The Caravan

The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Issue 1716

Rolling Back Iran
Introduction
Introduction

Rolling Back Iran

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The matter of the Middle East is now critical to the fate of modern world order. The end of the Cold War, now a quarter-century in the past, increasingly looks like the turning-point from which began a downward spiral toward the global disarray and dangers which swirl through this still-new twenty-first century. For a short time the international relations sector buzzed with the possibility of “A New World Order” which President George H. W. Bush tried to describe without success. 

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

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.

Featured Analysis

Countering Iran Requires A Political Strategy

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

It was not supposed to end this way. As protests erupted across the Arabic-speaking world, Iran seemed to be on the losing side. True, Iran’s leader, Ali Khamenei, had immediately called the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia “an Islamic liberation movement” and hailed them as “reverberations of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.” But as the protests spread from capital to capital and reached Damascus, not a few observers were confident that Iran would emerge weaker in the regional power game.

Featured Analysis

Cold War Lessons For Iran Strategy

by Karim Sadjadpourvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“Strategy,” wrote Lawrence Freedman in his book of the same name, “suggests an ability to address causes rather than symptoms, to see woods rather than trees.” While Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East is primarily the symptom of an underlying cause—the power vacuums created by the 2003 Iraq War and the 2011 Arab uprisings—there is now a symbiotic relationship between Iranian ambition and Arab disorder. The latter accentuates the former, and the former accentuates the latter. 

Featured Analysis

Repackaging Trump’s Iran Strategy

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Trump administration has articulated a much-needed strategy designed to pressure and contain the Islamic Republic of Iran’s malign regional influence, which spreads throughout Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. While reducing Iran’s imprint and leverage throughout the Middle East is indeed imperative for regional stability, the Trump administration’s methods and means will not prove successful because its strategy is zero sum against Tehran and a perpetuation of the traditional American approach to dealing with the Islamic Republic.

Featured Analysis

The Limits Of The Indirect Approach

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In October 2017, the Trump administration rolled out its long-anticipated policy to counter Iranian expansionism in the region. The policy pays significant attention to Hezbollah, Iran’s principal instrument of regional power projection. After eight years of American courtship of Iran, which drastically elevated its regional position, pushing back against Tehran and its proxies was always going to be a formidable challenge.

Featured Analysis

Iran Thrives In The Levant On Weakened States Threatened By Sunni Radicalism

by Fabrice Balanche via The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The announced defeat of the Syrian rebellion and the Islamic State is favoring the extension of Iranian influence in the Levant. The Iranian corridor between Beirut and Tehran via Baghdad and Damascus is now a reality. Territorial continuity was achieved symbolically at the end of May 2017, when Iranian-funded Shia militias joined on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border north of al-Tanf. In Iraq, Iranian allies Syria and Lebanon dominate; people support them out of fear, default, or sympathy. If the West wants to fight against the Islamic Republic's influence in the Levant, it must understand the root causes pushing more and more Lebanese Christians, Iraqi Shiites, and Syrian Sunni Arabs into the Iranian camp.

Featured Analysis

Rolling Back Iran: The Global Context

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A question mark is hanging over American grand strategy. The triumphal optimism that marked the end of the Cold War has given way to profound anxiety about the future of the international order. American supremacy has frayed and ominous challenges have emerged. We have entered difficult times. How did we lose our advantage? Can we reclaim it?

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E.g., 2 / 23 / 2018
E.g., 2 / 23 / 2018
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Issue 1612

Strategic Considerations in the Greater Middle East
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Issue 1611

How should Europe respond to Islamism? What are the consequences of the flood refugees? What strategy should America pursue in the face of the European crisis?
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Issue 1610

How do you understand shifting Saudi strategy and what is its significance for broader Middle East policy?

Introduction

by Hoover Institution Tuesday, February 9, 2016
article

Featured Analysis

by Russell A. Berman Tuesday, February 9, 2016
article
by David Schenker Wednesday, February 10, 2016
article
by Jane Kinninmont Thursday, February 11, 2016
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Friday, February 12, 2016
article
by Simon Henderson Tuesday, February 16, 2016
article
by Abbas Milani Wednesday, February 17, 2016
article
by Toby C. Jones Thursday, February 18, 2016
article
by Karen Elliott House Friday, February 19, 2016
article
by Toby Matthiesen Monday, February 22, 2016
article
by Charles Hill Monday, February 22, 2016
article
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Issue 1509

How should the US meet the ISIS challenge more successfully?

Introduction

by Hoover Institution Tuesday, December 1, 2015
article

Featured Analysis

by Russell A. Berman Tuesday, December 1, 2015
article
by Daniel Kurtzer Wednesday, December 2, 2015
article
by Nibras Kazimi Thursday, December 3, 2015
article
by Josef Joffe Friday, December 4, 2015
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Monday, December 7, 2015
article
by Camille Pecastaing Tuesday, December 8, 2015
article
by Samuel Tadros Wednesday, December 9, 2015
article
by Kori Schake Thursday, December 10, 2015
article
by Robert Satloff Friday, December 11, 2015
article

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Featured Analysis

Chinese Citizens Beyond State Borders And The Perceived Threat Of Islamism In China

by Kelly A. Hammond via The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Islam came Islam came to China in the seventh century when Muslim envoys in the service of the third Caliph Uthman traveled to Guangzhou (previously Canton) to discuss trade and diplomacy with the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Emperor Gaozong had a mosque erected in their honor, and for the next few hundred years the majority of Muslims in the Chinese empire were sojourners traveling from Arabia and Persia as merchants. It was not until the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) that Muslims really started to settle permanently in China. The Mongols imported Persians and Central Asians to work as administrators and bureaucrats, while also deploying large embassies to places like Bukhara and Samarkand to facilitate trade and diplomatic relations. 

