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.
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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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.
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.
Recent high-level U.S. diplomatic activity seems aimed at addressing a sense of grievance Gulf capitals harbor.
The visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia underscores the continuing broader realignment among regional rivals.
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.
The conflict in Syria has witnessed countless developments that seem to promise change and movement. But the tragic, stalemated realities reassert themselves each time.
AGSIW experts explain the regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
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.