This is a time of rhetorical overkill, with the presidential candidates promising more than they can deliver and journalists hyping the horse race. David Ignatius of the Washington Post, reputed to have close ties to the Pentagon, went so far as to claim that the 2016 election is a "fork in the road," like those of 1860, 1932 and 1940. Whoa!
Thomas R. Mattair, Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council
On March 2, 2016, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) posted on its official website a scathing condemnation of the Lebanese Islamist movement the Party of God (Hezbollah), accusing it of carrying out "hostile acts" in the six GCC member-states and engaging in campaigns of "terror and incitement" in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The pronouncement was attributed to GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayyani, but was widely acknowledged to have been issued at the instigation of the organization's most influential member, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia sits in the middle of the world's climate furnace. There are fewer hotter, drier places on the planet, and it's only going to get worse as the world continues to dump carbon into the atmosphere. Since 1995, the world's atmosphere has seen carbon amounts increase from 360 parts per million (ppm) to an estimated record-crushing 400 in 2015.1 Some researchers predict an increase in temperature of around 3 degrees Celsius throughout the Middle East by 2050.
After more than 40 years of authoritarian rule, the Qadhafi regime was overthrown by force in October 2011.1 The total collapse of the "Jamahiriya State" and its civil as well as military institutions is a characteristic feature of this transition of power. The collapse had three main consequences:
The Egyptian state has accumulated a number of obstacles over the last three decades that have affected its ability to maintain a leadership position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Throughout the twentieth century, the Sinai Peninsula has occupied an awkward position in the nation-state system. Claimed by Egypt — and at times Israel — the population has by and large not identified itself with the Egyptian state. The contentious history of the territory, combined with the disenfranchisement of the population, has played a significant role in the increased lawlessness throughout large portions of the peninsula. In particular, transnational criminal undertakings and the growth of extremist elements have been the result of this disenfranchisement.
On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced the end, effective the following day, of the Russian intervention in the Syrian Arab Republic. Russia's military — including elite ground forces, the latest Su-34 strike fighters, Buk-M2 missile systems, KA-52 attack helicopters, and other technologically advanced assets — had been deployed in the Middle Eastern country, apparently at Bashar al-Assad's request, since August 2015 and in combat since late September.
Turkey is passing through a particularly critical phase in its history. Thousands of people have died so far in the renewal of the war being waged against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the southeast. In February and March 2016, scores of people died when a Kurdish faction struck back with suicide and car bomb attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, one targeting military personnel and the other, people waiting at a bus stop. The Kurdish Freedom Falcons (TAK), a splinter group from the PKK that some commentators say is still part of the organization, claimed responsibility.
The outcome of the March-April 2015 nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (China, United Kingdom, France, Russia, United States, plus Germany) increased economic and trade optimism towards easing of sanctions on Iran.
The great wave of globalization that welled up as the Cold War was ending and peaked with the 2008-09 global financial crisis has, after a brief recovery, been steadily ebbing away. Between 1985 and 2011, global trade grew at an annual average rate of almost 6 percent, almost twice the annual rate of global GDP growth of 3.1 percent. The rapid expansion of trade in goods and services, made possible by technological innovations such as containerization and the Internet, and a favorable global political environment, were the principal drivers of that rapid economic growth.
Iranian foreign policy has been the subject of a large and varied literature over the past two decades, but not until Thomas Juneau's Squandered Opportunity has a book-length treatment of Iranian foreign policy been based on international-relations theory.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria four years ago, many have looked for reliable academic sources on the subject. For the first few years, only a smattering of journal articles appeared to provide a deeper and peer-reviewed analysis of the conflict ripping Syria apart.
However badly misnamed are the popular protests, uprisings, revolutions and civil wars that started spreading across the Middle East in the winter of 2010-11, it is abundantly clear that in most cases they did not result in peaceful transitions to inclusive democratic politics.
Although Abdullah Ocalan seems almost paranoid toward the United States and Western capitalism — "The way I was captured demonstrated that the capitalist modernity of which the USA is the world leader, is a system with no inhibition to oppress and abuse" (p.
Michael Mandelbaum's Mission Failure is an impressive book. As a history of U.S. foreign policy in, as he terms it, its "fourth" or "post-cold war" era, from 1991 to 2014, it's a competent work.