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Charles Lister

Senior Fellow, Director of Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs, Middle East Institute
Charles Lister is a senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses on all-things Syria and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. In early-2022, Lister launched the Resolving the Detainee Crisis Initiative, a major multinational effort to privately facilitate more effective solutions to the post-ISIS detainee challenge in northeastern Syria. The initiative, run in collaboration with the UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), has convened more than 30 governments for multiple discreet working gatherings in Washington D.C., London and Vienna and achieved clear and significant policy progress.  
Prior to joining MEI, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, in which he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups. Lister has also previously held other positions at the Brookings Institution and at IHS Jane’s 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 has 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.