On August 5, in a long-awaited speech on the agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program, President Obama separated himself definitively from Israeli hardliners (see our conference proceedings for a discussion of what the deal means, p. 1). Such defiance of the Israel Lobby is rare, though in 1980, President Reagan sold AWACS radar planes to Saudi Arabia against Israel's will.
James N. Miller, Nabeel Khoury, Paul Pillar, Sara Vakhshouri
JAMES MILLER, Former Undersecretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Defense; President, Adaptive Strategies, LLC; Board of Directors, the Atlantic Council
Since I'm kicking things off, I thought I'd set the context for the nuclear deal itself, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. I'll then offer my views about implications for the region as well.
The Middle East has never failed to amaze observers who follow it closely. In the last several months, news about the Iranian-Saudi cold war, the rift between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Washington's support to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has dominated the headlines. At the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York, April 27-May 22, these parties all took significantly different positions.
In early 2014, the organization then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant swept across northwestern Iraq while simultaneously expanding the territory under its control in eastern Syria. The group, which renamed itself the Islamic State (IS) in June 2014, is led by members of what used to be al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has incorporated Iraqi Sunnis who hold grievances against the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad (mostly former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and alienated tribes) as well as a variety of armed Syrian opposition groups.
President Hassan Rouhani came to office in 2014 with a popular mandate to relieve Iran's international isolation. His electoral campaign focused on ending the crippling sanctions Iran has suffered due to the ongoing dispute over its nuclear program. Rouhani promised to make "moderation" the centerpiece of his government, but breaking out of isolation has proven to be much more difficult than the reform-inclined Rouhani government expected. The Arab upheaval has morphed into sectarian warfare, championed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ("Daesh" in Arabic and Persian).
In recent decades, scholars of the Middle East have come to understand that the long-dominant neorealist approaches, with their focus on the relative material power of states, fail to explain the dynamics of security politics in the region.
Emil Aslan Souleimanov, Katarina Petrtylova
The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS, ISIL or IS) has once again brought the Middle East to the center of the international stage. This quasi-state's recent territorial gains, together with its harsh treatment of religious minorities, brazen media campaign and destruction of the region's unique cultural heritage, have all galvanized millions in the region and across the world against the group.
Is terrorism — commonly understood to mean deliberate attacks on innocent civilians — ever justifiable, or at least subject to morally persuasive distinctions? I will argue that while terrorism is always morally wrong, it is both possible and desirable to distinguish between degrees of moral wrongness. I will examine this issue in the context of just-war moral theory and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has defied numerous attempts at resolution, placing it in the category of intractable conflict. Yet even a conflict as intractable as this can be transformed, and breakthroughs toward peace can occur. Indeed, this has happened between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and even the Palestinians — in the form of the Oslo Accords.
Sherifa Zuhur and Marlyn Tadros
Edward Said's concept of orientalism was developed from his perception of the role of scholarship in the West's exploitation of the East for the purpose of conquest and the maintenance of political power. It was not simply a construct of Eastern inferiority versus Western superiority.
Over a decade ago Dru C. Gladney argued that China faced the prospect of Xinjiang (or East Turkestan as many Uyghurs would prefer it) becoming its own West Bank if it failed to address the problems stemming from its forceful attempts to integrate the region.
Mohammad S. Khorsheed
A large proportion of economic growth is accounted for by knowledge-driven technological change and innovation. Irrespective of whether innovation is related to products or processes, whether it is abrupt or incremental in nature, or whether it is technological or related to business models and organizational structures, it improves value for the consumer, the producer or the society at large. It is a nonlinear process involving complex interactions among a multitude of organizations.
Anyone interested in the complexity of foreign policy needs to read Breaking Faith by Graham Fuller. Good fiction has the power to reveal deeper "truths" about policy issues than analytical essays.
In the 1950s, in response to the ring of Arab enmity around Israel, a grand strategy called the "periphery doctrine" was advanced by then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his advisers. It was interpreted by Arabs as an "outflanking doctrine" (p. 131).
The accusations and insults began flying even before the anticipated publication of Ally, the highly controversial memoir of Michael Oren, the American-born historian and current Knesset member who served as Israel's ambassador in Washington from 2009 to 2013.
This volume, edited by Raymond Hinnebusch, professor of international relations and Middle East politics at St. Andrews University, and Tina Zintl, lecturer at the University of Tübingen, is not solely a last-minute update of the Syrian civil war.