The 'Two-State Solution' to Destroy Israel by Khaled Abu Toameh
Israel Needs to Change Its Strategy Against Hamas
Reining In the Agencies
On the last day of its term, the Supreme Court stops the Environmental Protection Agency from making policy without express congressional authorization.
The executive versus the judiciary in Tunisia
While in practice no judiciary is totally independent and immune to the influence of executive or corporate power, Saied’s recent steps do indicate a significant change in the relationship between these branches.
China's development and strategic priorities have led to the most rapid military buildup the world has ever seen.
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Natural law thinkers are not trapped in feudal medieval politics, and neither are Confucians slaves to a despotic past.
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Pakistan’s political crisis and the imperatives of economic reform
Beyond short-term austerity measures, Pakistan’s current federal and provincial governments need to push forward essential reforms — including in agriculture, energy, and local governance — that are key to ensuring the country’s political and economic stability and long-term growth prospects.
The Era of Free-Lunch Economics Is Over
Reality intrudes on the fantasy of cost- and consequence-free deficit spending.
Temple Mount clashes threaten Israeli coalition
After losing his Knesset majority April 6 when legislator Idit Silman ditched the coalition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is now confronted with the Ra’am party freezing its coalition membership over Temple Mount incidents.
Temple Mount violence puts Arab coalition party on the spot
With pictures of violence on Temple Mount flooding social media, the Islamic Ra’am party in the coalition had no other choice but to temporarily suspend its membership in the coalition.
Inflation storm worsens Turkey’s income distribution gap
Banks and big companies have benefited from Ankara’s controversial policy to keep interest rates low, while soaring inflation eats into the real income of the wage-earning masses.
A Brief History of Inflation
With rising prices comes economic instability, which may be on the horizon once again.
Ukraine war shows America could be outgunned without investing in energetics
Energetic materials — critical chemicals that help determine the range, size, and explosive power of missiles and rockets — are in dangerously short supply for American interests, write Nadia Schadlow and Brady Helwig of the Hudson Institute.
WORLD POLITICS REVIEW
The absence of an off-ramp
China’s Air-Launched ‘Carrier Killer’ Missile
By Thomas Newdick, 1945: “China’s mysterious air-launched anti-ship ballistic missile just made its latest appearance.”
The New Nuclear Age
By Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., Foreign Affairs: “How China’s Growing Nuclear Arsenal Threatens Deterrence”
Africa and Global Society:
Marginality, Conditionality and Conjecture
By Will Turner, Strategy Bridge: “Political and strategic approaches to Africa have recently been parceled into bins based on interests: Great Power Competition, China and the Belt and Road Initiative, Russia and Wagner, and Violent Extremist Organizations, to name a few."
Coup generals bring back party of Sudan's ousted dictator
Members of deposed dictator Omar al-Bashir's party have been appointed to high state positions and reinstated throughout the government.
Russia is trying to increase its influence in the Sahel region, trying to exploit the anti-France sentiment that is developing in the area. After consolidating its relations with the government in Mali, Russia is now wooing the new power in Burkina Faso. Following the recent coup that took place on January 24, 2022, several supporters of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the country’s interim president, have already called for strengthening the cooperation with Russia and breaking the country’s partnership with France. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Sanctioning Deterrence Failure
By Seth Cropsey, RealClearDefense: “The Economization of American Grand Strategy.”
“Algeria rings in the old: Civil society under assault”
Algeria’s opposition after the Hirak: Limitations and divisions
The gradual fading out of protests in 2020 amid the surge of the pandemic was the result of both the system’s political maneuvers and the opposition’s own organizational and political weaknesses.
If New Looks could kill: Russia’s military capability in 2022
The deployment of Russian troops and equipment to areas close to Ukraine has led to much attention on Russia’s armed forces and alarm over Moscow’s intentions towards Ukraine.
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An introduction to Russia's military modernisation
The 2020 edition of the IISS Strategic Dossier Russia’s Military Modernisation examines the nature and scope of the development of Moscow’s armed forces and military capabilities.
comprehensive guide to Russia's war against Ukraine.
What Russia’s New Reality Means for Turkey by Selim Koru
A Dysfunctional Peace: How Libya’s Fault Lines Were Redrawn by Jalel Harchaoui
Great-Power Competition Comes for Latin America by Adam Isacson
In search of a US-Indo-Pacific economic policy
Claude Barfield | East Asia Forum
Amir Tibon writes: In the long run, Israel’s relationship with the United States faces a problem larger than any specific disagreement with Biden: the declining relevance of the Middle East. The region is slipping in priority for Washington and seen as a distraction from more urgent problems, from competing with China to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. – Foreign Affairs
To Win, or Not to Win, That Is the Only Question by Alex Nachumson
January 3, 2022
Time for PM Bennett and his cabinet to ratify, publish a national security strategy
The inherent political and economic complexities involved in crafting a defense doctrine in the coalition governance structure in Israel prevent the prime minister from simply committing such principles to paper, but it is imperative this mission is accomplished.
Jacob Nagel | Senior Fellow
Biden’s Build Back Better bill could decimate the childcare landscape
Frederick M. Hess | Education Week
Many families rely on faith-based childcare centers — but those providers are in peril under the Build Back Better bill's current language.
Get used to Putin’s power plays — at least until 2024
Leon Aron | The Hill
Vladimir Putin’s main audience is internal. His brinkmanship is directly linked to what is described in Russia as “Problem 24” — namely, the fulfillment of Putin’s paramount goal to become president for life in 2024, when, at 72, he will start yet another six-year term.
While Massing Troops Against Ukraine,
Putin Threatens the U.S. National Command Authority
By Mark B. Schneider, RealClearDefense: “As noted Russian journalist Pavel Felgenhauer pointed out in November 2021, “President Vladimir Putin declared that if the West deploys missiles to Ukraine that could reach Moscow ‘in five to ten minutes,’ Russia is ready to counter by deploying a ‘new naval hypersonic missile, which may reach [Western] decision-makers in 5 minutes, flying at Mach 9 speed.'”
Modern Russian Statecraft:
Neither New nor Hybrid
By Philip Wasielewski, Small Wars Journal: "The current national security elites of the Russian Federation, most having a background in the security services, are inheritors of a Soviet tradition of coercive statecraft and in many cases former practitioners of its darker aspects."
Crisis Stability as a Priority in U.S.-China Relations
By Heather Williams, the interpreter: “Arms control with China will look very different from arms control with Russia."
Understanding Drone Typology
By Zachary Kallenborn, Modern War Institute: “In May 2021, during its conflict with Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces became the first military to use a drone swarm in combat.”
We’re Not in Kissinger’s Middle East Anymore by Abe Silberstein
Mobile Nuclear Power Reactors Won’t Solve the Army’s Energy Problems by Jake Hecl
No end in sight for civilian-military crisis in Sudan
The head of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, called for the dissolution of the government, further escalating the tension with his civilian partners in governance.
Tunisia’s political crisis forewarns economic collapse
Economists are sounding the alarm about a possible economic collapse in Tunisia, urging for reforms to revive the economy that had been suffering since 2011 amid political instability.
