Sir John Jenkins

Sir John Jenkins
Sir John Jenkins has enjoyed a 35 year career in the British Diplomatic Service. He holds a BA (Double First Class Honours) and a Ph.D from Jesus College, Cambridge. He also studied at The School of Oriental and African Studies in London (Arabic and Burmese) and through the FCO with the London and Ashridge Business Schools. He is an alumnus of the Salzburg Seminar. He joined the FCO in 1980 and served in Abu Dhabi (1983-86), Malaysia (1989-92) and Kuwait (1995-98) before being appointed Ambassador to Burma (1999-2002). He was subsequently HM Consul-General, Jerusalem (2003-06), Ambassador to Syria (2006-07), FCO Director for the Middle East and North Africa (2007-09), Ambassador to Iraq (2009-11), Special Representative to the National Transitional Council and subsequently Ambassador to Libya (2011) and Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2012-2015). He took an active part in Sir John Chilcott’s Iraq Inquiry and was asked by the Prime Minister in March 2014 to lead a Policy Review into the Muslim Brotherhood and Political Islamism. Until his departure from the FCO he was the government’s senior diplomatic Arabist. Most recently, Sir John was Executive Director of The Institute for Strategic Studies – Middle East (2015-2017) and a Senior Fellow at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs (2017).

Related Publications

A definition of Islamophobia?

Download Publication Online Reader Policy Exchange today shines a light on how the term ‘Islamophobia’ is being regularly misused to silence open debate about contemporary issues, with a series of egregious examples since the 7/10 attacks by Hamas. Those examples are catalogued in this report, including how asking an MP to agree that terrorists should attack fewer people is ‘Islamophobic’, as is calling for the release of hostages while visiting a […]

The Symbolic Power of the Veil

Download Publication Online Reader This report exposes how Islamists have been permitted to dominate debate about religious clothing both in the United Kingdom, and abroad. This vacuum can lead to women and girls effectively having the hijab imposed upon them by their community activists or school – despite the fact that throughout much of the Islamic world women are protesting the imposition of the hijab as an oppressive garment. In […]

The Iran Question and British Strategy

  Download Publication   Online Reader British strategy must go beyond preserving the status quo. This no longer exists. Two decades of Iranian expansion and regional turmoil (including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) have produced a new and evolving balance of power that currently favours Iran. British policy objectives should include maintaining freedom of access to and movement through the Middle East’s maritime chokepoints, in coordination with allies the […]

Qatar: Friend or Frenemy?

  Download Publication   Online Reader The 2022 World Cup makes Qatar the centre of the world’s attention. This report utilises that interest to declare pertinent questions about Britain’s relationship with the tiny but wealthy gulf state. It queries how Qatar acts on the international stage and asks whether it is a ‘friend’ or ‘frenemy’ to the United Kingdom. Qatar has been an enthusiastic supporter of Islamist causes, but also […]

Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism

Download Publication The Prevent counter-terrorism strategy is perhaps the most controversial government policy most people have never heard of. Public recognition of it is generally low, but opposition from Britain’s raucous Islamist scene, near total. From there, opposition has spread to sections of the far-left, and those parts of academia where Islamism and the revolutionary left intersect. This report, written by three experts on Islamism, outlines the campaign against Prevent, […]

Islamism and the Left

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Download Publication Online Reader This paper seeks to consider the question of the relationship between Islamism (in all its forms) and parts of the Left, not just in France but more broadly. It proceeds from the assumption that such a relationship exists and is not simply tactical. Related Publications

Grasping the Nettle

Download Publication The evolving Austrian debate on Islamism – reflecting in turn a growing public understanding of the issues over the last decade – continues to be of great interest to anyone concerned with the future of a liberal democratic state system. In France, the Macron government has been spurred into action by acts of terror. In Italy successive governments have for years used their long experience with combating organised […]

