Aisha Al-Sarihi, Yara Asi, Jeremy Tamanini, Jim Moran
The following is an edited transcript of the 104th in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The event took place on April 23, 2021, via Zoom, with Council President Richard J. Schmierer moderating, and Council Executive Director Bassima Alghussein serving as discussant.
Chas W. Freeman Jr.
For two centuries, external great powers and their rivalries dominated and manipulated the Middle East. Eventually, the United States emerged as the main regulator of its affairs. Now the interests and interactions of countries within the region itself are the primary drivers of trends and events there.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the Middle East first struggled but soon stabilized. This article studies the why and how by examining the cases of Iraq and Syria to observe the ways China handled its international business operations in the time of Covid. Prior to that, despite international criticism and doubts, China's BRI had continued to thrive.
Trust is a recurring theme in social-science literature for disciplines as diverse as psychology, political science, anthropology, sociology, and management. Recently, the concept has even been studied in neurobiology, behavioral economics, and computer science. In discussing the impact of state responses to Covid-19 on trust in government, one should distinguish between two types of trust: political and social. Political trust refers to the extent to which people have trust in institutions; social trust refers to trust in other people within the community and beyond.
There are libraries of books and articles related to the study of Islamic terrorism. Most of them see Islam as a reason for action. The authors of these publications fail to explain why similar terrorist acts are committed by people who often—as is the case in the United States—have no ideology and seem to choose their victims at random. This article argues that the roots of terrorism can be found not in ideology but in sociocultural aspects of society, including Western societies.
Emil A. Souleimanov and Roberto Colombo
Reflecting on the rise of jihadist groups across the world, the burgeoning literature has focused on the threat posed by such groups to their non-jihadist adversaries, while paying less attention to the widespread incidents of jihadist infighting. According to various estimates, thousands of jihadists have been killed in inter-jihadist civil wars since 2014 alone. While the extant research has interpreted these clashes as a consequence of power outbidding, sectarian splits, and political competition, the driving incentive behind jihadist infighting has so far escaped scholarly attention.
Shahram Akbarzadeh and Mahmoud Pargoo
In the last decade, China's rapid economic growth has become a hot topic for politicians and intellectuals in Iran. Iranian views on China and its development model are ambiguous and contradictory, despite exponential growth in trade between the two countries. Three broad views have emerged in Iran about the Chinese way of progress. The pragmatic moderates advocate rapid economic development while keeping tight political control, which is broadly known as the China model. Two other political factions have ambivalent views on China.
This article interrogates and extrapolates Iran's bilateral relationship with the Assad government and Hezbollah in the context of the so-called Resistance Axis, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps's objective of enhancing its strategic depth in Syria after the onset of conflict in 2011. Utilizing a complex realist conceptual framework, and with reference to constructivism, it argues that Iran's strategic depth in Syria could have been addressed as part of a dialogue on regional security after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) in 2015.
Burak Bilgehan Özpek
After the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority in the June 2015 national elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked the re-emergence of nationalism and changed the course of Turkish politics. This was a vulgar, populist version of nationalism based on pillars such as a militaristic approach toward the Kurdish question, anti-Americanism, conspiracy theories, and a refusal to accept universal norms. With the help of this nationalism, Erdoğan managed to stop the decline of the AKP and further consolidate his power.
Theocharis N. Grigoriadis and Walied Kassem
We explore the effects of Libya's administrative division into Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan on the onset of the Libyan conflict. We argue that Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, in particular, followed two different and distinct paths of political development and socioeconomic transformation. While Tripolitania and its elites are connected to the core of Libyan statehood and the legacies of Italian colonization, Cyrenaica is defined by localized political autonomy and economic autarky with respect to natural resources.
Sumaia A. Al-Kohlani, Carlin C. Crisanti and Jennifer L. Merolla
Yemen has been the target of a high level of drone strikes by the US government, but we know very little about public reaction to such strikes, even though scholars of foreign policy have been concerned about the possibility of blowback from the Yemeni public. We conducted 63 in-depth interviews to assess how Yemenis think about terrorism and US counterterrorism strategies. In particular, we were interested in evidence of blowback among the public.
Zahid Shahab Ahmed and Khurram Abbas
In a major diplomatic realignment, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized their relations with Israel in September 2020 by signing the Abraham Peace Accords in Washington. However, this normalization has created a noticeable divide; other majority-Muslim states, including Morocco and Sudan, have also accepted incentives to normalize relations with Israel, while pressure is mounting on Pakistan from its close allies in the Gulf region to recognize Israel.