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  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, U.S. policy has evolved with breathtaking speed. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Mubarak regime was stable, but by Tuesday evening, President Obama was making the remarkable statement that Egypt's transition needs to begin "now." This is not only the most serious foreign policy challenge to this U.S. administration, but also one in a list of unforeseen and improbable challenges. Unlike scenarios involving, for example, a North Korean provocation against the South or even a catastrophic terrorist attack -- for which the United States plans and prepares -- the swift demise of Hosni Mubarak's presidency, along with the virtual disappearance of the ruling National Democratic Party and the potential fall of a regime that has been a pillar of U.S. standing in the Middle East for thirty-five years, is an unimagined challenge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian decision to appeal to the UN is rooted in frustration with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government and the conviction that negotiations are futile at the moment. Furthermore, they believe that President Obama's efforts, while admirable, will not produce results. These beliefs -- combined with the sense of urgency imparted by the Arab Spring and the growing perception that the Palestinian leadership can no longer back down from the initiative -- makes it likely that they will head to the UN this month as planned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 14, Lebanese president Michel Sulaiman is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. It is widely anticipated that during his visit, Sulaiman will request administration support for an increase in U.S. military assistance. Despite concerns that U.S. materiel will leak to Hizballah, Washington will likely agree to augment this funding, given the Lebanese Armed Force's excellent security record with equipment of U.S. origin. The question of U.S. military funding for Lebanon highlights recent developments in Lebanese politics that point to the resurgence of Hizballah -- and its Syrian and Iranian backers -- in Beirut. Although the pro-West March 14 coalition scored an impressive electoral victory in June, six months later, the government that has emerged constitutes a setback for Washington and its Lebanese allies. The scope of the setback -- for both the coalition and the United States -- was recently summarized by Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Mustafa, who said, "We love it!... It is exactly the sort of government we think should rule Lebanon."
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the past week, Beirut has been rocked by violence yet again. On January 25, a Lebanese Internal Security Forces officer working with the UN investigation into Rafiq Hariri's assassination was killed by a car bomb. And on January 27, seven Shiite antigovernment demonstrators were killed by the Lebanese army. These incidents come only two months after pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud vacated his office, leaving a power vacuum in his wake. Despite vigorous Arab League mediation efforts, the prospects for electing a replacement appear bleak. And with no end in sight, Lebanon's security situation is likely to deteriorate further.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 3-4, Arab leaders representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman met in the Qatari capital, Doha, for their annual Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) summit, which for the first time was attended by an Iranian president. In November, the UAE set a precedent by impounding an Iranian-bound shipment of undisclosed material banned by UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 because of its potential use for nuclear weapons or missile programs. All of this came against the background of the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which assessed that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush's July 16 address on the Middle East peace process was a mix of the old and the new, offering neither an unequivocal reaffirmation of past approaches nor a thoroughly novel direction for Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the wake of Hamas's coup in Gaza.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Yossi Baidatz, Rachel Stroumsa
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While international attention has been focused on the shift from diplomacy to violence in the Israeli–Palestinian arena, the "comeback" of Lebanon's Hizballah organization as an instigator of conflict has been, to some observers, a surprise. Following Israel's withdrawal from the "security zone" in May 2000, it was widely held that Hizballah would rest on its laurels and focus on its political/social agenda inside Lebanon. Instead, as recent events show, Hizballah has chosen to persist in its military strategy against Israel. Indeed, in contrast to the low-intensity conflict on the Palestinian front, Hizballah's actions have the potential to trigger a full-scale, inter-state war.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's surprise resignation Saturday night has plunged the country's already battered political system into further turmoil, and so far, his gambit seems to have failed. Barak's move was clearly designed, at least in part, to utilize a provision in Israeli law that would sideline his once and would-be opponent Benjamin Netanyahu from running in a special election for prime minister on February 6. Moreover, Barak hoped that by avoiding a general election, he could avert the reconfiguration of the Knesset since polls show that if elections were held today, it would become a more rightward-leaning body.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Dan Schueftan
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, public opinion in both Israel and the Palestinian territories has shifted in ways that argue for separation or disengagement. Israelis no longer accept the notion that negotiations will eventually lead to peace, but they are far more willing to make concessions to the Palestinians. Palestinians no longer expect a final agreement with Israel, and have instead shifted toward the Lebanon model of using violence to force an Israeli retreat — a trend with tragic implications for the future of Palestinian society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's decision yesterday to preempt his opponents and announce his willingness to hold early elections must be seen in the context of his interest in reviving the peace process. The vote for early balloting was driven by both animus toward the failed Camp David summit and by the Barak government's handling of the subsequent Al-Aqsa Intifada.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Rachel Stroumsa
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, Arab parties from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the Arab League summit have called for the dispatch of a United Nations force to the West Bank and Gaza in order to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli military force. Rather than reject this idea because of its contribution to the internationalization of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the U.S. view has been to cite its impracticality, given Israeli opposition. Remarkably, the Israeli government itself seems to be hinting that it may be willing to consider the proposal, especially in the event of a reduction in violence. This is evidenced by recent talks between Israeli and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representatives to the United Nations, reportedly hosted by their Egyptian colleague.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Ephraim Sneh
