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  • Author: Mahmoud Qassem
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: About a year and a half following the first Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis held in January 2020, the ‘Berlin 2’ conference was held on June 23, 2021 raising a number of questions. Some of the questions pertain to the future of this crisis and the outcome of such interactions, in light of the significant momentum accompanying the current internal and external developments. The post ‘Berlin 2"’conference interactions were shaped according to two tracks, one of which is optimistic about the possibility of building on the outcomes of the conference and adopting a settlement path in Libya, while the other is loaded with anticipation and uncertainty, particularly with the ongoing challenges and issues that may undermine any future developments.
  • Topic: Conflict, Negotiation, Crisis Management, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Germany
  • Author: Leonid Issaev
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria was perceived by the world community as a demonstration of strength, unveiling Moscow and the Kremlin's readiness to defend its interests in the Middle East by military means. It is not surprising that the Russian military presence in Syria has generated a lot of speculation about the possibility of a repetition of the Syrian ‘scenario’ in other hot spots in the region, such as Yemen. We believe that such generalizations are inaccurate and simplify the multifaceted situation. First of all, the Syrian case is rather an exception for Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist ideology, Russia became more pragmatic, its policy got rid of the prefix ‘pro’, and, in principle, it is trying to serve its own interests. It is not surprising that the rejection of messianic ideas forced Russia to reconsider its attitude to conflicts, including ones in the Middle East. The best example of Russian pragmatism is the Kremlin's policy on the Yemeni crisis since its beginning in 2011 until now.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Emily Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Ahead of Prime Minister Bennett's first visit to Washington, Council data show partisan divides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and more. In recent years, the US-Israel relationship was stewarded by Israel’s longest-serving leader, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the man whom he referred to as “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House,” former President Donald Trump. This week, the first meeting between the two countries’ newly elected leaders, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, will set the tone for a new era of US-Israel relations. New data from the 2021 Chicago Council Survey indicate that some differences in ideas about US policy toward Israel on Capitol Hill—heightened by the 11-day clash between Israel and Hamas last May—have corresponding divisions among the American public. The US public is sharply divided along partisan lines on key issues, including whether to take a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and restrictions on the uses of military aid to Israel. Moreover, it’s not just Americans who are at odds with each other. A comparison of the recent Chicago Council Survey and a Viterbi Family Center poll shows that the American public and Jewish Israelis have opposing views on what might be acceptable solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while Israeli Arabs and Americans are broadly aligned on acceptable political outcomes.
  • Topic: Politics, Foreign Aid, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Southwest Asia is increasingly dangerous. Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program appear stuck near a breakpoint. With the Kabul government’s precipitous collapse, President Biden’s courageous decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan has gone badly. Each situation threatens grave consequences for the administration. Together they suggest more deadly chaos looms from the Middle East to China’s borders. Iran is an important common factor, central to the first case, important in the second due to geography and potential leverage. The concurrence of threat – but also perhaps opportunity – justifies a new strategy for dealing with it that cuts across both situations. Joe Biden said before taking office that it was a priority to restore the nuclear deal that was working well until Donald Trump took the U.S. out. He pledged to conclude the endless war in Afghanistan. Today neither objective appears promising. Iran has more enriched and closer to weapons level uranium than when the original deal was signed. U.S. officials acknowledge that negotiating time is limited and, by implication, that military action may be required to keep the president’s pledge never to allow an Iranian bomb. As the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, Washington is focused as it should be on safely extracting U.S. citizens and the many thousands of Afghans whose lives are at risk for having helped the Americans over 20 years. Soon, however, there will be new proposals, including preparations for off-shore responses to what many anticipate will be a revival of the kind of civil war that ravaged Afghanistan in the 1990s. Any reasonable proposal should include at the least a significant diplomatic component in which Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran prominent among them, apply their weight to persuade the Taliban to rule more moderately than it did its first time in power and in particular to keep out international terrorists. Most acknowledge that a key weakness of that approach is U.S. inability to work with Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Though my favorite baseball team in Kansas City was always weak, a local columnist used to write every spring that it would win the championship. I know something of hope’s unreliability as a basis for prediction. But I offer this: there will be a serious chance for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute within five years. An agreement for Jewish and Arab states to live side-by-side between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River seems increasingly improbable. Last month’s fighting between Israel and the Hamas movement that controls Gaza and simultaneous riots and brutalities between Jews and Arabs within Israel have created a near consensus that the Oslo Process to reach that objective is dead. Fair enough. Neither side has a leadership or constituency with commitment or capability to conclude that deal. The lack of interest Israel showed under Bibi Netanyahu will not change under a conflicted coalition government dominated by right-wing parties favoring more de facto annexation of Palestinian land. Nor are the Palestinians in better shape. Their bitterly divided movements are uninterested in a unified approach to their national problem. President Abbas is in the 17th year of a four-year term. His Fatah, riddled with corruption, has little legitimacy on the West Bank, while Hamas, its popularity renewed by fighting Israel, is less inclined than ever for diplomacy. Ever fewer Israelis and Palestinians believe two states are feasible, and their notions of a single state alternative differ wildly. No serious politician in Israel or Palestine, much less in Washington, will propose a comprehensive initiative this year or next. Nevertheless, a sea change is underway. Israel has long largely been spared terrorism thanks to the separation barrier and security cooperation afforded by the Palestinian Authority. Fighting with Hamas is only a periodic disturbance. The Palestinian issue featured in no recent election, and Israelis had begun to think they could ignore it, that because the Sunni Arab world wanted an anti-Iran front, they could escape regional isolation without cost to their occupation policy.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Borders, State Building
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Hanan Shai
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The conquest of southern Lebanon in Operation Peace for Galilee, and Israel’s long sojourn in the area, had political and military justification. But defects in the IDF’s deployment during the operation, and later in its protracted security activity, culminated in the May 2000 hurried withdrawal that continues to this day to negatively affect Israel’s national security.
