What Rouhani’s visit to Iraq tells us about Iran’s Syria policy
The Iranian president’s recent visit to Iraq and a possible first trip to Syria since his taking office in 2013 indicate a growing role for the Rouhani administration on regional files.
Rouhani’s Iraq visit raises important questions for Israel
Does Israel see Rouhani's visit to Iraq as strengthening his hand in Iran? One answer could be that while Rouhani was in Baghdad, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi was elected deputy chief of the Assembly of Experts.
How Pakistan navigates the Saudi Arabia–Iran rivalry
Karen E. Young | United States Institute of Peace
Karen Young discusses Pakistan's relations with the Gulf states and the implications for regional security with Ankit Panda, senior editor of The Diplomat, and Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, moderated by Amb. Richard Olson, former ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
The Caravan: Toward a Middle East Strategy
via The CaravanIssue 1921 of The Caravan is now available online. The journal is a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East.
The Collapsing Strategic Context
by Charles Hill via The CaravanIn designing an optimal American strategy toward the Middle East, two factors stand out. One is that now, as most always in the past, the climate of opinion is both “this is the last chance for peace” and “this is a time when nothing can be done”. The second is that whatever happens in the region at this point in the 21st century will affect and be affected by negative and dangerous new trends in the other power centers of the world: China, Russia, the U.S., and even the European Union.
FROM KABUL TO BAGHDAD: US WAR EFFORT IN MESOPOTAMIA-AFGHANISTAN, THE REVIEW & HOW TO KEEP EURASIA DIVIDED
The US Does Not Lose Much by Withdrawing from Afghanistan By Emil Avdaliani
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In December 2018, the Trump administration announced that its military will start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months. Though the decision seems an abrupt shift in the US’s 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, it fits into the American grand strategy of keeping Eurasia divided.
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Barbara A. Leaf and Bilal Wahab write: In addition to building Iraq’s capacity to curb the Islamic State’s resurgence, the U.S. defense relationship anchors a wide array of international actors to the larger effort of reintegrating the country into the regional community. Breaking Iraq out of its isolation and helping it regain stability through deepened economic and political relations with Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf would give Baghdad the means to regain full sovereignty over its affairs and resist Iranian interference. While many of the Iraqi characters in the 2011 political drama that ended the U.S. military presence remain in place, Washington has a wholly different cast of policymakers set to repeat—or, hopefully, avoid—that mistake. – Washington Institute
Don't blame Afghanistan for blowing whistle on Zalmay Khalilzad
(Washington Examiner) The problem is that Khalilzad may also have a personal agenda when it comes to Afghanistan.
Peace in Afghanistan: The Tumultuous Road Ahead
By Archana Atmakuri & Roshni Kapur, the interpreter: “Afghanistan is probably the first country where a democratically elected government is not a party to the peace agreement. Its absence in a process to determine the future of its nation has raised questions over its legitimacy and power."
ALGERIA: SEEKING EXTENSION OF 4TH TERM, THE FLM ABORTIVE REVOLUTION CONTINUES; AFRICAN CONGO IN THE NEWS
Algerian president refuses protesters' demands he step down
Algeria’s longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in a letter published on Monday that he will not step down despite mass protests demanding his resignation. Instead the ailing 82-year-old stressed the need to hold a national conference that would pave the way for a new constitution and a new president. Algeria’s newly appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has started talks to form a new government, which is expected to include technocrats with no political affiliation.
Meanwhile, Algerian Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra and Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel arrived in Russia today for a visit. Russia is an important strategic and trade partner for the north African country. Read More
Salim Abdullah el-Haj writes: In the past several weeks, peaceful mass protests have spread through the streets of Algeria in response to the announcement that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika would run for a new term in the upcoming presidential elections. In an attempt to calm the Algerian street, Bouteflika was forced to make a statement last Monday declaring his intention to abandon his bid for a fifth term. […]Nevertheless, the scenes of protest continue in a manner reminiscent of the Arab Spring, when young people across a number of Arab countries also took to the streets to demand new economic and social prospects. – Washington Institute
Amr Salah writes: Thus, even excluding any discussion of another Arab Spring, what is happening now in both Sudan and Algeria—which may spread to other countries—should be taken as a chance to draw attention to the possibility of new wave of political unrest in a volatile region. Considering the ongoing regional crises, which range from terrorism to civil conflicts, proxy wars, a stagnant Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and the Gulf crisis, it is plausible that any additional source of tension could exacerbate these extant issues and spark a more overt political unrest. – Washington Institute
New Algerian prime minister begins Cabinet formation talks
Algeria’s newly appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has started talks to form a new government, state media reported Sunday. Algiers has vowed that the new Cabinet will include technocrats with no political affiliation and “reflect the demographics of the Algerian society.” The new government is a bid to defuse public anger and curb more than three weeks of mass protests against longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. However, 13 Algerian unions announced today that they will not support Bedoui's efforts after tens of thousands of Algerians on Friday staged the biggest mass protest since the unrest began. Read More aljazeera.com
New government in Algeria expected next week
Algeria's new Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui said Thursday that Algiers will form a new government early next week. The new government is a bid to defuse tensions after demonstrators rejected President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to postpone next month's elections. “This government will have a short period, and its role is to be the support for the national conference and what Algerians agree upon,” Bedoui said, adding that the new Cabinet will include technocrats and young people representing the protest movement. Bouteflika’s office has agreed to draft a new constitution after protesters forced the ailing 82-year-old to drop his bid for a fifth term.
