The Washington Institute (30)

Defusing the Electricity Crisis in Gaza -- For Now

On June 22, the Gaza Power Plant came back online, following a shipment of diesel fuel from Egypt earlier in the week, offering a temporary reprieve from the crisis that had left Gaza residents with as little as three hours of electricity per day. The news came just as Israel completed an ...

Iran Missile Strikes Reveal Potential Military Weaknesses

On the evening of June 18, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired what were said to be six Zolfaqar medium-range ballistic missiles some 600 kilometers from its western provinces across Iraqi territory at what were described as Islamic State command-and-control and logistics targets, along ...

What's Behind Moscow's Latest Threats in Syria

On June 19, the Russian Defense Ministry blasted the U.S. downing of the Syrian SU-22 as an "act of aggression" and a "violation of international law." Moscow cut the deconfliction channel with the U.S. and threatened to target U.S. and U.S. allies' aircraft flown west of the Euphrates, though the ...

The New 'King' of Saudi Arabia

The latest Saudi transition had been predictable since soon after King Salman ascended the throne on the death of his older half-brother Abdullah in January 2015. Within three months, Salman had positioned Muhammad bin Salman, the eldest son of his third wife, as his intended eventual successor. The ...

Trump Is on a Collision Course with Iran

Rarely has the Middle East been more baffling. The United States sells fighter jets to Qatar, a country the American president accuses of sponsoring terrorism. In Syria, the U.S. is relying on Kurdish fighters that Turkey, a NATO country closely aligned with Qatar, says are terrorists, supporting ...

A New Battlespace in Syria: Prospects for U.S. Policy

As U.S.-led coalition forces approach victory against the self-proclaimed Islamic State caliphate in Syria, a new battlespace is emerging that will involve warring factions vying for control of IS-held territories. These lands stretch from Raqqa through the Euphrates River Valley to the border with ...

What Gazans Really Want: Hard Data About A Hard Problem

June 20, 2017 This month marks the tenth anniversary of the violent Hamas coup that took control over the 1.9 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. There is still no end in sight to their predicament – but this is most certainly not because Hamas enjoys popular support among the local ...

Saudi Palace Politics and the U.S. Relationship

A profusion of royal decrees on June 17 appears to have further marginalized Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and confirms the political ascendancy of King Salman's son Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Although apparently esoteric, the most significant of the decrees restructures the ...

Russia's Strategic Objectives in the Middle East and North Africa

The following is an excerpt from Ms. Borshchevskaya's  prepared remarks before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. To read her full testimony, download the PDF. If Washington wants to limit Moscow's influence and improve the U.S. strategic position vis-a-vis Russia in the ...

Qatar Doesn't Need a Blockade, It Needs an Audit

One grievance underpinning the ongoing diplomatic conflict between Qatar and its fellow Gulf Arab countries is Doha's close ties to a variety of extremist elements spanning the spectrum from the Taliban to Iran to the Muslim Brotherhood. But Qatar's most disturbing relationship of all is with al ...

Hezbollah's Redeployment in Syria: Potential Confrontations

Since the fall of Aleppo, Hezbollah has strategically moved most of its forces in Syria to other parts of the country, in large part to legitimize its local presence, bolster its power there, and better secure the southern borders. In tandem with the movements of Shia militias from Iran, ...

Counter-radicalization and de-radicalization in Egypt and Libya: Returnees and Foresight

At the beginning of May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein expressed concerns over Egypt’s policies to combat extremism, highlighting that a state of emergency, the massive numbers of detentions, and arbitrary arrest facilitate radicalization. Meantime, the Libyan ...

Assurances from Washington, Fears in Cairo

June 13, 2017 “I just want to let everybody know that we are strongly supporting President Sisi; he has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We stand with Egypt, and we support the people of Egypt.” With these words, the U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed his Egyptian ...

Why Regional Dynamics Open the Door for Jordan-Israel Cooperation

Jordan finds itself in a precarious strategic position. The Hashemite Kingdom is located at the heart of a degenerating region and has absorbed millions of refugees despite a floundering economy. This state of affairs has led Jordan to increase economic cooperation with Israel, as it attempts to ...

LBJ and the June 1967 War:

On June 1, Dennis Ross, Nicholas Rostow, and Michael Mandelbaum addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Ross is the Institute's William Davidson Distinguished Fellow and author of Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama . Rostow is the Charles Evans Hughes ...

