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Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
Brussels

Crisis Group Role

As MENA Program Director, Joost leads the organisation’s research, analysis, policy prescription and advocacy in and about the region. Previously, he was Crisis Group’s Chief Operating Officer (2013-2014), in which capacity he was responsible for the oversight and management of the organisation’s programs and operations around the world. Prior to that, he was Crisis Group’s Deputy Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa (2007-2012) and Project Director for the Middle East (2002-2007), helping to manage a team of analysts deployed throughout the region.

Areas of Expertise

  • Iraq: political transition, constitutional process, the situation of the Kurds, Kirkuk and other disputed territories, oil, relations with neighbouring states
  • Bahrain
  • Yemen
  • Jordan
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Middle East region: security threats, authoritarianism and democratisation, political Islam, sectarianism

Professional Background

  • Chief Operating Officer, International Crisis Group (2013-2014)
  • Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group (2007-2012)
  • Project Director, Middle East, International Crisis Group (2002-2007)
  • Executive Director, Arms Division of Human Rights Watch (1994-2002)
  • Director of Iraq Documents Project, HRW (1992-1994)
  • Research Coordinator, Al-Haq (Ramallah) (1988-1990)
  • Database Coordinator, Al-Haq (Ramallah) (1985-1988)
  • PhD, Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz (1988); MA, International Relations, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980)
  • He has written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Financial Times, The National Interest, Middle East Report, and other publications

Affiliations

  • Former Board Member, Center for Civilians in Conflict (previously known as CIVIC)
  • Former Advisory Board Member, Arab Regional Office of Open Society Foundations
  • Research Affiliate, MIT Center for International Studies
  • Consultant/Advisor, Dialogue Advisory Group


Frequent interviews with major media outlets, including BBC, CNN, The New York Times, Financial Times

  • Two books: A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (Cambridge, 2007), and Behind the Intifada: Labor and Women’s Movements in the Occupied Territories (Princeton, 1991)

Languages

  • English
  • Dutch
  • Arabic
  • French

In The News

28 Apr 2020
What appears to be an unprecedented government-sanctioned Russian media campaign against Bashar al-Assad may reflect frustration in Moscow over Assad's obstinacy at a time when Syria is a lesser priority. The Hour

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
21 Feb 2020
[Turkey has been using Russia] to push back against policies that it doesn’t like from its Western partners. BloombergQuint

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
10 Jan 2020
The Iraqis don’t want either the United States or Iran, but if they have to have one, they would rather have both because they balance each other out. New York Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
9 Apr 2019
Haftar is deeply unpopular in many places and given the fragmented state of Libya and the proliferation of armed groups it’s going to be very hard to impose his rule throughout the country. TIME

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
8 Jan 2019
Turkey has only one interest, which is to defeat the YPG. So that is what it is going to do. AFP

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
30 Nov 2018
If the Hodeida offensive resumes and leads to an all-out battle, then millions of people in Yemen will plunge into outright famine. That must be averted. NPR

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Latest Updates

Arab Protests: A Wicked Dance Between Rulers and Subjects

A new wave of popular protests has jolted an already deeply unsettled Arab world. Nine years ago, uprisings across the region signalled a rejection of corrupt autocratic rule that failed to deliver jobs, basic services and reliable infrastructure. Yet regime repression and the protests’ lack of organisation, leadership and unified vision thwarted hopes of a new order. As suddenly as the uprisings erupted, as quickly they descended into violence. What followed was either brutal civil war or regime retrenchment. Tunisia stands as the sole, still fragile, exception.

Originally published in Valdai Club

Tackling Intersecting Conflicts in the MENA Region

In a speech at the Institut Europeu de la Mediterrània, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann highlights four key issues that hinder peace efforts in the region, and five clusters of century-old conflicts that are still causing turmoil today.

The Iran Nuclear Deal and the U.S.-Iran Standoff

Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann presented this paper on the history of U.S.-Iran relations and the status of the Iran Deal at an 8 November conference organised by the Israeli-European Policy Network (IEPN) in Herzliya, Israel.

The Syrian Conflict and International Support for Rebel Groups

This written submission to the Dutch Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee was accompanied by both an oral presentation and also responses to questions posed by Committee members on Dutch non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebel groups during the civil war.

How Turkey’s Ties to the West May Survive the Syrian War

Crisis Group's Middle East & North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann participated in the 2018 Körber Policy Game, designed to explore possible outcomes in the event of a crisis between Turkey and the West in Syria. While the exercise underscored many of the Syrian conflict's complexities, it also revealed that a strong desire by stakeholders to find common ground can help overcome them.