Reuel Marc Gerecht

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Can The Intelligence Community Tell What’s Brewing In Afghanistan?

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan Notebook
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Although the age of mass-casualty Islamic terrorism may be ending, American intelligence ought to assume worst-case scenarios. Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the two most likely locales for Al-Qa’ida—still the only organization to have organized a mass-casualty attack from Western-based cells—to organize new assaults against the United States. Is the CIA capable of designing and running operations in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan that could detect and thwart new conspiracies?

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The Saudi Evolution

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fouad Ajami had an odd fondness for Saudi Arabia. He was an Americanized, secular Shiite with European sensibilities who, truth be told, had pretty much burned out on the ugliness of the modern Arab world. He once smiled knowingly at the comment of the late, great Middle Eastern historian Charles Issawi: “Thank God it’s Friday: I can stop reading Arabic, Persian, and Turkish and go home and read Jane Austen.”  

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

Covid-19 And Middle Eastern Tyranny

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In the democratic West, many expect there to be a post–Covid-19 reckoning. That politicians who did poorly in handling the pandemic will fall from office. There isn’t a clear understanding of what virological competence in a leader ought to look like (Angela Merkel appears, for now, to be the exemplar), but many executives in the more severely infected nations—for example, Donald Trump, Emanuel Macron, and Boris Johnson—aren’t role models and should be punished.

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The Syrian Front

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Discussing America’s stake in the Middle East has increasingly become a shell game where our “interests” can quickly disappear depending on the changing sentiments of the president. The trajectory for American foreign policy in the Middle East is clear:  down if not out.  And although Democrats can occasionally give the impression that they are in favor of a more vigorous presence, that is probably just an anti-Trumpian reflex:  if the president is in favor of abandoning the Kurds and leaving Syria, then Democrats are in favor of staying and reinforcing the alliance.  

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The Israeli–Palestinian Struggle, Continued.

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Whenever the Israeli–Palestinian question arises in Washington, an assumption inevitably precedes it:  the United States has an important and unique role to play in advancing peace between these two peoples.  Israelis and Palestinians might make progress alone (the 1993 Oslo Accords).  But the two can only go so far, so we are told, without American mediation, primarily because only Washington can push Jerusalem into taking risks— “land for peace” and military restraint toward the security deficiencies of the Palestinian Authority—that are the stepping stones to a two-state solution, the endgame for a peaceful settlement. 

Featured AnalysisAnalysis and Commentary

Foreign Interference Everywhere

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

“Foreign interference” is a phrase often heard in the Middle East.   In the pre-modern era, Muslim dynasties continuously challenged each other.  The idea of “foreign” intrusion was, however, religiously defined:  there were Greek and Latin Christians in the west, Mongol Shamanists and Hindus to the east.  The recurring and intense wars between the Ottomans and the Safavids, where sultans and shahs attempted in their diplomatic correspondence to strip each other of legitimacy, were an intramural match, despite the Sunni–Shiite clash, where victory on the battlefield determined who owned what. 

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The Syrian Great Game

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Iran, Russia, and the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad are invested in winning. Is the United States? 
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The Syrian Great Game

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

By definition “great games” are complicated with lots of moving parts.  Battles on the ground, intense, myriad, and sometimes fratricidal, always connect, however indirectly, to the larger collision of great powers.  In Syria, the tug-of-war is a lopsided affair, where Iran, Russia, and the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad are invested in winning.  The opposing side—Syrian Arab Sunnis, Sunni Gulf Arabs, Israel, the United States, and Turkey—is barely an entente.

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Countering Iran While Retreating

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Time has almost run out for the United States to deny the Islamic Republic hegemony in the northern Middle East. The clerical regime has the high ground and the Americans are, at best, slowing Iranian advances. The approximately two thousand troops Washington has reportedly deployed to Syria, mostly in the north and the southeast, have prevented the Tehran–Moscow–Damascus axis from dominating all of the strategic locations in the country. But if President Trump really did tell Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will cut military aid to the Syrian Kurds, the most reliable of America’s disparate anti-Islamic State “partners on the ground,” and he meant it, it’s a decent guess America’s military presence will diminish.

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“Pushing Back” Iran

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On both the left and the right, there is a consensus in Washington that the United States needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic’s nefarious actions in the Levant, Iraq, and Yemen. The clerical regime largely controls the ground war in Syria: Tehran’s foreign Shiite militias, imported from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Iranian-directed native forces lead the battle against the Sunni insurrection.