Defense policy experts Bradley Bowman, Bryan Clark, Mackenzie Eaglen, and Thomas Spoehr recently outlined their recommendations in War on the Rocks
Sudan Protests for Military Coup. Thousands rallied at the presidential palace in Khartoum on Saturday calling for the military to initiate a coup and overthrow the civilian government. The protests come as the military demands reforms to the coalition government which civilian leaders view as a power grab in the wake of a thwarted September coup attributed to forces still loyal to ousted President Omar al-Bashir. BBC Reuters
Ethiopian Airstrikes Hit Tigray. Ethiopia’s military has allegedly hit the Tigray capital region of Mekele with airstrikes, killing three people according to media reports citing local eye witnesses. The new offensive comes amid pressure from the US and the EU to stem the violence. Associated Press Al Jazeera
Ezgi Yazici writes: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s failure to work effectively with the United States and its NATO allies undermines his position with Russia and enables Putin to take advantage of Turkey’s strategic vulnerabilities. Ankara’s balancing act between the United States and Russia depends on maintaining Turkey’s strategic importance and relevance for both states, leverage that Erdogan may be losing. – Institute for the Study of War
Michael Rubin writes: The lira, Turkey’s currency, is in free fall. A decade ago, it traded at 1.83 to the US dollar. Five years ago, it hovered around three to the dollar. Last week it surpassed nine to the dollar and, on Friday, it closed at 9.27. That the Turkish lira could drop an order of magnitude might sound farfetched, but it is not for a simple reason: Turkey’s foreign reserves are missing. – 19fortyfive
Munqith Dagher writes: However, the Iraqi state’s current military capabilities are supported by the Atabat and the Sadrist militias, and these combined forces may be enough to prevent the losing factions from aggravating tensions. Even with what seems to be a reduced willingness of Iran to support its followers in Iraq and escalate the security threats there, the government and international community alike should remain vigilant to these possibilities to prevent the alternative of being caught off-guard. – Washington Institute
Jennifer Cafarella and Caroline Rose write: The United States needs a more calibrated withdrawal plan in Iraq. Retaining U.S. advisors is necessary as a counterweight to Iran but is not sufficient to achieve sustainable security and governance conditions. The United States will continue to face pressure in Iraq from Iran’s proxies, who remain committed to escalating until all U.S. forces withdraw. Retreat in Iraq is fueling instability, not mitigating it. The United States must reorient on a long-term mission to stabilize Iraq based on its needs rather than continue a misguided acquiescence to Iran. – The National Interest
Zahid Shahab Ahmed and Dalbir Ahlawat write: While multilateral forums face challenges due to the existing geopolitical dynamics between India and Pakistan in the SAARC and India and China in the SCO, New Delhi and Islamabad stand to gain by bilaterally engaging on the issue of Afghanistan. Instead of turning their neighbor into a liability, they can turn Afghanistan into an asset through constructive engagement aimed at stability in the region. – The National Interest
How Does North Korea Evade Sanctions?
The Chinese-Russian Relationship and Its Risks to U.S. Interests
What Drives U.S. Adversaries to Use Military Forces Abroad?
Lessons from Afghanistan
China and Pakistan See Eye to Eye on the Taliban—Almost
Russia hasn't cleared Turkish attack on strategic Syrian town
Ankara has yet to secure a go-ahead from Moscow for an anticipated assault on the Syrian town of Tell Rifaat, which is controlled by Kurdish groups.
Drone sale to Ethiopia could jeopardize Turkey-Egypt dialogue
Turkey risks derailing normalization talks with Egypt by selling armed drones to Ethiopia, in addition to coming under international fire should Ethiopia use the drones in the conflict in Tigray.
Burak Bekdil: European "Pushback Is a Must" if Turkey Unleashes Afghan Migrants
by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
The Evolving Geography of the U.S. Defense Industrial Base by Doug Berenson
In The Atlantic, Sally Satel analyzes a new study that challenges this belief. Without dismissing the seriousness of right-wing authoritarianism, Satel argues that few studies engage with left-wing authoritarianism because of a monolithic academic culture. "This political imbalance makes truth-seeking harder," she concludes, which is bad for both science and American politics.
AEI scholars also question the reigning conventional wisdom in foreign policy. Hal Brands and Michael Beckley challenge the notion that the primary source of friction between China and the United States is "the replacement of one hegemon by another" — that is, China's rise and America's decline. They attribute the tense relations between the two countries instead to a "peaking power trap" and point to historical examples to suggest that China's decline is actually what could cause the trap to spring shut.
Ali Alfoneh on the "Strategic Lessons" Guiding Iran's Behavior
Analysis: The Islamic State’s expansion into Congo’s Ituri Province
U.S. Treasury sanctions al Qaeda facilitators in Turkey
Turkey's political realities clash with Erdogan’s 2023 dreams
To win the next election, Erdogan must change the election laws but also find more popular political allies. His AKP party's current coalition with the ultra-nationalists is becoming a liability for his goal of re-election in 2023.
For Peace, Abbas's Long-standing Rejectionism Has to Be Defeated by Gregg Roman
The Jerusalem Post
October 3, 2021
Tunisians rally in support of president
Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets on Sunday in support of President Kais Saied, whose critics accuse him of staging a coup. Around 8,000 people gathered in the capital, while others rallied in the cities of Sfax, Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa and Monastir. The crowds appeared to have outnumbered those who gathered last week to protest against Saied, who announced in September that he will rule by decree for two months. Saied suspended parliament in July and dismissed the prime minister and a number of Cabinet officials in response to sweeping protests against the government’s failure to address the coronavirus pandemic and mounting debt. On Sunday, a Tunisian member of parliament and television presenter were arrested after criticizing Saied and calling him a traitor.
Who Is Directing American Policy? by Lawrence Kadish
Iran Mullahs Closer Than Ever to Obtaining Nuclear Weapons by Majid Rafizadeh
It’s Time for Biden to Leave a Bad Deal in the Past
Richard Goldberg — National Review
When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei selected Ebrahim Raisi to be the next president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Khamenei was sending Washington a message akin to Nikita Khrushchev’s infamous 1956 pronouncement: “We will bury you.” But don’t tell that to the unflappable advocates of appeasement in Washington who insist it is always the right time for rapprochement with Iran. Read more
Israel's Bennett, Due in Washington, Likely To Be Met With More Recalcitrance Than Ever on Iran
By CAROLINE GLICK, Special to the Sun | August 20, 2021
Israel’s Bennett striving for new center-right electorate
As new prime minister in a government composed of the right, center and left, Naftali Bennett strives to create for himself a new political base.
From Maximum Pressure to Maximum Deference
Biden’s appeasement of Iran has let the regime become more brazen
Pakistan’s Pyrrhic Victory in Afghanistan with Daniel Markey
Enabling the Fifth Column and the Relevancy of Unconventional Warfare
By Mark Grdovic, Small Wars Journal: “Although the concept of enabling resistance movements as a supporting effort to a broader military campaign is centuries old, the concept did not formally appear in U.S. military doctrine as Unconventional Warfare until 1955.”
How Iran is outplaying the CIA in Iraqi Kurdistan
Michael Rubin | 19fortyfive.com
Turkey and the West: Drifting Further Apartby Burak Bekdil
What Went Wrong in Afghanistan?
By Danielle Pletka, Stephen Walt, Eliot A. Cohen, Husain Haqqani, Richard Haass, Rina Amiri, Elliot Ackerman, Rory Stewart & Carter Malkasian, The Wall Street Journal: “As America’s longest war draws to an end, sharp disagreements remain about its aims, direction and success.”
Pakistan’s Pyrrhic Victory in Afghanistan
By Husain Haqqani, Foreign Affairs: “Islamabad will come to regret aiding the taliban’s resurgence.”
Does the Belt and Road Have a Future in Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan?
By Sebastien Goulard, The Diplomat: “The Taliban will welcome the hard infrastructure elements of the BRI. The “soft” components are a different story."