  • Topic: National Security, War, Conflict, Hezbollah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Last week’s inauguration of a new Egyptian military base on the Red Sea was heavy with the symbolism of the rivalries shaping the future of the Middle East as well as north and east Africa.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Geopolitics, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Red Sea
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: The civil war that has prevailed in Libya since the fall of the Qaddafi regime in 2011 has become increasingly internationalized. Foreign powers have taken sides in the war, supplying weapons, mercenaries and other support. In recent months, Turkey’s increased intervention in support of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has added another element to the internationalization of the conflict. In order to obtain military support, the GNA has allied itself with Turkey’s plan to gain control of access to the Eastern Mediterranean and its gas-fields. This poses a threat to Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, who are all cooperating in the utilization of those fields and the possible development of pipelines to Europe.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North America
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Sadness and tragedy come in many forms. One form consists in knowing how to solve a problem in theory, but realizing at the same time that what that would take in practice is not available. That is the case now with the tragedy unfolding in Idlib. There is a way to turn the crisis into an opportunity, but it would take wise and bold leaderships simultaneously in Washington, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Ankara, and the capitals of Europe. And that is precisely what we lack. What should be done? The U.S. government should privately propose, organize as necessary, and backstop as required a joint Israeli-Saudi intervention, coordinated with an on-going Turkish intervention, to save the million-plus refugees now facing imminent annihilation in Idlib Province, in Syria.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Renee M. Earle
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first Nobel Peace Prize presented for efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East between Israel and Arab nations in Palestine. The recipient was Ralph Bunche, an American academic and diplomat with the U.N., who received the Peace Prize in 1950 for brokering the Israeli-Arab armistice agreements in 1949. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and established armistice lines between Israeli and Arab nation forces that held until the 1967 Six-Day War. (This same seemingly intractable confrontation yielded two later Peace Prizes: to Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1978 and to Yassar Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.)
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Dania Koleilat Khatib, Aref Bijan
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, Russia has emerged as a significant power broker and military actor in the Middle East. Russia's intervention in the Syrian crisis since 2015 has revived its relations with neighboring countries. This increase in Russia's activity has led to convergence and divergence with other countries in the region. One of those countries is Turkey, which had cooperated at times and had differences at times with Russia in the Middle East, especially in the Syrian and the Libyan crises. Ankara and Moscow are fully engaged in the global competition trying to increase their power and influence. They face off in Syria and Libya. In Syria, Turkey supports the rebels in the North West while Russia supports the Assad regime. In Libya, Turkey supports the Government of National Accord (GNA) while Russia supports Libyan National Army (LNA). Their relation becomes more intricate as both parties got involved in the Caucus, a region of prime importance to both countries. In the vicinity of Russia, the oil route goes Tbilisi-Baku ending up in Ceyhan Turkey. While Turkey supports Azerbaijan, Russia supports Armenia. The Caucus crisis showed how the two countries are rivals that are ready to accommodate each other on a quid pro quo basis. The cease happened concurrently with a partial withdrawal of Turkey from some posts in the North West in Syria. Was there an agreement between Erdogan and Putin in this regard? There are no proofs; however, the various events that are happening from the Caucus to North Africa suggest that those two powers are rivals that are ready to accommodate each other. To add to that, the American retrenchment has encouraged the two powers to flex their muscles in the region. Therefore, given the developments in the region, this article has tried to examine the paradox of Russian-Turkish relations and their strategy in Libya and Syria.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Conflict, Strategic Competition, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Doron Itzchakov
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though it prompted angry reactions from senior officials in Tehran, the Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdistan offers both pros and cons for the Islamic Republic – and the potential positives likely outweigh the negatives.