Algeria: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82, said Monday he would not seek a fifth presidential term, but demonstrators continued to gather this week, some skeptical of the plan to cancel the presidential election in April.
Why Algerian protesters aren't satisfied with Bouteflika's latest 'concession'
After protesters rejected President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s offer to step down after one year should he be re-elected, his latest announcement that he will extend his fourth term is being met with more anger.
Algeria postpones elections as president drops bid for fifth term
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced Monday that he would drop his bid for a fifth term in office following weeks of mass protests against his 20-year rule. “My health and my age only permit me to fulfill my last duty toward the Algerian people — [that] is to work on laying the foundations of a new republic,” the ailing 82-year-old president said in a letter. However, he also said he would extend his current term while postponing the elections, which had been planned for April. A new constitution will also be put to a national referendum. Bouteflika said he would conduct a government reshuffle and assigned Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui to form the new Cabinet after Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia resigned. Read More
Next Bloodbath Could Erupt At Algeria
By BENNY AVNI, Special to the Sun | March 13, 2019
Thousands of Algerians poured into the streets Tuesday, and Americans should watch carefully as Arab Spring 2.0 threatens to wreak havoc on North Africa and beyond.
The uprising first erupted three weeks ago, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to run for re-election on April 18. The 82-year-old has been in power for 20 years, but for a decade Algerians have hardly heard his voice or seen his picture.
Veteran diplomat to chair conference on Algeria’s political future
Algeria on Tuesday tasked veteran diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi with chairing a conference on the country’s political future amid mass protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Brahimi will chair a conference with representatives from the protest movement and independence-era war veterans to draft a new constitution and set a date for elections. Bouteflika announced this week that he would not run for a fifth term but postponed next month's poll. Protesters continued to demand his resignation on Tuesday. Read More
Moscow monitors situation in Algeria as protests continue
Russia is watching widespread Algerian protests with caution, wanting to preserve its assets in the country, as well as its strategic relationship.
NEW GEO-STRATEGIC IDEAS FOR SOUTH WEST ASIA-POLAND'S 'FORT TRUMP', WITH MOTHER RUSSIA IN MIND & POLITICALLY-STRATEGIC TONE DEAFNESS FROM THE NEW YORKER ON NEAR EAST SECTARIANISM
Learning Painful Lessons From Afghanistan
By Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, War Room: “When the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) finally closed shop in Afghanistan in 2014, many participating nations professed a weariness with complex, civil-military, out-of-area operations. These operations demanded close, often awkward, relationships of cooperation, co-existence, and confrontation between different civil and military actors."
Toward 'Fort Trump': US Makes Poland a 'Serious Robust Offer' // Katie Bo WilliamsU.S. Defense Undersecretary for Policy John Rood met Wednesday in Warsaw with Polish defense officials to negotiate a permanent presence of U.S. forces in the former Soviet satellite, a project long sought by Poland that it has pitched to the U.S. as “Fort Trump.”
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The U.S. And the Need for a New Block in South Asia
By Anil Sigdel, RealClearDefense: “Ideally, for the U.S., a united block in South Asia under India's leadership would mean to either help control Chinese inroads into the region or provide some support to promote and uphold the liberal architecture. However, such thinking overlooked at least two important factors, if not more."
Options for Peace in the Continuing War in Afghanistan
By Suzanne Schroeder, Divergent Options: “The goal of a defeated Taliban has proven to be outside of the realm of realistic expectations, and pursing this end does not advance American standing."
Can the Taliban Movement Become a Meaningful Diplomatic Actor?
