Palestinian Refugees in a Changing Middle East
By: Hon. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA (Video)
March 5, 2013
The Rise and Fall of Iran in Arab Muslims Eyes- – New Polls
By: James Zogby(video)
Netanyahu Forced to Rethink His Coalition
By: David Makovsky
March 5, 2013
For the first time since Israel’s January 22 election, the probable contours of a new government led by incumbent Binyamin Netanyahu are finally coming into view. This weekend, President Shimon Peres granted him the maximal two-week extension to shape a new coalition, moving the legal deadline to March 16. It now seems increasingly likely that Netanyahu’s Likud Party will form a coalition with the election’s two most significant success stories: the center-left Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”) Party of journalist Yair Lapid and the far-right Jewish Home Party of Naftali Bennett.
Washington Institute of Near East Policy
March 4, 2013
Turkey has come a long way in the past decade, but it still has a long way to go. Over the short term, the country’s destiny will be contingent on two interrelated dynamics: the Syrian conflict, and Turkey’s economic momentum.
Phenomenal economic growth has elevated Turkey to the ranks of the G-20, and the country has set its sights on becoming one of the ten largest global economies by the time the republic celebrates its centennial in 2023. Turkey is now the largest and wealthiest Muslim country in the world, and for the first time since the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks have incomes on a par with European incomes.
Leaving in 2014
By Frederick W. Kagan
March 5, 2013
President Obama is about to make the worst mistake of the Afghan war, it seems. He appears ready to announce that the United States will keep fewer than 10,000 troops in the country after 2014, a decision tantamount to abandoning Afghanistan and America’s interests in South Asia.
The president and his advisors seem to have persuaded themselves that the situation in Afghanistan is fundamentally benign (which is odd, since most Americans think that the situation is hopeless).
Hagel at the Helm
By Richard Weitz
March 5, 2013
Senator Chuck Hagel was recently sworn in as the 24th U.S. Secretary of Defense. He has a tough job ahead of him. Unlike his predecessor, Leon Panetta, Hagel did not receive a 100-to-0 vote in his confirmation vote. Rather his 58 affirmative votes, with 41 against, were the lowest in history due to hurt feelings among his fellow Republicans that Hagel had been a disloyal carrier of their agenda. He also faces major regional security challenges in Asia and beyond. But perhaps Hagel’s most serious challenge lies in his budget battles at home.
End the Arab Boycott of Israel
By: Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
March 6, 2013
On Jerusalem’s ancient walls hung old fans that made a rattling, windy noise. There was no money for air-conditioning. The carpet for worshipers was old and ragged. I was inside one of the world’s most significant buildings, but scaffolding and clutter prevented me from seeing the center of the Dome of the Rock.
Libya’s Peaceful Anniversary Shows Potential for Stability, Success
By: by Rania Swadek
March 7, 2013
The anniversary of Libya’s revolution was preceded by weeks of apprehension, planning, tension, and concern, not only by international observers, but also by the Libyan government, Libyan civil society organizations, and average citizens on the street.
Airlines canceled flights in and out of the country, international organizations pulled staff and postponed programing, and government officials visited “high-risk” regions such as Benghazi to reassure the populace of their commitment and to ease fears that citizens would be marginalized and abandoned in the aftermath of the revolution.
Kerry Offers More Aid but Still Lacks Sound Strategy on Syria
By James Phillips
February 28, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry has embarked on his first official trip abroad, traveling to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Although NATO and European issues have been featured prominently in Kerry’s early stops, much of his agenda will focus on containing the destabilizing spillover effects of the intensifying Syrian civil war. Kerry’s trip has been billed as a listening tour, and the new Secretary of State has already received an earful of complaints about the shortcomings of the Obama Administration’s Syria policy from Syrian opposition leaders and U.S. allies concerned about the Administration’s passive “leading from behind” approach to Syria’s worsening crisis. Kerry’s challenge will be to chart a more effective course for salvaging a stable post-Assad Syria that does not threaten U.S. national interests and those of U.S. allies.
