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  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington's nascent policy of "uncoordinated deconfliction" with Bashar al-Assad's regime in the fight against the "Islamic State"/ISIS may not be a formal alliance, but it does have the potential to foster serious problems. The regime's tacit agreement to avoid firing on coalition strike aircraft -- juxtaposed with long delays in the Obama administration's train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition and the president's October 2014 letter to Iran's Supreme Leader on cooperation against ISIS -- is creating widespread perceptions that the United States is heading into a de facto alliance with Assad and Tehran regarding the jihadists. If Washington continues this policy as is, it will merely contain ISIS, not "defeat" or "destroy" the group as called for by President Obama. Worse, it could lead to a deadly extremist stalemate in Syria between Iranian-backed/Hezbollah forces and jihadists, amplifying threats to U.S. national security interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After two rounds of peace talks in Geneva failed to resolve the Syrian crisis, Moscow proposed in December 2014 its own peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition. Earlier this month, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed that the talks would take place January 26-29, according to Russian press reports. Bogdanov has described the talks as "consultative" and "preparatory," without any preconditions or set agenda. They could, he said, lead to more concrete discussions. Although the United States is not participating in the Moscow talks, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry expressed hope on January 14 in Geneva that they "could be helpful."
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Moscow
  • Author: David Pollock, Robert Satloff, Andrew J. Tabler, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama had the opportunity to educate the American people on the unique challenges posed by the "Islamic State"/ISIS, as well as the tough choices the United States and others will have to make as they deal with this phenomenon. Instead, he cited the issue only in passing, reiterating his "degrade and ultimately destroy" commitment without giving any idea what the next steps are beyond mentioning the increasingly risible effort to arm a Syrian opposition on slow simmer (see PolicyWatch 2357, "Train and Equip Not Enough for U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels"), and the passing of a Congressional resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIS. This was in contrast to the extensive airtime he dedicated to touting his initiative on Cuba, which -- regardless of one's views on that decision -- is an almost irrelevant issue given the various crises occurring around the globe.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the prospect of the ICC actually prosecuting Israeli officials is uncertain at best, the PA has torpedoed any chances for near-term diplomacy merely by opening that door, and perhaps invited U.S. financial countermeasures as well.
  • Political Geography: United States, Palestine
  • Author: Jonathan Rynhold
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, Jonathan Rynhold and Elliott Abrams addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Rynhold is a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and author of the just-released book The Arab-Israel Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press). Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, P.J. Dermer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 6, 2015, Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, and P.J. Dermer addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Knights is an Institute Lafer Fellow and author of the Institute study The Long Haul: Rebooting U.S. Security Cooperation in Iraq. Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland and author of the Institute study The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects. Dermer is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served multiple tours in the Middle East, including two in Iraq. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Engel
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, Aref Ali Nayed -- Libya's ambassador to the UAE and former lead coordinator of the Libya Stabilization Team -- visited Washington to address the "Islamic State"/ISIS presence in his country. In his view, the group is rapidly expanding and may threaten Europe, though the U.S. government assessment is less certain -- some American intelligence officials believe Nayed may be overstating his case, but U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones asked in a February 4 tweet whether "a divided Libya" can withstand ISIS. Indeed, the group has dramatically increased its physical and media presence in Libya since the Islamic Youth Shura Council (IYSC) of Darnah pledged allegiance to it last October, after which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recognized the Libyan "provinces" of Barqa (Cyrenaica), Tripolitania, and Fezzan as belonging to his self-styled "caliphate." At the same time, the group's supporters online have been aggressively recruiting while making the case for ISIS expansion in Libya and a new strategy in North Africa.
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Encouraging signs have emerged that the collapse of federal government control in Iraq may have slowed and that Baghdad is beginning the transition to counteroffensive operations to regain ground. Massive mobilization of largely Shiite volunteers has given Baghdad an untrained but motivated "reserve army" that can be used to swamp cross-sectarian areas around the Iraqi capital. All available formed military units have been pulled out of reserve and brought toward Baghdad to defend the capital. In this effort, all Department of Border Enforcement units have been relocated from the country's borders, and Iraqi army and Federal Police units have been redeployed from southern Iraq. Isolated federal government units are scattered across northern Iraq, in some cases hanging on against Sunni militants with the support of adjacent Kurdish forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Law Enforcement, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Washington should have no illusions about resolving the region's wider problems, it can build on early successes against ISIS by making the commitments needed to fully defeat the group in Iraq and Syria, including a modest, enduring U.S. military presence.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Syria
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Incitement by Palestinians and Israelis against each other should be penalized rather than explained away or dismissed. The omnibus spending bills just passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives include one obscure yet potentially significant provision on the issue of incitement in the Israeli-Palestinian arena: a reiteration of the requirement that the Palestinian Authority (PA) act to end its official incitement against Israel as a condition for continued U.S. funding. This provision should be enforced, not evaded as has been the case until now.
