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  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A reimagined approach to Iran nuclear talks could extend the country’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen American alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. In the first in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, esteemed diplomat and policymaker Dennis Ross provides an innovative approach to reengaging Iran in nuclear diplomacy. His ideas have the potential to extend Iran’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. Ross explains: “If regime change is not a realistic or advisable goal, the objective must be one of changing the Islamic Republic’s behavior. While this would be difficult, history shows that the regime will make tactical adjustments with strategic consequences when it considers the price of its policies to be too high.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the second in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, expert David Makovsky explores how the Biden administration can use progress in Arab-Israel normalization to reenergize dormant ties between the United States and the Palestinian Authority, and between Jerusalem and Ramallah. After urging the administration to invest in strengthening and expanding normalization with Arab states, he argues for gradualism on the Palestinian issue, rooted in mutual efforts on several fronts, including preventing the slide to a one-state reality, taking a differentiated approach to Jewish settlements, and encouraging a range of trust-building exercises. “The gradualist approach to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is not one of grand declarations, high-profile White House announcements, or flag-waving signing ceremonies,” explains Makovsky. “To the contrary, if it succeeds, it will emerge from hours of intensive consultation with Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors, as well as the coordinated input and support of key Arab, European, and international partners.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Adel Abdel Ghafar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The role played by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important. This calls for an assessment of their evolving relationship with countries in the region, as well as their involvement in the Libyan conflict. Increased involvement by Gulf actors may inflame existing regional rivalries and geopolitical tensions. The interests of GCC countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are first analysed in the broader context of regional rivalries. Special attention is then devoted to Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, while considering the role of other key regional actors such as Turkey and Israel. Recommendations on why and how the new US administration should intervene to decrease regional tensions are provided.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gulf Nations, Geopolitics, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper presents insights and recommendations from a policy workshop of the “Israel in the Mediterranean” group led by the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The workshop, convened on 19 November 2020, focused on key diplomatic, economic, energetic, environmental and identity issues that Israel faces in the Mediterranean. The document does not necessarily reflect agreement by all participants.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Environment, Economy, Regional Integration, Identity
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document presents recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration can take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It describes the current state of play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Biden takes office, identifies nine key goals for the new administration in advancing peacemaking, and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation. These are the goals outlined in the document: (1) Highlighting the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; (2) Renewing ties and building trust with the Palestinian leadership; (3) Emphasizing US commitment to the two-state solution and formulating parameters for a final-status agreement; (4) Preserving the feasibility of the two-state solution and drawing red lines; (5) Leading multilateral steps, such as creating a new international mechanism and an incentives package; (6) Leveraging Israeli-Arab normalization to advance the peace process; (7) Improving the situation in Gaza and ending the internal Palestinian divide; (8) Empowering pro-peace Israeli and Palestinian actors, including in civil society; (9) Setting a constructive tone to relations with the Israeli leadership and public.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Kamal Ali-Hassan, Ehud Eiran, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Roee Kibrik, Lior Lehrs, Gabriel Mitchell, Elie Podeh, Ksenia Svetlova, Nadav Tamir, Yonatan Touval
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document summarizes recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration could take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It identifies nine key goals for the new administration and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israel’s Relations with Arab Countries: The Unfulfilled Potential examines relations between Israel and seven key Arab states – Egypt. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Morocco and Iraq – against the backdrop of the changes sweeping the Middle East over the past decade. The researchers mapped out the potential for cooperation with each state based on shared interests, challenges and opportunities, and on the abilities, strengths and needs of Israel and those states. The researchers described existing diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation – relying on open source material, their expertise in the arena and interviews they conducted. The studies found that despite progress in cooperation between Israel and Arab countries, and notwithstanding certain growing normalization with specific Middle Eastern countries, the strategic-diplomatic, economic, social, civilian and cultural opportunities are significant and far greater than their current level. There is wide-ranging, unfulfilled potential in Israel’s relations with Arab countries, and it is more evident now than it was in the past. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and absence of significant progress in resolving it constitute the main obstacle to tapping the potential for cooperation between Israel and the Arab world, capping relations with a glass ceiling. In formulating its policy and actions in the region, Israel should learn the lessons of the past. It must take into consideration current realities and limitations, existing interests and processes. Just as important, it must also shape its actions, assessing and choosing from among various alternatives with a view to the future potential and tremendous promise they hold out. We hope this publication helps those interested in sketching the current complex picture and the potential that lies in relations between Israel and major Arab countries, and paves the way to expanded cooperation and normalization between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East. As the studies in this publication indicate, the potential for regional cooperation is great and its realization also depends on progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, UAE
