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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

14 Aug 2018
There is very little appetite in the region for [an “Arab NATO”], if it means having to make military sacrifices. That would be highly destabilizing to the contributing countries back home. Asia Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Aug 2018
The U.S. wants out of Syria and wants to retain some sort of insurance policy against the return of Isis and the expanding influence of Iran. If there is a deal between the [Kurds] and the regime with both the U.S. and Russia as co-guarantors then that might be acceptable to Washington. Financial Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
15 Jul 2018
Fifteen years after the change of order in Iraq, it’s the same problem. The central government is unable or unwilling to address problems across the board in Iraq. The corruption is endemic, the government’s inability to deal with it is endemic, and the protests are endemic. The Telegraph

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
29 Jun 2018
[The last rebel stronghold in southwestern Syria] presented a problem for the regime and its Russian and Iranian backers. The presence of Iranian-backed militias in the region would be a red line for Israel. The Russians have therefore been looking for a way to negotiate a deal whereby the takeover of the south would be peaceful, with political agreement. As far as we can tell, this hasn’t come about yet, but may still be being negotiated. Asia Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
18 Jun 2018
A better chance of success would be a deal whereby the Houthis permit a neutral third-party monitoring of shipments coming through the [Hodeida] port, essentially moving UNVIM [UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen] onshore. TRT World

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
15 May 2018
If the group that is most adamantly in favour of combating corruption [in Iraq] is incapable or unwilling to do anything about it, frustrations could take a different turn. Financial Times

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Latest Updates

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.

The Middle East in Chaos: Of Orders and Borders

As Middle Eastern societies start pulling themselves out of conflict, as Iraq seems to be doing today, this is the challenge they must face: to refashion social contracts and establish governing structures able to equitably accommodate a highly diverse population’s needs and peacefully manage territorial disputes with neighbors.

Originally published in Al-Sharq Forum

The Iraqi Elections: A Way Out of the Morass?

The results of Iraq’s 12 May parliamentary contests are not yet final, but the broad contours are apparent. Efforts to fashion a coalition government will likely involve lengthy bargaining. Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann offers a preliminary analysis.

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