Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence

Research Agency


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 Afghanistan, 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.

Mikael Eriksson, PhD, Researcher (on leave of absence)
Mikael Eriksson obtained his PhD in Political Science as the European University Institute, Italy. His field of interest includes conflict resolution, critical security studies and peace building. His field of speciality is the use of EU and UN targeted sanctions. Recently he published on mediation processes and their impact on post-war reconstruction. His geographical scope interest includes the Arab world and security policies in the Middle East and parts of Africa. He has several years of experience on policy evaluation. At FOI he is project leader of the FOI sanctions platform.

Adriana Lins de Albuquerque (on leave of absence)
Adriana has a PhD in International Relations from Columbia University. Her dissertation analyses what determines dissident organizations' choice between violent (terrorism and guerilla warfare) or nonviolent tactics in the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining FOI, Adriana worked as a Research Analyst at the Brookings Institution, where she worked on issues related to international security policy, primarily post-war reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan following the American invasions. Her Masters in International Security Policy and Bachelors of International Relations degrees are also from Columbia. Her research centers on regional security development in the Middle East, especially as it pertains to rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the role of sectarianism. She also studies non-state armed groups.

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FOI’s core activities are research, methodology/technology development, analyses and studies.

FOI is an assignment-based authority under the Ministry of Defence.

FOI’s core activities are research, methodology/technology development, analyses and studies. FOI is an assignment-based authority under the Ministry of Defence.