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, four factors have combined to make the situation in the Middle East far more combustible than it is has been for a long time. These elements are: Iraq has managed to break out of the boundaries imposed by the UN sanctions regime and to evade weapons inspections. Saddam Husayn is now stronger than ever and ready to play a role in the region. He has signaled this intention by his deployment of troops on the western borders of Iraq just before the Arab summit in Egypt. Although he has since pulled them back, this maneuver was intended to send the message that Saddam Husayn is a force to be reckoned with from now on. Iran has enhanced its efforts to use a consortium of terrorist groups against the remnants of the peace process. Intelligence information shows that Iran has deployed long-range Katyusha missiles in Lebanon and that it is encouraging Hizballah activities against Israel. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has disappointed most analysts, who hoped that he would focus on addressing Syria's economy and other domestic concerns. Instead, his speeches both at the Arab summit in Egypt and at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Qatar have been extremely bellicose. In addition, it is clear that the recent kidnappings by Hizballah and a Palestinian group's attempt to infiltrate Israel through Lebanon could not have taken place without at the least a green light from Damascus, even if Bashar himself did not authorize them specifically. Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat has evidently changed course from negotiation to confrontation. So far, the Palestinian cause has proven to be uniting force in the Arab world; under certain circumstances, it might also serve as a good pretext for resumption of full-scale hostilities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, accusations that Israel has used "excessive force" in dealing with Palestinians have led to calls for Israel to employ "non-lethal" weapons as a way to reduce Palestinian casualties and stem the cycle of violence between the two sides. In fact, however, Israel is already using the rather limited range of traditional "less lethal" (LL) and "non-lethal" (NL) weapons that are used by most modern armies. More exotic, nontraditional concepts that have been under development in the past few years are either not yet ready for fielding (as in the case of so-called "acoustic weapons"), or have potential drawbacks which vitiate their potential operational utility (as with "sticky foam").
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The events of the past five weeks are not a repeat of the Palestinian Intifada of 1987-90, a spontaneous uprising that caught both Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israel equally by surprise. Rather, the current uprising is a confrontation imposed by Arafat on the Palestinian street. Three major elements of the original Intifada are missing in the current situation: 1) The countryside, a backbone of the original Intifada, has so far opted out of the current struggle; 2) the population of east Jerusalem has distanced itself, to the extent that the Tanzim has had to send people from Ramallah and the refugee camps into Jerusalem in order to engineer confrontations. Seen from this angle, the shooting of Israeli guards at the National Insurance Institute in east Jerusalem is a signal to Jerusalem Arabs that Arafat will not permit them to remain on the sidelines; 3) the lower middle classes, a prominent player during the original Intifada, are absent. While thousands may participate in funeral processions, very few (including very few students) join in confrontations with Israeli soldiers at the major flashpoints; the size of these confrontations rarely exceeds a few hundred.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem
  • Author: Liat Radcliffe
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: "The Arab leaders affirm that just, comprehensive peace will not be achieved except with . . . the restoration of all the occupied Arab territories, including full Israeli withdrawal from . . . southern Lebanon to the internationally recognized borders, including Shebaa farms, the release of Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons in implementation of the relevant UN resolutions. . . ."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The truce reached today should be interpreted very cautiously, given both today's terror bombing in Jerusalem, which killed two Israeli civilians, and the two previous failed ceasefires recently brokered by the United States in Paris and Sharm el-Sheikh, respectively. Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Yasir Arafat was due to announce the truce but instead opted to have other PA officials announce it on Palestinian television and radio. Moreover, Hamas quickly declared that it is not bound by the terms of the ceasefire. Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office nevertheless announced that the ceasefire is in effect.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Paris, Arabia, Jerusalem
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Domestic political considerations will be an important factor in Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's moves at Camp David. Although he would like to have one for a myriad of reasons, politically Barak does not need a deal. To the contrary, failure to reach an agreement could even bring his "big tent" coalition back from dead. Barak had hoped to have a broad government that included the religious parties behind him, having learned from the Yitzhak Rabin era that it was a mistake to have a narrow government relying on its Arab members to squeeze through Knesset confidence votes. But having lost the Jewish majority before his departure, the prime minister's critics will insist that the results of the Camp David summit are illegitimate. Undoubtedly, Barak will reject such assertions, pointing to his promise to hold a national referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A decision whether to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a reconvened Camp David Summit may be made next Wednesday, but as it stands now, the prospects seem very uncertain. President Bill Clinton is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat during the United Nations special Millennium Summit. Mindful of an array of ticking clocks, Washington would like to reconvene Camp David for a short and final session sometime during the second half of September. Yet, given the failure of the last summit in July, a generally recognized precondition for a revival of summitry is the prior resolution of almost all outstanding issues between the parties, in order to virtually guarantee the success of renewed negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of Camp David II and with the start of the Knesset summer recess yesterday, there appears to be a 40-90 day "window" for Israelis and the Palestinians to determine whether a diplomatic breakthrough is still possible or whether the parties will move in alternative directions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Elyakim Rubinstein
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the failure of the Camp David II summit to reach a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is certainly sad, it is important to emphasize that this two-week meeting was not a waste of time. For the first time, Israelis and Palestinians sat together in an official setting and thoroughly discussed previously deferred matters like Jerusalem and the refugees. Although unsuccessful in reaching a full resolution, a "basic and very deep clarification of the positions" was achieved at Camp David. A partial agreement was not the preferred alternative of either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia