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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
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 16, Bahraini security forces used brute force to clear democracy protestors from Manama's Pearl Square, on orders from a regime seemingly undaunted by international media coverage and the near-instantaneous self-reporting of Twitter-generation demonstrators. Although the relatively small size of the crowds (compared to recent protests in Egypt and Tunisia) facilitated the crackdown, the action is best explained by the regime's long-held mindset regarding dissent. Specifically, the Bahraini ruling elite believe that any political challenge by the island's Shiite majority must be quickly suppressed -- a view backed by the royal family in neighboring Saudi Arabia and violently enforced in Bahrain despite significant Sunni participation in the protests. This Saudi factor, and the looming presence of Iran across the Persian Gulf, elevates the Bahrain crisis to a U.S. policy challenge on par with events in Egypt.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Island, Tunisia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will return to the region next week in a bid to restart talks that have been stalled since the beginning of the Obama administration. In a television interview earlier this month, Mitchell declared that he would like to complete peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians within two years, if not sooner. Senior U.S. officials, including President Obama, have called for an unconditional return to the negotiating table. The official position of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is that talks cannot resume until Israel extends its settlement moratorium to east Jerusalem. He also wants the pre-1967 boundaries to serve as the baseline for negotiations. At the same time, he has made a statement indicating that he regrets how he reached his current position, hinting that the current impasse does not serve the Palestinian people's interests. Is there more convergence between the two sides than is readily apparent?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yemen's reemergence in the headlines as a crucial player in the fight against al-Qaeda raises questions about Washington's next steps. What sort of relationship will the Obama administration have with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the longtime leader of what could be the world's next failed state? Saleh spoke with President Barack Obama by telephone on December 17, 2009, and later met in Sana with General David Petreaus, the head of U.S. Central Command, on January 2. But the lessons of Saleh's relationship with the Bush administration suggest that close ties can be matched by sharp policy differences.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Willingly or not, Dubai has been thrust onto the front line of diplomacy aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and terrorism sponsorship. The January 20, 2010, assassination of Hamas gunrunner Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on its soil was a reminder of the emirate's longstanding trade and commercial links with Iran -- he was reportedly there to purchase Iranian rockets for Hamas units in Gaza. For years, U.S. authorities have been pressuring Dubai for more restrictions on Iranian trade passing through its ports, as well as increased controls on Iranians traveling to and living in the emirate. The ongoing Mabhouh investigation has shown that, given the requisite political will, Dubai has excellent surveillance capabilities and other attributes that could be used against Iran.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Gaza, Dubai
  • Author: David Pollock, Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Public opinion polls and the media tell us that Arabs disliked the George W. Bush administration and have high hopes for President Barack Obama. Indeed, the new administration enjoyed majority Arab approval ratings throughout 2009 (up to 50 percentage points higher than his predecessor), while the overall U.S. image in Arab countries also recovered significantly. Yet the question remains: what is the record of actual Arab behavior toward the United States? This question was the starting point of the forthcoming study, which presents a new model for understanding U.S.-Arab relations since the Clinton administration -- one that emphasizes actions much more than attitudes.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week in Beirut, the United Nations Special Tribunal charged with investigating and prosecuting the killers of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri brought six members of Hizballah in for questioning. The tribunal's decision to interview Hizballah in connection with the 2005 murder appears to confirm a 2009 report in Der Speigel -- corroborated more recently by Le Monde -- implicating the Shiite militia in the conspiracy. A shift in the short-term focus of the investigation from Syria to Hizballah will have a profound impact on domestic politics in Lebanon, and potentially on U.S.-Lebanese relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Lebanon
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In less than forty-eight hours, U.S.-Israel relations went from "unbreakable," according to Vice President Joe Biden, to "perilous," as ascribed to an "unnamed senior U.S. official." This drastic mood swing risks overshadowing the great achievement of the vice president's Middle East trip -- the affirmation for Israelis (as well as those Arabs and Iranians following his words) that the Obama administration is "determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Steven Pelak
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, calls for additional sanctions against Iran and increased prosecutions of violators have highlighted the need for effective enforcement mechanisms. Although enhanced sanctions may be valuable, they will have little effect if there is no penalty for violations. As part of its effort to reinforce sanctions regulations and ensure that U.S. national security interests are preserved, the Justice Department has sought to disable Iranian procurement networks that may involve U.S. companies, citizens, or goods.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington
  • Author: Simon Henderson, George Perkovich, Gregory Schulte
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A year ago in Prague, President Obama warned that nuclear terrorism poses "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." Accordingly, he vowed to lead an international effort to "secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years." The Nuclear Security Summit is intended to advance that goal
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Vienna
  • Author: Daniel Poneman
