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.
How far has the Iranian-Houthi relationship developed? What defines success in addressing the Iranian role in Yemen? What are the facts and trends in Iranian support for Hezbollah and its broader role in Lebanon? What are the risks of another Hezbollah-Israeli confrontation? What risks for the U.S. arise from Iran's recruitment of Afghans, sectarian incitement in Afghanistan, and support to the Taliban?
Director, MEI Center for Gulf Affairs
Gerald Feierstein is director for Gulf affairs and government relations at MEI. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career with the personal rank of Career Minister. As a diplomat he served in nine overseas postings, including three tours of duty in Pakistan, as well as assignments in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Tunisia. In 2010, President Obama appointed Feierstein U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, Feierstein was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Director of IranObserved Project, MEI
Ahmad Khalid Majidyar is a fellow and the director of IranObserved Project at MEI. From 2008 to 2015, he worked as a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he co-authored two monographs on Iran: Iranian Influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan (AEI 2012), and The Shi’ites of the Middle East: An Iranian fifth column? (AEI 2014). As an instructor with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Leadership Development and Education for Sustained Peace program (2008-2016), Majidyar provided graduate-level seminars to more than 3,000 U.S. and NATO military leaders on Afghanistan and the broader region. His articles on Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have been published in Foreign Policy, The New York Times, Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, Fox News, U.S. News & World Report, The Daily Telegraph, and Forbes, among others. He has also discussed Middle Eastern topics on the BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera English, Sky News, CBC Canada, Bloomberg News and Voice of America’s Dari, Farsi, Urdu and English services.
Senior Fellow, CSIS
Aram Nerguizian is a senior fellow with the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS, where he conducts research on strategic and military dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa. During his time at CSIS, Nerguizian has focused on specialized themes such as U.S. and Iranian strategic competition in the Levant, Syrian instability and regional competition, Hezbollah, the Lebanese Armed Forces, security sector reform, and challenges to civil-military relations and force development in post-conflict and divided societies. He is frequently consulted by governments and the private sector, appears regularly on CNN, BBC News, Al-Jazeera, CBS News, VOA and PBS, and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, Foreign Policy, The Financial Times, and by the Associated Press and other news outlets on security issues in the Middle East.
Washington Bureau Chief, Al-Hayat Newspaper
Joyce Karam is the Washington bureau chief for Al-Hayat Newspaper, an International Arabic Daily based in London. She has covered American politics extensively since 2004 with a focus on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Prior to that, she worked as a journalist in Lebanon, covering the post-war situation.