A Strategy for Avoiding Two-Front War
By A. Wess Mitchell, The National Interest: “The greatest risk facing the twenty-first-century United States, short of an outright nuclear attack, is a two-front war involving its strongest military rivals, China and Russia. Such a conflict would entail a scale of national effort and risk unseen in generations, effectively pitting America against the resources of nearly half of the Eurasian landmass.”
Egypt pledges support to Somalia, eyeing Horn of Africa influence
Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble held talks in Cairo with senior Egyptian officials at a time when Egypt is attempting to expand its influence in the Horn of Africa.
Syrian jihadis hail Taliban ‘conquest’ despite their own effort to rebrand
The Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan was widely welcomed by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which offered sweets in the streets of Idlib.
Tunisians decry coup, while president's supporters claim 'second revolution'
On the streets of Tunis, rumors and anticipation of July 25 demonstrations have been circulating for weeks.
Israel concerned over possible new Russian policy on Syria
Israel is perplexed over the recent statement by Russian Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit concerning the interception in Syria of alleged Israeli missiles.
Iran’s Tricky Balancing Act in Afghanistan by Candace Rondeaux, Amir Toumaj, and Arif Ammar
The American Revolution, Naval Power, and the 21st Century by BJ Armstrong
The Defense Futures Simulator from War on the Rocks, American Enterprise Institute, and Center for Strategic & International Studies
Strategic Outpost’s Sixth Annual Summer Vacation Reading List by David Barno and Nora Bensahel
The Problem with Biden’s Democracy Agenda by Robert Manning and Mathew Burrows
Pentagon Chief Calls for New Regional Order in Indo-Pacific
By Mike Yeo, Defense News: “The U.S. defense secretary has called on allies in the Indo-Pacific to force a new regional order, during his first visit to the area since taking up his post under the Biden administration.”
China Increasing Its ICBM Silos by a Factor of Ten
By Thomas Newdick, The War Zone: “A new ICBM silo field taking shape in the northwest of the country is the second to be identified in only a month.
The Pentagon Needs More Than Ships and Planes to Deter China
By Editorial Board, Bloomberg: "U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region need to be more resilient, flexible and effective."
A U.S. Defense Budget That Makes China Smile
By Mackenzie Eaglen, 1945: ““More tooth, less tail” is a common refrain from defense leaders in search of more combat power as budgets have flatlined. No matter the topline, it seems defense continues to get less for more. Except when it comes to civilians.”
By Jonathan Beall, Strategy Bridge: “. . . the key to understanding the move from peace to war must include an army’s “cognitive and mental flexibility” in that transition, which means this process is not simply a matter of material readiness, although it is not neglected.”
China’s military budget much bigger than what it reveals’
Cleo Paskal – The Sunday Guardia
The Middle East should be afraid of Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi
Alireza Nader and Saeed Ghasseminejad — Al Arabiya
Iran’s newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, is known for his brutal and fanatical devotion to the Islamic Republic, a history that it would serve Middle Eastern nations well to remember in future foreign policy dealings with the country. Raisi’s selection by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as president is meant to facilitate a smooth succession and instill fear in Iranians yearning to break free from the theocracy. Read more
The Coming Sanctions Battle Over Iran’s New President
Behnam Ben Taleblu — The National Interest
Men of the cloth are no strangers to the levers of power in Iran, especially the office of the presidency. Ebrahim Raisi, the sixty-year-old mid-ranking cleric who is now president-elect, or better put, president-select, will be the first in the history of the Islamic Republic to make the lateral move from the judiciary, which he led since 2019, to the presidency. He will also be the first Iranian president under U.S. sanctions. Read more
Middle East Diplomacy with Elliott Abrams
Tikvah's incoming chairman, Elliott Abrams, joined JNS's Jonathan Tobin to discuss the past failed efforts at a two-state solution as well as diplomacy, democracy, and the future of American Jewry. Listen Here (48 min.).
3) Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer on the Ultra-Orthodox and the IDF
Almost every Jewish community in Israel serves in the IDF, except one: the haredim. On this week's podcast, Tikvah's Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer explores the background behind his community's reluctance to serve in the Israeli army and brings us inside the debate currently unfolding within Israel's Orthodox communities about the fulfillment of civic obligation and moral duty. Listen Here (39 min.).
The War at Home: The Need for Internal Security Sector Reform in Iraqi Kurdistan
The forces and agencies of Kurdistan’s Ministry of Interior and the Kurdistan Region Security Council, collectively referred to the Kurdistan Region Interior Forces, are now the region’s main security actors, but their role as instruments of partisan rivalry and enforcers of public loyalty to the political bureaus threatens the Kurdistan Region’s stability. This report makes the case that coalition security sector reform efforts should be refocused on them. Although Peshmerga reform is necessary to improve the Kurdistan Region’s ability to combat external threats, it is equally, if not more important to start the same reform within these internal forces and agencies to achieve durable stability.
The Pakistan Factor in China’s Afghanistan Policy: Emerging Regional Faultlines amid US Withdrawal
To date, China has largely relied on Pakistan to conduct its Afghan policy. Not much bothered about the future political role of the Taliban, China fears the prospect of instability in Afghanistan after the U.S. exit. Beijing’s primary concern in a post-U.S. Afghanistan, which is likely to be run by a regime dominated by the Taliban, is that Uyghur separatists and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement might find a safe haven in the country. Although all regional countries support the idea of an inclusive political resolution to the Afghan conflict, neither China nor any other country has any appetite to lead a regional intervention to stabilize it. China has therefore responded to the announcement of the American exit from Afghanistan with a sense of disquiet.
On Wars and Changing Threats
By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, July 9, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israeli society must recognize the intensity of the new threats that surround it and critically assess the conventional wisdom that the era of big threats has passed and Israel need no longer be a "mobilized nation."
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Biden's Afghanistan: The Fog of Retreat
Editorial of The New York Sun | July 9, 2021
Israel's Victory for Democracy
Editorial of The New York Sun | June 13, 2021
The first thing that needs to be said in respect of Israel's decision to bring in Naftali Bennett as prime minister is that it marks a victory for the democracy of the Jewish state. That's not because it brought an end, at least for now, to the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, which lost by the narrowest of margins -- a single vote in a 60 to 59 vote tally in a 120 Knesset. Indeed, on many issues there might be little change.
China and Iran: Join Up the Dots
The whole is much more than the sum of the parts by Gwythian Prins
Yemen, Syria and Iran’s capabilities: A look at Israel’s strategic view of key proxy conflicts in the MidEast
Egypt Is Beginning to Reassert Regional Leadership by Seth J. Frantzman
June 7, 2021
by Samuel Tadros via The Caravan
As a young man, Egypt’s legendary playwright, Tawfiq Al Hakim had worked as an assistant to the Attorney General in the Egyptian countryside. There he would witness firsthand the dismal state of the country’s fellahin and the grave injustices Egypt’s rural population lived under. The experience would leave a profound impact on the young author and would shape his views of Egypt’s ills and the necessity for social change that became evident in his literary works.
Saudi Human Rights
by Karen Elliott House via The Caravan
If the Biden Administration lives up to its campaign promises and early governing pronouncements, human rights will play a larger role in its foreign policy than in that of the Trump Administration. This isn’t necessarily good news.
Iranian Regime, Houthis Celebrate Biden Administration's Policy
by Majid Rafizadeh
No kingmaker – and no king following Israel’s latest election
With virtually all of the vote in and results unlikely to change, it is clear: Not only will there be no kingmaker in Israel's latest election, there will probably be no king.
MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE JOURNAL Winter 2020/2021 Issue
Why We Should Be Worried About Russia and China Working So Closely
After the Alaska meeting between the U.S. and China, Russian officials quickly moved to boost China.
Top Biden Economic Policy Adviser Linked to Kashmiri Extremists by J.M. Phelps
March 5, 2021
Sounds Strategic: The IISS Podcast
To mark the publication of The Military Balance 2021, Meia Nouwens is joined by Fenella McGerty, Senior Fellow for Defence Economics, and Henry Boyd, Research Fellow for Defence and Military Analysis, to discuss recent developments in defence policy, military capability and defence economics.
Rafael Bardaji on Why Europe "Will Remain Hostile to Israel" by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
March 14, 2021
Negotiating with the Taliban is not the path to peace or securing American national security interests, writes Frederick Kagan. READ MORE
Algeria: Running on fumes
Unless oil prices go way up, Algeria is in a world of hurt.
Algeria’s president dissolves parliament, pardons 60 protest figures
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced on Thursday the dissolution of the lower house of parliament and called for early legislative elections. In an address to the nation, Tebboune also said he would carry out a government reshuffle in the coming days. The move coincides with renewed protests in Algeria to mark the second anniversary of the popular protest movement that forced longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign. Despite his toppling, the demonstrations continued as Algerians demanded a transition to democracy and the trial of figures linked to the former regime. Authorities have since arrested and sentenced dozens connected with the protests, but in his Thursday address, Tebboune announced the pardoning of 60 people. Read More
Signs that Iran Might Be Continuing Its Nuclear Weapons Program
By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, February 19, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Samples recently collected by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors at two Iranian sites showed traces of radioactivity. Tehran had not reported any nuclear activity at these sites and denied IAEA inspectors access to them until just a few months ago. The findings suggest that Iran, in violation of the JCPOA nuclear agreement it signed in July 2015, has continued to conduct activities related to nuclear military development.
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How Biden Can Build on the Abraham Accords
By Peter Berkowitz via RealClearPoliticsPeter Berkowitz writes that the Abraham Accords were forged between Israel and two Arab Gulf states, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, because all parties viewed that it was in their shared interest to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, these countries recognized extraordinary opportunities to develop commercial ties and launch educational and cultural exchanges. Berkowitz maintains that the Biden administration should expand upon its predecessor’s achievements by capitalizing on the shifting dynamics of the region and building on this diplomatic momentum in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
The Caspian Sea as Battleground
By Dr. James M. Dorsey, February 28, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Back in 1991, in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Israel desk of Armenia’s foreign ministry—populated at the time by fluent Hebrew speakers—waited for a phone call that never came. The ministry was convinced that Israel, with whom Armenia shared an experience of genocide, was a natural ally. But Israel never made the call. Their shared experience could not compete with Armenia’s Turkic nemesis, Azerbaijan, with which Armenia was at war over Nagorno-Karabakh—a majority ethnic Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani territory.
“The calculation was simple,” an Israeli official said at the time. “Azerbaijan has three strategic assets that Israel is interested in: Muslims, oil, and several thousand Jews. All Armenia has to offer is at best several hundred Jews.”
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US officials would surely like Germany and Europe to rally quickly to America’s side. Hal Brands explains that, in reality, uniting the free world against a new authoritarian rival will itself be a long, hard campaign. READ MORE
The Danger of Appeasing the Mullahs by Majid Rafizadeh
The Battle for the Soul of Islam
By Dr. James M. Dorsey, January 17, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The battle for the soul of Islam pits rival Middle Eastern and Asian powers against one another: Turkey, seat of the Islamic world’s last true caliphate; Saudi Arabia, home to the faith’s holy cities; the United Arab Emirates (UAE), propagator of a militantly statist interpretation of Islam; Qatar, with its less strict version of Wahhabism and penchant for political Islam; Indonesia, promoting a humanitarian, pluralistic notion of Islam that reaches out to other faiths as well as non-Muslim center-right forces across the globe; Morocco, which uses religion as a way to position itself as the face of moderate Islam; and Shiite Iran, with its derailed revolution.
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"IDF chief of staff warns of return to Iran nuclear deal, details response to proxies,"
Joe Truzman, FDD's Long War Journal
In a January 27, 2021 article titled “Iran Continues to Test Biden’s Limits,” senior Saudi journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rahsed notes that Iran welcomed the Biden administration with a series of provocations – namely the December 20, 2020 rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and with the January 23, 2021 Houthi attack on Riyadh – so as to test the patience of the U.S. and its allies and their willingness to retaliate. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Victoria Coates and Len Khodorkovsky write: Driven by a revolutionary theology, the Islamic Republic’s regime has been metastasizing across the region since its founding in 1979. From funding and arming anti-Israel terrorists, to blowing up Saudi oil facilities, to pirating commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iran is the Middle East’s preeminent menace. Not only is it out of step with the Abraham Accords, Iran is the neighborhood’s chief purveyor of discord. – Jerusalem Post
Michael Knights writes: U.S. officials are right not to overreact to what may have been a probe of Riyadh’s airspace, and the Saudis may have their own reasons to save face and downplay the penetrations. If left unchecked, however, such probes may become bolder, especially if Tehran’s motive is to splinter the U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-Emirati relationships and coerce Washington into providing sanctions relief more quickly. The Biden administration should therefore take appropriate and measured steps in response: – Washington Institute
Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran under sanctions has not been able to modernize many parts of its regular army and navy. That means relying on ships and planes that are many decades old. Sometimes Iran even uses old US Boeings, C-130s and other planes from the era of the shah. Sutton points out that Iran still has several smaller 600-ton Fateh-class submarines, but these also don’t seem to be active. Iran’s submarines are not ancient: They were built in the 1990s. However it is unclear what is wrong also with them – and how this setback may harm Iran’s capabilities. – Jerusalem Post
Isabel Ivanescu writes: Fighting between pro-Assad regime forces and local opposition elements in Dera’a Province is at its most intense since Russia brokered reconciliation agreements between the two factions in 2018. […]There has been an inflection in Russian behavior, however; Russia did not intervene to stop the first assault on the town by Iranian-backed forces and threatened to itself carry out airstrikes in the vicinity if locals refused to turn over individuals wanted by the regime. This may represent a Russian belief that Tafas, a hub of anti-Assad activity, will be less likely to capitulate than other towns in which similar events have previously transpired. – Institute for the Study of War
Mason Clark writes: The United States and its allies must prepare to confront an increasingly effective Russian military that is intent on further developing expeditionary capabilities and using them in coalition environments. Russia is still involved in and still learning from the conflict in Syria. […]The Russian military’s learning from Syria is driving Russian modernization efforts; the United States must understand this learning and adaptation to confront the Kremlin effectively. – Institute for the Study of War
Katherine Lawlor and Nicholas Carl write: Iranian-backed Iraqi militias likely conducted a kamikaze drone attack into Saudi Arabia on January 23, 2021, for the second time in recent years. This attack could indicate a significant change in how the Iranian regime imposes pressure on its adversaries around the Persian Gulf. The potential expansion of Iraqi proxies’ ability and willingness to target foreign states in ostensibly deniable ways and in coordination with other components of the Axis of Resistance would pose a growing security challenge to the US and its regional partners. – Institute for the Study of War