Understanding Islamism

Download Publication What word should we use to describe those who resort to violence in the name of Islam? This question has recently been the cause of much angst and uncertainty in official circles – and nowhere more so than within the ranks of the British police. In July of this year, reports surfaced that through its Counter Terrorism Advisory Network, the Metropolitan Police had held a consultation on finding […]

The Trial: the strange case of Trevor Phillips

The startling revelation that the Labour Party is threatening to expel Trevor Phillips on grounds of ‘racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ will be received in different ways. On the one hand, it looks like an act of folly from a party leadership whose power has been waning since the general election. Alongside this, this regrettable case is significant for the extent to which it underlines the nature of the ‘Islamophobia’ definition that has been adopted by a number of political parties and civil society groups over the last year – with Labour being one of those leading the way when the party adopted the definition in March 2019.

Eroding the Free Press

IPSO’s Guidance for Reporting on Islam and Muslims

On Islamophobia

Adopting the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia would be a mistake.

Defining Islamophobia

Policy Exchange Research Note on Defining Islamophobia

Related Blogs

Ayman al-Zawahiri got the death he deserved

At times like this, it’s tempting to channel Bette Davis: only speak good of the dead. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s dead. Good. But perhaps the moment deserves some more considered reflection. There’s striking footage (see below) of al-Zawahiri in the defendants’ cage during the 1982 trial of Islamic Jihad members implicated in the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat. Al-Zawahiri alone speaks in English for the cameras. He is uncompromising and belligerent. But his command of the […]

Die Welt reports EU Commission funding Islamist groups with anti-Semitic links

Die Welt – the Berlin-based centre-right German newspaper of record – reported on 25 April that the European Commission apparently continues to fund organisations that either the Federal Government (FG) or the domestic German intelligence and security agency, Das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV – The Constitution Protection Agency), have found to be Islamist and some of whose employees have made anti-Semitic statements. One of these organisations, according to Die Welt, is […]

The West must not be fooled by the Taliban’s spin doctors

On Thursday the Taliban took to social media to declare that after a 20-year interruption, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was back in business. In a month’s time, when we mark the anniversary of 9/11, they will doubtless again be governing nearly all the country. In the West there are understandable fears that the return of the Taliban means the return of Al-Qaeda, whose presence in Afghanistan provoked the American-led […]

Swiss debate over the veil and its relationship to Islamism

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Swiss German-language newspaper of record, has produced another robust contribution to the debate on the full face veil, in the run up to a referendum on whether to ban the garment in early March. The title, “Burka and Niqab are the emblems of a totalitarian ideology and should be banned”, gives a flavour of the piece. The subtitle reads: “Islamism is not an abstract but a real danger. […]

French CCIF reconstitutes as CCIE in Belgium

The controversial Collective against Islamophobia in France (Collectif Contre l’islamophobie en France, CCIF), which was singled out as a body promoting “Islamist propaganda” (see also here) by French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, in the wake of the murder of Samuel Paty in late 2020, has effectively announced its reconstitution as the Collective against Islamophobia in Europe (Collectif Contre l’islamophobie en Europe, CCIE), based in Belgium. The CCIF had previously announced its own dissolution, ahead of the Macron […]

Austrian Debate on Counter-Islamism Measures

On 2 February, the Austrian Public Broadcasting service (ÖRF) carried an article reporting criticism of the measures contained in the government’s anti-terror package, which is currently under consultation. The criticism comes from the Association of Judges (Die Richtervereinigung – RV), certain senior lawyers, and the domestic security and intelligence agency (Das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung – BfVT). The critics do not dispute the need for action against Islamism – simply the form […]

The German Debate on Islamism Continues

The German debate on Islamism continues, as demonstrated by the publication yesterday (Sunday 7 February) by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of an interesting interview with Lorenzo Vidino, the author of The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West and other books and articles about Islamism in Europe and the United States. Vidino is also the Director of the Extremism Programme at George Washington University, and an adviser to the Observatory on Political Islam recently established in Vienna. […]