By Farkhondeh Akbari, the interpreter: “The Taliban are not necessarily looking for a win-win outcome. They can easily break away from a peace agreement and continue fighting if their demands are not met."
Gerasimov Unveils Russia’s ‘Strategy of Limited Actions’
By Roger McDermott, Eurasia Daily Monitor: “It is highly likely that Gerasimov’s speech, as well as others during the conference, will play a role in the formulation of Russia’s the new military doctrine ordered by President Vladimir Putin in December 2018."
Technology, Uncertainty, and Future War
By Chris Tuck, Defence-In-Depth: “It would seem reasonable to assert that the role played by technology on future battlefields will depend to an important extent on the sorts of wars in which that technology will be used."
Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Reformer.by Cynthia Farahat
Middle East Quarterly
Iraqi Kurds urge their Syrian cousins to make peace with Damascus
Al-Monitor speaks with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani about Iraqi Kurdistan's relationship with Baghdad, trade with Iran and why Turkey must negotiate with the PKK.
Why Has Palestinian Nationalism Failed? By Dr. Alex Joffe, March 7, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Warsaw Conference demonstrated that the popularity of the Palestinian cause continues to decline, suggesting that Palestinian nationalism has failed. Historically, the positive elements of Palestinian nationalism have been offset by its negative features, including reliance on antisemitism and negation of the Other. Pressures from above, in the form of Arab and Islamic identities, and tribal and clan pressures from below have impeded the development of a stable national identity. At the same time, strong state security institutions protect elites while weak social welfare institutions create dependence, mostly on foreign aid. While continued development of the Palestinian economy is encouraging, the contradictions of Palestinian nationalism are not easily resolved.
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Mkhaimar Abusada writes: Ultimately, it is safe to say that Hamas and Fatah have reached the point of no return; there is no chance of ending the political division and restoring Palestinian unity in the foreseeable future. The Hamas-Fatah political competition, divergent political ideologies, and their special interests have poisoned any chance of reconciliation between them. Moreover, the PA is not ready to discuss power sharing with Hamas in Gaza. – Washington Institute
THE HOUSE OF SAUD IS BROKEN: RIFT BETWEEN KING AND SON GROWS OVER YEMENI CIVIL WAR, ALGERIA AND DOMESTIC REFORM AGENDA
Testimony: Taking the lead back in Yemen
Katherine Zimmerman | House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism
America has vital national security interests in Yemen and must retake a leadership role to be more secure and shape the actions of its allies.
Can Saudi Arabia afford a stimulus?
Karen Young | Al-Monitor
In addition to commitments of direct financial support to central banks, aid, and foreign direct investment by state companies to a number of regional governments made over the past year, Saudi Arabia also plans a massive stimulus package in infrastructure spending to prompt domestic growth.
Balakot, Deterrence, and Risk: How This India-Pakistan Crisis Will Shape the Next by Arzan Tarapore
Read This If You Want to Sound Smart on National Security Q&A with Ryan Evans by Tobin Harshaw (Bloomberg)
India’s China Problem in Pakistan
Shashi Tharoor blames Chinese diplomacy for enabling terrorist leaders to operate freely.
Pakistan has ‘full-fledged plan’ to take out terrorist groups, while denying their existence
For years, Pakistani officials and military commanders have denied the existence of terrorist groups operating on Pakistani soil, and concurrently claimed that they are taking action against the same non-existent terrorist groups.
Myra MacDonald writes: It was in the fractious environment of Afghanistan’s civil war that an extreme form of Islamism – including the takfiri ideology that thrives on declaring other Muslims apostates – took root. […] Both older and newer arrivals took sides in the Afghan factionalism, ignoring advice from Azzam that they should refuse to be sucked into Afghan in-fighting. Among these was bin Laden. – War on the Rocks
Russian special forces train Palestinian militia in Syria
Russian special forces are reported to have held a training event for the pro-regime Palestinian militia, Liwa al Quds.
Pakistan PM’s political party welcomes Harakat-ul-Mujahideen emir into ranks
If Pakistan was sincere about tackling terrorists groups and their leaders and operatives, Khalil would be at the top of the target list. Instead, he has been welcomed with open arms into Imran Khan's political party.
Pakistan claims to ‘crack down’ on Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Again.
If the past is any guide, the efforts are merely eyewash to placate Western governments in the wake of major terror attacks emanating from Pakistani soil. Pakistan has claimed it has shut down JuD offices and detained its top leaders in the past, only to allow the offices to reopen and the leaders free months later.