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Nickolay Mladenov, Nathalie Tocci, Hesham Youssef, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Can Multilateralism Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace? Mitvim's J Street Panel, April 2021; Speakers: Amb. (ret.) Hesham Youssef Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace; Former diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 'Egypt, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League; H.E. Nickolay Mladenov Former UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process; Former Bulgaria's Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Nathalie Tocci Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI, Italy); Special Advisor to EU High Representative and Vice President of the Commission Josep Borrell; Dr. Nimrod Goren Founder and Head, Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies; Teaching Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Moderator: Merav Kahana-Dagan, Deputy Head, Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Multilateralism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Micky Drill, Nimrod Goren, Dan Catarivas, Michele Merloni, Luigi Scazzieri, Noa Ginosar, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: An online conference of the Mitvim Institute, the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel, and the Israel-European Union Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Regional Integration, Industry
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 19, 22 and 25, Israel carried out three strikes in less than one week using surface-to-air missiles against Syria. These strikes are considered the first of their kind executed by the new Israeli "Bennett-Lapid" government. Although this type of strikes is not novel, the Russian reaction to it was different this time. The Russian Ministry of Defense engaged in the scene for the first time, sending indirect messages to Israel. This made analysts refer to a possible shift in the rules of engagement in Syria. The understandings between Moscow and Tel Aviv were based on Moscow turning a blind eye to Israeli fighters launching airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets, in return for Israel not targeting Syrian regime forces or Russian forces, which provide direct support to the Syrian army against the armed opposition. The Russian position reflected a clear desire to weaken the Iranian military presence in Syria, particularly with the escalation of rivalry between Moscow and Tehran over economic and military influence there.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Israeli ‘Walla’ news website published a report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reorganized the deployment of military forces in Syria, and has restricted the movement of Iranian forces internally in order to prevent internal frictions and achieve peace and stability. Walla deems the change in Damascus’s stance towards Iran to be in response to the political, economic and military pressures implored on the former. The website has also indicated that the Iranian presence in Syria has also weakened for other reasons, including the continuous Israeli and US pressures on Iranian presence there. While there were no sources confirming such notions, considering the policies of regional and international powers’ concerning the Syrian crisis, there might be some truth to this notion, pushing Damascus to embrace such tactics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Political stability, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Douglas A. Ollivant
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: American policy in the Middle East is based on outdated assumptions. There are at least four novel elements in or impacting the Middle East that require an adjustment in strategy: North American Oil Independence: The United States no longer relies on the Middle East for its supply of energy and could choose to act without that significant tie. Rise of China: The People’s Republic of China is now a near-peer to the United States and is taking steps to protect its own interests in the Middle East. Diminishing Conventional Threats to Israel: All conceivable regional enemies are now peace signatories, wrestling with internal instability, or both. Unconventional threats continue to challenge Israel’s security, but a ground invasion is now a remote possibility. Rise of Sub-State Actors: In addition to widely recognized terror and insurgent groups, other actors, such as financial firms, technology firms, and private military firms, interact with power that rivals that of weak states. These new factors—alone and in concert—make legacy strategies at least suboptimal, if not unsuitable. Today’s Middle East exhibits very different characteristics than that of the Middle East of the past century. An acceptable and suitable strategy must incorporate these new data points.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Oil, Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Greenway
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The Abraham Accords constitute the beginning of a transformation of a region that has confounded many, and that will continue to be a vital battleground astride the security and economic interests of world powers. American leadership was a necessary but alone insufficient condition to the emergence of this agreement. American leadership will remain essential to its growth and evolution. The alignment of our regional partners and allies in both economic and security domains will ensure that the agreement endures. It will also incentivize others to join us in pooling critical capacities to advance and defend mutual interests. This transformation serves to constrain Iran – the threat from which has been recognized as causal – even as it constrains the malign influence and predatory practices of China and Russia. They will continue to manufacture and exploit fissures among the U.S. and its regional partners if we fail to exploit the favorable shift in the region’s security and economic architecture. On the other hand, appropriate support will allow the Abraham Accords to advance and secure America’s interests with the use of significantly fewer resources and with more capable partners integrated as never before.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Alberto Priego
