Charles Lister is a senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on all-things Syria and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to joining MEI, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, in which 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 Syria to political, military and intelligence leaderships in the United States and across Europe and the Middle East. He has previously held other positions at the Brookings Institution and at IHS Jane’s in London, UK. Lister is a Consultant to the United Nations' International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria and a regular consultant and expert witness in counter-terrorism prosecutions and with law enforcement bodies in the United States, Europe and Australia. He has also testified to congressional and parliamentary bodies in the U.S., United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Lister’s critically acclaimed book, The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency, was published in February 2016 by Oxford University Press. He has also published The Islamic State: A Brief Introduction (Brookings Press, 2015) and Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers of Non-State Armed Actors and Extremist Groups (ed.) (MEI, 2019). He is now working on a fourth book on Syria, commissioned by Oxford University Press.

1st Class MA Honours in International Relations, University of St. Andrews

Countries of Expertise
Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon

Issues of Expertise
Terrorism, Insurgency, al-Qa'ida, ISIS, Military & Defense

English, French

Sample Interview