Featured Analysis

Islam, Islamism And US Strategy In Maritime Southeast Asia

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Maritime Southeast Asia, the area circumscribed by the Malaysian peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago and the Philippines, is vital to US strategic concerns for two primary reasons. First, this region includes the South China Sea where American and Chinese ambitions may be heading toward direct conflict as China continues to press forward with its agenda of extending its reach.

Featured Analysis

ISIS In The Philippines: A Threat To US Interests

by Dr. Joseph Felter via The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On 23 May 2017, several hundred militants acting in the name of the Islamic State seized control of a portion of Marawi City, in the southern Philippines, after months of preparation and stockpiling of arms and munitions. The group was led by Isnilon Hapilon, a member of the Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf Group whom ISIS named its Emir for Southeast Asia.  Isnilon Hapilon used ISIS’s extremist ideology to galvanize support amongst several disparate extremist groups, most notably Omar and Abdullah Maute, who founded Dawlah Islamiyah. 

Featured Analysis

Islamic Finance And Muslim Capitalist Modernity In Malaysia

by Patricia Sloane-Whitevia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Islamic finance—the premises of which prohibits riba, or the payment of interest, requires that economic action be grounded in exchanges of actual, not speculative products, and shared profits and losses—is a booming industry worldwide. Few countries have committed greater financial, institutional, and educational support to its development than Malaysia. Launching its first full-fledged Malaysian Islamic bank, Bank Islam, in 1983, today Malaysia boasts the world’s third largest Islamic finance market (only Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s are larger). 

Featured Analysis

Islamism In Malaysia: Politics As Usual?

by Meredith L. Weissvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Political Islamism has a long history in Malaysia. Before independence, the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PMIP, now known as PAS) splintered off from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), retaining the latter’s racial aspect, but foregrounding Islam. Over time, that competition pushed UMNO, too, to emphasize Islam more. (About 61 percent of Malaysians are Muslim, almost 90 percent of them Malay or other bumiputera, indigenous groups.) 

Featured Analysis

Wahhabi Wannabes And Malaysia’s Moderate Muslim Myth

by Shaun Tanvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Malaysia isn’t usually associated with Islamic terrorism. Home to an ethnically-diverse population tending more towards torpor than unrest, Malaysia has had no major Islamic terror attack and no major outbreak of violence in more than forty years.

Introduction

Islamism In Southeast Asia

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The rise of radical Islam in the Middle East over the past few decades now may be reaching the Far East. This appears along a scale of seriousness from new levels of political concern to the reality of enhanced tensions and violence from west to east along an archipelago of national territories from Thailand’s Isthmus of Kra, down the Malaysian peninsula into Indonesia’s Sumatra, Java, and eastern islands, and up into Mindanao in the Philippines. Taken together, indeed with Indonesia alone, these lands hold by far the largest Muslim population in the world.

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Uprising: What Role Did Social Media Play?

by Qutaiba Idlbi, Kassem Eid (Qusai Zakarya) via The Caravan
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This essay combines the first-hand experiences and analyses of two young Syrian activists.  One, Kassem Eid, survived the sarin gas attack and starvation siege of his Mouadamiya suburb of Damascus.  He has written extensively in opinion pieces on the subject of the revolution in Syria.  Qutaiba Idlbi’s work has focused on the accountability of aid organizations.  He speaks widely on the nature of the Assad regime and the cause of the opposition.  He was twice imprisoned by Assad’s intelligence services at the age of 21.

Featured Analysis

A Trench War In The Digital Age: The Case Of Iran

by Abbas Milanivia The Caravan
Monday, June 12, 2017

A trench war, fought in our labyrinthine digital world, has been raging in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than two decades. On one side is a youthful internet-savvy society—adept at the gender-neutral, hierarchy-averse pluralism of platforms and networks—a society craving to join the 21st century. On the other side is a clerical despotic regime with a claim to divine legitimacy, a parallel male-dominated septuagenarian elite, enamored of gender-apartheid and of ideas more than a millennium old—a power structure that is retrograde, passé and stale, compared to the vibrancy of Iranian society at large.  

Featured Analysis

Social Media: A Misplaced Hope

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Friday, June 9, 2017

Under the subtitle of “How an Egyptian revolution began on Facebook,” the New York Times in February 2012, ran a laudatory review of Wael Ghonim’s newly released book Revolution 2.0. The review noted how a young Google executive frustrated by his country’s injustices, especially police brutality, had started a Facebook page that quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of similarly frustrated young Egyptians, becoming both a platform for expressing anger as well as a mobilizing venue. 

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.