October 8, 2020

The 1978 Battle of Larnaca Airport, Cyprus, and UK Diplomacy

In 1978, Egypt and Cyprus clashed while terrorists held hostages in an airplane. The Cypriot government, under President Spyros Kyprianou, who personally handled the negotiations with Arab terrorists, faced an Egyptian crack antiterrorist group. The Egyptian troops attempted to free the hostages without the authorization of Kyprianou. The Egyptians, aiming for an Entebbe-style operation, met the determined Cypriot National Guard, who opened fire against them, killing 15 commandos and destroying … [Read more...]

The Iran-Iraq War: Unattainable Objectives

The Iran-Iraq War is unique, being much longer and more intense than any previous conventional conflict in the region. A border dispute ballooned into one of the longest conventional wars of the twentieth century.Three factors explain the long duration: military ineptitude, political and ideological motivations, and geopolitical influences. Iraq possessed a large modern military, but its rigid, top-down doctrine, inept leadership, and lackadaisical battlefield performance failed to deliver the … [Read more...]

The Talibanization of Education in Egypt

  Egypt once prided itself on being a tolerant, diverse state. While nearly the entire Jewish, Armenian, and Greek communities left in the 1950s, Egypt is still home to the largest Christian minority in the Arab world. Its Coptic community accounts for some 10 percent of the total population of 80 million.[1] The state resisted the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to overthrow what it considered a secular order. After the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, it also fought an … [Read more...]

The Small Gulf States: The Best Case Examples in the Arab World?

Prof. Barry Rubin: The purpose of this discussion is to take a close look at countries that seem to be exceptions to many of the problems and failures facing Arab states. Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman--which are also all different--may have broken away from the patterns characterizing others in the region. Have some of these countries advanced democracy more, and if so why? Are they places where an economics-in-command attitude is prevailing over ideology? Are they … [Read more...]

U.S. Middle East Policy: Too Many Challenges and yet a Single Theme


Shortly after the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president, one of his advisors--who has since been appointed to a high post--remarked privately, “The Obama administration in the Middle East, unlike its predecessor, will be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”This was a reference to an American idiomatic expression about being able to do more than one thing simultaneously. My response was, “The problem it will face is going to be walking and chewing twelve sticks of … [Read more...]

Turkey’s March 2009 Elections: Loss Without Defeat, Gain Without Victory

This article has two main goals: The first is to provide a descriptive account of the March 2009 local elections in Turkey; the second is to discuss several themes that emerged during these elections that will likely influence Turkish domestic politics at large. The mayorship races and votes won in the provincial general council (Il Genel Meclisi) elections are the focus. Yet it is generally thought that general council elections are better approximations to general elections than mayorship … [Read more...]

Israel and Lebanon: Problematic Proximity


Throughout the relatively short history of their existence as modern states, Israel’s and Lebanon’s mutual border has proven to be largely disadvantageous to both countries. The picture is not entirely negative. In the British Mandate period, as the Jewish community of Mandatory Palestine grew and developed, brisk trade and commercial relations existed between Jewish and Arab communities in the northern Galilee, and the Christian and Shi’a Muslims of southern Lebanon.[1] … [Read more...]