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The president...continues to work...to tackle the energy and climate challenge, understanding that this is a global problem that demands a global solution.... Some have suggested that a United States that is focusing on new energy technologies and a low-carbon future must be at odds with the oil and gas producers of the Middle East. [However], recent discussions in the region suggest otherwise.... Tackling the energy and climate challenge presents important opportunities to broaden U.S. energy relationships in the region, and together [with regional partners] to build a sustainable energy future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The United States maintains a range of "terrorist lists," of which the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list is one of the better known. But in two recent court cases, the U.S. government has offered arguments that raise questions about the purpose of the list.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 6, Britain went to the polls to elect a new government, producing no clear result but forcing the resignation of Labor Party leader Gordon Brown. Within hours of taking over as prime minister, Conservative Party leader David Cameron had created a new body, a British national security council, whose first meeting focused on "discuss[ing] the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and review[ing] the terrorist threat to the UK." Apart from Britain's economic problems, these issues and Middle East policy in general will likely dominate the new government's agenda -- and its relations with Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Terrorism, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, United Kingdom, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Monday, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri will visit Washington for a meeting with President Obama. In announcing the meeting, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it "a symbol of the close and historic relationship between Lebanon and the United States." Indeed, between 2005 and 2009, bilateral ties were never closer or more consequential, with the Cedar Revolution ending nearly three decades of Syrian suzerainty in the country. Over the past year, however, Hariri has had to govern in coalition with Hizballah. The Iranian-Syrian backed Shiite militia will be the elephant in the Oval Office during Monday's meeting.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Allis Radosh, Ronald Radosh
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Harry Truman became president in April 1945, he had not thought deeply about the exact form a Jewish national home in historic Palestine would or should take. Following his landmark decision to recognize the state of Israel in May 1948, he would suggest that his support for such a development had been unwavering, and that his decisions had come easily. Yet the record shows otherwise. Between Truman's first days as president and Israel's formation, his approach to the idea of a Jewish state evolved significantly, at times seeming to change in response to the last person with whom he met. Although he ultimately made the historic decision, a Jewish state had never been, in his mind, a foregone conclusion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace George Mitchell is currently in Jerusalem amid wide expectation that on Saturday the Palestinians will approve proximity talks with Israel. For its part, Israel has already agreed to the talks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently leaked documents detail an exchange between Washington and Cairo regarding the future of U.S. economic assistance to Egypt. The documents indicate that the Obama administration has welcomed Cairo's idea of ending traditional assistance in favor of creating a new endowment, "The Egyptian-American Friendship Foundation." This idea has a long, checkered history and, if implemented, will be bad for both American taxpayers and the Egyptian people. The administration should work with Egypt to craft alternatives that advance common objectives, including democratic reform.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The August 3 fatal shooting of an Israel Defense Forces officer by a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier has sparked debate regarding the utility and wisdom of the U.S. military assistance program to Lebanon. Although such assistance is not new, the program's scope dramatically increased after the 2005 Cedar Revolution ended Syria's thirty-year occupation and swept the Arab world's only pro-Western, democratically elected government to power. In recent months, however, Syrian influence has returned, while Hizballah has secured enough political power to effectively reverse many of the revolution's gains. Even before the August 3 incident, these changes on the ground prompted Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to place a hold on the 2011 assistance package.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, according to Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency, presidential chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai claimed that the West had raised no objections to President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad's open proclamation that the Islamic Republic could build a nuclear bomb. How should this surprising claim be interpreted? And what implications might it hold for Iran's domestic politics, especially when viewed alongside Ahmadinezhad's history of confrontational rhetoric?
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: Christina Lin
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Starting in August, U.S. officials are visiting East Asia, Latin America, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to garner support for tightening Iran sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1929. Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department's special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, and Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing and financial crime, started with a trip to Japan and South Korea and are planning a trip to China in late August. On July 29, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing entitled "Implementation of Iran Sanctions" in which both Einhorn and Glaser expressed concern over China's compliance, with Einhorn emphasizing the "need for [China] not to 'backfill' when responsible countries have distanced themselves from Iran."
  • Topic: United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Latin America, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's recent health scares -- including major surgery in Germany in March --have raised critical questions regarding the future of one of America's most important allies. In the event of his death, how would his successor be chosen, and who would it most likely be? Will the next president respect core U.S interests or challenge them? And how would the United States advance those interests in post-Mubarak Egypt? To reflect on these questions, The Washington Institute's Project Fikra recently brought together leading scholars, former senior U.S. diplomats, and other officials and activists for an off-the-record discussion on what to expect from Egyptian succession. Much of this PolicyWatch is based on that discussion.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Egypt
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Matthew Levitt, Juan Zarate
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Many of the functional and structural recommendations of the Institute's March 2009 bipartisan task force have since been adopted by the Obama administration, and remarkable progress has been made in certain areas. Nevertheless, more must be done to combat radical Islamism, particularly given the recent acceleration of homegrown radicalization. Proving that ideology recognizes no borders, the global threat of violent Islamism has come home. This new study recognizes the important steps the Obama administration has taken to address violent extremism and suggests ways to advance counterradicalization efforts even further.
