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.
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.
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.
AGSIW experts explain the regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
With a mix of condemnation, maneuver, and strategic calculation, Gulf countries are navigating the current crisis.
A recently signed security- and economy-focused pact marks the latest development in the United States’ close, long-standing partnership with Bahrain.
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.
Riyadh’s prominent role underscores its growing confidence on the world stage and its careful, pragmatic balancing of alliances and relations with key partners.
Recent turbocharged diplomatic activity underscores growing Gulf confidence as countries in the region maneuver for influence and advantage and focus on their domestic economies.
Balancing family and state-federal dynamics while staying in line with regional tendencies on succession, Mohammed bin Zayed names his son Khaled crown prince.
Riyadh appears set to consolidate Arab consensus on Syria, raising further questions about U.S. regional influence.
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.