A South Asian Threat in America by Sam Westrop
India and Pakistan are a brewing nuclear nightmare
(Bloomberg) India’s election and Pakistan’s economic crisis are coming at a bad time.
China has praised Pakistan’s “restraint” and willingness to talk with India to ease tensions between the two countries after a deadly bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir last month. – Reuters
Three senior Western diplomats said international reaction leaned toward India, which has long been seen as a victim of Pakistani-sponsored militancy. There was a lack of condemnation over the strikes into Pakistan. India is seen as an increasingly crucial ally to the U.S. and the West because of its economic growth and as a strategic hedge against an assertive China. […]The government in Islamabad has also been recalibrating its political alliances, turning away from the West and leaning toward countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. – Bloomberg
Ahmed Rashid writes: Pakistan should prosecute the perpetrators of the Kashmir attack. And once India forms a new government, the United States, Britain and the United Nations, whose response to the current crisis has been slow, must encourage India to restart dialogue with Mr. Khan. Simultaneously, Islamabad must start dismantling the terrorist groups operating from its soil. Mr. Modi must stop his relentless use of lethal force in Kashmir and end his stubborn refusal to hold talks. A return to back-channel diplomacy is necessary, and the Musharraf-Manmohan peace process needs to be dusted off and looked at again. – New York Times
NETANYAHU'S POLITICAL LIFE ON THE LINE, MANGLED OSLO & QATARI TAKES THE RUSSIAN S400; ISRAEL GETS US THaad MISSILE SYSTEM
NORMAN A. BAILEY Implications of the election in IsraelIncumbent PM Netanyahu's legal problems and the rise of a new centrist party are setting the stage for a new national unity government
Is Israel headed for national unity government?
According to current polls, neither Likud nor Blue and White alliance would be able to assemble a governing coalition after elections, raising a number of even more unlikely scenarios for doing so.
Bret Stephens writes: When the final chapter on Benjamin Netanyahu’s political life is written — and it may be a long time from now — he is likely to go down as the Richard Nixon of Israel: politically cunning, strategically canny, toxically flawed. The flaws came further to light on Thursday when Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he would indict the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. – New York Times
Netanyahu launches election campaign
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off the election campaign for his right-wing Likud Party on Monday with a speech lashing out at his rivals. Netanyahu painted his opponents Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid from the centrist Blue and White party as “dangerous and irresponsible leftists.” He accused them of trying to hide their true political leanings, comparing them unfavorably to former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the Oslo Accord with Palestinian leadership. The Blue and White party is expected to present its political agenda today. Netanyahu spoke alone, refraining from presenting fellow Likud Knesset members on stage as he has in previous campaigns. He also made no reference to the pending corruption-related indictments against him. Read More
Qatar defies Saudi Arabia with deal for Russian missile defense system
Qatar announced Monday that it is still reviewing an offer to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, slamming rival Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the deal. Talks on the deal began when Doha and Moscow signed a military agreement in 2017, but the deal has stalled amid the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. “We believe that for Saudi Arabia or any other country, it is not their business,” Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a press conference alongside his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The French daily Le Monde reported last year that Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has threatened military action against Qatar should it proceed with the S-400 purchase. Read More
US deploys THAAD missile-defense system in Israel
The United States confirmed Monday that it has temporarily deployed its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in Israel for a joint military exercise. THAAD is the most advanced US air and missile defense system, and this is its first deployment in Israel. It is currently deployed at the Nevatim air base but will soon be transported to an undisclosed location in southern Israel. Read More
Disqualification battle camouflages real danger to Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exploiting a fraudulent symmetry between Kahane’s racial doctrine and a minority’s struggle for equal rights to incite against Israel’s Arab citizens.
Egyptian-Iranian relations: Where are they now?
It's often hard to tell whether Cairo and Tehran will embrace or break up.
Egypt’s unemployment rate declines to pre-revolution levels amid economic recovery
Although the Egyptian government is initiating programs to encourage work in the private sector, some graduates still see unemployment as a threat to young people.
Will latest interest rate hike break Tunisia’s back?
Following Tunisia's third interest rate hike in 12 months, economic and political experts sound the alarm on shrinking purchasing power while the nation's largest trade union calls for protests.
THE FIRST ARAB SPRING: ALGERIA, A FAILED REVOLUTION STRUGGLES; EGYPT TALKS LIBYAN ELECTIONS & TUNISIA
In Algeria, hope for the best but prepare for the worst
Emily Estelle | AEIdeas
The Algerian lawyers’ union starts a four-day strike to protest President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.
