Western naval operations already are disrupted by the pandemic, which Iran may view as an opportunity to increase its activities in the Gulf.
Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute
Jean-Loup Samaan is a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative. He is also an associate research fellow with the French Institute of International Relations. Samaan’s research covers Middle Eastern security affairs, in particular the reforms of Gulf armed forces, Israel’s evolving military strategy, and the evolution of nonstate warfare in the region.
Samaan was a policy analyst at the Directorate for Strategic Affairs of the French Ministry of Defense from 2008-11, a research advisor at the NATO Defense College from 2011-16, and an associate professor in strategic studies detached by the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies to the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates from 2016-21. His most recent book is New Military Strategies in the Gulf: The Mirage of Autonomy in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar (Bloomsbury, 2023). He also co-authored with Frédéric Grare The Indian Ocean as a New Political and Security Region (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), which looks at the changing geostrategic environment in the Indian Ocean region. Samaan has authored four other books and several articles and monographs for various international academic and policy journals, including Survival, Orbis, Comparative Strategy, Parameters, Middle East Journal, and The International Spectator.
He regularly gives lectures to civilian and military audiences in various countries and provides expertise to governments, international organizations, and private companies. Samaan studied Arabic at the French Institute of Oriental Languages and the French Institute of the Near East in Beirut, Lebanon. He graduated from the Institute for Political Studies in Grenoble and holds a PhD in political science from the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne as well as an accreditation to supervise research from the doctoral school of Sciences Po, Paris.
By investing politically and economically in the small states of the Indian Ocean, both on its African and Asian shores, Gulf Arab states are positioning themselves as pivotal actors in the region.