The Washington Institute (38)

Algeria's Growing Security Problems

In recent months, terrorism has frequently dominated news coverage of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Developments in neighboring Algeria, which remains largely closed to international media, have been less visible, but the upcoming May 4 legislative elections in Africa's largest country will occur ...

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, One Year On

On April 25, 2016, Saudi Arabia announced Vision 2030, an ambitious economic plan intended to confirm the kingdom's status as "the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment power house, and the hub connecting three continents." The accompanying vision statement was long on rhetoric and ...

Does Egypt Need an FTA with the United States?

During Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's recent visit to the United States, he stressed his country's dire economic situation, among other priorities, and the corresponding need for U.S. help in stabilizing the economy. To this end, he and various delegations joining him called for the ...

The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

In a world of rising tensions between Russia and the United States, the Middle East and Europe, Sunnis and Shiites, Islamism and liberalism, Turkey is at the epicenter. And at the heart of Turkey is its right-wing populist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since 2002, Erdogan has consolidated his ...

Famine, Houthis, and Peace Talks Confront Yemen

The Yemen peace process has been on life support since late December, even though the nation is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. G-7 foreign ministers all but threw up their hands at their meeting last week in Lucca, Italy, with a nearly rote statement calling for a renewed ceasefire and ...

Turkey's 'New Sultan'

On April 18, Soner Cagaptay, Gonul Tol, and Amberin Zaman addressed a Policy Forum book launch event at The Washington Institute. Cagaptay, the Institute's Beyer Family Fellow and director of its Turkish Research Program, just published his latest book The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of ...

Could Italy Get Trump to Care About Fixing Libya?

Foreign leaders are playing an important role in President Donald Trump's foreign policy education. Jordan's King Abdullah II, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have clearly influenced Trump's positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, North Korea, ...

Regional Consequences of Trump's Travel Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, indefinitely prohibiting all Syrian refugees from entering the United States and banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, ...

Taxing Times in Jordan

Tax season is tough for most Americans. Not typically so for Jordanians. In the Kingdom of Jordan -- arguably Washington's best Arab ally in the war against the terrorist Islamic State organization -- historically only about 3 percent of the locals pay taxes. But this year is different. Facing a ...

Middle East Reactions to Trump’s Travel Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending the United States Refugee Admissions Program, indefinitely prohibiting all Syrian refugees from entering the United States and banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, ...

The Day After: What the United States Can Do

As the Nuri mosque, the place where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad declared his caliphate in 2014, appears in the crosshairs of advancing Iraqi troops, the military defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the Iraqi theater looks virtually certain. But as the end of the military stage ...

Palestinians Aren't Ready to Make Peace With Israel, But That Doesn't Rule Out a Peace Deal

In his Mosaic essay "Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?" Daniel Polisar concludes that the Palestinian public does not, in fact, want such a solution. Instead, by large and consistent majorities, Palestinians support the maximalist solution of a Palestinian state "from the Jordan River to ...

Turkey in Crisis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's narrow win in Sunday's referendum, which significantly expands his powers, is not promising for Turkey's future. Following the referendum, Erdogan has become the most powerful Turk since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1923. But while half of ...

Defeat by Annihilation: Mobility and Attrition in the Islamic State's Defense of Mosul

The Islamic State's defense of Mosul has provided unique insights into how the group has adapted its style of fighting to dense urban terrain. While the Islamic State failed to mount an effective defense in the rural outskirts and outer edges of Mosul, it did mount a confident defense of the denser ...

Rouhani Likely to Survive Election Shake-Up

On April 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surprised observers by announcing he would run in the upcoming presidential election, despite his own former statement to the contrary and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's opposition to such a move. Having gradually lost the support of hardliners, the former Iranian ...

After ISIS, the U.S. Military Could Help Keep Iraq Stable

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on the U.S. to deepen cooperation with Baghdad under the 2008 U.S.-Iraqi Strategic Framework Agreement. That makes sense. America has expended incalculable resources in Iraq, intervening militarily four times since 1990. Iraq is worth the effort -- the ...

Turkey's Ties to the West Are in Deep Trouble

Speaking at a rally in Istanbul on March 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan further escalated his ongoing fight with Europe: "Have you not burned and destroyed my mosques? You are fascists, fascists!" Erdogan's creation of alt-facts, wholesale targeting of all Europeans as "fascists," and ...

Fifteen Years After the Djerba Synagogue Bombing

Fifteen years ago this month, a Tunisian operative named Nizar Nawar detonated a truck bomb outside the el-Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, killing 19, including 16 German and French tourists. Orchestrated by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was al-Qa'ida's first successful international attack after ...

Assad's Chemical Attack Signals an Imminent Idlib Offensive

In claiming that the Syrian army was not responsible for the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, Russia has argued that the Assad regime had no military reason to use such weapons. Quite the contrary: the regime faced a critical defeat on that front and felt it had no other way to avoid a ...

