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Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
Beirut, Lebanon

Crisis Group Role

Sam Heller is Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst on Non-State Armed Groups, as part of the organisation's work on Jihad in Modern Conflict. He joined Crisis Group in February 2018 and is based in Beirut.

Areas of Expertise

  • Trends and thought in global jihadism
  • The Syrian conflict
     

Professional Background

Prior to joining Crisis Group, Sam was a fellow with The Century Foundation and a researcher and analyst focused on the Syrian conflict.

He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Yale University and a master's degree in Arabic from the University of Maryland.

Languages

  • English
  • Arabic

Publications

He has written for publications including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and War on the Rocks.

In The News

16 Jan 2019
President Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from Syria, but apparently spontaneously, without prior planning or coordination inside the U.S. government or with Turkey. Bloomberg

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
17 Sep 2018
A head-on attack against [Hayat Tahrir al-Sham] now or later would likely destabilize northwest [Syria], prompt a bloody and maybe inconclusive fight, and potentially set off retaliatory attacks inside Turkey. This is why the Turks are pushing so hard for something that approximates the status quo. Washington Post

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
28 Jul 2018
Rebels [in Southern Syria] are facing a set of options where even the best one is bad - they're stuck between negotiating with Russia through Jordanian mediation, or continuing to resist militarily which will ultimately end with talks under even greater military pressure. AFP

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
18 Jul 2018
Many of the aims Russia is pursuing in Syria, in their own terms and in specific contexts, are positive. They are probably the party which will tamper down Israeli-Iranian tensions now. The picture gets more complicated if you think in terms of the US’s role in relation to that, though. Any objective good that is achieved through Russian dominance in Syria is probably done at the expense of US. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is dependent on your perspective. The Independent

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
16 Apr 2018
Even if [U.S.-led strikes in Syria are] a chemical weapons deterrent, that leaves a whole arsenal of conventional means with which people can be killed with few real repercussions. The New York Times

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
2 Apr 2018
The fall of East Ghouta is another step towards Assad’s consolidation of control in Syria’s center. The Wall Street Journal

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups

Latest Updates

Rightsizing the Transnational Jihadist Threat

The number of Salafi-jihadists in action around the world has risen markedly since 2001. But this is no homogenous army, and the key point is that most are fighting locally. Understanding how different jihadist groups operate in varying contexts is essential for an effective policy response.

Can the U.S. Respond to the Syria Chemical Weapons Attack without Risking Escalation?

After an apparent chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb Saturday, the United States and its allies are considering retaliatory strikes against the Syrian government. In this Q&A, Crisis Group's Sam Heller lays out the Douma attack's impact and the repercussions of a possible new U.S.-led intervention. 

Also available in العربية

Russia Should Go Beyond Humanitarian Corridors in Syria

Russia’s proposal for humanitarian corridors for Eastern Ghouta and Rukban camp have little chance of mitigating suffering there. Instead, Moscow should push for a negotiated resolution of Eastern Ghouta through UN Security Council Resolution 2401 and secure normal aid agency access to Rukban, thereby enhancing its credibility as a mediator.

Also available in العربية