Nicholas A. Heras

Position: 
Middle East Portfolio Manager


Nicholas A. Heras is the Middle East Portfolio Manager at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). Heras works with the research team covering Syria, Iraq, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Prior to joining ISW, Heras was a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Middle East Security Program. His research has focused on the analysis of complex conflicts and security issues in the greater Middle East and North Africa and trans-Sahara regions, with a particular focus on the Levant (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey), Iranian-backed proxy forces in the Middle East, the southern Arabian peninsula, especially Yemen, and the impact of the Libyan civil war on the African continent and in the wider Mediterranean Basin region. From 2016-2017, Heras served as the tenth 1LT Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., USA Fellow at CNAS.

Heras was previously a Senior Analyst at the Jamestown Foundation, where he wrote timely, relevant, and actionable analysis on the developments in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Prior to CNAS, from 2013-2014, Heras served as a research associate at the National Defense University (NDU) where he worked on a project for the U.S. Central Command J-5 that studied the impact of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts on the greater Middle East region. During this NDU project, he was responsible for tracking the rise and development of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Iran's deployment of proxy militias throughout the Middle East, and dynamics among the Kurdish populations of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. He presented the findings of this research to senior military leaders and analysts at the U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and to the U.S. Intelligence Community. He was also a Department of Defense National Security Education Program (NSEP) David L. Boren Fellow in Beirut, Lebanon from 2010-2011, where he conducted in-depth field research on the socio-politics of ethnic and sectarian conflict. From 2008-2011, Heras was a Research Associate at the Center for Global Peace at the American University in Washington, D.C., where he managed research tasks for three U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL)- funded grant projects that were implemented in Syria and Iraq. Heras has extensive field experience in all regions of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. He has also conducted substantive research in Turkey, the Gulf, and in the Mediterranean Basin.

Heras has authored or co-authored numerous reports and analytical articles on topics concerning Middle East security and U.S. national security policy toward the Middle East. He has also presented widely on these topics to multiple U.S. government and military agencies, and to non-government organizations such as nonprofit and for-profit entities. He also testified before the U.S. Congress on the topic of U.S. policy on Syria and the ongoing dynamics in the Syrian conflict and its impact on the Middle East region (for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, September 27, 2018). 

Heras has been a frequent media commentator on Middle East security issues. He has appeared on National Public Radio, C-SPAN, Public Radio International, Voice of America, the BBC World Service, CBS Nightly News, Fox News, Bloomberg Television, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al-Jazeera English, Al-Arabiyya, Arise TV, Rudaw TV, and the nationally syndicated radio program “Background Briefing” to analyze Middle East security issues. He has also been quoted by several media outlets, including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, The Associated Press, Agence France Presse, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, USA Today, Voice of America, US News & World Report, Vice News, Le Monde Diplomatique, Le Point, Libération, France 24, The Telegraph, Deutsche Welle, Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, The National Interest, Mother Jones, The Washington Times, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Stars and Stripes, Commentary Magazine, Mashable, The International Business Times, Kurdistan 24, Rudaw, Ahval, The Daily Star (Lebanon), L'Orient Le-Jour, Al-Arabiyya, and The National (UAE).

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