Seth J. Frantzman writes: Saudi Arabia has become a testing ground for how a country can create multi-layered and integrated air defense to stop the drones. […]Riyadh, a key ally of the US, may get advice on how best to continue to confront the threats. Evidence shows that it has done a good job downing drones and missiles in recent years. The question is whether the threats will grow as Tehran seeks to target US allies to put pressure on them and Washington, and to test new weapons. – Jerusalem Post
Arif Rafiq writes: In recent years, cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey has strengthened not just in the defense, diplomatic, and economic realms, but also in the cultural space, causing geopolitical ripple effects in the Himalayas, the Arabian Peninsula, and the South Caucasus. The emerging Pakistan-Turkey entente now has the buy-in of Pakistan’s leading political parties and three military services, as well as the Turkish leadership. – Middle East Institute
Rostec announced this week it has begun developing the MiG-41, a fifth-generation fighter jet set to replace Russia’s MiG-31 jets currently in service. However, amid a number of other ongoing military aerospace projects, experts are questioning whether industry has the resources to produce the aircraft by its deadline of 2030. – Defense News
Pro-regime spokespersons and surrogates attempted to denigrate Navalny and dismiss the demonstrations as miniscule and over-reliant upon impressionable minors, who additionally served as human shields to deter an effective police response to the demonstrators. […]Below is MEMRI’s review of the events surrounding Navalny’s arrest. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Steve Cohen writes: The problem is not just China’s emergence as a maritime power; it is our own seemingly apathetic willingness to cede dominance at sea. Although the past two administrations have agreed that the Navy needs a minimum number of 355 ships to meet its assigned roles, we have taken too few steps to appropriate the necessary funds to expand the fleet or identify what its composition ought to be. The current plan is too small, too slow, too fearful of making more mistakes in the acquisition process. – The Hill
Mark F. Cancian writes: Great power competition has returned after a generation of absence, and the U.S. military edge over prospective opponents is eroding. Whereas the United States previously could overwhelm adversaries with sheer force, if necessary, it now needs every advantage it can get. This study analyzes how the United States might inflict surprise on its adversaries to gain a strategic advantage. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Preventing a Hegemonic Iran
Featuring H. R. McMaster via Policy EdThe United States’ conciliatory foreign policy approach to Iran has overlooked the hostile ideology that drives the regime. Understanding Iranian behavior begins with employing strategic empathy to fully understand the Iranian leadership’s ideology and its desire for hegemonic influence in the Middle East. The United States should improve defenses against the Iranian military and its terrorist proxies, disrupt Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, and communicate with the Iranian people to expose the regime’s corruption.
Trump's Bitter Denouement
by Richard A. Epstein via Defining Ideas
His sorry ending should not conceal his administration’s real achievements.
The Caravan: Al-Qaida And The Taliban At The Crossroads.
interview with Russell A. Berman, Cole Bunzel via The Caravan Notebook
What are jihadis saying about the Taliban peace deal and Afghan negotiations?
Implications for Israel of the Joint Terrorist Military Exercise in the Gaza Strip
By Omer Dostri, January 8, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The first joint military exercise of the Gaza terrorist organizations was a milestone for Hamas, which wishes to unite these organizations in order to strengthen its control over the Strip as well as its “ambiguity strategy” vis-à-vis Israel. The exercise has implications for Israel at both the strategic and the operational levels as it prepares for a possible conflagration in Gaza.
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Shia Militias Threaten US, Israel in Iraq by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
December 31, 2020
Tehran’s 20 Percent Enrichment is Designed to Extort Washington
Behnam Ben Taleblu and Andrea Stricker — Newsweek
Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) built a reputation as a lawmaker with a low profile and a high impact. His recent passing has brought one of his signature pieces of legislation back into the spotlight. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 instituted protections to promote the stability of the national financial system. As the digital era reshapes the economy, we can honor Sen. Sarbanes’ work and legacy by ensuring that the Act continues to serve the same ends he envisioned nearly 20 years ago — promoting American prosperity through responsible corporate governance. Read more
India and Oceania: Potential and Opportunities
Cleo Paskal and Lord Fakafanua — India Foundation
by John R. Bolton, John Yoo via National Review
he first great conflict of Joseph Biden’s presidency could erupt on the field of national security.
Iran Unveils New Underground Missile Base. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has revealed a large underground missile base near the Persian Gulf. The announcement was broadcast on Iran’s state TV and comes just after a recent show of force by the U.S. as two B-52 Bombers flew thru the region. Al Jazeera Jerusalem Post
Hypersonics Illustrate Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
By Abbey Baker, Christian Contardo & Doreen Edelman, National Defense Magazine: “Hypersonics — the science behind missiles that travel in excess of Mach 5 and can quickly change trajectory mid-flight — illustrate the challenges faced by U.S. companies working on emerging technologies.”
BESA's Top Ten of 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: During 2020, the BESA Center consolidated its position as the globally most widely read Israeli think tank in its field, with page views growing twofold to nearly 3.5 million. Below are the ten most widely read articles published in 2020. The selections reflect strong reader interest in the COVID-19 pandemic and its origin, great-power rivalries, and Israel’s national security and relations with the Arab world.
Hamas's Maneuvers Are Defensive - For Now
By Prof. Hillel Frisch, January 8, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Hamas, along with 11 other terrorist organizations working together under a “Joint Operations Headquarters,” recently conducted an exercise involving coordinated extensive rocket and drone launchings. Hamas said the exercise was defensive, but stressed that it remains committed to “liberating” “Palestine.” Israel’s policy of economic pacification is serving to enhance Hamas’s capabilities against it.
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AL-QAEDA & IRAN: THE RELATIONSHIP & THE COLLAPSE OF IRAQ; 10 YEARS AFTER THE ARAB SPRING, A LOOK AT TUNISIA; BIBI'S PERFECT STORM BREWING
Hoover Fellows Analyze Foreign Policy Challenges For Incoming Presidential Administration
via Hoover Daily Report
The Hoover Institution hosted a virtual online series featuring fellows’ analysis of the foreign policy challenges facing the incoming presidential administration.
Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s calculation now is that dissidents won’t operate from Iraq or Turkey, and they likely will live in fear throughout Europe. This is laying the groundwork for Tehran’s next move, which will be more military escalation in the region and outreach to further bond itself with allies in Turkey and Russia, seeking to counterbalance the US and also work with China. – Jerusalem Post
Firas Elias writes: These proxy groups continue to demand the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and both Iraqis and regional U.S. allies will likely carefully observe how Biden will navigate this point of ongoing tension. For better or for worse, it is clear that any new steps that President-Elect Biden may take in his dealings with Iran will directly impact Iraq’s internal affairs as well. The same could be said for the other Arab countries in which Iran has attempted to create a foothold. – Washington Institute
Iran's Plan to Topple Arab Leaders by Khaled Abu Toameh
Net Assessment: 2020 Vision with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble
Thinking in (Napoleonic) Times: Historical Warnings for an Era of Great-Power Competition
by Alexandra Evans
Competition with China could be short and sharp
Michael Beckley and Hal Brands | Foreign Affairs
ow President-Elect Biden Can Reinvigorate Defense Innovation
By Trae Stephens & Steve Blank, Defense News: “The world is on the cusp of a new era of warfare dominated by unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, networked weapons and sensor fusion.”
U.S. Should Strengthen Gulf State Partners,
Vital to Stability in the Middle East
By Michael J. Connor, RealClearDefense: “Last Wednesday, the Senate voted down legislation aimed at stopping the sale of advanced offensive weapons to the United Arab Emirates. Washington can and should do more. As Iran proliferates advanced long-range weaponry and its proxies launch short-range attacks, the incoming Biden administration should also emphasize strengthening the defenses of America's partners in the Gulf.”