Putin's Self-Serving Israel Agenda

Russia may have a geostrategic rationale for recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But the move, even as it raises eyebrows, obliges Moscow to little, especially if the Russian embassy remains in Tel Aviv. Putin's real goal may have less to do with Israel than with the United States: the ...

Iran Is Still Using Pseudo-Civilian Airlines to Resupply Assad

As the aviation community and international media fixate on recent Boeing and Airbus orders by Iranian airlines, Tehran continues to quietly purchase secondhand aircraft and parts through smaller companies, actively circumventing terrorism-related sanctions against certain airlines and individuals. ...

Tillerson's Moscow Meeting Is a Reminder of How Dangerous Russia Is

After meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed what the world already knows: There's a low level of trust between the two nations. Just last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who Tillerson also met with -- criticized the ...

The Permanent State of Crisis in Turkey

As Turkey gets ready for Sunday's referendum, the country's deep social chasm gives even the most ardent optimist grave cause for concern. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an archetype of the anti-elitist, far-right politician, has spent almost two decades building up to this moment. He has demonized ...

Rojava Seeks to Break Out in Syria

Note: Click on maps for high-resolution versions. In February, the Syrian army met up with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces south of Manbij, a development that Kurdish authorities have characterized as a means of linking the northwestern canton of Afrin with the rest of their territorial ...

The Narrowing Field of Syria's Opposition

Six years after the outbreak of Syria's civil war, the parties involved, whether aligned with the Assad regime, the Sunni jihadists, or others, have increasingly wielded extreme tactics to pursue noninclusive goals. But a number of entities still emphasize -- to varying degrees -- pluralism, ...

Rojava Seeks to Break Out in Syria

In February, the Syrian army met up with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces south of Manbij, a development that Kurdish authorities have characterized as a means of linking the northwestern canton of Afrin with the rest of their territorial bloc along the Syria-Turkey border. The Democratic ...

Turkey's 'New Sultan'

It seems inevitable that Turkey will play a role in navigating many of the crises currently challenging U.S. interests, including the outcome of the Syria war and the future of Russian involvement in the Middle East. And at Turkey's helm amid this storm is the populist president Recep Tayyip ...

Despite Attacks Egypt Maintains Conventional Military Strategy

Sunday's horrific terrorist attacks on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday services, in which dozens have been killed and many more injured, should convince the Egyptian military to update its strategy against jihadis based in the Sinai Peninsula. While these aren't the first ...

Erdogan Needs Enemies More Than Friends

Cipher Brief: How would a Yes vote in Turkey's April 16 referendum change the Turkish constitution, and how would it expand the powers of the presidency? Soner Cagaptay: The biggest point is that it eliminates the office of prime minister, and it consolidates the position of prime minister into the ...

Egypt's Awkward Reset with Washington

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi started the week as Washington's guest of honor. President Trump warmly praised Sisi for doing "a fantastic job" in the Oval Office on Monday, and Sisi tied up Georgetown traffic for the next three days as he shuttled around the capital. Yet Sisi returned home ...

Military Strikes on Syria: Historical Lessons and Implications

In the early morning hours of April 7, the United States launched fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles from two destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean against al-Shayrat Air Base south of Homs. The base was reportedly used by Syrian military aircraft that dropped chemical munitions on the town of ...

Occupation, Not Apartheid

In 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israel risked becoming an apartheid state if a two-state solution could not be reached. In March 2017, a UN report titled “Israeli Practices toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” published by the Economic and ...

Trump Raises the Stakes for Russia and Iran

President Trump's decision to launch nearly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Al Shayrat air base, from which the Syrian air force flew to drop chemical weapons on the town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week, was swift and purposeful. No doubt, the horrific nature of the attack moved him. But the ...

Back to Basics: The US-Saudi Relationship in the Trump Era

Judging by the press releases, the recent Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia was a strong success. The Saudis described the meeting as a “historic turning point” that “marked a significant shift in relations, ...

Is Khan Sheikhoun a Game Changer for Russia?

On April 4, the world woke up to horrific images of the worst chemical attack in Syria against civilians in years, in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province. The attack "bears all the hallmarks" of President Bashar al-Assad's government, as US and UK Ambassadors to the UN Nikki ...

Altering Assad's Course

On April 4, the Assad regime used chemical weapons against civilians in Syria's Idlib province, creating an early and potent test for the Trump administration's foreign policy. While Washington has prioritized defeating the Islamic State in eastern Syria, the regime's ceasefire violations and use of ...

If Palestinians Are Serious About Peace, 'Martyr' Violence Should Not Pay

President Trump has shown interest in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terming it "the ultimate deal" and recently sending his peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, on a first visit to the region. Any progress on this front, however, must first address the lack of trust that exists ...

Middle Kingdom Meets Middle East

In a new Islamic State video that has undoubtedly caught Beijing's eye, Uighur militants threaten to "shed blood like rivers" in China, pledge to avenge the oppressed, and burn the Chinese flag. This first apparent instance of a public Islamic State threat to China comes as an estimated one ...