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Leaders in Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have taken a brave step toward reunifying the country through revenue sharing. The United States should support implementation of the deal.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Sarah Feuer
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Regardless of who enters Carthage Palace in January, a free and fair election will represent an achievement worthy of international recognition. On Sunday, November 23, Tunisians will return to the polls to elect a president nearly one month after voting in a new parliament. The parliamentary election, widely praised by international and domestic observers, brought in a legislature dominated by the anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes (Tunisian Call) Party, which won 85 of the parliament's 217 seats. Tunisia's main Islamist party, Ennahda (Renaissance), came in second place, garnering 69 seats -- a notable decline from the 89 seats it obtained in the 2011 election for a transitional assembly. Three smaller blocs -- the leftist Popular Front coalition, the centrist Free Patriotic Union, and the liberal Afek Tounes (Tunisian Horizon) Party -- will occupy a combined 39 seats, while a host of independents will fill the remaining 24 seats. Against this backdrop, the presidential election will mark another milestone in Tunisia's promising, if precarious, transition to democracy. In a region plagued by failing states, resurgent authoritarianism, and violence, the mere fact that Tunisia is holding a peaceful presidential election should give the United States and the international community reason to celebrate and, more important, lend assistance moving forward.
  • Political Geography: United States, Tunisia
  • Author: Boaz Ganor, Hussain Abdul-Hussain
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A detailed discussion of the various factors fueling or constraining chaos on Syria's borders, including Arab tribal politics, Israeli security calculations, Iranian-Hezbollah military strategy, and a seemingly hesitant U.S.-led air campaign.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the Iran deadline approaches, violence flares up in Jerusalem, and respective election cycles ebb and flow, U.S. and Israeli officials will need to work harder than ever to manage bilateral tensions. In the coming weeks, a number of foreign and domestic developments will affect U.S. and Israeli policy, with each potentially testing the already tense bilateral relationship. One key date is November 24, the deadline for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. President Obama has publicly said there is a "big gap" between the parties, making the prospects of a breakthrough unclear, but high-level U.S., EU, and Iranian envoys have completed two days of talks in Oman in a bid to reach such a breakthrough. If a deal is in fact made and the terms are not to Israel's liking, then the war of words with Washington may resume on this very sensitive issue.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Israel, Oman
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The death of Sultan Qaboos with no clear successor would jeopardize U.S.-Iran diplomatic contacts, the latest of which will be the meeting tomorrow in Muscat between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. On November 5, the Omani state television channel broadcast a video of seventy-three-year-old Sultan Qaboos bin Said, currently undergoing medical treatment in Germany. He greeted Omanis in anticipation of their national day, November 18, and expressed regret that he would not be back in Oman for the celebrations. No information has been given on what is wrong with the ruler but, though his voice was strong, he looked emaciated and frail. An unnamed diplomat in Muscat, the Omani capital, had been quoted in August as saying Qaboos has colon cancer.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Germany, Oman
  • Author: Shimon Shamir
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's former ambassador to Egypt and Jordan discusses the changing face of Islamism for the Institute's annual lecture in honor of the late Zeev Schiff. In historical terms, Islamism is a modern movement. While its adherents claim that it is a purely indigenous effort to purge foreign elements that have penetrated Islam in the modern period, the irony is that Islamism itself was born of the friction between religious loyalties and modern, Western-dominated realities. From the start, the movement thrived in places where Western power and culture abounded -- many Islamist activists were Western-educated professionals who spent years in Europe or the United States, while many terrorist cells were formed by Muslims living in the cities of Germany, Britain, and Belgium. This Western connection facilitated the absorption of modern methods and instruments, including weaponry, Internet communications, aircraft, banking systems, smartphones, and so forth.
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The treaty's trade and security benefits have been considerable, though many Jordanians continue to reject the likely economic windfall that full normalization could bring. October 26 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. Prior to the agreement's signing at Wadi Araba in 1994, the two countries had not fought a war since 1967, and their leaders had been in routine communication since the 1940s. Yet the treaty was far more than just a formalization of a de facto ceasefire -- it fundamentally changed the nature of the Israeli- Jordanian relationship, enhancing security, stability, and U.S. interests in a turbulent region.
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following sampling of comments by Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt explains the group's position in the current crisis and its attitudes towards the United States, Israel, and the rest of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, U.S. policy has evolved with breathtaking speed. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Mubarak regime was stable, but by Tuesday evening, President Obama was making the remarkable statement that Egypt's transition needs to begin "now." This is not only the most serious foreign policy challenge to this U.S. administration, but also one in a list of unforeseen and improbable challenges. Unlike scenarios involving, for example, a North Korean provocation against the South or even a catastrophic terrorist attack -- for which the United States plans and prepares -- the swift demise of Hosni Mubarak's presidency, along with the virtual disappearance of the ruling National Democratic Party and the potential fall of a regime that has been a pillar of U.S. standing in the Middle East for thirty-five years, is an unimagined challenge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Mohammed ElBaradei
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: "For years, the West has bought Mr. Mubarak's demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood lock, stock and barrel, the idea that the only alternative here are these demons called the Muslim Brotherhood who are the equivalent of Al Qaeda's... I am pretty sure that any freely and fairly elected government in Egypt will be a moderate one, but America is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression."
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Vienna