Trump’s Iran Achievement
Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh — National Review
Among Donald Trump’s proudest achievements as president was his withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), his predecessor’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The boldest action of his presidency was his decision to kill Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force — the expeditionary, special-operations, terrorist branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — at the Baghdad airport. Read more
TURKEY'S GOALS IN LIBYA
Aya Burweila on Turkey's Goals in Libya by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
December 18, 2020
IRAQ COLLAPSING READ MORE
GETTING CHINA POLICY RIGHT Derek Scissors testified that to actively improve American competitiveness with China requires a comprehensive strategy and costly implementation. Staying ahead of a slipping, skittish China
Bedfellows: Iran and Al Qaeda by Majid Rafizadeh
U.S. and Afghan forces target Al Qaeda in the south
Despite the repeated targeting, killing, and capturing of Al Qaeda leaders and operatives, the Taliban maintains that the terror group does not operate in Afghanistan.
Ep. 35 – The Shadow War Inside Iran
FDD senior fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu joins the podcast to discuss recent assassinations inside Iran and the state of the Iranian regime’s various proxy wars.
Africa File tracking the developing situation in Ethiopia.
READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
Civil war is breaking out in Africa’s second largest country | Emily Estelle
Freedom’s Struggle In The Indo-Pacific
by Michael R. Auslin
With China increasingly dominant, nations seek their own paths between socialism and capitalism.
The last emir?: AQIM’s decline in the Sahel
Five months after the elimination of Abdel Malek Droukdel, aka Abu Musab Abdel Wadud, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), by the French army in the Malian city of Talhandak, AQIM appointed a new emir on Nov. 21. His name is Yazid Mebarek, aka Abu Ubayda Yusef al-Annabi, a 51-year-old Algerian and a jihad veteran.
Autumn 2020 Issue MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE
Up for Debate: US Yemen policy
Now in its sixth year, the war in Yemen shows no signs of abating. The country faces what is widely considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis — a situation that has only been exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic. As a new administration prepares to take over in Washington, it is a natural time to assess U.S. policy toward the country. We asked 9 experts to provide their perspective and answer the following question: How should the Biden administration approach Yemen?
The "Arab Spring" a Decade On
By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, December 17, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The 10 years of the so-called “Arab Spring”—the last of which is the year of COVID-19—have brought many Arab countries to the edge of the abyss. The worst may be yet to come if President-elect Joe Biden takes expected steps that would be in the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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10 years on, Tunisian emotions mixed in birthplace of Arab Spring
Ten years after the first Arab Spring protests erupted in the central Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, the locals are still suffering economic hardships amid a lack of government support.
Weighing the scales of violence in northwest Syria
Netanyahu dislikes rotation deal, but also fears elections
By Dec. 23, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must decide what scares him more: elections with Gideon Saar as contender or rotation with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Turkey won't back down from S-400s despite sanctions, says foreign minister
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara will "take steps" to respond to the US sanctions unveiled this week.
Steven A. Cook writes: Yet looking back over the last decade, it is hard to fathom why anyone would venture to argue that the uprisings produced much more than sorrow. That does not mean that the uprisings were a mistake—as if such unpredictable events could even be categorized as such. Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Bahrainis, and others rose up in response to their bitter circumstances to demand a better future. They were mostly crushed. – Foreign Policy
Oz Katerji writes: The Arab Spring may be over, but the civilian uprisings in the Middle East have barely begun. The Middle East now finds itself in the state of flux that Karl Marx described as permanent revolution, the aspirations of its people permanently churning but never fulfilled There is no way for dictatorships to turn the clock back to 2011, and there is no desire from their populations to accept a status quo that permanently disenfranchises them. The powder is drier than it has ever been; all that is missing now is the next spark. – Foreign Policy
Francisco Serrano writes: The frequency of these attacks highlights the dangers posed by an uncertain political environment, widespread economic problems, and regional instability. But the fact that they have become less deadly over time also seems to underline the improvements that successive governments have made to Tunisia’s security apparatus. […]In the long run, improving security will require more than just military and policing solutions. – Middle East Institute
Israel Needs a Caucasus Strategy
By Dmitri Shufutinsky, December 16, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel must maintain its deep historic relationship with Azerbaijan, but the Jewish people also have common bonds with Armenians. Jerusalem must seek a larger role in the region to broker peace and prevent Iran and Turkey from gaining a foothold in the area.
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David Rosenberg writes: The Arab world’s problem is that it is relatively easy to oust a dictator but it’s much, much harder to change the fundamental nature of society. The Gulf states are trying to do it by spending and reforming, but the results are at best mixed. Revolutions are supposed to be catalysts for change, but anyone who believes that hasn’t read his history books carefully. Those hoping for a new and improved Arab Spring that delivers democracy and human rights should think again. – Haaretz
Omar Alshogre writes: If, like in Egypt, the Syrian revolution had ended in less than a month, we would not have learned so much about freedom, democracy, and human rights. Ten years of unrest will make Syrians the most capable people in the Middle East at rebuilding their country in the future. We will not make the same mistakes of other countries that have rid themselves of their dictators but are still trapped in corrupt systems. – Foreign Policy
Jeffrey Mankoff writes: In 2005, Putin famously said that the Soviet collapse represented the greatest geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century; less remarked on was his later observation that anyone wishing to restore it lacked a brain. As Eurasian geopolitics becomes increasingly complicated by the expansion of Chinese power, growing Turkish assertiveness, and questions about the durability of U.S. commitments, Russia’s ability to adapt and thrive should not be underestimated. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Robert O. Work writes: The purpose of this new concept is to help guide Joint Force doctrinal and programmatic development by describing a vision for human-machine collaborative battle networks waging high-intensity algorithmic operations against an opposing system of systems. This concept focuses on employing human-machine collaborative battle networks in the 2040 timeframe to guide force development beyond the current future-year defense plan. – Center for a New American Security
Earlier this week, Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video of the Avangard hypersonic-boost glide system being deployed in the Orenburg region near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan. […]The clip then showed several close-up shots of Avangard being installed onto a missile silo. “The complex technological operations last several hours,” read a Defense Ministry press statement accompanying the video.- The National Interest
Rachel Ellehuus and Donatienne Ruy write: By analyzing the internal causes of instability in littoral Mediterranean countries and external influence, the United States can craft a more effective strategy for the Mediterranean. Identifying common threats and opportunities throughout the Mediterranean and enhancing the ability of the United States and NATO to compete along the Southern Flank will be vital for continued success in this region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Will Sudan hand over Islamists to Egypt?
During a recent meeting, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the head of Sudan's Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan, discussed the handover of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood to Cairo.
Failure in Armenian conflict should cause American soul-searching
Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner
3 intelligence failures from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict need investigating
Michael Rubin | The National Interest
The Paradox of Precision: Nonstate Actors and Precision-Guided Weapons by Itamar Lifshitz and Ayal Meents
The Al-Masri Assassination: Another Iranian Intelligence Failure
By Dr. Ardavan Khoshnood, November 19, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: On August 7, 2020, the number 2 figure in al-Qaeda, Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah (known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri), was gunned down in Tehran. Al-Masri’s very presence in Iran exhibited the close relationship Tehran has with the Sunni terrorist organization, and his slaying shows the weakness of Iranian counterintelligence. The regime’s frustration at this intelligence failure will likely be expressed through acts of violence. It will probably reform its counterintelligence community and may ask for assistance in this endeavor from both Russia and China.
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Why Does Israel Execute Distant Enemies and Coddle Close Ones? by Nave Dromi
The Jewish Press
November 18, 2020
No, It’s Not Surprising That Abu Muhammad al-Masri Was Living in Iran
The Islamic Republic and al-Qaeda have a long history of cooperation.
DoD Needs to Relearn the (Almost) Lost Art of Net Assessment
By Bryan Clark & Dan Patt & Timothy A. Walton, Strategy Bridge: "Tough choices lie ahead for the U.S. Department of Defense. Government relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs to service the federal debt are expected to constrain discretionary spending, including spending on defense. At the same time its budgets are being squeezed, the U.S. military will need to address a peer competitor in China; creative Russian, Iranian, North Korean adversaries; and a potentially unaffordable approach to deterring and waging war."
The Need to Compete on Multiple Battlegrounds:
An Interview with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
By Octavian Manea, Small Wars Journal: "Increasingly we are seeing our adversaries attack our will to sustain our foreign policy and our efforts abroad."
Arabs Warn Biden: Do Not Embrace Islamists by Khaled Abu Toameh
Jihadi Reactions To The U.S.-Taliban Deal And Afghan Peace Talks
by Cole Bunzel via The Caravan Notebook
The US military, election campaigns, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith on the defense budget
Mackenzie Eaglen | "Defense & Aerospace Report"
Twin crises deepen Gulf states’ policy competition and independence
Karen E. Young | Global Discourse
Sharansky’s journeys From prison to politics to an exodus from Africa
Why the U.S. Can and Must Win the Race for Hypersonic Weapons
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “Winning the race to deploy hypersonic weapons will be one of the most important achievements in U.S. national security of the 21st Century."
Great Power Competition Comes Home to America
By Bradley Bowman & Shane Praiswater, Defense One: "Our leaders’ efforts to heal divisions among our fellow citizens are key to national defense."
Offensive Advantage and the Vanity of Ethics
By Kevin Kallmes, Notes on Liberty: “All military historians shake their heads in disappointment at the Maginot Line, which Hitler easily circumvented.”
Getting the Fait Accompli Problem Right in U.S. Strategy
By Michael Kofman, War on the Rocks: “The threat of territorial conquest by fait accompli is one of the central problem statements in U.S. defense planning."
Is China Speeding Up Military Modernisation? It May, but Not Yet
By Meia Nouwens, the interpreter: “Brain wave-reading threat detectors can dramatically increase a soldier’s ability to spot danger.”
Why the United States Needs to Rethink Its China Strategy
By Hashim Abid, Wavell Room: "America’s current strategy to prevent China’s rise in Eurasia is failing and needs to be rethought."
Nagorno-Karabakh: The Caucasus Time Machine
By Lev Stesin, November 4, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: No major power has attempted in earnest to mediate the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, and some have actively participated in keeping the situation ablaze. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been actively preparing for hostilities, but Armenia finds itself at a political and military disadvantage.
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Making Waves: Militant Maritime Operations Along Africa’s Eastern Coast by Tyler Lycan, Christopher Faulkner, and Austin C. Doctor
Arms Control and Great-Power Politics by Timothy Crawford and Khang Vu
The Pentagon’s recent effort to rebalance its resources against great-power competitors, such as China and Russia, places the commitment of US military resources to Africa in question. In a PRISM journal article, Katherine Zimmerman points out that while Africa may never be a top national security priority, a convergence of gains by state and non-state actors alike there affect US interests globally. Drawing down too far militarily in Africa risks losing influence on the continent to those very same state actors, erasing hard-fought counterterrorism gains, and compromising US global interests. Read the article here.
Fragility and failure: A better foreign policy to counter new threats
Katherine Zimmerman | October 2020
PROSPECTS FOR REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST; THE ORIGINS OF PALESTINIAN REJECTIONISM & THE ISLAMIST FOUNDATION OF PAKISTAN'S POLITICAL ECONOMY
Pakistan is bracing for more protests as an alliance of opposition parties builds momentum for a nationwide series of rallies calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. – Bloomberg
Pakistan: Thousands Gather for Anti-Government Protests. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Karachi Sunday as part of a campaign to oust Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who they accuse of being installed by the military in a rigged 2018 election. Al Jazeera Reuters
Hussein Ibish writes: The lesson for the Baghdad embassy, he tells me, is to look for an option between keeping the presence as it is and shutting it down altogether, both of which would be big mistakes. “But,” Silliman notes, “the first thing is to decide what the main purpose of the presence is, and then suit the infrastructure to fit the mission.” As with so much else about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the solution to this problem must start with Washington finally deciding what it wants to accomplish. – Bloomberg
Erdogan Declares War on Arabs by Khaled Abu Toameh
Alberto M. Fernandez writes: The Erdogan regime thinks it is being very clever, playing one power against another for its own benefit. But the overall result seems to be constant chaos and turmoil which an already burdened West is forced to manage and try to contain. Even if there was some benefit to the U.S. from Turkish aggression in the Caucasus – and such a benefit seems to be tiny if not invisible – it would seem that this long and growing list of Turkey’s regional actions hostile to the U.S. far outweighs any possible benefit from its latest misadventure. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Is Israel Victory Still Needed?
Yes, it offers the only path to end Palestinian rejectionismby Daniel Pipes
October 7, 2020
ISIS’ David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian: Looking for evidence of the construction of Iran’s new centrifuge assembly plant: New possible preparations identified
READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
September 2020 Map Update: Al Houthi “Balanced Deterrence” Campaign | Jessica Kocan
Why Palestinians Will Not Accept Advice from Arabs by Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinians: What Failure Looks Like by Khaled Abu Toameh
Pakistan’s Navy is racing to plug operational and technological gaps as part of an unprecedented modernization effort, according to the outgoing naval chief, but analysts are divided on whether the move will deter adversaries. – Defense News
Will They Or Won't They? Saudi Recognition of Israel Is the $64,000 Question
By Dr. James M. Dorsey
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Will the Saudis formalize relations with Israel or will they not? Odds are that Saudi Arabia is not about to formalize relations with Israel—but the kingdom, its image tarnished by multiple missteps, is seeking to ensure that it is not perceived as the odd man out as smaller Gulf states establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
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Micah Levinson on Prospects for Revolutions in the Middle East by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
September 30, 2020
Beware Pakistan's Radical Barelvis by Sam Westrop
September 30, 2020
The Danger of Dawat-e-Islami by J.M. Phelps
November 18, 2020
Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s planners assess that naval threats to Iran are increasing. Iran held a drill with the Russian and Chinese navies last year. Iran’s drones have harassed US ships. Now Iran’s missiles are in play as well, as it invests more heavily in military installations along the Gulf coast and adjacent to the Gulf of Oman. Iran has also drilled to attack a mock US aircraft carrier over the last several years. Iran has made mistakes though, sometimes firing on its own ships. – Jerusalem Post
Shirin Ebadi, Abbas Milani, and Hamid Moghadam write: In spite of its radical rhetoric and bravura, the Islamic regime has shown that it responds only to credible international pressure. It must be made to understand that with such egregious breaches of human rights, they have no place in the civilized community of nations. Suspending the regime from sports leagues and international legal organizations is the first step to delivering that powerful message. – The Hill
David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: This summer, Iran decided to construct a new underground centrifuge assembly plant, following the destruction of the above ground one at the Natanz enrichment site on July 2, 2020. […]Because of the added difficulties of building an underground site, the completion of a new centrifuge assembly plant able to assemble thousands of advanced centrifuges per year is unlikely in 2021. – Institute for Science and International Security
Andrew Greco writes: The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continued to deploy to greater Idlib Province between April 1 and October 7, 2020, despite Turkey striking a de-escalation deal with Russia on March 5, 2020.[…]These new deployments have likely resulted in higher overall troop levels, even after Turkey withdrew “hundreds” of TSK and proxy forces on September 8 and continued to deploy Syrian fighters to Libya and Azerbaijan – Institute of the Study of War
