Ambassador William Roebuck

Executive Vice President, AGSIW

Ambassador William “Bill” Roebuck is the executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He most recently served as the deputy special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and a senior advisor to the Special Representative for Syria Engagement Ambassador James Jeffrey. Prior to his appointment, Roebuck served as a senior advisor to Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk from January to December 2018.

Roebuck served as ambassador to Bahrain from 2015-17. He was appointed deputy assistant secretary for Maghreb Affairs in January 2013 and assumed additional responsibility for Egypt Affairs in January 2014. He served as Chargé d’Affaires in Tripoli, Libya from January to June 2013, earning the Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy. From September 2010 to December 2012, he served as director for the Office of Maghreb Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Roebuck served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from July 2009 to August 2010, covering Iraq’s external relations and leading the embassy’s and the resident international community’s efforts to support the critical March 2010 national elections.

Roebuck served as the deputy office director for Arabian Peninsula Affairs from 2007-09. From 2004-07, he served as the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. In his last year of that assignment, Roebuck served as the acting deputy chief of mission. Prior to his assignment in Syria, he covered political issues in Gaza, while assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv from 2000-03. He served in Washington as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs from 1997-98.

Prior to joining the State Department, Roebuck worked as an English teacher and school administrator in Taif, Saudi Arabia from 1982-87. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Cote d’Ivoire from 1978-81.

Roebuck speaks French and Arabic. He hails from Rocky Mount, North Carolina and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Wake Forest University in 1978 and 1981, respectively, and his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1992.

2024 Outlook

On January 9, AGSIW hosted a virtual roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.

Is There a Case for Normalizing Relations With Assad?

On September 6, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the merits of Arab reengagement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Will an Upcoming Summit in Riyadh Cement Assad’s Return to the Arab Fold?

On May 4, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the normalization of ties between Syria and the Arab world.

What to Make of the Iranian-Saudi Rapprochement and China’s Role in It

On March 30, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iranian Protests and Tehran’s Regional Role

On February 14, AGSIW hosted a discussion on Iran's regional relationships amid ongoing protests.

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The Inner Logic and Outer Limits of Post-Gaza Normalization

The underlying logic of normalizing ties with Israel remains intact for Gulf states. However, public anger, increased focus on the Palestinian issue, and the rising diplomatic price for Israel will impact the future of normalization.

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Bahrain Sets the Pace for Enhanced Gulf Security Cooperation With the United States

A recently signed security- and economy-focused pact marks the latest development in the United States’ close, long-standing partnership with Bahrain.

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Sudan Threatens to Become Next Big Conflict, for Its Neighbors and the Gulf

The risks of all-out civil war and state collapse are likely to sharpen the now swirling debates over risky external intervention, floundering democracy efforts, and confounding Russian influence.

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Saudi-Hosted Ukraine Event Ends Without Breakthrough but Still Irritates Absent Russia

Riyadh’s prominent role underscores its growing confidence on the world stage and its careful, pragmatic balancing of alliances and relations with key partners.

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As Iranian-Saudi Rivalry Eases, Regional Diplomacy Accelerates

Recent turbocharged diplomatic activity underscores growing Gulf confidence as countries in the region maneuver for influence and advantage and focus on their domestic economies.

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The Son Also Rises: The One-Year Anniversary of Mohammed bin Zayed’s Presidency

Balancing family and state-federal dynamics while staying in line with regional tendencies on succession, Mohammed bin Zayed names his son Khaled crown prince.

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China’s Saudi Arabia-Iran Mediation: An Important but Slender Achievement

China may be able to build on its breakthrough with more ambitious Gulf diplomacy, but, in the meantime, it appears Saudi Arabia and Iran are forging ahead on their own.