Algeria’s president vows to step down after one year if re-elected
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Sunday vowed to step down after one year should he win re-election in April. The promise comes amid mass protests against his bid for a fifth term throughout the country. The ailing 81-year-old president, who last addressed his country more than six years ago, made the announcement via a letter read on state media as he formally submitted his candidacy. At least 183 people were injured during demonstrations on Friday when police tried to stop protesters from advancing toward the presidential palace. Read More
Will Algerian protesters accept ailing president’s offer for reforms?
Against a background of growing dissent, Algeria’s ailing president has confirmed his intention to run in April’s elections; however, whether a commitment to reform and a fresh vote within the year, delivered by proxy, will be enough to quell protest remains uncertain.
Eight years on, how is Morocco recovering from Arab Spring?
The popular protests demanding political reforms eight years ago in Morocco have turned into social movements.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82, is facing the country’s strongest protest movement in years, with demonstrators accusing his government of widespread corruption and urging him to step down.
The protests started after the president announced he would run for a fifth term in office. In response, he pledged to undertake reforms and step down after the next elections. But it does not appear to have quelled the angry demonstrations, as some protesters have accused him of simply maneuvering to buy time.
The plan “will find my successor in a manner incontrovertibly peaceful, free and transparent,” he said. He also pledged to organize a national referendum for “a new constitution which will mark the birth of a new republic and a new Algerian political system.”
Bouteflika has made very few public appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013, fueling speculation the Algerian government is being run by a cadre of his senior advisors and generals behind the scenes.
Former Algerian minister resigns from parliament amid electoral protests
A former minister from Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front resigned on Monday from parliament and as member of the NLF amid ongoing demonstrations against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s re-election bid for a fifth term. Sidi Ferroukhi, who previously served as minister of agriculture, said he made his decision in solidarity with the protesters, though he did not single out Bouteflika by name. Nonetheless, he said Algeria is going through exceptional changes that require leaders to listen to people’s demands. The ailing 81-year-old Bouteflika has not addressed the country in six years and has vowed to step down after one year should he win re-election in April. Read More
Egypt holds talks on Libya elections with Algeria and Tunisia
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria met in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss Libya and the need to hold elections to stabilize the divided country. The ministers also addressed efforts to unify Libya’s state institutions, including the army. The meeting comes after Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the rival government close to Khalifa Hifter in the east agreed last week to hold elections. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the UN-backed government said on Tuesday elections would be held by the end of the year.
Separately, the Egyptian army conducted military exercises near the Libyan border. Libya’s volatile security situation has allowed arms and militants to pour into Egypt. Read More
Tunisia schedules third elections since 2011 revolution
Tunisia’s electoral commission announced Wednesday that it will hold parliamentary elections in October and the first round of presidential elections in November. The elections will be the country’s third since the 2011 Jasmine revolution. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed broke away from the ruling Nidaa Tounes party in January, forming Tahya Tounes after months of feuding with Nidaa Tunes leader Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is President Beji Caid Essebsi’s son. Read More
Threat Update and recommended reads:
Tens of thousands of Algerians are demanding political change in a direct challenge to the regime.
Algeria’s Bouteflika warns of 'chaos' as protests against his rule intensify
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika warned protesters rallying against his run for a fifth consecutive term of “chaos” as thousands took to the streets today. The ailing 82-year-old president sent the letter, carried by state news agencies, from Switzerland where he has been convalescing since last month. The letter warned of infiltration by any “treacherous internal or foreign group” that “may lead to sedition and chaos and resulting crises and woes.” Algerian lawyers and doctors joined the protests Thursday, demanding to know who signed off on Bouteflika’s medical certificate needed to run again. The president has vowed to step down after a year should he win re-election. Read More
SAUDI'S DOUBLE DOWN ON YEMENI CIVIL WAR WITH IRAN; RIYADH PLAYS AN OLD ANTISEMITIC GAME AGAINST ISRAEL
In his November 14, 2018 column in the Al-Riyadh daily, Saudi writer ‘Abdallah Bin Bakhit wrote sarcastically that whoever wants to understand “the Jewish conspiracy against the world” must acknowledge the reasons for the Jews’ success in the West and the reasons for the Arabs’ backwardness there. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Elisa Catalano Ewers and Nicholas Heras write: H.J. Res. 37 is a rebuke of the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition’s prosecution of the war – which has caused the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis – and the U.S. role in supporting the coalition’s military activities. […]Beyond the serious undertaking of addressing the U.S. role in the Yemen conflict, the resolution has other strategic potential if Congress pursues it constructively. Review of this legislation and continued oversight work may succeed in sparking a sustainable debate on the future role of the United States in Yemen’s conflict, the U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-U.A.E. relationships, and more broadly, on the proper role of the United States in the Middle East and its conflicts. – Center for a New American Security
WHAT'S BEHIND THE PARALYSIS OF PALESTINIAN POLITICS
PA AUTHORITY CAPTURES HAMAS TERROR CELL
PA PROTESTORS WANT ABBAS TO STEP DOWN
PALESTINIANS CONTINUE SOCIAL POLITICAL POLICY OF 'PAY-FOR-SLAY'.
Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister, Serraj al-Fayez, and the military commander of its eastern half, Khalifa Haftar, have met and agreed that national elections are necessary, the United Nations said on Thursday. – Reuters
Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The current focus of America’s short attention span – on withdrawing from Syria and making exaggerated claims about the defeat of ISIS – will only make things worse. The same is true of the U.S. failures to try to shape some coherent approach to a wide range of other issues in the region. […]What the U.S. cannot afford to do, however, is to keep on focusing on short-term issues, lurching from one set of poorly defined goals to another, and spending more on defense without far better-defined plans and strategic objectives. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Theodore Karasik and Giorgio Cafiero write: In the near future, Arab Gulf monarchies are likely to apply pressure on Tunisia to influence its relations with Syria. The sheikdoms of the Arabian Peninsula — with the notable exception(s) of Qatar and possibly Saudi Arabia — will aim to facilitate a smooth reincorporation of the Assad regime into the regional order, yielding results in line with their interests and concerns. […]Nevertheless, the centrifugal forces that are pulling Syria back into the Arab fold seem set to continue going forward, and Tunisia will likely play an important role in the process. – Middle East Institute
HUNTING BIN LADEN'S SON, TALIBAN'S SUICIDE BOMBERS & THE RETURN OF PESHMERGA TO KIRKUK; WHY THE KURDS DON'T HAVE A NATION STATE (ONE WORD: GOVERNANCE)
Taliban suicide team attacks Afghan base in Helmand
While Afghan and Coalition officials claim the assault was "repelled," the Taliban clearly entered the base and inflicted casualties on Afghan forces.
US offers $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden
The State Department announced today that it is offering a $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden's whereabouts. Hamza is the genetic and ideological heir of al Qaeda's founder and he has been groomed for a leadership position within the organization.
Peshmerga’s return to Kirkuk raises Arab and Turkmen fears
The good relationship between Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Massoud Barzani, has led to an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil that will see the return of peshmerga forces to Kirkuk.
Michael Rubin writes: Kurdish officials like to distract from accountability for their own management failings by blaming Baghdad, unfriendly neighbors, a lack of recognition for their ills, or any other bogeymen real or imagined. Perhaps it is time for Kurdish residents, diplomats, and potential investors to question just how a region like Somaliland with a similar history, equivalent population, and the same geopolitical problems has emerged from war and destruction not only as a democracy, but also with a far healthier and more reform-minded economy than Iraqi Kurdistan’s. – 1001 Iraqi Thoughts
Iranian Kurds: Between the Hammer and the Anvil By Ofra Bengio, March 5, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The new strategy toward Iran taken by Donald Trump, which includes withdrawing from the nuclear deal, imposing sanctions on Tehran, and isolating it internationally, created expectations among the Kurdish national movement in Iran that its common interests with the US would help it gain American support in fighting the regime in Tehran. To the movement’s dismay, this commonality of interests has not been translated into practical terms – unlike US policy toward the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Compared to the other Kurdish populations, the Iranian Kurds have remained isolated and silenced.
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As democracy disappears, Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s legacy is in tatters
Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner
WAR ON THE ROCKS TACKLES THE ISLAMIC STATE & BEGIN SADAT CENTER IN ISRAEL REVEALS WHY TALKING TO TALIBAN IS USELESS & WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SAUDI LED ISRAELI COALITION
The Saudi-Israeli Coalition?
By Arie Egozi, Tuesday, February 26, 2019 9:52 PM
An Israeli source who spoke with Breaking Defense of condition of anonymity said that attitudes in Saudi Arabia are changing, “not only in domestic issues, but also their understanding that Israel is not an enemy…”
Haroro J. Ingram and Craig Whiteside write: The Islamic State movement has demonstrated an equanimity — even a desire — to be misunderstood and underestimated by its foes. It is hard to believe that a group with as high a profile as the Islamic State can be underestimated. Yet that is its history. – War on the Rocks
US-Taliban Dialogue Is an Exercise in Naiveté
By Jagdish N. Singh, February 24, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The ongoing US-Taliban dialogue is devoid of logic. The mission of the US troops in Afghanistan is still far from complete. Washington must take the Taliban’s jihadist ideology and past record into account. They are not to be trusted.
