The following is an edited transcript of the 108th in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The event took place on April 22, 2022, via Zoom, with Council Executive Director Bassima Alghussein moderating.
This article describes Saudi Arabia's historic and arduous journey to national-defense transformation, launched around 2015. It analyzes the challenges and opportunities of defense reform in the kingdom while highlighting the role of the United States in this process. Last, the article discusses the future of US-Saudi defense relations.
This article analyzes how Qatar strategically utilized its foreign policy to overcome the implications of the 2017 Gulf crisis. Using neoclassical realism, it investigates the ways in which Qatar used its foreign relations to mitigate the impact of a crisis that barred Qatar from aerial, naval, and land corridors in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, henceforth referred to as the Quartet. The impacts are threefold.
Since 1948, attempts have been made to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. All have failed. Complex international and regional constraints complicate the issue, as do internal political constraints on both Israeli and Palestinian sides.
One of the domains of US foreign policy stuck on autopilot relates to Syria and, most importantly, Rojava (or AANES by its official name). The Biden administration inherited a quandary from its predecessor with no easy solution. On the one hand, the hostility of other actors in the region—especially Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria—render a continued US presence in northeastern Syria untenable in the long term. On the other hand, Washington cannot abandon its partners in the fight against ISIS as they did before—at least not before securing a deal beneficial to all sides.
The central question explored in this article is what should motivate decision makers in Turkey when formulating the nation's strategies toward the Turkic countries of Eurasia. Should it be pan-Islamism that advocates the unity of all Muslims in the world? Pan-Turkism, based on the unity of Turkic peoples living across Eurasia? Pan-Turanism, asserting the unity of Turanic people throughout the world? Or Atatürk's pragmatism, which advocated progressive Turkism?
Although Turkish-American defense cooperation goes back many years, recent steps taken by Turkey have led to a serious crisis. Following the decision to withdraw Patriot air-defense batteries deployed in the south of Turkey by Germany and the United States after 2015, Ankara turned to Russia for the S-400 missile-defense system, citing national security. Turkey was then excluded from the F-35 program, in which it had been involved for years. Moreover, it was sanctioned by the White House.
Relations between Turkey and the Kingdom of Jordan have been among the most stable in the Middle East. This article argues that, nevertheless, the relationship gained momentum following the Arab uprisings, which forced both countries to tackle mounting security concerns. One major challenge has been the influx of a huge number of Syrian refugees accompanying the continued instability in Syria, as well as the prolonged Palestinian-Israeli dispute and the destabilizing impact of sectarian cleavages in Iraq since 2003.
Water and water management are no longer related to environmental studies. There is a very strong link between water and a state's security, as well as its survival and development. A decline in water availability may lead to a collapse or even the extinction of a whole civilization. Sometimes referred to as a “water-bankrupt” state, Iran is a case that underlines the close relation between water and security, from the perspective of survival and opportunities for development.
For more than two decades, the nuclear issue has overshadowed Iran's foreign policy, becoming a major crisis in international politics. On the one hand, great powers and some regional countries are concerned about the military dimension of Iran's nuclear program; on the other hand, Iran is pursuing its nuclear rights confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The challenge has encountered ups and downs in recent years, from the nuclear deal in 2015 to the verge of war between Iran and the United States during Donald Trump's presidency.
Sudan's democratic transition following the ousting of Omar Al-Bashir in 2019 was from the start an uphill struggle. Three decades of Islamist military dictatorship, multiple internal conflicts, widespread poverty, and depleted state coffers all weighed heavily on the political authorities tasked with forging a new democratic system. Yet, there was hope in Sudan, at least for a time, particularly after the United Nations helped broker the historic 2020 Sudanese peace agreement between a coalition of rebel groups and the interim authorities.