Abdullah Al-Jabassini writes: To decrease the likelihood of a regime crackdown, local armed actors should collaborate to fill the security vacuum and end the current state of lawlessness.[…]Without a serious call for action and collaboration, southern Syria is doomed to be a battlefield on which the “sons of the land” are merely the pawns and the victims of internal and external actors. – Middle East Institute
Karagül further stressed that Turkey is spreading throughout the whole region the powerful political wave that started in Anatolia. Turkey’s geopolitical mind is now in South Caucasus, and united with Azerbaijan, it has formed a surprising power. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Nawzad A Shukri writes: A withdrawal of US troops would also almost certainly lead to the collapse of the Iraqi security forces, allowing Iranian-backed Shia militias to dominate the country. ISIS would re-emerge, and instability and ethnic-sectarian conflicts would spread across Iraq. More importantly, a US withdrawal would create political vacuums in Iraq that would almost certainly be filled by Iran and its allies. All these developments would undermine the US and its allies’ position and interests, and would significantly change the regional balance of power in favor of Iran. – Jerusalem Post
David Pollock writes: Nevertheless, for now, it seems doubtful that even this truly unusual combination of allies will enable Azerbaijan to recapture all of its disputed territory. […]The most likely scenario, however, is that Baku’s skill at keeping unlikely bedfellows together will continue to preserve its own core interests without altering the fundamental tensions at stake. Neither Israel nor Iran is poised to gain a decisive advantage from either one’s ties with Azerbaijan, which is just the way Baku wants it. – Washington Institute
George Barros writes: It is unclear whether Kyrgyz forces will participate in the Unbreakable Brotherhood given intensifying protests in Bishkek. A Kyrgyz withdrawal from the Unbreakable Brotherhood would likely grant the Kremlin greater opportunity to repurpose the exercises. – Institute for the Study of War
Dan Gouré writes: In addition to long-range, more accurate weapons, the U.S. military needs a revolution in long-range surveillance and targeting. This requires not just deploying more and better sensors but developing advanced data management and analytic capabilities with a heavy reliance on artificial intelligence. The combination of highly lethal fires at all ranges and near-real time precision targeting will change the way the joint force fights in the future. – The National Interest
(War on the Rocks) After decades of spending trillions of dollars on fruitless wars, Americans are getting frustrated with the Middle East.
Derek Scissors writes: It is a cliché to say that getting our own house in order should always be the top priority, but it is also right. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an economic predator, and stronger American responses, even closing certain sectors to China entirely, are overdue. These responses must be based on sound information, such as exactly how and where Chinese state ownership makes it impossible for Americans to compete. Not only is the US the world’s dominant economy, but it can be indefinitely. – American Enterprise Institute
Scott Livingston writes: China’s efforts to formalize CCP control of its commercial sector will have significant ramifications for international trade, forcing more liberal market economies to decide how much state intervention they are willing to tolerate in their trading partners. […]The fact that China has released this opinion at a time of heightened U.S. scrutiny over the government’s links to Huawei and TikTok suggests that China feels confident enough in its system that it is now prepared to advance and defend it on the global stage. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
From 9/11 to Khashoggi: The Saudi Islamist State Within a State (Part III of III)
By Irina Tsukerman, October 4, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Is there a connection between the peak of Islamist activity in Saudi Arabia and current events and controversies, including the unsolved death of former Saudi intelligence officer Jamal Khashoggi, who once assisted Turki Faisal? A growing body of evidence points toward links between some former Saudi government officials swept up in new corruption probes under Muhammad bin Salman and Islamist activity under the Crown Prince’s predecessors. Khashoggi was likely a key witness to all of it, and his knowledge may have doomed him.
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Taliban assaults Helmand capital as U.S. officials plead for a ‘reduction in violence’
U.S. officials continue to maintain that the Taliban committed to a "reduction in violence" as part of the withdrawal agreement. The deal says no such thing, and the Taliban continues to mount attacks.
Sam Westrop on the "Sinister" Mission of Islamic Relief by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
October 14, 2020
Will Russia recruit Syrian Kurds to fight in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict?
While Russia will likely avoid direct involvement in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, there are signs it could draw lessons from Libya and recruit fighters from Syria to do its bidding.
Cairo pushes for military agreements in Libya
Following talks in the Egyptian city of Hurghada, Egypt is supporting Libya’s warring sides as they discuss how to dismantle the militias and unify Libya’s military institutions.
Nasser Died Fifty Years Ago
He Lives on in Egyptby Daniel Pipes
September 28, 2020
Erdogan weighs next moves in Libya after Sarraj's departure
Ankara is keen to preserve its influence over the Tripoli government and several figures with close ties to Turkey are eyeing the prime minister’s post after the impending departure of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
From 9/11 to Khashoggi: The Saudi Islamist State Within a State (Part II of III)
By Irina Tsukerman, October 2, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The role of Islamists in hijacking Saudi governance and major regional Arab and Muslim institutions has long been overlooked. A recent interview with a former Saudi intelligence official who was witness to key events highlights some of the actors who financed extremism and whose role in the planning of 9/11 and other terrorist activity has been ignored for nearly two decades.
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AFRICA FILE: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE AFRICAN SALAFI-JIHADI MOVEMENT
Surveying the state of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa is a bleak exercise. Insurgencies are entrenched or expanding across broad swathes of western and eastern Africa, with a new insurgency developing rapidly in Mozambique. The situation is more positive in North Africa, where counterterrorism campaigns have weakened Salafi-jihadi groups significantly in recent years.
Ethiopia. Unrest across several regional states is threatening Ethiopia’s fragile political reforms and risks destabilizing the country.
Somalia. Al Shabaab is escalating attacks in an attempt to disrupt Somalia’s upcoming elections.
Libya. Libyan security forces killed a foreign Islamic State senior leader in the country’s contested southwest.
West Africa. Islamic State affiliates are drawing defectors from rival Salafi-jihadi groups in West Africa. An al Qaeda ally will likely remain dominant in the Sahel, however.
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"The US is unprepared for Africa’s growing terror threat
How the Trump Plan Makes Peace Possible by Douglas J. Feith and Lewis Libby
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2020 (view PDF)
Welcome to a Brand-New Middle East
Israel’s pacts with the UAE and Bahrain go far beyond the tenuous “cold peace” with Egypt and Jordan. They could even help end the conflict with the Palestinians.
Adam Lammon writes: Turkey has long relied on proxy groups to stabilize its southern border with Syria as well as to push back on both President Bashar al-Assad’s regime offensives and the Syrian Kurdish YPG’s aspirations for autonomy and independence. Despite that Azerbaijan has denounced reports that Syrians are fighting on its behalf, and both Ankara and Baku are contending that it is actually Armenia who has brought in “mercenaries and terrorists” from abroad, media has been abuzz with evidence to the contrary. – The National Interest
Desmond Lachman writes: Failure by Turkey to get a handle soon on its currency crisis will certainly be bad for the Turkish economy. However, we would be making a mistake to think that a full-blown Turkish currency crisis would be confined to that country’s shores. Indeed, with a corporate sector that has more than US$300 billion in externally denominated debt that is held in large part by the European banking system, a further decline in the Turkish exchange rate could have untoward economic consequences as well for the rest of Europe. – American Enterprise Institute