November 23, 2014

UNDERSTANDING THE “ISLAMIST WAVE” IN TUNISIA

On October 23, 2011, Tunisia held the first free and democratic elections in the country’s history. Tunisian voters were called upon to elect 217 members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), whose task was to appoint an interim government and to draft a new constitution within one year, and to prepare the country for general elections. The Islamist party Ennahda was then declared the winner of the election, obtaining 89 seats. The main problem with these elections, however, was the … [Read more...]

TURKISH-ISRAELI RELATIONS IN THE SHADOW OF THE ARAB SPRING

barry-rubin

This article is a short analysis of how Turkey changed under AKP rule so that the regime no longer wished to have an alignment with Israel but, on the contrary, needed to treat Israel as an enemy. In order to understand the initial reasons behind the creation of the Turkish-Israeli alliance, one must also recognize why that alignment came to an end. The cause was not within the partnership itself nor was it due to the 2008/2009 Gaza War or the 2010 flotilla events; rather this resulted from … [Read more...]

SYRIA’S 31 PERCENTERS: HOW BASHAR AL-ASAD BUILT MINORITY ALLIANCES AND COUNTERED MINORITY FOES

As the Syrian revolution against Bashar al-Asad’s rule enters its first year, Asad appears to have a good command over Syria’s large and fractious minority community. Three of the most prominent minority groups include the Christians, Druze, and Kurds. Asad’s control of these groups was not happenstance but the result of a number of hard- and soft-power moves executed by the regime. These calculations did not simply involve direct internal dealings with said minorities, but also outreach … [Read more...]

THE “INDEPENDENT SHI’A” OF LEBANON: WHAT WIKILEAKS TELLS US ABOUT AMERICAN EFFORTS TO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE TO HIZBALLAH

U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks have given a new insight into American policy in Lebanon, especially efforts to counter Hizballah. Hizballah’s willingness to use a combination of hard power through violence and coercion, combined with a softer touch via extensive patronage networks has given them unmatched control over the Shi’a community since the 2005 Cedar Revolution. Using these released cables, this study will focus on efforts, successes, and failures made by so-called … [Read more...]

NAVIGATING THE NEW MIDDLE EAST? THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS LOST AT SEA AND ON THE ROCKS

barry-rubin

This article surveys all aspects of U.S. Middle East policy under the Obama administration, critiques this strategy and premises, and suggests what U.S. policy should be. A previous version of this article was published in The Journal of International Security Affairs (Fall/Winter 2011).   The Obama administration has comprehensively lost its way on Middle East policy to an extent that poses tremendous dangers to the United States, Western interests, and the region as a whole. The … [Read more...]

INDO-ISRAELI DEFENSE COOPERATION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

This paper focuses on the current Indo-Israeli defense cooperation and its constraints. The article begins with a brief historical account of this relationship, followed by a discussion of its progression into the defense arena in the late 1990s under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Subsequently, it examines the magnitude of the more recent defense cooperation under a new Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Finally, this paper attempts to examine … [Read more...]

THE COMING CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

barry-rubin

  The gap between dominant Western perceptions of the Middle East and the region's reality is dangerously wide. While the "Arab Spring" is celebrated as an advance for moderation and democracy, in fact the advance is going to revolutionary Islamists. Developments in Turkey and Egypt especially threaten to plunge the Middle East back into an era of conflict, instability, and the worst threats to Western interests in decades. There are several things very much predictable about the … [Read more...]

THE CROSSROADS OF MUSLIM BROTHERS IN JORDAN

Manifestations of Islamic activism are abundant in Jordan. The country’s Islamist movement has played a key role in political life almost since independence. As traditional allies of the monarchy, the Muslim Brothers have participated in politics when the regime has engaged in political openness. However, their moderation in domestic politics has been accompanied by a growing radicalization on foreign policy issues as a result of their refusal to accept the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and … [Read more...]

THE MIDDLE EAST: WELL-INTENTIONED CONCILIATORY POLICY MEETS REVOLUTIONARY ISLAMIST THREAT

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The problem at present is not just that the Middle East may be heading for disaster and the Western strategic situation could be moving toward collapse, but that such an unfavorable outcome is made more likely by the fact that Western governments don't seem to comprehend this situation and are following policies that make it worse. There are five main critical developments which threaten the region's already fragile stability. First, and most basic, is the rise of revolutionary Islamist … [Read more...]

To Perpetuate Their Dictatorships, Arab Rulers Resort to the Islamic Creed

  KORANIC INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERATE, ISLAMIST, AND JIHADIST The Koran often provides Muslims with contradictory inspirations on subjects of political or social relevance. On Muslim relations with Christians and Jews, for example, a moderate Muslim would focus on peaceful and tolerant verses such as 29:46: “Do not argue with the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] unless in a fair way.” Similar injunctions are found in, among others, 2:62, 2:136, 2:256, and the second … [Read more...]