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.

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AI, Advanced Technology the Focus of Tahnoun Visit

UAE National Security Advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s recent visit to the United States underscores nascent U.S. success in persuading the UAE of the benefits of partnership and access to advanced technology and the risks of sticking with legacy Chinese tech partnerships.

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Gaza Heads Into Famine as Gulf Countries Scramble to Respond

With aid, public criticism, and diplomatic maneuver, Gulf countries are confronting Israel’s military action in Gaza and weighing how bad the situation could get.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Why Don’t Gulf States Get With the Program on Ukraine and Syria?

Policy differences with the United States over Ukraine and Syria will continue as Gulf states’ strategic diversification and growing confidence in regional preeminence create a new Gulf norm for significant policy divergence, balanced by calculated security convergence.

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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Sultan Al Jaber’s COP28 Appointment Captures Key Climate Trends and Fault Lines

Beyond the criticism of environmental activists and praise of supporters, the appointment points to Gulf efforts to address the regional dilemma posed by climate change, highlights UAE exercise of soft power, and underscores U.S.-UAE cooperation.

2023 Outlook

AGSIW hosted a virtual private 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.

UAE Security Forum 2022: Expanding Regional Partnerships for Security and Prosperity

AGSIW convened the 2022 UAE Security Forum on November 17, where U.S., UAE, and regional partners gathered to find creative solutions to some of the region’s most pressing challenges.

A Conversation With Ambassador Steven C. Bondy

On November 8, AGSIW hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with Steven C. Bondy, the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain.

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The Pope Goes to Bahrain

Pope Francis’ visit to Bahrain showcases the kingdom’s decadeslong effort to champion religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue while also providing critics with a high-profile occasion to question the sincerity of these government efforts and raise human rights concerns.

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In New York, Saudis Dust Off Their Plan for Peace With Israel

The Arab Peace Initiative provides important clues to Saudi foreign policy calculations, even as controversy over OPEC+ oil production cuts diverts attention to Saudi oil policy.

How Has the Invasion of Ukraine Reshaped Russia’s Influence in the Middle East?

On August 4, AGSIW, the University of Haifa, and the National Security Studies Center hosted a discussion examining Gulf-Russia relations since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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Libya Resumes Pumping Oil, but Political Crisis Drags On

U.N. diplomatic efforts on the ground keep a lid on the conflict, but the prospects for a roadmap to elections – and greater stability – remain dim.

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Bahrain Cabinet Reshuffle: Crown Prince and His Team Take Center Stage

Bahrainis, Omanis, and Kuwaitis use cabinet reshuffles for different ends: to signal efforts at regime consolidation, consolidation of a new leader’s control, or a royal maneuver to counter parliament.

International and Regional Involvement in the Middle East

“International and Regional Involvement in the Middle East" is a bimonthly workshop series launched in September 2021, co-hosted by AGSIW and the University of Haifa.

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Mr. Erdogan Goes to Jeddah, With Brotherly, Neo-Ottoman Hat in Hand

The visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia underscores the continuing broader realignment among regional rivals.

A Conversation With Athol Yates

On April 27, AGSIW hosted a roundtable discussion with Athol Yates, a professor at the Institute for International and Civil Security at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.

The Role of the Business Community in U.S.-UAE Relations

On March 23, AmCham Abu Dhabi and AGSIW hosted a briefing on the role of the U.S. business community within the wider U.S.-UAE relationship.

Tending the U.S.-UAE Relationship in a Multipolar World

On March 23, Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy and AGSIW co-hosted the panel discussion “Tending the U.S.-UAE Relationship in a Multipolar World.”

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Russia’s Syria Intervention Paved the Way for Its Attack on Ukraine

Russia’s operations in Syria emboldened Putin and the Russian military to challenge the U.S.-led, rules-based international system that many countries, including in the Gulf, have benefited from.

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From Muscat to Hasaka and Idlib: Stalemate in Syria Belies All the Activity

The conflict in Syria has witnessed countless developments that seem to promise change and movement. But the tragic, stalemated realities reassert themselves each time.

2022 Outlook

AGSIW's leadership and scholars assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy in 2022.

UAE Security Forum 2021: U.S.-Gulf Relations in a Changing Region

From December 7-9, UAESF 2021 assessed geopolitical trends in the region.

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Dancing on the Precipice: Kurdish General in Syria Weighs Turkish Threats, Gulf Outreach to Assad

General Mazloum Abdi expressed hope that the United States will use its presence in the ongoing fight against ISIL as leverage to push for a political solution for Syria.

Petro Diplomacy 2021: Gulf Countries in a Net-Zero World

For the seventh consecutive year, AGSIW convened its Petro Diplomacy conference.

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Abraham Accords: National Interests Enhance Prospects, One Year In

Conversations on the first anniversary with analysts and former senior U.S. diplomats point to the durability, usefulness, and limits of the Abraham Accords.

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Gulf Reengagement With Syria: Heading Into the Wall

Gulf countries are reassessing their relations with the Assad regime, but U.S. sanctions preventing investment and reconstruction will impede any true reintegration of Syria into the region.

The Future of OPEC+ and Saudi-UAE Relations 

On July 8, AGSIW hosted a private briefing on the developing OPEC+ dispute and the repercussions for the future of the alliance as well as Saudi-UAE relations.

Reengaging Assad: What's Behind Arab Outreach to Syria?

On July 22, AGSIW hosted a discussion examining Gulf Arab reengagement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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The Biden Team Eyes the Conflict in Syria Warily

The Biden team must assess whether it has the leverage and sufficient regional support if it wants to continue with the status quo in Syria.

A Conversation With H.E. Mohamed bin Mubarak Bin Daina, Special Envoy for Climate Affairs, Bahrain

On March 25, AGSIW hosted a conversation with H.E. Mohamed bin Mubarak Bin Daina to discuss climate-related challenges facing Bahrain and how the kingdom is mitigating these challenges.

2021 Outlook

AGSIW hosted a virtual private roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead to assess trends likely to shape the Gulf region during the coming year.