Charles Lister is a senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Programs at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups.

Lister is a frequent source of briefings on the Syrian insurgency to political, military and intelligence leaderships in the United States and across Europe and the Middle East. He appears regularly on television media, including CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera, and his articles have been widely published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, among others.

Lister has previously held positions at the Brookings Institution and as head of MENA at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London, UK.

Lister’s critically-acclaimed book, The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency, was published in February 2016 by Oxford University Press. He also published The Islamic State: A Brief Introduction (Brookings Press, 2015) and Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers of Non-State Armed Actors and Extremist Groups (ed.) (MEI, 2019). He is now working on a fourth book, on Syria, commissioned by Oxford University Press.

1st Class MA Honours in International Relations, University of St. Andrews

Countries of Expertise
Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon

Issues of Expertise
Terrorism, Insurgency, al-Qa'ida, ISIS, Military & Defense

English, French

Contact Information


Phone: (202) 785-1141

Twitter Handle: @Charles_Lister

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Media Appearances