Ongoing Swiss Debate on the Niqab

The Swiss German-language newspaper of record, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, carried an interview on 5 February with Alice Schwarzer, one of the the most prominent feminist activists in Europe over the last 50 years, a former student of Michel Foucault and an associate of Sartre and Beauvoir.  The interview concerns the proposed ban on the face covering for women (the niqab or burqa), which will be decided in a referendum on 7 March. […]

Bernard Rougier Discusses Islamism in L’Express

On 21 January the French Centrist weekly, L’Express, published a long and trenchant interview with Bernard Rougier, the university professor and Middle East specialist, on the occasion of a new and expanded edition of his 2020 book, Les territoires conquis de l’islamisme (“The Territories Conquered by Islamism”).  The interview covers the major themes of the book – notably its claim that Islamists have created in France (and by extension elsewhere) a social space dominated by […]

Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud discusses French Approach to Islamism

The distinguished Algerian novelist, essayist and journalist, Kamel Daoud, has written in Le Monde (29 January 2021) an article under the title, “France has what it takes to shape the future of Islam”.  He compares the situation in France favourably with that in Muslim-majority states. The former, he says, has shown a willingness to bring into the open key issues about a Muslim crisis of identity, and the challenges of dealing with domestic terrorism; he […]

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung continues Islamism Debate

On 5 January, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Swiss German-language paper of record, offered a valuable review of the long running argument between two distinguished, French academic observers of Islam and Islamisms, Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy. The title of the article reads, “Where does jihadi terror originate?  What is the place of Islam in Europe? A French debate that concerns the whole of Europe.” As NZZ describes, the dispute between Kepel and […]

US State Department Issues Statement on Islamic Relief Worldwide

The US State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, has issued a statement in which it “condemns the well-documented record of anti-Semitic attitudes and remarks made by the senior leadership of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW).” The Statement, which reviewed last year’s controversies surrounding the social media posts of two former trustees of IRW, added that the “consistent pattern of spreading the most vile anti-Semitic vitriol by IRW’s leadership causes us to […]

New Austrian Government-sponsored Studies on Islamism

The new Dokumentationsstelle politische Islam (Centre for the Study of Political Islam), established in Vienna in late 2020 by the Austrian government, has produced its first paper: Political Islam as a Subject of Academic Analysis and the Example of the Muslim Brotherhood, with an introduction by Dr Mouhanad Khorchide and Dr Lorenzo Vidino. It is designed to establish the scope of the Centre’s engagement with the subject, resolve some key definitional issues and set the […]

Reflections on Islamism in Germany

Islamism continues to be a subject of much public discussion in Germany. On Monday, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an interesting article under the title “The European Mission of Political Islam”. “Legalistic Islam” said this piece “is on the march in Germany. Its entry point is education. Its goal the establishment of a theocracy by peaceful means.” The article discusses the tactics of Islamists in Germany – and by extension elsewhere […]

A lesson from Vienna in countering Islamist extremism

Austria (with which I should declare I have family ties) is perhaps more widely known for Apfelstrudel, the Salzburg Festival, alpine resorts and Conchita Würst than as a European policy leader. It's been a while since Bruno Kreisky's edgy Middle East activism or Vienna’s early – and highly effective - engagement with conflict issues in the former Yugoslavia. On most issues, the country has largely been content to position itself in the middle of the EU pack. All perfectly sensible.

Engaging with Islamists: what makes us think it will ever work?

Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office Minister, has been engaging with political Islamists during his recent tour of the Middle East. Sir John Jenkins -- former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government's Muslim Brotherhood Review of 2015 -- looks at the lamentable historical record of such attempts at outreach, what to expect from them and how they could be improved.

A State of Extremes

In the first of a series of longer articles for Policy Exchange following the Manchester and London attacks, Sir John Jenkins -- former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the UK Government's review of the Muslim Brotherhood published in 2015 -- examines why many Western Governments find it so hard to deal with transnational ideological challenges. After the end of the Cold War, Western officialdom may not have believed in the "end of history", but many of them did believe in the "end of ideology". Events are once again proving them tragically wrong.

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