Intelligence Squared

Wednesday, October 2 at 2:00 pm

Unresolved: Shifting Power in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia and Iran are vying for regional dominance. Turkey is cozying up to Russia and China. And instability, conflict, and proxy wars have engulfed Syria, Yemen, and beyond. How should the United States respond to shifting power in the Middle East?

Staged in our “Unresolved” format, this debate brings together five foreign policy experts to tackle pressing questions on geopolitics in the Middle East, including: Is Trump right on Saudi Arabia? Is the world safer without the JCPOA? And is Turkey an asset to NATO?

The Debaters:
Michael Doran
Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute & Fmr. Sr. Director, National Security Council
Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in Middle East security issues. Doran served as a senior director on the National Security Council under President Bush and was responsible for helping to devise and coordinate U.S. strategy on a variety of Middle East issues, including Arab-Israeli relations and U.S. efforts to contain Iran and Syria. He also served in the Bush administration as a senior adviser in the State Department and a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon.

Reuel Marc Gerecht
Senior Fellow, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies & Fmr. CIA Case Officer
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a former case officer for the CIA, where he served as a Middle Eastern targets officer with the CIA's directorate of operations. He is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan organization centering on national security, where he focuses on Iran, sanctions, terrorism, and the Middle East. He is the author of “Know Thine Enemy: A Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran” and “The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy,” among others. 

Bernard Haykel
Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
Bernard Haykel is a professor of Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University. After working as a post-doctoral research fellow at Oxford University in Islamic Studies, he joined New York University in 1998 as associate professor before taking up his post at Princeton. He became a Guggenheim fellow in 2010 and is co-editor of the book, “Saudi Arabia in Transition; Insights on Social, Political, Economic and Religious Change.”

Brett McGurk
Fmr. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
Brett McGurk served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the U.S. Department of State, where he helped build and then lead the coalition of 75 countries and four international organizations in the global campaign against ISIS. He served in senior positions in the Bush and Obama administrations and has led some of the most sensitive diplomatic missions in the Middle East over the last decade. McGurk is currently the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne distinguished lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute and Center for Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Barbara Slavin
Director, The Future of Iran Initiative, The Atlantic Council
Barbara Slavin is the director of the Future of Iran Initiative and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. The author of "Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation," she is a regular commentator on U.S. foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS, and C-SPAN. Previously, Slavin served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Slavin is a career journalist, and currently writes as a columnist for, a website devoted to news from and about the Middle East.

John Donvan
Host and Moderator

To listen to the audio of “Unresolved: Shifting Power in the Middle East” on Intelligence Squared online, please click HERE.