Challenges and Opportunities in the CENTCOM AOR
By Anthony Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
March 4, 2013
The US needs to comprehensively reexamine its strategy and force posture in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR). America faces multiple challenges with a fiscally constrained environment at home, and a demanding mix of rising strategic concerns across Asia and the Middle East. This requires a level of strategic triage where the US does not overcommit its resources, as well as a new emphasis on cooperative security efforts with both traditional allies and emerging regional partners. The US must shift away from a focus on terrorism per se to the much broader mix of threats posed by Islamic extremism and the struggles within the Islamic world. These no longer are driven by Al Qa’ida central, or by terrorism. They involve civil conflicts, insurgencies, symmetric warfare, and uncertain mixes of state and non-state actors. They are driven by struggles between more secular and more religious elements, struggles between Sunni factions, and struggles between Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Holder, drones, and due process
By John Yoo
American Enterprise Institute
March 6, 2013
In his latest misstep, Attorney General Eric Holder is refusing to rule out the possibility of using armed drones against American citizens within the United States. According to a letter he sent to Senator Rand Paul, as Charles C. W. Cooke noted, Holder said that the use of lethal force would be “entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront,” but might be necessary to stop a “catastrophic attack” like the December 7, 1941, or September 11, 2001, attacks on the homeland. Holder may have the right idea, but because of his misunderstanding of the law and his political tin ear, he is only frightening the American people — though this seems to be the administration’s preferred approach to politics these days.
Turning Afghanistan Over to Criminals
By Sarah Chayes
March 5, 2013
U.S. policy toward Afghanistan has been crippled by profound flaws since the decision to intervene was made in the wake the 9/11 attacks. Most flaws stem from a view of the mission that remained consistently — across both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s administrations — constrained to combating the immediate violent manifestations of extremism: terrorist actions, or plans to conduct them, against U.S. interests. With that focus on symptoms trumping all other considerations, U.S. policy ironically fanned the flames of the very extremism it was supposedly trying to counter. It succeeded in driving a country that was desperate to be rid of Taliban rule back into the Taliban’s arms, because the alternative, for many Afghans, was not a lot better. And it is leaving behind a region even more laden with extremist currents, and more volatile and unstable, than it was in 2001.
Freedom and Bread Go Together
By Marwan Muasher
March 1, 2013
IMF’s Finance and Development
As Arab countries face dire economic challenges, it is easy to forget that not long ago many of them were in a similar—or worse—position. If the region is to successfully tackle unemployment, encourage foreign investment, and foster economic growth, leaders must take lessons from the recent past. These lessons offer five rules for success. Economic reforms cannot succeed in isolation, but must go hand in hand with political transitions. They must benefit all segments of society and have buy-in from everyone. They should be quantifiable based on a clear goal. Finally, plans for economic reform must be communicated effectively.
The Assad Regime: From Counterinsurgency To Civil War
By Joseph Holliday
Institute for the Study of War – March 2013
The conflict in Syria transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. For the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father’s counterinsurgency approach; however, Bashar al-Assad’s campaign failed to put down the 2011 revolution and accelerated the descent into civil war. This report seeks to explain how the Assad regime lost its counterinsurgency campaign, but remains well situated to fight a protracted civil war against Syria’s opposition. Hafez al-Assad subdued the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the early 1980s through a counterinsurgency campaign that relied on three strategies for generating and employing military force: carefully selecting and deploying the most trusted military units, raising pro-regime militias, and using those forces to clear insurgents out of major urban areas and then hold them with a heavy garrison of troops. Bashar al-Assad attempted unsuccessfully to employ the same strategy in 2011-2012.
U.S. Push Could End Hezbollah’s Domination of Lebanon
By Evelyn Gordon
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
February 28, 2013
When massive protests forced Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon in 2005, it seemed that Lebanon had finally been liberated from foreign domination. But the liberation proved illusory: The country remained in thrall to Hezbollah, which took its orders from Iran and Syria. Hezbollah’s dominance was dramatically demonstrated in 2008, when it staged an armed takeover of Beirut to keep the government from dismantling its telecommunications network and ending its control of airport security. The resulting “reconciliation” agreement granted it veto power over all government decisions.