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Only the Full Defeat of Hamas Can Ensure Israel's Security by Oded Forer
The Jerusalem Post
February 24, 2019
Eli Lake writes: Zarif’s resignation means very little for Iran’s relationship with the West. Indeed, it may provide Europe with a clarifying moment. This is because Zarif’s main job was to persuade his interlocutors that Iran was a normal nation-state and not a predatory rogue. […] In this sense, Zarif’s resignation is welcome news. He was never going to moderate the Iranian regime. His job was to con Westerners into thinking Iran’s regime was moderating. With his departure, the civilized world has one less excuse for failing to see what has been in front of its nose all along. – Bloomberg
N Mozes writes: Having established its status and presence in Syria, it appears that Iran, which has a great deal of influence in Lebanon’s political system and daily life via Hizbullah, now seeks to further strengthen its direct control of the country by infiltrating its institutions and its vital areas, first and foremost the military and also energy and health. This is aimed at, among other things, opening up the Lebanese market for Iranian goods, which have a very limited market because of the U.S. sanctions on Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute
How to End the Worst India-Pakistan Crisis in a Generation
// Ankit Panda
Stepping back from the brink now will require political courage in New Delhi and reciprocity in Islamabad.
Indo–U.S. Joint Approach Toward Afghanistan
By Arvind Thakur & Michael Padgett, RealClearDefense: “Many external players and political contradictions within Afghanistan prevent a more stable climate. Many countries like India and the U.S. have political, security and economic interests in Afghanistan. These interests are threatened by the instability in Afghanistan and burgeoning alliances taking shape in the region."
India and Pakistan are playing a dangerous game of chicken
Sadanand Dhume | AEIdeas
Are India and Pakistan lurching toward a war? An escalating confrontation between the South Asian neighbors means that we can no longer rule out the possibility.
Shamila N. Chaudhary writes: As long as India enjoys a more strategic relationship with the United States and it maintains stronger conventional military capabilities, Pakistan will not shift its policy of using militants as proxies against India. With Bolton’s statement that the United States supports “India’s right to self-defense,” Pakistan’s use of proxies is likely to become more entrenched, further intertwining the United States in South Asia’s complex security politics rather than extracting it from them. – The Hill
India Strikes Jaish-e-Mohammad Camp Inside Pakistan
By Bill Roggio, FDD's Long War Journal: “The Indian Air Force launched a raid against a JeM camp in Balakot inside Pakistan, killing scores of jihadists. The Pakistani government is denying the raid took place."
Tom Rogan writes: Pakistan’s downing of at least one Indian air force jet on Wednesday should not be viewed as a random crisis incident. Instead, it reflects a new period of escalating tension between the two nuclear powers. The root of this tension is clear: Pakistan’s support for terrorist groups targeting India, and India’s increasing unwillingness to accept these attacks without military reprisal. – Washington Examiner
Simon Henderson writes: Welcome to South Asia, where the rival militaries have gamed for years a nuclear war that isn’t quite Armageddon — the war to end wars — but an exercise in bravado, national pride and humiliating the other side. […]The conventional wisdom is, or certainly was, that nuclear weapons create a balance of terror between rivals. That logic may have applied in the days of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, but it no longer is valid — at least between India and Pakistan. – The Hill
Sadanand Dhume writes: For now the path out of the current crisis appears straightforward: Pakistan should return the captured Indian pilot and take concrete steps to rein in jihadist groups like JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba that target India. For its part, India needs to ensure that its official rhetoric remains measured, and that its next steps are not driven primarily by domestic political considerations. With domestic passions running high, the margin of error for both India and Pakistan is extremely limited. – American Enterprise Institute
If India and Pakistan Go to War, Israeli Weapons Could Be Decisive by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
March 4, 2019
CHINA'S BELT & ROAD UNRAVELS IN CENTRAL ASIA AND PAKISTAN; THE CONSEQUENCES OF LEAVING AFGHANISTAN & RUSSIAN OBSTACLES OVERCOME IN NORTH AFRICA
Mohammed Issam Laaroussi writes: Russia has encountered obstacles that have impeded its ambitions and strategies in North Africa and may face more depending on whether regional dynamics shift. Western powers continue to treat Russia as a regional actor rather than a major world power, despite Russia’s efforts to influence foreign policy-making on a global scale. And since its current policy in North Africa relies on exploiting uncertainty in existing alliances among North African countries and Western powers in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, focused U.S. reengagement with North Africa could significantly hamper Russia’s efforts. – Washington Institute
Tom Rogan writes: If we mean to confront terrorists, we should stop investing in them! The key here, then, is for the U.S. to pressure Pakistan’s primary benefactors to suspend their aid support in lieu of serious Pakistani counterterrorism action. This should start with the International Monetary Fund, which is currently in advance stage negotiations with Pakistan over a new bailout. […]President Trump deserves credit for leading on this issue before now. He must now take the next step and tighten the screws. Pakistan can no longer expect access to foreign aid while simultaneously attacking an important American partner. – Washington Examiner
IRANIAN MISSILES-NUKES UP AND RUNNING; IRANIAN PROXIES RULE SYRIA & PAKISTAN ANSWERS NEW DEHLI'S CALL ON KASHMIR TERROR
Alberto M. Fernandez writes: By most standards, the Iranian regime inside Iran is in trouble, although the mullahs have faced similar challenges in the past 40 years. But while domestically Iran is struggling, regionally it is pursuing an ambitious generational agenda, which seeks to reshape much of the region in its own image. […]Neither the U.S. nor any Western state can match Iran’s imperial ground game in the Fertile Crescent states. Only the U.S. has the ability to do so, but such an expansive and intrusive footprint is now beyond American aspirations. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Yossi Yehoshua writes: Hezbollah is trying to entrench itself in Syria, after Syrian President Bashar Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did between 2014-2015. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. – Ynet
Adam Taylor writes: The Trump administration wants to pull out of Syria, contain the Houthi rebels in Yemen and broker peace with Israel and the Palestinians, all while working to squeeze Iran, a powerful force in all three situations. Its criticism of Tehran over its poor human rights record and its foreign interventions stands in contrast to its refusal to push back on its own Gulf allies for similar accusations. – Washington Post
Be Careful What You Revolt For
Reuel Marc Gerecht, Ray Takeyh — National Review
The 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution has sparked the usual lamentations from many Iranians. They revolted for democracy only to have the Machiavellian mullahs hijack their revolution and squash its liberal aspirations. Such soothing revisionism is the wont of Persians, especially those who now live in the West and routinely contort history to fit their preferred narrative.
As Iran's missile program expands, so do challenges of confrontation
Behnam Ben Taleblu — Axios
At the Munich Security Conference last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed the Islamic Republic’s right to “sophisticated means of defense,” alluding to the ballistic missiles whose flight tests and transfers the Trump administration has sought to curb... Read more
Jihadist suicide bomber kills dozens of Indian troops in largest attack in Kashmir in decades
Bill Roggio, Phil Hegseth — FDD's Long War Journal
When Airbnb, the online lodging service, announced in November that it would ban Israeli listings in the disputed West Bank, hardcore anti-Israel groups took an undeserved victory lap. Surprisingly, though, the credit belongs to Human Rights Watch, an nongovernmental organization with seemingly no reason to enter into the circus of anti-Israel activism. ... Read mor
'Our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks,' Pakistan PM claims
Bill Roggio — FDD's Long War Journal
While deflecting blame for last week’s suicide attack in the Indian state of Kashmir that killed dozens of Indian soliders, Pakistan’s prime minister denied that his country is harboring terrorist groups. His denial is strikingly similar to the Taliban’s claim that it does not permit Afghan territory to be used as a launching pad to strike at other countries. ... Read more
IRAN’S REVOLUTION RECONSIDERED By EPPC Fellow Luma Simms
Law and Liberty
Iran and the rest of the Middle Eastern world do not need any more revolutions or Western foreign policy interventions. They need a revolution of conscience: the moral power of human dignity. Read More
Mass executions and torture; the brutal persecution of women, minorities, and the opposition; the installation of an Islamist terror state that threatens to annihilate Israel, that covers the Middle East with its militias, and that denies the Holocaust. All of this started in Iran on 11 February, 1979, the day of the “Islamic Revolution”, when the mullahs seized power in Tehran. On the 40th anniversary of this day, friendly greetings from Berlin arrived in Tehran by telegram: the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (63), sends “Congratulations” on the occasion of the national holiday, “also in the name of my compatriots”. – Bild
The entire secret Iranian nuclear archives taken by the Mossad from Tehran should be posted online, former foreign ministry director-general Dore Gold said on Monday. Gold was speaking at a panel on Iran at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post