Session 1: State-to-State Issues and the Changed Region: Opening remarks Prof. Uriel Reichman, President and Founder, IDC Herzliya. Judith Colp Rubin, Honorary President, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya. Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Director, Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs, IDC Herzliya. Panel Chair: Dr. Jonathan Spyer, […]
- Frontline reporting:Rubin Center researchers regularly visit the region, including Iraq and war-torn Syria, witnessing developments first-hand. The center has exposed many important news stories. In addition to being first to reveal ISIS’s use of chemical weapons, Rubin Center Director Dr. Jonathan Spyer visited Baghdad this year and obtained unprecedented access to the Shi’a militias, interviewing senior officials from those organizations there. Spyer and Rubin Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi published the first piece anywhere to call out the role being played by the militias, which later became mainstream knowledge. Spyer later published a detailed report on the subject. Spyer has also reported from Syria and Turkey, conducting groundbreaking research on the nature and limitations of U.S.-Kurdish cooperation in Syria.
- Primary research: The Rubin Center was ahead of the game on the importance of ISIS as a proto-state. In the first attempt to understand ISIS ideology through use of primary resources in Arabic, Rubin Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi has been translating and analyzing key ISIS documents–including recruitment, training, textbooks, administrative, and other primary sources. Jawad obtained an ISIS “masterplan” for the governance of the Islamic State, which was a front page story in the Guardian—which received the information directly from Jawad—and in other major media outlets around the world. Senior U.S. officials referred to the document as significant. In another major, but non-public, media monitoring project, Rubin Research Associate Alex Grinberg has been conducting pioneering research on Iran using Farsi-language resources.
- Media and consultancy: The Rubin Center consults for government–including the United States, UK, China, Israel, India, Canada, and the Czech Republic–news media, and academic research. Rubin researchers have been sought out by the White House, the British parliament, and other Western governments, as well as media bodies, and human rights NGOs. Rubin Research Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, for example, has testified before the British House of Commons on the threat represented by the Islamic State. The Rubin Center also provides research work for important pro-Western organizations as well as for major media outlets. Its work has been published/cited in the New York Times, Huffington Post, FOX News, and more. Dr. Jonathan Spyer is also a regular contributor to The Australian and to Jane’s Intelligence Review.
- Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA): Covering the latest developments in the region from a wide variety of viewpoints, including U.S. policy, radical movements, and minorities, the Rubin Center’s quarterly journal MERIA has a circulation of over 25,000. Get your free subscription today!
- Turkish Studies: In a crucial geographical and political location, Turkey’s importance is growing rapidly throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. With an upsurge in interest in its history, politics, and foreign policy, Turkish Studies quarterly–listed in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)–offers scholarly discussion on these topics and more.
- Books: The Rubin Center has produced numerous books on subjects of importance, including Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East—about the political alliance forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities during the 1930s and 1940s—and The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict—which deals with the emergence of Islamist movements as Israel’s main adversaries and Israel’s response to this. In 2015, The Military History of the Modern Middle East was published, covering the military history of the past hundred years, including such topics as both world wars, the Turkish-Greek conflicts, Arab nationalism, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and the post-2003 fighting in Iraq. As part of the center’s Free Books project, we also offer 13 of Barry Rubin’s books online, including on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Syria, U.S. policy, Jewish assimilation, and more.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).
The Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs was the first to reveal clear evidence of the use of Chemical Weapons (CW) by the Islamic State. Our October 12, 2014, MERIA Special Report published exclusive pictures showing the physical results of IS use of a chemical agent–which we identified as most likely mustard gas–in a fight against Kurdish militants in a village in the Kobani area of northern Syria.
The pictures and information were obtained by Rubin Center Director Dr. Jonathan Spyer on a 2014 reporting trip into Kobani.
Using our network of contacts in the relevant professional echelon, the Rubin Center obtained a preliminary confirmation of the likely truth of claims of CW use, following which we published a world exclusive on this crucial development.
Ten months later, the result of exhaustive investigations by the relevant agencies of Western governments have confirmed our initial findings.
The Rubin Center was first to bring this war crime of the most heinous nature to the world’s attention, months in advance of any other body. This early warning confirms the usefulness of the methods the Rubin Center has been pioneering in the field of Middle East research. These methods involve the combination of field reporting and the maintenance of an extensive network of sources throughout the Middle East, with access to relevant professional agencies and adherence to the highest standards of research methodology.
The CW report is only one example of the fruits of our research over the last year. Rubin Research Fellow Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi’s groundbreaking work in obtaining, translating, and making available administrative documents of the Islamic State has obtained wide recognition. While the majority of research on IS has focused only or mainly on their murderous activities, Tamimi’s work draws a deeper and more complex picture of this dangerous phenomenon–one that is essential if it is to be understood and defeated.
In other areas, too, our work has placed us ahead of the game. The Rubin Center was the first to flag the role of Iran-supported Shi’i militias as playing a vital role in the battle against IS in Iraq. Spyer and Tamimi’s December 2014 article addressed this issue and the problematic implications for Western policy vis-à-vis Iraq and Syria months before it had become a noted phenomenon.
Jonathan Spyer is also one of the few Western researchers to have embedded with the Shi’i militias, gaining exclusive access to the highest levels of command and visiting frontline positions of the militias in Anbar Province and the Baiji area of Iraq.
The Rubin Center is also pleased to announce the addition of Research Associate Alex Grinberg, a former officer of IDF Military Intelligence and an Iran specialist, and Arabic-language media expert Dave McAvoy, who has been closely following Arabic TV news coverage for a decade.
The Rubin Center–founded by the late Prof. Barry Rubin, one of the most prolific and dedicated Middle East scholars of our time–is a non-profit, self-funded organization. Now, when factual information and a clear picture of the situation in the Middle East are more important than ever, the Rubin Center needs your support in order to continue its groundbreaking research.
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The following interview was originally posted on Musings on Iraq. From 2013-2014 it seemed like there was a broad rebirth of the Iraqi insurgency. The protest movement against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government revived a number of groups, which had gone dormant by the time of the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. The Islamic State (IS) […]