Gabrielle Rifkind directs of the Middle East programme at Oxford Research Group. She is a group analyst , psychotherapist and a specialist in conflict resolution Gabrielle is a political entrepreneur who has a deep interest in understanding the links between human behaviour and realpolitik and she has worked to create safe environments for parties in conflict to sit together. She has spent time talking to both groups that sit outside formal political systems and the leadership in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. There are not many in this profession that you would meet in Tehran or Damascus.
Giandomenico (Gianni) Picco was a"legendary" negotiator and led the task force which secured the end of the war between Iran and Iraq in August 1988. From 1988 to 1992, he conducted the operation which led to: the release of 11 western hostages from Lebanon . He was also a member of the negotiating team on the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan over an 8 year period. He was also directly involved in the efforts which led to the release of 11 Iranians of the Jewish faith from Shiraz in 2001. He searched for the narratives in people , both individual and national ones, by walking the streets of Kabul, Baghdad, Tehran and Beirut at war.A son of the Cold War era, his childhood was impacted by the geographical proximity of the Iron Curtain and the family history of two World Wars.