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Swedish Defence Research Agency

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Asia and the Middle East

The Asia and Middle East programme at FOI studies political, military, economic, and social development in Asia and the Middle East. The project is forward-looking and analyses security developments and broad strategic trends in the two regions.

Afghans looking at bombsites

Photo: Sergey Ponomarev

 The geographical areas that the programme continuously follows are:

  • Northeast Asia with focus on China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula
  • South Asia with focus on India and Pakistan
  • Middle East with focus on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Iraq and Syria

 The project also aims to maintain a certain ability to analyse the following areas:

  • Central Asia, including Afghanistan,
  • Southeast Asia including Australia

Thematically, the project scope is wide and tracks developments in defense and foreign policy, conflicts, external actors' interests and presence in the region as well as the role of domestic politics among regional powers. The project is also studies other factors affecting security policy development, such as finance, energy and demographics.

The focus is on issues of particular relevance to Sweden and Europe. Among the program's clients are the Swedish Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces.

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Topics for research being conducted in 2018

  • China's military modernisation
  • Iran's foreign policy
  • The war in Jemen
  • Negotiations on Syria: current and future developments

A core group of regional as well as thematic experts work within the Asia and Middle East programme. The programme also consults expertise from other FOI divisions.

Jerker Hellström, Deputy Research Director, Head of Programme
Jerker is a specialist in East Asian security, with a focus on China. His research includes Chinese foreign, security and defence policy; EU-China relations; Sino-Indian relations; and China's role in Africa. Jerker has studied and worked in China for several years, most recently as a correspondent at Reuters in Shanghai.

Samuel Bergenwall, Senior Analyst
Samuel focuses on South Asia and Saudi Arabia. He has degrees in Middle East and North Africa Studies, History and Development Studies.

Bitte Hammargren, Analyst
Bitte Hammargren was previously the head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Swedish Institute of International Affairs, UI, 2017-2018, and the publisher of UI's online magazine for analysis and opinion, Utrikesmagasinet, 2016-2018. For the same period she was also advisor for the Swedish Institute, SI, on Middle East issues. She has more than 30 year experience as a journalist, mostly at the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD). For twelve years, 2001–2012, Bitte Hammargren was the Turkey and Middle East correspondent for SvD, partly based in Beirut and Istanbul.

Erika Holmquist, Analyst
Erika holds a Master of Arts degree in Persian and Middle East Studies from Uppsala University. Her studies are mainly focused on Iran and Central Asia.

Magnus Normark, Senior Analyst
Magnus Normark is a specialist in non- and counter proliferation and disarmament. His research includes threat assessment of Weapons of mass destruction and terrorism

John Rydqvist, Deputy Research Director
John Rydqvist is a specialist in WMD strategy and Asian security. His research includes the dynamics of the strategic balance in East Asia and the Pacific theatre, strategic weapons modernization and force transformation in key regional and global powers.

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