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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Few recent American foreign policy decisions have been as divisive as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. Advocates of the agreement have focused far too exclusively on its potential benefits. Opponents equally exclusively on its potential faults. Both sides tend to forget that any feasible arms control agreement between what are hostile sides tends to be a set of compromises that are an extension of arms races and potential conflicts by other means. As a result, imperfect agreements with uncertain results are the rule, not the exception. President Trump has made it clear that he opposes the agreement and would like to terminate it. His dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Security of State, and his replacement by Mike Pompeo – along with his dismissal of General H.R. McMaster and replacement with John Bolton – indicate that President Trump may well seek to terminate the agreement in the near future – action which might or might not have significant bipartisan support. He faces a May 5th to decide whether to again waive economic sanction against Iran, a decision which comes up for renewal every 120 days.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria: Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces. Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. Our Recommendations: Based on U.S. interests in Syria, Washington should establish a containment strategy that includes the following components: Retain a small military and intelligence footprint that includes working with—and providing limited training, funding, and equipment to—groups in eastern, northern, and southern Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Coordinate with regional allies such as Jordan and Israel to balance against Iran and Russia and to prevent the resurgence of Salafi-jihadists. Pressure outside states to end support to Salafi-jihadists, including Turkey and several Gulf states. As the war in Syria moves into its seventh year, U.S. policymakers have struggled to agree on a clear Syria strategy. Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States needs to withdraw its military forces from Syria. “I want to get out,” President Trump said of the United States’ military engagement in Syria. “I want to bring our troops back home.”1 Others have urged caution, warning that a precipitous withdrawal could contribute to a resurgence of terrorism or allow U.S. competitors like Iran and Russia—along with their proxies—to fill the vacuum.2 In addition, some administration officials have argued that the Islamic State has been decimated in Syria and Iraq. The National Security Strategy notes that “we crushed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.”3 But between 5,000 and 12,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Syria and continue to conduct guerrilla attacks, along with between 40,000 and 70,000 Salafi-jihadist fighters in Syria overall.4
  • Topic: Civil War, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman, Heather A Conley, Donatienne Ray
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S. strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean is long overdue for revision. Policies, priorities, and activities girded by U.S.-led alliance structures were developed to stabilize Europe and deter Soviet aggression at the dawn of the Cold War. Seventy years later, they are no longer fit for purpose. However, the region remains a linchpin for an array of vital U.S. interests. In the last decade alone, regional conflicts and state fragmentation have caused millions of migrants and internally displaced to flee their homes, creating one of the largest migration crises since World War II. The arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants has triggered political backlash and polarized domestic politics in Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of the littoral states in the Eastern Mediterranean have faced destabilizing economic crises that have created deep political and strategic vulnerabilities. Significant natural gas deposits discovered off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt could boost regional economic prospects as a potential energy-producing region, but a divided Cyprus, historical animosities, as well as a lack of infrastructure connectivity hinder this regional economic potential.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Military Strategy, Infrastructure, Fragile/Failed State, Military Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue: Hezbollah and Iran have accumulated a substantial amount of weapons and fighters in Syria that pose a threat to the United States and its allies in the region. In response, Israel has conducted a growing number of strikes against Iranian, Hezbollah and other targets in Syria. An escalating war has the potential to cause significant economic damage, lead to high numbers of civilian casualties and internally displaced persons, and involve more countries in the region than did the 2006 Lebanon War. The stakes are high, making it critical for Washington to help prevent such an escalation.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Syrian War, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Shaan Shaikh, Ian Williams
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Hezbollah is a Lebanese political party and militant group with close ties to Iran and Syria’s Assad regime. It is the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor—aptly described as “a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state.”1 This is especially true with regard to its missile and rocket forces, which Hezbollah has arrayed against Israel in vast quantities. The party’s arsenal is comprised primarily of small, man-portable, unguided artillery rockets. Although these devices lack precision, their sheer number make them effective weapons of terror. According to Israeli sources, Hezbollah held around 15,000 rockets and missiles on the eve of the 2006 Lebanon War, firing nearly 4,000 at Israel over the 34-day conflict. Hezbollah has since expanded its rocket force, today estimated at 130,000 rounds.2 Hezbollah asserts that its rocket forces are primarily for deterrence—a means to retaliate against Israel in the event of conflict. In May 2006, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah explained “The purpose of our rockets is to deter Israel from attacking Lebanese civilians…The enemy fears that every time he confronts us, whenever there are victims in our ranks among Lebanese civilians, this will lead to a counter-barrage of our rockets, which he fears.”3 Indiscriminate rocket fire, particularly from small, easily transportable launchers makes the suppression of fire with airpower more challenging. This forces Israel to rely more heavily on ground forces in a conflict. Lacking any air force of its own, Hezbollah prefers ground wars in its own territory to bombardment from the skies. As Human Rights Watch notes, however, none of these arguments justifies targeting civilians under international law.4 The continued growth of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket forces is undesirable for several reasons. It may, for example, embolden the party to overstep Israeli red lines. Hezbollah’s push to acquire longer-ranged and precision-guided munitions could likewise spur Israel into preemptive action. Hezbollah’s weapons acquisition also raises the prospects for the proliferation of missile technology and know-how. According to Saudi and UAE officials, Hezbollah militants have worked with their Houthi forces in rocket development and launch divisions in Yemen.5 Hezbollah forces in Syria and Iraq similarly operate with various Shiite militias. Growing relations among these groups presents risks for the dissemination of missile technology and knowledge. The following is a summary compilation of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket arsenal. It is limited by the availability of public source information and does not cover certain topics such as rocket strategies, evolution, or storage locations. This brief instead focuses on the acquisition history, capabilities, and use of these forces.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Missile Defense, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Sarah Ladislaw, Frank A. Verrastro
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On May 8, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement endorsed by Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Concurrent with that action, Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2012 (NDAA) was reactivated, along with other U.S. sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act (IFCA), the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (ITRSHRA). Departments and agencies are implementing these sanctions with 90-day and 180-day wind down periods, after which time the applicable sanctions come back into full effect.1 Since May, administration officials from several agencies have been travelling around the world to explain the rationale for the decision to pull out of the JCPOA and persuade countries to comply with the sanctions program. Earlier this week (following the end of the first 90-day wind down period), the administration announced that on August 7 sanctions would be reimposed on: Iran’s automotive sector; Activities related to the issuance of sovereign debt; Transactions related to the Iranian rial; Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals; Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes; The acquisition of U.S. bank notes by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Daniel Byman
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The latest war in Gaza—from the beginning of July to the end of August 2014—is over, but both Israelis and Palestinians believe it will not be the last one. Israelis believe they must deter Hamas from conducting additional attacks and keep it weak should a conflict occur. This is an approach that more pro-Western Palestinian leaders and Arab states like Saudi Arabia, fearing the political threat Hamas poses, often quietly applaud. For their part, Hamas leaders remain hostile to Israel and feel politically trapped by the extensive blockade of Gaza—and all the while, Gaza lies in ruins. The combination is explosive. Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher put it succinctly: “It is increasingly clear that the Gaza war that ended in August will soon produce…another Gaza war.” The Economist also gloomily predicted that “war will probably begin all over again, sooner or later.”
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Katherine E. Bliss, Haruko Sugiyama, Ayaka Yamaguchi, Hiromi Murakami
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Recent years have seen a considerable shift in the sources of financial assistance for global health activities. With the private sector as well as emerging economies joining the more developed nations as major players, the balance of power is changing, leading to a momentous shift in perceptions of “global health.” Japan has yet to adopt a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the new global health reality. With political changes, natural disasters, and a sluggish economy dominating the policy scene in recent years, there has been little appetite among decision-makers to develop—in a practical sense—more effective ways to strategically support global health activities in facilitating a greater impact of Japan's foreign policy. Japan must develop a comprehensive perspective of global health in order to maximize aid effectiveness and to promote transparency in order to boost the overall effectiveness of the country's initiatives and benefit the people of Japan, as well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Health, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Ehud Eiran, Martin B. Malin
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Thucydides' ancient logic still governs: uncertainty (over Iran's nuclear intentions) and the fear this inspires (in Israel) increases the risk of another war (in the Middle East). Even if Israel's response to the Iranian nuclear program does not lead the region into a war, Israel's fears will be crucial in shaping Middle Eastern politics and will help to determine the stability of the region in the years ahead.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Far too much of the analysis of Iran's search for nuclear weapons treats it in terms of arms control or focuses on the potential threat to Israel. In reality, Iran's mix of asymmetric warfare, conventional warfare, and conventionally armed missile forces have critical weaknesses that make Iran anything but the hegemon of the Gulf. Iran's public focus on Israel also disguises the reality that its primary strategic focus is to deter and intimidate its Gulf neighbors and the United States – not Israel. It has made major progress in creating naval forces for asymmetric warfare and developing naval missiles, but it has very limited air-sea and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (IS) capabilities. It lacks modern conventional land, air, air defense and sea power, has fallen far behind the Arab Gulf states in modern aircraft and ships, and its land forces are filled with obsolete and mediocre weapons that lack maneuver capability and sustainability outside Iran. Iran needs nuclear weapons to offset these facts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Dov Waxman
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Of all the foreign relationships of the United States, perhaps none is as closely watched and incessantly scrutinized as its relationship with Israel. Like a couple in counseling, U.S.—Israeli relations are the subject of endless analysis. Both supporters and critics are forever on the lookout for the slightest signs of tension or unease, with the former anguishing over them, and the latter celebrating. While there was little to pay attention to during the years of the Bush administration, given its tight and largely uncritical embrace of Israel, the tenure of the Obama administration has provided ample opportunities for U.S.—Israel watchers to speculate on the troubles between Washington and Benjamin Netanyahu's government. By now, the nature of this debate is entirely predictable_on one side are those who decry President Obama's alleged failure to resolutely support Israel,and on the other are those who defend the president's pro-Israeli record.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Israel
  • Author: Xiaoqing Lu Boynton, Conor M. Savoy
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As China's economy expanded in recent decades, there has been a corresponding rise in the amount of foreign assistance it offers to the developing world. In particular, China increased aid to countries in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Some of China's methods and objectives are controversial with the international aid community. Critics accuse China of frequently following a “mercantilist” strategy in using aid and loans in order to secure natural resources such as oil and raw materials. One commentator went so far as to describe Chinese aid as “rogue aid,” because it is driven by self-interest and not what is best for the developing world.1In remarks widely interpreted as aimed at China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently warned countries to be “wary of donors who are more interested in extracting your resources than in building your capacity.”2Added to these feelings, China treats the methodology of its aid as a competitive asset and has sought to distance itself from international efforts at creating a cooperative framework for foreign assistance. In spite of this, since the second term of the Bush administration, the United States has sought to engage with China on international development. This includes high-level meetings be-tween the heads of China's foreign aid bureaucracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as on-the-ground attempts to find common ground on development.