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista UNISCI/UNISCI Journal
  • Institution: Unidad de investigación sobre seguridad y cooperación (UNISCI)
  • Abstract: After almost 75 years of existence of the State of Israel, its foreign policy has maintained a certain continuity. Some prime ministers such as David Ben Gurion, Menahem Begin, Isaac Rabin have taken some turns in foreign policy that in the long term will condition Israel's future. Last summer Benjamin Netanyahu left the government after more than twelve years in office, becoming the longest-serving Israeli leader. Throughout these years, Benjamin Netanyahu has introduced important structural reforms in the country. One of these fields has been foreign policy, where he has implemented his own doctrine, the Netanyahu Doctrine. This article will try to present the fundamental points that make up this foreign policy doctrine. An interpretative approach will be adopted using the most important speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu. / En los casi 75 años de existencia del Estado de Israel, su política exterior ha mantenido una cierta continuidad. Algunos primeros ministros como David Ben-Gurión, Menahem Begin, Issac Rabín han dado giros a la política exterior que, a largo plazo, han condicionado el futuro de Israel. El pasado verano Benjamín Netanyahu salió del gobierno después de más de doce años en el cargo convirtiéndose en el mandatario israelí que más tiempo ha permanecido en el cargo. A lo largo de estos años, Benjamín Netanyahu ha introducido importantes reformas estructurales en país. Uno de estos campos ha sido la política exterior donde se puede considerar que se ha instalado una doctrina propia, la Doctrina Netanyahu. Este artículo tratará de construir los puntos fundamentales que componen esta doctrina de política exterior. Se adoptará una aproximación interpretativa usando los discursos más importantes de Benjamín Netanyahu.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Negotiation, Peace, Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Eugenia López-Jacoiste Díaz
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista UNISCI/UNISCI Journal
  • Institution: Unidad de investigación sobre seguridad y cooperación (UNISCI)
  • Abstract: The political-religious foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism that marks its identity, society and politics. The Al Saud dynasty defends and expands Sunni Islam in the region and beyond its borders. In order to understand the interests and objectives of Saudi foreign policy, this article analyzes the main geopolitical elements at the service of the stability and hegemony of the Al Saud house in the most turbulent region of the Middle East. The Saudi government is developing a foreign policy, unsuspected in the past, to maintain its historic alliance with Washington, despite the ups and downs, and to transform the old rivalries between Riyadh and Tehran into new opportunities, including with Israel. This change in Saudi foreign policy is due to the controversial Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman who knows how to take advantage of the changing regional geopolitics and Saudi financial instruments, but also the military and technological in favor of a more proactive and modern Saudi Arabia, despite his weaknesses./El fundamento político-religioso del Reino de Arabia Saudí es el wahabismo que marca su identidad, su sociedad y su política. La dinastía Al Saud defiende y expande el islam sunní en la región y fuera de sus fronteras. Para poder entender los intereses y objetivos de la política exterior saudí, este artículo analiza los principales elementos geopolíticos al servicio de la estabilidad y hegemonía de la casa Al Saud en la región más convulsa de Oriente Medio. El Gobierno saudí está desarrollando una política exterior, insospechada en el pasado para mantener su histórica alianza con Washington, a pesar de los altibajos, y transformar las viejas rivalidades entre Riad y Teherán en nuevas oportunidades, incluso con Israel. Este cambio en la política exterior saudí se debe al controvertido Príncipe Heredero Mohamed bin Salmán que sabe aprovechar la cambiante geopolítica regional y los instrumentos financieros saudíes, pero también los militares y tecnológicos a favor de una Arabia Saudí más proactiva y moderna, a pesar de sus debilidades.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Oil, Military Affairs, Geopolitics, Wahhabism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Persian Gulf, United States of America
  • Author: Reilly Barry
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Middle East saw its share of globe-altering events in the last year. While JMEPP seeks to offer original analysis beyond the headlines, almost all major contemporary regional developments have been addressed in the present edition. The list, of course, is not exhaustive, but includes the Abraham Accords and increasing international marginalization of Palestinians, the renewed fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, continued protests amidst crises and weakening state institutions in Lebanon, and the rise of Turkey’s aggressive imperial foreign policy, to name a few. While there are major global transitions afoot as relates to the region, there is also a lack of transition— sadly, the 10-year anniversary of the Syrian revolution marks little change for those living under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. Likewise, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen persists. The edition discusses what may become of newly inaugurated President Biden’s policies toward the region, including the challenge of renegotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. And finally, the edition would be remiss to not address how Covid-19 has impacted the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Diaspora, Refugees, Social Media, Alliance, Conflict, Protests, Peace, Houthis, COVID-19, Polarization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Palestine, Georgia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, United States of America, Nagorno-Karabakh