Looking at the Middle East in 2019, minor and major powers alike are bogged down in conflicts in the greyzone below the threshold of war, increasingly relying on surrogates that bear the burden of conflict on the behalf of their patrons. Human surrogates help their patrons to engage in protracted everywhere wars of choice for an indefinite period of time – rarely able to achieve more than strategic disruption. Local and global players alike rely increasingly on surrogates to disrupt and protract conflicts across the region with Iran as the patron of the region’s leading surrogate network. While Tehran has perfected this new way of war in four decades, other players in the Gulf have learned how the externalization of the burden of conflict can help achieving objectives at limited financial, human and political costs with degrees of plausible deniability and discretion. Also, the arguably last remaining super power, the United States, seems to have shifted its modus operandi in the Middle East to leading from behind relying on surrogates to bear the burden of conflict.
This panel examines the consequences of surrogate warfare for local conflicts in the Middle East, looking at how Iran, Arab Gulf states and the United States externalize the burden of conflicts to surrogates. What drives surrogate warfare in the region, what can patrons really achieve and what are the long-term effects trained, equipped and empowered in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere?
Refreshments will be available.
Dr. Andreas Krieg is an assistant professor at the School of Security at King’s College London currently seconded to the Royal College of Defence Studies. In his research Andreas has combined his regional expertise of the Middle East with the wider field of Security Studies. He has looked at violent non-state actors and unconventional means of warfare in the twenty-first century. As an expert for Middle East security more generally and Gulf security in particular, Andreas has employed his regional and subject-related expertise providing strategic and operational risk consultancy to a variety of commercial and governmental organizations operating in the MENA region. He most recently published a book with Georgetown University Press titled ‘Surrogate Warfare – The Transformation of War in the 21st Century’.
Anas El Gomati is the founder and current Director General of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, the first public policy think tank in Libya’s history established in August 2011. Anas is also the research director for the security & governance programme at the institute. He has held several positions across the Middle East and Europe, as a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, Lebanon and visiting lecturer at the NATO Defence College in Rome, Italy. He is a frequent commentator on Libya & the MENA region in the media. His research focuses are primarily on the security sector, foreign policy, and violent extremism
Michael Stephens is the Research Fellow for Middle East Studies and Head of RUSI Qatar. From March to June 2017 Michael was seconded into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, serving as the Senior Research Analyst for Syria and Lebanon. His research has recently focused on Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Kurdish regions of Syria, as well as UK national security policy in the Middle East.