The Crown Center for Middle East Studies is committed to conducting balanced and dispassionate research of the modern Middle East that meets the highest academic standards.

The Center seeks to help make decision- and opinion-makers better informed about the region. The scope of the Center’s research includes the 22 members of the Arab League as well as Turkey, Iran, and Israel. The Crown Center’s approach is multi-disciplinary in its study of the politics, economics, history, security, sociology, and anthropology of the region’s states and societies. 

Recent News and Publications

March 4, 2021

Crown Conversations 6 (Summary)President Joe Biden says that the U.S. will rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if Iran returns to "strict compliance" with its terms. His administration then intends to seek to extend and strengthen the nuclear deal as well as reach agreements on limits to Iran’s missile program and regional interventions. In this Crown Conversation, we speak with Gary Samore, a former U.S. official responsible for nuclear nonproliferation, about the continued relevance of the original deal, nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and the prospects for successful follow-up negotiations.

Middle East Brief 140 (Summary) — In the decade since the Arab uprisings began in 2010-2011, the Arab world has seen bouts of popular protest, leaders deposed, civil wars, and interventions by regional and global powers. This churn is often described as a regionwide revolutionary hangover that will eventually subside. In this Brief, David Siddhartha Patel argues that the unrest of the "post Arab Spring period" only seems like an aberration because, in several ways, domestic politics in Arab states were frozen from the 1970s to the early 2000s. He argues that it is that period—when Arab leaders almost never fell—that was anomalous. Before a huge increase in oil rents from 1973 to 1986 dramatically strengthened states and regimes, the domestic politics of the Arab Middle East were just as tumultuous and dynamic as they have been since 2011. Today, oil prices are lower and states are weaker than they were during the oil-enabled "ice age." The current moment, therefore, is not an interregnum between eras of authoritarian stability in the Arab world; in a sense, disorder is the (not so) new order.

February 18, 2021

Special Event (summary) — On Thursday, February 18, the Center for the National Interest in Washington, DC hosted a webinar on "The Challenge of Iran'' to examine the Biden administration's emerging options to address threats posed by of Iran’s nuclear program, missile program, and regional interventions. Hosted by Geoffrey Kemp, the panel included myself; Shai Feldman, our former director and now president of Sapir College in Israel; and Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center.

January 28, 2021

Crown Conversations 5 (Summary) — Ten years ago this week, Egyptians began a series of mass protests that quickly brought down President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled for almost thirty years. The subsequent years were contentious, and an uneven transition to democracy ended when the military assumed power in 2013. Today, Egyptians remain deeply divided over the legacy of the January 25 Revolution. In this Crown Conversation, we asked three scholars of Egypt—Youssef El Chazli, Hannah Elsisi, and Neil Ketchley—to reflect on how and why the revolution occurred, the ways it changed politics and society, and its lasting imprint on the everyday lives of Egyptians. 

Middle East Brief 139 (Summary) — China’s economic and diplomatic ties with each of the eight states that border the Persian Gulf rapidly expanded over the past two decades. This occurred despite conflicts and diplomatic tensions among those states and the heavy dependence most of them have on the United States for their external security. And China, so far, has largely avoided being drawn deeply into the complex politics of the region. In this Brief, Nader Habibi explores the reasons for this growth in China’s trade and investment with Iran, Iraq, and the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He analyzes the motivations and strategic calculations of the Gulf states while emphasizing China’s ability to contribute to economic diversification programs and link infrastructure projects to its global Belt and Road Initiative. Habibi concludes by discussing factors that might limit further expansion of Gulf-China economic ties, including increasing U.S. concern about China’s growing influence in the region.