  • Topic: Islam, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Michael Eisenstadt, Robert Satloff, Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although a full narrative will have to wait until the ongoing Israeli inquiry is complete, it is possible to sketch the outlines of what happened on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara . The six boats of the "Free Gaza Flotilla" departed Turkey on May 28, and Israeli naval vessels began shadowing them two days later, around 11:00 p.m. on May 30. At that time, Israel requested that the boats divert to Ashdod to allow inspection of their cargo for contraband, but they refused to comply.
  • Topic: Political Violence, International Law, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During an August 9 visit to Syria, Ali Akbar Velayati, influential advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stated that Iran is ready to negotiate with the United States regarding its nuclear program. Yesterday, however, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast announced that Iran has no plans for bilateral negotiation with Washington. These and other conflicting signals point to deep internal divisions among former allies in Iran's hardline camp. Such divisions are part of a longstanding pattern in the Islamic Republic: as soon as one faction seizes power by cutting out its opponents, it splits into warring parties.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Stefanie Peterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At a ceremony near the southern Iranian coastal city of Bushehr this Saturday, Russia will begin the process of loading fuel rods into Iran's first civilian nuclear reactor. Theoretically distinct from the rest of the regime's disturbing nuclear program, the Bushehr plant nevertheless remains a major international concern. The low-enriched uranium in the fuel rods would, if diverted, substantially increase Iran's existing stock of the material, which many suspect is already being used to develop nuclear weapons. Even if they were used solely for electricity generation, the rods would eventually produce plutonium-rich residue that could also be reprocessed for use in a weapon. For Iran, the Bushehr event will be a gesture of defiance against U.S.-led international pressure; for Russia, a sign of Moscow's different diplomatic approach to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran; and for the United States, an exception to the tightening sanctions regime, which officials claim is forcing Tehran to reconsider the wisdom of its policies.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For nearly two weeks, the Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has experienced near-daily disturbances following government arrests of opposition activists from the majority Shiite community. The timing of the arrests seemed geared toward preempting trouble in advance of the scheduled October 23 parliamentary and municipal elections, which minority Sunni parties and candidates are currently projected to win. The street violence and other incidents are of particular concern to the United States because Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, whose mission is to "deter and counter disruptive countries" -- a wording likely aimed at Iran, which claimed the island as its territory prior to 1970.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In an August 2 speech, President Obama confirmed that regardless of the status of government formation in Iraq, the U.S. military remained committed to the withdrawal of all combat forces by the month's end. Meanwhile, Iraq is still struggling to form a government in the long wake of the March elections, and the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan -- when much political and business life slows almost to a standstill -- begins next week. If an Iraqi government does not form fairly quickly after Ramadan ends in mid-September, Iraq's political scene may worsen, including an increased risk for violence. Ramadan has always existed in Iraqi and U.S. minds as a break point, when a new government may finally come together. Failure to make progress during the month is thus likely to elicit at least mild panic amongst politicians and the public. So how might the deadlock be broken?
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Friday, August 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the resumption of direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, to be launched in Washington next week. On September 1, President Obama will welcome Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah. Direct talks between Netanyahu and Abbas are scheduled to begin the next day, with the objective of reaching agreement on the permanent-status issues of borders, security, Jerusalem, and refugees within a year. The meeting will mark the first time that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have discussed these issues directly during the Obama administration.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas conducted an unprecedented sequence of three public events during his visit to Washington last week, during which he articulated his positions on a range of issues. The events included an on-the-record dinner hosted by philanthropist Daniel Abraham, a television appearance with PBS host Charlie Rose, and a speech at the Brookings Institution.
  • Topic: Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Stephen Hadley, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two-state solution is widely accepted as the ultimate outcome of any Middle East peace process. Despite this consensus, progress toward a solution has slowed to a near halt. The difficulty Israel's right wing coalition faces in making concessions on key issues has proven a major obstacle to negotiations, while the split between a Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Hamas in Gaza further diminishes the probability of reaching a solution in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Dina Guirguis
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although likely eclipsed in the media by recent Israeli naval action against blockade runners, the first anniversary of President Obama's much-quoted address in Cairo occurs on June 4. In his remarks, described as a "new beginning," he identified seven issues at the heart of tensions between the United States and the world's 1.2 billion Muslims: the need to confront violent extremism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom, women's rights, and economic development. For each issue, the president indicated where American action was required. On violent extremism, for instance, he highlighted his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within the year. Given that two issues -- the Arab-Israeli peace process and Iranian nuclear issue -- have garnered the lion's share of attention over the past year, it is timely and useful to assess progress on the other five.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Egypt