Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, Bashar Azzeh, Shira Efron, Brian Katulis
The following is an edited transcript of the 102nd in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The event took place on October 23, 2020, via Zoom with Council Vice-Chair Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley moderating, Council President Richard J. Schmierer contributing, and Council Executive Director Thomas R. Mattair serving as discussant.
Or Arthur Honig and Joshua T. Arsenault
Since the end of World War II, several local actors have tried to gain regional dominance in the Middle East. These attempts have met with varying levels of success. This study seeks to explain this variation, though we will not address the equally important question of when and why specific states decide to make bids for regional dominance. We maintain that, while realism is a useful theoretical lens for explaining this variation, it is necessary to adjust some realist assumptions slightly to make realism work well in the Middle Eastern context.
Since 2015, there has been a sharp turnaround in Democrats’ sympathies for Israel and the Palestinians. The percentage of Democrats with a preference for Israel is more or less tied with those preferring the Palestinians, wiping out Israel’s historic advantage. Long-term processes of liberalization and secularization have generated a more difficult environment for Israel and a more favorable one for the Palestinians, but they alone do not account for the shift. Rather, the fusing of these trends with changes in Israel triggered the change.
After a decade of civil war, hundreds of thousands of casualties and immense destruction, it is now clear that Bashar al-Assad won the war in Syria. Assad's victory is the result of a variety of reasons, one of them is the military and economic assistance he received from Russia, his close ally. The present article follows the Russian involvement in Syria and examines what Russia’s interests are in Syria.
Chuchu Zhang and Yahia H. Zoubir
A recurrent question is whether Islamist parties surreptitiously capitalize on political change to weaken or establish their own authoritarianism. In this article, we contend that the answer to this question depends largely on how ruling elites in authoritarian systems structure and manage the Islamist marketplace, thus affecting the position of Islam in politics and society. In our comparative analysis of Tunisia and Algeria, we distinguish between a state-dominated Islamist marketplace and a managed, open, pluralist Islamist marketplace.
M. Hakan Yavuz and Vasif Huseynov
The Karabakh region and surrounding territories — occupied by Armenia for the last 26 years — represented a classic “frozen” ethno-territorial conflict in the post-Soviet world. The conflict erupted in September 2020, and Azerbaijan managed to liberate the occupied territories. This article examines the causes and consequences of the recent Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After summarizing the historical origins of the conflict, the article offers an analysis of four main causes that renewed hostilities.
Francisco Salvador Barroso Cortés and Joseph A. Kéchichian
For nearly a century, the absence of ethical norms within Lebanese political circles encouraged the practice of corruption that transformed the praxis into an unparalleled art form, one that generated clout-yielding elites. Sophisticated public-power mechanisms created for the benefit of the country’s 18 religious denominations, transformed them into partners in corruption, and secured greater quotas of power, and an exclusive hold on all public resources.
The author analyzes the final judgment of the UN tribunal convened to inquire into the assas-sination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Only one of the four men originally charged was found guilty, wholly on the basis of alleged cell-phone communications. Although Israel was known to have comprehensively penetrated the Lebanese telecommunications sector, the tribunal made no attempt to prove conclusively that the cell-phone calls allegedly made by the accused were actually made by them and not fabricated by a third party.
Yossi Mann and Roie Yellinek
China introduced a new oil benchmark in March 2018, part of a bid to establish its position as an economic superpower. This article analyzes the impact of this new index on the Middle East, a key region where much of the oil on which the index is based originates, by focusing on market transparency, market determination, government involvement, physical accessibility, and the inter-nal Chinese dialogue. The article then discusses the political, financial, and economic view from the Middle Eastern perspective.
Mahmood Monshipouri and Javad Heiran-Nia
This paper seeks to unpack China’s grand energy policy in the Middle East. It examines the pro-posed Iran-China deal, to which China’s great game in Iran presents new challenges. Beijing sees Iran as a key potential asset in Western Asia. Regional experts argue that, given Iran’s extensive natural resources and human capital, as well as a relatively untapped market, the country is seen by the Chinese ruling class as a potentially valuable ally.