Gulf Security & Defense Research Program

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Gulf Security & Defense Research Program

The Gulf Security and Defense research program focuses on the latest security developments in the Gulf states, including the six GCC member states, Iran, Iraq and Yemen, in addition to the neighboring region of South Asia and especially Pakistan and Afghanistan. It deals with hard and soft security issues with a special focus on counter-terrorism, nuclear development and Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Gulf, regime stability, maritime security, narcotics and human trafficking.


  • Analysis, forecasts and situation reports in Arabic and English
  • Monitoring of terrorist activities and latest military developments
  • Briefings on critical strategic and security developments
  • Tailored consultancy

Sample of Ongoing and Past Projects

  • Tafahum: Tafahum is an ongoing project launched in September 2018. It pursues the overall objective of developing a roadmap for regional security in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, including the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Iran, Iraq and Yemen. The project aims to generate an overall “tafahum” (understanding in Arabic) among regional stakeholders on a joint process towards regional security in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented along with CARPO – Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient. Through the project, multiple workshops, fora and publications are paving the way to constructing ideational pillars for an overall agreement of how to define a regional security process. Tafahum Working Groups and workshops:
    • Regional Economic Development and Energy Issues
    • Counter-Terrorism and Security Sector Reform
    • Environmental Challenges and Interdependencies
    • Media, Public Discourse and Discursive Integration
    • A Joint Rebuilding Effort: The Future of Syria and Yemen
  • Gulf Maritime Security: The objective of this project was to work towards the establishment of individual and regional maritime security policies to secure shipping lanes and oil export routes in the Gulf waters. GRC completed a study identifying the key obstacles hindering the establishment of such a security cooperation, highlighting the need to establish a maritime security regime among the GCC states and the wider Gulf region including Iran and Iraq. GRC, in collaboration with other think tanks and naval institutions began discussions on potential Track II negotiations to lay down the foundations for a maritime security regime in the Gulf.
  • Investment in Stability for Pakistan’s FATA Areas Bordering Afghanistan: The objective of the project was a long-term investment strategy that would not only benefit citizens economically, but would also target extremism, radicalization and ensuing terrorism in order to ensure the success of the international community in succeeding to secure and stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan and target transnational terrorist links across the region. The project entailed onsite field research, interviews and discussions to come to a comprehensive understanding of the tribal system in FATA, the security situation in terms of the rise in militant groups and the feasibility of integrating economic development to meet the broader security stabilization target for the region. The groundwork for the project included a thorough assessment of the security situation and previous shortfalls in strategy. In the project’s conclusion, recommendations were published as well as presented at an international conference hosted by the WSN in Berlin.
  • WMD Free Zone in the Gulf: The initiative aimed to work towards the establishment of a WMD Free Zone in the Gulf including the six GCC states, Iran , Iraq and Yemen. GRC held three Track II meetings and discussion panels involving high level officials from the six GCC states in addition to Iran, Iraq and Yemen. The Track II meetings were successful in placing the project on the regional agenda. Under this project, the GRC published the book “Case for Weapon of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Gulf” which explores the possibilities of building upon the successful experiences of other nations establishing nuclear free zones.
  • Trans-Arabian Oil Pipelines: The GRC prepared a preliminary study focused on oil export security through building multi-state oil pipelines that would bypass the world’s most vulnerable energy choke point, the Strait of Hormuz, and to diversify oil export routes.
  • Radicalization: Transnational Linkages, Causes and Effects: This multi-state project undertook a study of the process of radicalization, focusing on Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan. The objective was to understand the extent and strength of networks aimed at recruitment for terrorist activities. The project study analyzed the evolution of the radicalization process, epicenters of key groups, source of funding, sponsorship and proxy organizations.
  • Project on Violent Non-State Actors (VNSAs): The project explored the relationship between VNSAs and the environment that creates and nurtures them. It applied an integrated approach informed by current literature on the subject but also adopting a critical and distinctive approach in addition to adding key data gathered from the ongoing activities of contemporary VNSAs. The project’s output was both normative and empirical, embodied in the work of distinguished scholars with extensive experience in their areas of expertise.
  • The Political Role of Tribalism in Iraq: The Political Role of Tribalism in Iraq was an eighteen month research project supported by the International Development Research Council of Canada. It presented a thorough analysis of the tribal structure in Iraq. The objective of the project was manifold. It aimed to enhance professional knowledge and fill an important gap in the existing literature on Iraq, looking at the following questions:
    • What is the nature of tribal compositions in Iraq? To what extent did the socio-economic modernization process affect the composition of the tribes?
    • How did the policies of the Saddam Hussein regime contribute to the institutionalization of tribalism, especially after the fall of the regime?
    • What are the factors that contributed to the ascendancy of the tribe in politics, especially in the post-Saddam era?
    • To what extent are tribal affiliations intertwined with ethnic and sectarian affiliations, and how does this affect the political process?
    • How do tribes influence and how will they continue to influence civil society organizations?
  • INFOCORE- The Role of Media in Violent Conflicts: INFOCORE was an international collaborative research project aiming to investigate the role of media in the emergence or prevention, the escalation or de-escalation, the management, resolution and reconciliation of violent conflict. It was composed of nine leading research institutions. INFOCORE’s focus on conflict coverage mainly concentrated on three conflict areas: the Middle East, the West Balkans, and the African Great Lakes area. By analyzing the dynamics of these conflicts’ news content over time, INFOCORE assessed the roles of media for shaping conflict perceptions and responses to on-going conflicts.

Click here to view our full list of security & defense publications.

Click here to view past events organized by the security & defense research program.