Ideas. Action. Results.

New Task Force to Develop Strategy for Syria, Iraq, Middle East

Monday, April 10, 2017

Washington, D.C.– As a new administration grapples with how to address challenges in the Middle East, the Bipartisan Policy Center is launching a task force of former diplomats and senior foreign policy experts to examine U.S. interests and objectives, and develop a fresh strategic approach to the region.

U.S. policymakers are facing a growing list of conflicts and crises in the region, including the rise and spread of ISIS, civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and the growing regional power of Iran.

BPC’s Task Force on Managing Disorder in the Middle East argues that the fundamental priority of the United States ought to be engagement and helping to rebuild order as the unravelling of Syria and Iraq threaten to spread instability throughout the region.

“As the Trump administration and Congress face this complex challenge, policymakers should focus on how the United States can contribute to rebuilding a stable political order in countries that have been torn apart by conflict, radical Sunni terrorism, and Iranian expansionism,” Blaise Misztal, director of national security at BPC, said.

BPC will hold an event on Thursday, April 13, at 10 a.m. to introduce the task force and present an initial paper outlining the top issues that the group will consider.

Task Force members speaking at that event – Ryan Crocker, Eric Edelman, James Jeffrey, Jake Sullivan — will first participate in a media call at 9 a.m. Thursday. Reporters interested in joining the call should RSVP to Toby Zakaria at [email protected] for call-in information. Those planning to attend the event can join us for the call in person at BPC.

The Task Force on Managing Disorder in the Middle East includes:


  • Ambassador Eric Edelman, Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
  • Jake Sullivan, Former Director of Policy Planning, Former National Security Advisor to the Vice President

Task Force

  • Ambassador Mort Abramowitz, Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
  • Henri Barkey, Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center
  • Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
  • Svante Cornell, Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program
  • Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon
  • Ambassador Robert Ford, Former Ambassador to Syria 
  • John Hannah, Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President
  • Ambassador James Jeffrey, Former Ambassador to Turkey and Iraq
  • Aaron Lobel, Founder and President, America Abroad Media
  • Mary Beth Long, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Alan Makovsky, Former Senior Professional Staff Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Ray Takeyh, Former Senior Advisor on Iran, U.S. State Department
  • General Charles Wald (ret., USAF), Former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command; Former Commander, U.S. Central Command Air Forces
  • Amberin Zaman, Columnist, Al-Monitor; Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center