatives, MEI; Fellow, SAIS Foreign Policy Institute
Randa Slim is the director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at MEI and a non-resident fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies' Foreign Policy Institute. A former vice president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Slim has been a senior program advisor at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a guest scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, a program director at Resolve, Inc., and a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. A long-term practitioner of Track II dialogue and peace-building processes in the Middle East and Central Asia, she is the author of several studies, book chapters, and articles on conflict management, post-conflict peace-building, and Middle East politics.

Paul Shinkman

National Security Correspondent, U.S. News and World Report
Paul D. Shinkman is the national security correspondent for U.S. News and World Report. He has reported from conflict zones in Ukraine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where he embedded with local and American forces, and has corresponded from around the globe, including from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and the "front lines" of Russia's influence and cyber campaign in Europe. He has interviewed and traveled with some of the Defense Department's top officials and reported from U.S. military facilities throughout the U.S. and internationally. Shinkman was a Next Generation National Security Leaders fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

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