Resetting U.S.-Gulf Ties: Beyond Summits and Arms Sales

President Trump's attendance at the recent summits in Riyadh was a first step toward resetting relations with America's Gulf Arab allies. But advancing long-term U.S. interests in the Gulf and beyond will require more than arms deals and speeches. It will take a degree of competence and geopolitical ...

Attacking Hezbollah's Financial Network: Policy Options

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Levitt's  prepared remarks. To read his full testimony, download the PDF.  Several concrete steps could be taken to strengthen current efforts and counter Hezbollah's ability to exploit the international financial system: Designate additional Hezbollah entities ...

Wahhabism and Terrorism: Is Saudi Arabia the Arsonist or the Fireman?

My short answer to today's question is that Saudi Arabia has been an arsonist and may still be. But we, meaning the United States and our allies, need to work with the kingdom so that it can also be a fireman. This is a work in progress. But there is a longer answer. My specialism, when I am not ...

The Surprising Opinions of Palestinians

President Trump returned from Jerusalem and Bethlehem with no agreements in hand. But behind the scenes, a new poll reveals that much of the Palestinian public actually agrees with several key points Trump raised. The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, and comprised ...

Building a “Joint Force” to Control Liberated Yazidi Towns

More than two weeks after the launch of the Muhammad Rasallah II operation, the Popular Mobilization Units reached the Syria-Iraq border west of Mosul on May 29, 2017. Hadi al-Ameri, leader of the Badr Organization and one of the most influential PMU commanders, announced from the border that the ...

How Will Iran Respond to Terrorist Attacks in the Heart of the Islamic Republic?

On June 7, coordinated terrorist attacks targeted two key landmarks in Iran: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum south of Tehran and the parliament building in the heart of the capital. The perpetrators used suicide vests and Kalashnikovs to kill and wound dozens of people. An Islamic State ...

U.S. Options in the Qatar Crisis

BASIC GUIDELINES FOR NAVIGATING THE CRISIS | By Lori Plotkin Boghardt As the diplomatic rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors widens, the principal challenge in determining Washington's best approach lies in Doha's complicated role as a U.S. security partner. Qatar is a critical strategic ally ...

Iraqi Public Opinion Shows a New Bridge of Hope and an Old Valley of Concerns

June 7, 2017 Since I started researching and polling public opinion in Iraq in 2003, I cannot remember more interesting findings than the ones from the recent nationwide survey conducted a few weeks ago. In general - and as a rule since 2003 - hundreds of previous quantitative and qualitative ...

Building a “Joint Force” to Control Liberated Yazidi Towns

More than two weeks after the launch of the Muhammad Rasallah II operation, the Popular Mobilization Units reached the Syrian-Iraqi border west of Mosul on May 29, 2017. Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of Badr Organization and one of the most influential PMU commanders, announced from the border that the ...

Morocco's Escalating Protests Call for a Careful Response

In recent weeks, Morocco has been rocked by its largest demonstrations since 2011, when hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets demanding jobs and an end to corruption against a backdrop of uprisings across the Arab world. The kingdom experienced occasional bouts of protest in ...

A New Electoral Law for Lebanon: Continuity or Change?

On June 21, Lebanon's parliamentary term is set to end. Unable to agree on a new electoral law, the current legislature has already voted to extend itself twice, in 2013 and 2014, making 2009 the last time the Lebanese people actually voted for their representatives. With the deadline fast ...

Will Qatar's Diplomatic Exile Spark the Next Great War?

Sarajevo 1914, Doha 2017? We could be at a historic moment akin to the assassination of the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which resulted in what became known as the Great War. This time, though, the possible clash is between a Saudi-United Arab Emirates force and Iran. Washington ...

Rojava's Future: Four Models Explained

In July 2012, as Syria's war intensified, the Assad regime largely pulled out of Kurdish-majority areas in the north. To fill the vacuum, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its militia, the People's Defense Units , took control of these areas, marginalizing other Kurdish factions. They ...

The Scramble for Eastern Syria

The game for who will rule eastern Syria after the Islamic State is on. On May 18, the United States destroyed a military convoy allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after it ignored repeated warnings to stop its advance on al-Tanf, a U.S. and British special operations base on the ...

Trump, Qatar, and Shifting Sands in the Gulf

Since the Riyadh summits were held on May 20-21, power has been shifting quickly and dramatically in the Gulf, creating new political realities. This is happening inside Gulf countries like Bahrain. It's occurring between Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the one side and ...