  • Topic: Ethnicity, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Tehran, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran quickly supported the advance of the Syrian regular forces towards the Kurdish militias-controlled town of Manbij on 28 December 2018, albeit some parties denied that, which indicate that it has begun to re-calibrate its strategies to deal with the new realities after the decision of the US president Donald Trump to withdraw his military forces from Syria on the 19th of the same month.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is currently making unremitting efforts to further its relations with the Afghan Taliban. Although these attempts are not new, as there have always been unannounced channels of communication between the two parties, Iran is keen to uncover the presence of these channels and its efforts to foster relations with the movement. This was evident in the recent statements of Iranian officials such as its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security Ali Shamkhani. This is, without a doubt, inseparable from the Iranian attempts to pave the Afghan arena for the return of elements of the Fatimid militia, and perhaps prepare in advance for a possible and sudden US withdrawal from the country, like the recent US decision to withdraw from Syria.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Militias
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Idlib has been the delayed battle in the Syrian conflict throughout its various stages, but this seems to be coming to an end, as many indicators reveal. For example, Russia, for the time being, is keen to resolve Idlib’s issue which would reinforce the specter of military intervention. Moscow indicates that there are no options left for the parties to the Sochi agreement, pointing also to the difficulty of implementing its terms. The 10 points-agreement has not achieved its purpose for five months, given the terrorist organizations’ control over the area, in particular al-Nusra Front. This happens amid lack of actions from the Turkish side, which has threatened, more than once, to deter those who jeopardize the agreement, which compelled it to agree, ostensibly, with the other parties on launching a military offensive in Idlib. Despite the challenges and consequences of this option, it is the scenario that looms large over the Syrian scene at present.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Improving the performance of local governments, local administration, village councils, and municipalities in Arab conflict zones face a set of challenges. The most prominent among these challenges are the continued internal armed conflicts with regional dimensions, strengthening the legitimacy of certain political regimes, power struggle between central and local governments, growing partisan and political disputes, severe destruction in areas controlled by terrorist organizations, and the growing fiscal deficits of local councils. On one hand, the fiscal deficits have increased amid a low level of donor support, poor development of councils’ resources, and the enduring conflict between the legitimate government and armed militias. The influx of irregular migrants have also imposed a double burden on already overstretched local bodies.
  • Topic: Governance, Conflict, Syrian War, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Terrorists have manipulated the humanitarian crisis in Syria to create a cover for foreign fighters and to raise funds for terrorist groups under the guise of charitable donations. While terrorist abuse of charitable donations is a limited problem, even small amounts of funding can have disproportionately large effects. Early government intervention in setting due diligence standards for humanitarian aid groups operating in, or raising funds for use in, high-risk conflict zones is essential. The Australian Government should use the ‘declared area’ legislation more widely to raise the risk threshold for those seeking to use humanitarian assistance as cover for supporting terrorist causes overseas.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: As Israel’s Operation Northern Shield continues, with the aim of dismantling the tunnels discovered on the Lebanese border, the Israeli policies mark a remarkable shift in confronting Hezbollah’s threats. The operation comes as part of a series of parallel measures, employing a tactic different from the military escalation scenario, which cannot be completely ruled out in the future with the aim of launching a preemptive strike. However, with no variables yet to enhance such scenario, the Tel Aviv tactic will focus on linking the party’s new threat and escalation with the latter, along with Iran, on the Syrian front, on the belief that the party's new approach stems from the interactions of the equation itself. On the other hand, Hezbollah has reacted in a similar way, based on calculations that do not lean toward engaging in mutual escalation, albeit threatening of military “surprises” as part of a defensive strategy. Among those “surprises” is deploying the new and unconventional techniques of its missile capabilities, which have been developed by its expertise on the Syrian ground and with the help of Iran. Apart from these expected messages, Hezbollah has, since the discovery of tunnels, questioned Tel Aviv's account of the issue. Hezbollah's various media platforms have focused on attributing the escalation to the Israeli internal developments, amid the crisis facing Netanyahu's government, after the withdrawal of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the government coalition.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Conflict, Borders, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Turkey has recently stepped up its economic presence in the cities of northern Syria, including Al-Bab, Jarablus, and Azaz, among others. Those cities are now controlled by the Syrian opposition with the assistance of the Turkish army through two military operations between 2016 and 2018 dubbed Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch. Turkey has worked to rehabilitate the basic services of electricity, education and health in these cities in cooperation with private Turkish companies, as well as promoting the export of various goods to these cities. Through its presence there, Turkey is aiming to achieve numerous goals in line with its vision towards the trajectories of the Syrian conflict, and its position, in the coming phase.
  • Topic: Economy, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The announcement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, on December 22, 2018, of a change in its military doctrine during recent exercises in the Gulf region, to keep pace with numerous developments in the internal and external fronts, reflect the mounting threats facing Iran due to its aggressive policy. This new move, however, may not necessarily reflect an overall shift in doctrine, as much as a pivot towards adopting new tactics in the military strategy to be better able to confront these threats. Most importantly, it does not involve a development in the tenets of the traditional military doctrine, which is predicated on a central doctrinal pillar that is hard to change, amid the current regime. Moreover, the IRGC has always pursued aggressive policies, as evident in its roles in conflict zones, exacerbating them and hampering the efforts to reach a settlement.
  • Topic: History, Military Strategy, Conflict, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East