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  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Baghdad's promising offer on oil exports and revenues could provide vital breathing room to build a permanent revenue-sharing law, and Washington should encourage the Iraqi Kurds to sign on. On February 16, the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will hold another round of negotiations on oil exports and revenue sharing, the fifth such meeting since December 25. With passage of Iraq's 2014 budget delayed by the talks, all parties have a strong interest in striking a deal. Fortunately, such an agreement now stands a better chance of sticking than ever before.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Ethnic Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If Washington is to secure an Iranian nuclear deal that is sustainable and advances American interests, it must make several adjustments to its diplomatic strategy. The Iran nuclear talks are set to resume in Vienna today, with the aim of reaching a long-term agreement to succeed the first-step "Joint Plan of Action" (JPOA). Negotiating an agreement that advances U.S. interests will require the Obama administration to deemphasize political battles in Washington and focus on the larger issues at stake, such as Iran's regional activities and the ultimate fate of the nuclear program. It should also endeavor to transform its fractious array of domestic and international allies from a weakness into a strength. Despite their tactical differences, these allies share an interest in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, as well as avoiding a military conflict and promoting regional stability and global nonproliferation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Washington
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Obama's reaffirmed pledges of assistance to Jordan are helpful, but they may not be enough to safeguard the country if the situation in Syria continues to fester. On February 14, President Obama met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Rancho Mirage, California. In the year since their previous summit, tens of thousands of Syrians have been killed and over 400,000 have registered as refugees in Jordan, bringing the total number of exiles from across the northern border to nearly 1 million. Despite the deterioration next door and the 16 percent increase in the kingdom's population, Jordan is paradoxically more stable today than when the two leaders met in March 2013. Yet the refugees still constitute a threat that will likely increase, especially given President Obama's assessment that "we don't expect to solve [the Syria crisis] anytime in the short term."
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Tehran worries about internal threats from Salafi jihadists, it may well cooperate with such groups if they attack Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, North America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite offering nominal support for Iran's nuclear negotiating team, Khamenei and his circle continue to criticize the talks and could sabotage them outright if internal dynamics go against President Rouhani.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Power Politics, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By focusing on the Syrian regime's faltering commitment to eliminate its chemical weapons, Washington can decisively push Damascus and Russia toward real progress on larger issues -- and also set the table for limited military strikes if they prove necessary.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian negotiations could lower the heat and shed some light on the clash over Jordan Valley security arrangements by promoting a public debate grounded in the facts of current and prospective Israeli deployments.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America
  • Author: Adel El-Adawy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The military chief has some strong assets and likely staying power, but he will still face great pressure if he is elected as anticipated, since the benchmark for success will be his ability to satisfy an Egyptian polity filled with unrealistically high socioeconomic expectations.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Reconstruction, Military Affairs, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Ukraine situation will affect Washington's Middle Eastern priorities, but not to such a degree that it will stymie a strong U.S. response to Russian actions, since America has the power to act in the region without Moscow if necessary. Ukraine could well make it necessary.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker, Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Cairo's possible purchase of advanced weapons systems from Russia could become another irritant in U.S.-Egyptian relations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Issues such as energy dependence, deep-rooted fears of the Russian military, and Black Sea navigation policy all offer clues to Prime Minister Erdogan's vacillating response to Russian activities in Crimea.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Far from disenfranchising certain groups, the pending legislation could spur smaller parties to form new political alliances that would likely favor the center-left opposition in future elections. As the Israeli Knesset prepares to pass a series of electoral reforms under the rubric of a new "Governance Law," one provision has drawn particularly strong criticism: the raising of the threshold required for political parties to obtain seats in the legislature to 3.25% of total votes cast. Media attention has focused on opposition concerns about the measures being "anti-democratic" and potentially disenfranchising Arab Israeli citizens. Yet close analysis of recent electoral results and political realities indicates that the new law could actually help the Israeli center and left.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The regime's recent military successes are by no means sweeping, but its incremental gains in Aleppo and Damascus belie perceptions of stalemate and could shift the war's direction in its favor. The fighting in Syria is frequently described as either a stalemate or a war of attrition -- there are few dramatic movements and no decisive actions, even though both sides repeatedly declare that they are winning and the other side is losing. And some have suggested that there is "no military solution."
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A deal to buy Israeli natural gas can help mitigate the kingdom's energy shortage and steer Amman away from problematic nuclear plans, but it risks stirring domestic opposition. In February, two private Jordanian firms signed a contract with a private U.S.-Israeli consortium to import natural gas from Israel's giant Tamar field, located under the bed of the Mediterranean Sea fifty miles offshore from Haifa. The Arab Potash Company and the Jordan Bromine Company -- both partially owned by the Jordanian government -- will pay Houston-based Noble Energy and its partners $500 million over the course of fifteen years to supply a power plant at Jordanian industrial facilities by the Dead Sea. At just $33 million per year, the deal is not financially significant, but it may set a huge precedent in terms of fostering regional economic cooperation and establishing a framework for Jordanian energy security. The political challenges are significant, however, particularly following the March 10 shooting of a Jordanian man at an Israeli-controlled West Bank crossing point.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Pollock, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington must urgently reestablish the credibility of its military threat, along with other steps, to guard against noncompliance from Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Alon Paz
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The growing capabilities of Iran's navy will enhance the country's soft power and its peacetime reach, while providing an alternative means of supplying the "axis of resistance" if traditional means of civilian transport become untenable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no guarantee that a peace deal will be reached within the current timeline, but a Palestinian return to armed struggle would be a far greater political, economic, and humanitarian disaster than any short-term frustration with the negotiations. Peace processes are rarely peaceful processes, and the current U.S.-led effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian "framework agreement" is no exception. As the tempo of negotiations between the main parties picks up speed, more radical actors have reemerged to violently oppose the process, from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Resistance Committees, to Salafi jihadist groups, to Marxist factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Many observers have focused on the sharp increase in rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past few weeks and the prospect of another Gaza war. But that issue, while crucial, has drawn media attention away from two equally troubling trends: the increase in violence across the West Bank, and new signs that some officials from the Palestinian Authority and its leading party, Fatah, may be hedging their bets and preparing for wider violence if the peace process fails.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Steven Ditto
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian elites continue to express skepticism about the International Atomic Energy Agency's verification measures, nuclear safeguards agreements, and impartiality, with some even accusing it of collusion with foreign intelligence agencies.
  • Topic: International Organization, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A number of U.S. interests could be served by expanding support to strategic Gulf partners in their efforts to curb Iranian aid to local fighters. On March 6, Bahrain's foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council that the ongoing violence in his country "is directly supported by elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran." The statement does not accurately explain all political violence in Bahrain, but not every claim of Iranian support for violence should be assumed to represent part of a government propaganda campaign. U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran is in fact providing arms and more to Bahraini and other fighters in the Arabian Peninsula, and Washington should increase support to important Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners to curb it.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Gilad Wenig
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A closer look at how the supreme military council will operate now that Field Marshal Sisi has thrown his hat into the presidential ring, including a chart illustrating the SCAF's likely new membership. Today, following months of speculation, Field Marshal Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announced his resignation as Egypt's defense minister and his candidacy for president. Sedki Sobhi, former chief of staff under Sisi, has been promoted to colonel general -- one rank below field marshal -- and appointed as the new defense minister, while Mahmoud Hegazy, former director of military intelligence, has been promoted to lieutenant general and will be the new army chief of staff. The resultant restructuring of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will likely put some of Sisi's closest allies in key positions and should provide him with a strong base of military support and influence once he wins the presidency as expected.
  • Topic: Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt