iOS app Android app

Charles Lister
Charles Lister is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar and a Senior Consultant at The Shaikh Group. He was formerly the head of MENA at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in London, UK, where he managed the assessment of sub-state security threats in the Middle East.

Recently, his work has been nearly exclusively focused on assessing the status of the conflict in Syria, especially the makeup of the anti-government insurgency and its various jihadi components. This has included a significant program of face-to-face engagement with the leadership of over 100 armed opposition groups from across the entire Syrian spectrum.

He is the author of The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency (Hurst & Oxford University Press), due to be published in the UK in November 2015 and the US in January 2016.

He also recently authored a Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, now available as a book: Profiling the Islamic State (Brookings Institution Press).

Entries by Charles Lister

Russia's Intervention in Syria: Protracting an Already Endless Conflict

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2015 | 2:56 PM


Russia's intervention in Syria has introduced a dangerous new dynamic into an already volatile and complex conflict. Rather than advancing its self-proclaimed objective of fighting terrorism, many more Russian strikes have targeted moderate rebels -- "vetted" and supported by the United...

Read Post

An Internal Struggle: Al Qaeda's Syrian Affiliate Is Grappling With Its Identity

(3) Comments | Posted May 31, 2015 | 1:34 PM


In a three-hour lightening assault launched on the evening of Thursday 28 May, a coalition of Syrian opposition fighters successfully captured the last remaining major regime-held town in the governorate of Idlib. In taking control of Ariha, the largely Islamist Jaish...

Read Post

Syria's Evolving Salafists Suffer a Crippling Blow

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 10:07 AM


Syria's largest rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, lost almost its entire senior leadership late on Tuesday, in an as-yet-unexplained explosion that took place during a secret meeting in Syria's northern Idlib governorate near the border with Turkey. While some reports have claimed a

Read Post

Not Just Iraq: The Islamic State Is Also on the March in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 10:06 AM

Since their capture of Iraq's second city of Mosul on June 10, a great deal of attention has been paid to the self-labeled 'Islamic State' and its continuing advance across Iraq. On August 2, Islamic State fighters seized the largely Yazidi town of Sinjar and on August 3, they captured...

Read Post

The 'Real' Jabhat al-Nusra Appears to Be Emerging

(2) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 9:34 AM

For the past two years, Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra has, to all intents and purposes, adopted a surprisingly pragmatic strategy in Syria, focused on maintaining at least tacitly cooperative relationships with opposition actors of all stripes.

Its first six months of publicly claimed operations (January-July 2012) saw it act...

Read Post

Reading Between the Lines: Syria's Shifting Dynamics or More of the Same?

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 11:38 AM

Syrian opposition forces have won a number of significant military victories in Idlib governorate in recent days. These notable gains have been focused along an area that hugs the strategically important M5 international highway, south of the town of Maarat al-Numan and north of the border with Hama governorate. The...

Read Post

American Anti-Tank Weapons Appear in Syrian Rebel Hands (Updated)

(1) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 1:37 PM

In three videos (one, two, three) published on YouTube on 1 and 5 April, members of moderate Syrian rebel group Harakat Hazm were shown operating American-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). All three videos -- two show missiles being fired and the third...

Read Post

Increasing Military Assistance to the Syrian Opposition? Some Ground Truths...

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 10:26 AM

The Syrian conflict is now in its fourth year. With time, the strategic momentum has shifted back toward the regime and today we have reached near-total stalemate. For this, President Assad can thank Russia, Iran and other sub-state supporters for their unwavering support. Meanwhile, the opposition has been steadily weakened...

Read Post