The Islamic State through the Regional Lens

This event looked at at the regional dimensions surrounding the crisis triggered by ISIS, examining the reaction of key Middle Eastern actors, particularly in Syria and Iraq, the dynamics driving ISIS, and the policy options now confronting European decision makers


  • Julien Barnes-Dacey, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • Nir Rosen, Special Advisor on Syria, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
  • Cale Salih, Project Manager, Institute for Integrated Transitions

Chaired by

Daniel Levy, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, ECFR

The rise of ISIS is being seen as a significant challenge to neighbouring states and Europe, but it is also being used by some as an opportunity to press forward with domestic and regional political ambitions and frequently as a guarantor of the status quo. As a number of European states engage militarily against ISIS and partner-up with regional actors, policy-makers need to carefully consider the different dynamics and ambitions driving the crisis. 

As part of this discussion our assembled group of experts considered the manner in which ISIS has impacted the crisis in Syria, particularly the calculations of the Damascus regime and opposition groups and the manner in which both see this as an opportunity to cement a relationship with the West, the Kurdish response (including the impact on intra-Kurdish divisions and their ambitions for an independent state), as well as attempts by the Gulf states and Iran to leverage the threat behind their own strategic aims.

Julien Barnes-Dacey is a Senior Policy Fellow based at ECFR’s MENA programme. 

Ellie Geranmayeh, is a Policy Fellow based at ECFR’s MENA programme. 

Nir Rosen is a Special Advisor on Syria at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Nir spends most of his time in Iraq, and since 2011, has travelled routinely to Syria.

Cale Salih is Project Manager at the Institute for Integrated Transitions and she formerly worked for the International Crisis Group. 

Daniel Levy is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR.

This event was off the record.