Dan Arbell / Omar Rahman / Sari Nusseibeh / Joel Rubin
The following is an edited transcript of the 105th in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The event took place on July 16, 2021, via Zoom, with Council President Richard J. Schmierer moderating, and Council Executive Director Bassima Alghussein serving as discussant.
James Shires / Simon Handler / Jim Moran / Gawdat Bahgat
The following is an edited transcript of the 106th in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The event took place on October 22, 2021, via Zoom, with Council Executive Director Bassima Alghussein moderating.
Syed Sami Raza
The Middle East is notorious for its deep-rooted state rivalries based on ethnic and sectarian divisions. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey are the three major powers in the region that seek hegemony, impelling the smaller states to choose their allies. At the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, these major powers engaged in a blame game about the spread of the virus in the region, further straining their diplomatic relations. In this article, I map out this blame game among the major powers as well as other political groups and nonstate actors in the Middle East.
Ali Bagheri Dolatabadi / Mehran Kamrava
Iran's foreign policy changed with the spread of Covid-19 in three main ways. First, the pandemic propelled its health diplomacy into prominence. Second, the pandemic altered the customary view of the country's diplomacy. For more than four decades, Iran has regarded this diplomacy from the perspective of humanitarianism and ethics. But the pandemic imparted new object lessons. Third, the pandemic ushered Iran into a new era of cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain had a major impact on other entities in the Middle East. One of the important players was the Al Thani administration in Qatar. This was the third time Doha needed to respond to a peace treaty with Israel. Every time, Qatar has chosen a different way. In the cases of both the Egypt–Israel peace treaty and the Abraham Accords, Doha objected. In the 1990s, however, the Al Thani regime supported rapprochement with Israel, for two reasons. The first was the opinion of the Palestinian community.
One of Israel's first political strategies was its establishment of relations with non-Arab states through its “periphery doctrine.” As a means of balancing pan-Arabism and outflanking its hostile Arab neighbors, the strategy served to enhance Israel's security and economic ties, and reduce regional isolation. Today, Israel operates under a “reverse periphery doctrine,” having recently formed or improved ties with several Arab Gulf states and Eastern Mediterranean countries.
Farshad Roomi / Ehsan Kazemi
Although the member states of the Shiite Crescent—Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon—have recently gained partial success in regional competition, they face a governance crisis due to the growing public dissatisfaction in each country. This has undermined their achievements and made them the field of conflict between the proponents of secular and political Islam.
Regime change in Iraq provided a new opportunity for Shiis and Kurds to create a new power-sharing system. These two persecuted communities embraced a democratic-federal system based on a combined civic and ethnocultural model. Analyzing this new alliance, this article argues that there were prominent forces within both communities that did not uphold an essentialist sense of identity, thus providing a basis for mutual recognition, as reflected in the new constitution.
Turkey has pursued an assertive military campaign in Iraq to eliminate the presence of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been supported by elements of hard power, coercive diplomacy, and an increasingly emboldened foreign-intelligence apparatus. This article traces the roots of this new phase in Turkey's cross-border military engagement to two interrelated factors. First, Ankara has adopted a new counterterrorism doctrine that relies on a militarized regional policy.
Turkish Foreign Policy Within the Framework of Neorealism: Bilateral Relations with Its Allies Since 2016
Eren Alper Yilmaz
In the last five years, Turkish foreign policy in the regional and international arenas has followed a neorealist approach, mostly defensive, by establishing either cooperation or conflict with its allies, based on the dynamics of its domestic politics and the structure of the international system.
Tyler B. Parker
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have pursued distinct policies in Yemen since their intervention began in March 2015. The Saudis remain mired in an air war in the north to defeat the Houthis, an Iran-linked group that ousted Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Between 2016 and 2019, the UAE shifted from this task toward a ground war in the south to fight Islamist groups and support the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a secessionist organization that opposes Hadi's government.
The intra-Afghan dialogue stalled despite hectic diplomatic efforts by the United States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russia, and other countries to revitalize the dialogue and reach a political settlement before Western troops left Afghanistan. This article argues that there were three main reasons for disagreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and these issues remained a major stumbling block in the peace process and will prevent lasting peace.
During the past two decades, Iran has gained a prominent position in the Middle East. Its influence in Iraq has gradually increased following the US invasion in 2003, and in Syria after the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. Many scholars and political analysts frame Iran's actions in the region as driven by the country's desire for expansionism. This article, however, demonstrates that Tehran's foreign policy rationale for exercising regional influence, especially in Iraq and Syria, has mainly been oriented around guaranteeing Iran's national security.
China's deepening ties to Iran, evident in the comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) signed in 2021 after five years of stalled progress, is not an indication of a revisionist Chinese approach to the Gulf region. In fact, its CSPs with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, already activated and implemented, are at far more mature levels, commensurate with China's deep levels of economic and political engagement with the Arab side of the Gulf. This is consistent with a strategic hedging approach that Beijing has use
Itir Ozer-Imer / Emrullah Can Kilic
International trade can be considered a means of sharing the world's wealth and a web that holds countries together. Despite the fact that this web is not strong enough to defy every problem between states, trade has become an important tool for Turkey's rapprochement with its neighbors. In this regard, Turkish-Iranian trade relations are based on mutual benefits and reciprocal dependency.
Africa is a pivotal continent for Iran, as the Islamic Republic aims to expand its influence in wider global vistas. Iran experiences frequent setbacks in developing its Africa policy, but the continent continues to offer ample opportunities to support Tehran. This is partly because revolutionary Iran's Africa policy evolves through a wide array of piecemeal political, security, maritime, economic, and cultural activities.