Volume XXIV Summer 2017 Number 2
President Trump's hundred-day mark has come and gone — we're four months into his term now, though it seems more like a year, perhaps because of the interminable campaign that preceded it.
The following is a transcript of the eighty-eighth in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The meeting was held at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2017, with Richard J. Schmierer, chairman of the Council's board of directors, moderating, and Thomas R. Mattair, the Council's executive director, serving as discussant. The video can be accessed at www.mepc.org.
This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.
Western churches have over the last 10-15 years made repeated calls for a just peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This includes adoption of measures referred to as BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) and calls to their respective governments to put stronger pressure on Israel to bring an end to the 1967 occupation.
The Arab Spring was an implosion of long-term grievances against malfunctioning political regimes. Unfortunately, initial hope for dignity, honor, good governance and popular rule did not come close to paving the way for "democratic transitions."1 Instead, the overly optimistic popular movements precipitated a reactionary response, giving rise to counterrevolutionary forces that fought to either restore the status quo or impose particularistic geostrategic goals.
As the United States recuperates from Donald Trump's unexpected victory, commentators across the globe contemplate the prospects of a Trump presidency and its impact on U.S. and world politics. The future of U.S.-Russia relations will potentially have a substantial impact on the South Caucasus, a vulnerable region of strategic significance sandwiched between Russia, Turkey and Iran. While the features of Trump's foreign policy have still to materialize, promises and allusions made during his election campaign suggest a bleak scenario for this post-Soviet region.
Donald J. Trump's unexpected presidential victory in November 2016 has thrown a curveball into Turkey's difficult relations with the Kurds. What will be the Trump administration's policies toward Turkey and the Kurds? Will the new president continue to support the majority of Kurds in Syria battling ISIS or emphasize a renewal of the NATO alliance with Turkey? Trump's earlier statements that NATO allies should carry more of the organization's financial burdens potentially call into question NATO's future, especially given Trump's avowed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The objective of this research is to assess whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated between Iran and the international community in July 2015, might lead to a fundamental reorientation in Iran's foreign policy.
Eight states border the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf: seven predominantly Arab (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman), and one predominantly non-Arab (Iran). In 1945, all eight were monarchies. The one in Iraq was overthrown in 1958, the one in Iran in 1979. In 1981, the six remaining Arab monarchies formed the Gulf Cooperation Council in order to, among other objectives, mutually protect the rule of their royal families.
A theory of well-being that ignores what people want cannot be sustained. On the other hand, a theory that ignores what actually happens in people's lives and focuses exclusively on what they think about their life is not tenable either.1
— Daniel Kahneman
In 2010, both Egypt and Tunisia were achieving remarkable economic gains, with real GDP growth rates of 5.1 and 3.5 percent, respectively. These had been preceded by even higher growth rates, reaching up to 6 and 7 percent, respectively, in the second half of the 2000s.
On the eve of conflict in March 2011, Syria was a repressive, middle-income country of 22-23 million people in which wealth was heavily aggregated at the top of the pyramid. Abrogation of human rights was routine and widespread.1 The term "middle income" belies the pronounced societal and economic inequality in Syria, where government institutions lacked accountability and were plagued by corruption.
The Islamic State group established a presence in North Africa following its successes in the Middle East. Shortly after the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State (IS) and declared a caliphate spanning eastern Syria and western Iraq in late June 2014, pledges of allegiance rolled in from groups in North Africa to the declared leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In a Middle East beset by shifting alliances, the Iran-Syria relationship has been one of the region's most enduring axes. Since its establishment following Iran's revolution in 1979, the alliance has weathered several challenges, from the interstate conflict seen in the Iran-Iraq War, to popular uprisings and now, most recently, Syria's own protracted and bloody civil war. It is a relationship that has endured because of both states' shared aims in the region and their positions as vanguards of resistance against U.S. and Israeli interests in the Middle East.
The Great War and the Middle East, by Rob Johnson. Oxford University Press, 2016. 512 pages. $34.95, hardcover.
In Defence of Britain's Middle Eastern Empire: A Life of Sir Gilbert Clayton, by Timothy J. Paris. Sussex Academic Press, 2016. 536 pages. $55.00, paperback.
The Poisoned Well: Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East, by Roger Hardy. Hurst, 2016. 280 pages.
America's War for the Greater Middle East is a valuable book flawed by trying to cram too much into a single thesis, by focusing too much on the United States and its military, by omitting discussion of available alternatives, by dismissing America's need to lead in the world without dis
Sebastian Gorka is a deputy assistant to the president of the United States. He is also part of the Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG) headed by Stephen K. Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist.
Ali Al Naimi's engaging memoir, Out of the Desert: My Journey from Nomadic Bedouin to the Heart of Global Oil, provides more than a review of a most remarkable career in both business and government.
At a time when news from much of the Arab world is grim, to say the least, Tom Lippman, a veteran observer of the region, has written a well-informed book about one of its more colorful leaders, Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt from 1970 until his assassination in 1981.
Edward Erickson is a professor of military history at the U.S. Marine Corps University. He retired from a long and distinguished army career that included service in senior positions in Europe and the Middle East, in particular Turkey and Iraq.