  • Topic: Development, Natural Resources, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Masanori Akiyama, Ryozo Nagai
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As Japan faces rapid aging, a declining birthrate, widening income disparity, expanding fiscal debt, and remarkable hikes in health care costs, the sustainability of its health care system is at stake. Despite the need to allocate limited medical resources optimally, Japan lacks a common platform for sharing medical data, ideally over the Internet. The potential benefits of health information technology, or health IT, are not well known among patients, practitioners, or policymakers. Electronic patient records are not available from one hospital to another and are isolated from the Internet due to privacy concerns. Clinical practitioners have no remote access to patients' information when away from a particular hospital or clinic. Unique medical data, stored individually in each hospital or clinic, is vulnerable to accidents and natural disasters. The Tohoku disaster demonstrated the absence of a reliable backup for health data, the challenge of data management during an emergency, and the dangers of prescribing drugs with insufficient access to medical records.
  • Topic: Demographics, Health, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Ephraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite all the optimism accompanying the uprisings of 2011, the Arab Middle East remains a stagnant region in deep socio—political crisis with little chance for positive change anytime soon. The current regimes may stay in power or get replaced by new dictatorships, moderate or radical. Either way, in the near future, weak states will continue to grapple with domestic problems and the direction of their foreign policies. For good reason, this situation has Israeli leaders worried about the implications for their country's national security. The changing regional balance of power favors Turkey and Iran, both of whom encourage radical elements in the region, not Israel, while the seeming decline in U.S. clout has negatively affected both the Arab—Israeli peace process and Israel's deterrent power.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman, Haim Malka
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The security architecture that the United States helped establish after the Cold War in the Eastern Mediterranean is crumbling. That architecture emphasized two triangular partnerships: U.S.—Turkey—Israel and U.S.—Egypt— Israel. Each had its origin in the Cold War and gained new emphasis afterwards as a cornerstone of U.S. efforts to promote Middle Eastern stability. Yet the evolution of internal politics in Turkey over the last decade, combined with more recent shifts in Egypt, have brought to the fore civilian politicians who are openly critical of such partnerships and who have sidelined the partnerships' military proponents. The demise of these two triangles has profound implications for Israeli security, as well as for the U.S. military and diplomatic role in the Eastern Mediterranean. The changing geometry of U.S. relationships in the Eastern Mediterranean is part of a set of broader trends that make it more difficult for the United States to shape outcomes and set agendas in the region. This change in particular is likely to force the United States to emphasize bilateral relationships and ad hoc direct action in the future, placing a greater demand on ongoing U.S. management than has been the case in the past.
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Ömer Taşpınar
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: For most of the 20th century, Turkey chose not to get involved in Middle Eastern affairs. During the past decade, however, in a remarkable departure from this Kemalist tradition (based on the ideology of the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatu¨rk), Ankara has become a very active and important player in the region. Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government since 2002, Turkey has established closer ties with Syria, Iran, and Iraq, assumed a leadership position in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), attended Arab League conferences, and contributed to UN forces in Lebanon. It has also mediated in the Syrian—Israeli conflict as well as the nuclear standoff with Iran. Ankara's diplomatic engagements with Iran and Hamas have led to differences with the United States and Israel, leaving many wondering if Turkey has been turning away from itsWestern orientation or if it was just a long overdue shift East to complete Turkey's full circle of relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, United Nations, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Kiyoaki Aburaki
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “Decide when it is time to decide, draw a conclusion, don't postpone; this is the type of politics I want to create.” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made this declaration in a press conference on June 26 immediately after the passage of the consumption tax-hike bill in the Lower House of the Diet. Noda's conviction to pass a tax increase had a political cost: 57 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted against the bill, while 15 DPJ members abstained. Former DPJ president Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the anti-tax-hike movement, and his followers created a deep rift within the ruling party over the tax legislation and subsequently damaged Noda's political power base by defecting from the party on July 2.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Richard Jackson, Neil Howe, Tobias Peter
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As the world's societies age, governments and businesses are trying to look ahead and anticipate the needs of tomorrow's growing elderly populations. Nowhere is this more difficult to do than in emerging East Asia.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Health
  • Political Geography: Israel, East Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Nicholas S. Yarosh
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US and China face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each nation is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel