The Century Foundation today announced the launch of a new online series, Order from Ashes: New Foundations for Security in the Middle East, publishing the first two of 16 individual policy reports. The series is the result of a larger, multi-year project, which was conceived in 2015 with generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is led by TCF’s team of foreign policy experts, headed by senior fellows Thanassis Cambanis and Michael Wahid Hanna.

The series will run for nine weeks, during which TCF will publish two reports weekly (on Wednesday mornings, EST). Featuring 18 leading researchers and policy experts from around the world, the forthcoming reports study a wide-range of possibilities for creating security architecture and institutions to facilitate cooperation and manage conflict in the region. The series will culminate in mid-March, with the publication of an edited volume under the same name, which follows the 2017 publication of the first edited volume in the project, Arab Politics beyond the Uprisings: Experiments in an Age of Resurgent Authoritarianism.

“The current moment in Middle East politics is marked by a grim urgency: the region gravely needs new ideas, strategies, and coalitions to advance security,” said Thanassis Cambanis, TCF senior fellow and co-editor of the Order from Ashes project. “While crisis and conflict have exacerbated many threats to regional security, they have also created opportunities for carefully crafted prescriptions and alternative frameworks. This project is intended to both recognize and realize those opportunities — and, ultimately, help lay the foundations for lasting security in the Middle East.”

The project will assess the current regional security environment at a time of unprecedented turmoil and instability, seeking to seed mechanisms to prevent and end conflicts that could have a demonstrable, material impact on the lives of the region’s citizens. The reports examine topics such as: past and current efforts to undertake regional security dialogue; approaches to collective security; confidence-building measures that can decrease tensions and establish precedents for cooperation; non-Arab regional actors and outside parties and their role in regional security efforts; and the shape and scope of a future regional security system.

Outside researchers who contributed to the project include: Dalia Dassa Kaye, Peter Jones, Nasser bin Nasser, Jasmine Auda, Bruce W. Jentleson, Emile Hokayem, David B. Roberts, Brian Katulis, Selim Can Sazak, Caglar Kurc, Emily B. Landau, Dina Esfandiary, Bassel F. Salloukh, David N. Griffiths, Bilal Y. Saab, and Nilsu Goren. A preview of the forthcoming release schedule, including authors and report titles, is available below.

“By bringing together this diverse set of contributors, representing a wide spectrum of views, we hope to provide a variety of perspectives on recent history and the way forward for security in the Middle East,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, TCF senior fellow and co-editor of Order from Ashes. “This project reinforces the practice of policy scholarship that is rooted in rigorous methodology, but is squarely aimed at having tangible public policy impact.”

The first report, “New Security Solutions for a Middle East in Crisis,” authored by Michael Wahid Hanna, provides an overview of the project and its goals broadly, in addition to a brief summary of each of the specific reports. The second report published today, “Can It Happen Here? Prospects for Regional Security Cooperation in the Middle East,” authored by Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation, reviews previous unsuccessful attempts and provides recommendations for practicable ways to realize a Middle East multilateral security forum going forward. Also published on and iTunes today was a TCF World Podcast, where Cambanis and Hanna discuss the security threats, fears, and domestic politics that underlie government decisions about regional security and stability.

The full series will be published online and click here to pre-order the edited volume. For embargoed copies of any of the specific reports below, contact [email protected].

Online Release Schedule

Week 1: Thursday, January 18

  • Report 1: “New Security Solutions for a Middle East in Crisis,” by Michael Wahid Hanna
  • Report 2: “Can It Happen Here? Prospects for Regional Security Cooperation in the Middle East,” by Dalia Dassa Kaye

Week 2: Wednesday, January 24

  • Report 3: “No Country for Oversimplifications: Understanding Iran’s Views on the Future of Regional Security Dialogue and Architecture,” by Dina Esfandiary
  • Report 4: “Strategic Recalibration: A Palmerstonian U.S. Middle East Regional Strategy,” by Bruce W. Jentleson

Week 3: Wednesday, January 31

  • Report 5: “Friends with Benefits: The Gulf States and the Perpetual Quest for Alliances,” by Emile Hokayem and David B. Roberts
  • Report 6: “Too Important to Give Up: Challenges and Opportunities for Middle East Regional Security Integration,” by Brian Katulis

Week 4: Wednesday, February 7

  • Report 7: “Oceans of Opportunity: Maritime Dimensions of Security in the Arab World,” by David N. Griffiths

Week 5: Wednesday, February 14

  • Report 8: “From Zero Problems to Zero Friends? The Past, Present, and Future of Turkey’s Role in Regional Security Cooperation,” by Selim Can Sazak and Caglar Kurc
  • Report 9: “A New Grand Bargain for the Middle East: The Search for a New Consociational and Geopolitical Order,” by Bassel F. Salloukh

Week 6: Wednesday, February 21

  • Report 10: “ Arab-Israeli Security Dialogue: Finally Ripe for Regional Advances?” by Emily B. Landau
  • Report 11: “Chasing the Impossible Dream: Israel’s Unlikely Quest for a Regional Security Architecture through Back-Channel Diplomacy,” by Peter Jones

Week 7: Wednesday, February 28

  • Report 12: “Atomic Bonds in an Age of Entropy: The Pursuit of a Nuclear Security Framework in the Middle East,” by Bilal Y. Saab and Nilsu Goren
  • Report 13: “Cooperating on Nuclear Power: Regional Management of Energy Initiatives,” by Selim Can Sazak

Week 8: Wednesday, March 7

  • Report 14: “The Israel-Hezbollah Channel: UNIFIL’s Effective but Limited Conflict-Management Mechanism,” by Thanassis Cambanis
  • Report 15: “Cooperation, Contestation, and Historical Context: A Survey of the Middle East’s Security Architecture,” by Nasser bin Nasser and Jasmine Auda

Week 9: Wednesday, March 14

  • Report 16: “Begin the Begin: Seeding Conflict Prevention Mechanisms in the Middle East,” Michael Wahid Hanna
  • Publication of Full Edited Volume, Order from Ashes: New Foundations for Security in the Middle East