The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a public panel on countering terrorism in the Middle East, featuring high-level panelists representing the United States, the United Nations and the United Kingdom: Ambassador James Jeffrey, Edmund Fitton-Brown and Jessica Jambert-Gray.
The territorial defeat of ISIS’s self-declared Caliphate in March 2019 was a significant victory in the fight against terrorism, but the ISIS threat remains urgent and widely distributed across the Middle East and beyond. Al-Qaeda meanwhile, has faced a series of challenges in the years since the Arab uprisings of 2010 and 2011, with some of its affiliates appearing to have learned lessons from the past and adapted their strategies towards operating more durably, within existing and likely intractable local conflicts. That pursuit has been a defining feature of Iran’s regional strategy, in which local militant proxies - some designated terrorist organizations - are built and consolidated in order to become permanent fixtures of countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
The international community clearly has a long struggle ahead in terms of combating the threats posed by terrorist organizations. This panel will seek to discuss these challenges and address existing and future policy responses to them.
Ambassador James Jeffrey
Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Special Representative for Syria Engagement, U.S. Department of State
Ambassador James F. Jeffrey is a decorated diplomat who concluded his foreign service career with tours as U.S. envoy in Iraq and Turkey. He has held senior assignments in Washington, D.C., and abroad, including as United States ambassador to Iraq; United States ambassador to Turkey; deputy national security advisor; and United States ambassador to Albania. In 2010 Jeffrey was appointed to the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service, career ambassador. From 1969 to 1976, Jeffrey was a U.S. Army infantry officer, with service in Germany and Vietnam. Jeffrey is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a member of the CIA External Advisory Board, a member of the American Council on Germany, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He currently serves as the secretary’s special representative for Syria engagement and the special envoy to the global coalition to defeat ISIS. He is a frequent commentator on broader foreign policy, national security, and economic trends.
Coordinator, Analytical Support & Sanctions Monitoring Team, ISIS, Al-Qaeda & Taliban, United Nations
Ambassador Edmund Fitton-Brown is the coordinator of the United Nations analytical support and sanctions monitoring team concerning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities. He previously served as Her Majesty’s ambassador to the Republic of Yemen from February 2015 until February 2017. Fitton-Brown joined the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1984 with his postings including Dubai, Riyadh, Cairo, Kuwait, Rome, and Helsinki.
First Secretary, Counter-Terrorism, British Embassy to the U.S.
Jessica Jambert-Gray is the head of the strategic threats team at the British Embassy. Her team covers a broad range of security issues, including counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, intelligence policy, counter-proliferation and international security. She has worked in the British Government for over 10 years, including a posting to Pakistan, and roles in Middle East counter-terrorism, intelligence analysis, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and international human rights. She has also completed a number of shorter postings to the UK’s mission to the European Union, the African Union and India.
Charles Lister (moderator)
Senior Fellow and Director, Countering Terrorism and Extremism program, MEI
Charles Lister is a senior fellow and director of the countering terrorism and extremism program at MEI. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria, including as a member of the MEI-convened Syria Study Group; and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a senior consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups. Lister is a frequent source of briefings on the Syrian insurgency to political, military and intelligence leaderships in the United States and across Europe and the Middle East. He appears regularly on television media, including CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera, and his articles have been widely published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, among others.