Emile Bustani Seminar: "The Dual Pivot: The Ups and Downs Of United States – Gulf Relations, 2010-2022"

Tuesday, November 01, 2022 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Building E51, 315
70 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02142

As of March 14, masks are optional at MIT indoor events. Event attendees are encouraged to be mindful of others’ risk tolerance and respectful of their personal choices. All event attendees are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated and boosted. Tim Tickets are no longer required but may be used by visitors to gain access to the exterior doors. Visitors may also be escorted on campus by anyone with an active MIT ID. For Bustani Seminars, please use the entrance to building E51 at the corner of Wadsworth Street and Amherst Street. 

Visitors: Get Your Tim Ticket Here


"The Dual Pivot: The Ups and Downs Of United States – Gulf Relations, 2010-2022"

Ibrahim Al-Assil
Senior Fellow, Middle East Institute

From Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strategy in 2011 until today, the relationships between the United States and its Arab Gulf allies went through ups and downs. The position of the US changed drastically from President Trump, who sided with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to president Biden, who listed Qatar as a major non-NATO ally. This change affected how the Gulf states see the potential role of the US in the region. The relationship between the US and the Arab gulf states does not have only one pivot controlled by the US. While the US is repositioning itself per its interest, so do the gulf states.

This session will discuss the following question: what are the reasons behind the divergence between the US and its allies in the region between 2010 and 2022, and how each  Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar dealt with these challenges? Did the Arab Gulf countries react to the American strategy to "pivot to Asia"? And if yes, why have they reacted differently? Finding a comprehensive answer requires looking at the question from the lenses of geopolitics, great-power competition, energy security, regional dynamics, strategic security assessments, the values of both sides, and how they build their alliances.

Ibrahim Al-Assil is a geopolitical scholar and commentator. A Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, his work focuses on great-power competition in the Middle East, regional security and dynamics, energy, climate change, and political economy. Al-Assil is the managing director of Dynamics Advisory, a consulting firm that provides political risk assessment. 

During his time at Harvard Kennedy School, Ibrahim served as president of the Harvard Arab Student Association (HASA) for the academic year of 2018-2019 and finished a fellowship at the Center for Public Leadership. He was elected to serve on the Harvard Arab Alumni Association (HAAA) board from 2020-2022. 

Al-Assil has been published and quoted in a variety of media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, FP, The Atlantic, Time, BBC, and NPR. He appears regularly on TV stations, such as AlArabiya, Skynews, and France24. He is the host and founder of Podcast AlAwsat

Al-Assil holds an MBA from the University of Essex and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. He is a doctoral candidate in international relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS. His dissertation focuses on the US relationships with the Arab Gulf states and examines the competition between the US, Russia, and China in the region.


Event Type


Events By Interest


Events By Audience

Public, MIT Community, Students

Events By School

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)


history, Middle East, international studies, Bustani, CIS



Center for International Studies


Contact Email


Add to my calendar

Recent Activity