The Caravan

The Caravan

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Issue 1922

Competition for influence in the Middle East
Introduction
Introduction

Center Of Gravity

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In Tolstoy’s massive novel War and Peace at the Battle of Borodino with Napoleon’s Grande Armée some eighty miles from Moscow, Carl von Clausewitz, then and now the foremost strategist of the study of war, suddenly canters onto the scene in a cameo appearance and is overheard to pronounce on the fighting: Der krieg muss im Raum verlegt werden. Der Ansicht kann ich nicht genug Preis geben.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

The Dilemma Of An Imperfect Ally

by Elana DeLoziervia The Caravan
Thursday, June 20, 2019

After seven decades of selling weapons to our allies in the Gulf reassured by the fact that we sold more planes than there were trained pilots, we are finally confronted with a foreseeable, yet jarring dilemma: what happens when the Gulf states finally decide to use the weapons in pursuit of their own interests?

Featured Analysis

Playground for Powers

by Camille Pecastaingvia The Caravan
Thursday, June 20, 2019

In August 1920, in the Parisian suburb of Sèvres, envoys of the allied powers signed an eponymous treaty dividing into zones of influence the fallen Ottoman Empire and Islamic Caliphate. The regime of "mandates" it instituted was simultaneously the culmination of European imperialism in the Middle East, and its final undertaking. Mandates were not meant to last: it was a phase of foreign trusteeship, in anticipation of independence that, by the 1970s, would be the norm across the region.

Featured Analysis

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. 

Featured Analysis

Foreign Influence & The Middle East

by Hafed Al-Ghwellvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Today, America finds itself in roughly the same waters that drowned British ambitions in the Middle East between 1946–1969. In less than two decades, Washington has vacillated from direct intervention to calls to “share the region,” which have now been supplanted by the “America First” diplomacy of bold declarations that favor smaller, “face-saving” compromises. 

Featured Analysis

Reconfiguring Geopolitics In The Era Of The Surveillance State: The Uyghurs, The Chinese Party-State, And The Reshaping Of Middle East Politics

by Kelly A. Hammond via The Caravan
Thursday, June 27, 2019

We are living in the era of the surveillance state. People are starting to understand the political implications that the connections between technology and state power may have on individual privacy and civil rights. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technology become available to states around the world, they are faced with making a choice whether to use them to monitor their own populations. While San Francisco just became the first city in the United States to ban the use of AI for policing, authoritarian states, like the United Arab Emirates, regularly consult and buy software from Chinese tech firms to control and monitor their own populations.

Featured Analysis

Strategic Geography Of The Middle East

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Thursday, June 27, 2019

With the end of the Cold War the United States lost a sound understanding of the strategic geography of the Middle East. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, US strategy focused, correctly, on historical power centers on the outer rim of the Levant and Mesopotamia. The land in between these power centers – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – was the arena for proxy war and competition between great powers.

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Featured Analysis

From The Mahdi To ISIS

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In 1881, an obscure local religious leader in Sudan by the name of Mohamed Ahmed declared himself the long awaited Mahdi (divinely guided one). The claim was ridiculous at best, as established religious leaders were quick to proclaim. The prophecies of the coming of the Mahdi, while open to interpretation, clearly did not point to Mohamed Ahmed.

Featured Analysis

ISIS: Making Autocracy Look Good

by Camille Pecastaingvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The November attacks in Paris claimed by ISIS came from the convergence of two forces. One is Jihadism, a global and multifaceted socio-behavioral phenomenon. The other is ISIS, an organization that operates in the Levant and Mesopotamia. ISIS can occasionally project itself beyond its base by leveraging the Jihadist phenomenon, as it did in Tunisia, Egypt, or now France. But despite the global noise, ISIS should be read in its regional context.

Featured Analysis

"Fighting" The Islamic State

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Monday, December 7, 2015

Can the United States stop the Syrian refugee crisis and destroy the Islamic State without sending tens of thousands of soldiers into Syria and Iraq? Hillary Clinton and the Republican presidential candidates—with the notable exception of Senator Lindsey Graham—have so far studiously avoided describing how their battle plans would seriously differ from Barack Obama's.  

Featured Analysis

How To Prevail: Do What The West Does Best And Turn Asymmetrical Warfare Against Terror International

by Josef Joffevia The Caravan
Friday, December 4, 2015

A word of comfort first: Terror, no matter how spectacular, cannot score strategic victories against the West. “Strategic failure” means ISIS cannot break a nation-state’s will, nor render it defenseless the way Hitler’s armies subjugated France and Poland in a matter of weeks.

Featured Analysis

Notes On Methodology In The Study Of Jihad

by Nibras Kazimivia The Caravan
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Three Western academic disciplines have risen to the challenge of interpreting the jihadist enemy: political science, military science and history. It would seem natural for political and military scientists to discern form and pattern in the revolutionary movement that is seizing many of the headlines of the 21st century. On the other hand, historians would be ill at ease explaining the significance of current events and discerning trends within them...

Featured Analysis

Dealing With Daesh: Stay The Course

by Daniel Kurtzervia The Caravan
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Daesh or ISIS does not represent an existential threat to any state except Syria and Iraq.  It occupies and controls ungoverned space in the region between Iraq and Syria and in parts of northern Africa; and its self-proclaimed Caliphate has benefited from the seizure of some income producing assets in these areas. 

Featured Analysis

After Paris Is Before Paris: ISIS And Strategy

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The attacks in Paris were hardly necessary to demonstrate the brutality of ISIS. Its threat to regional stability in the Middle East has long been in evidence, and now we know that its terror can reach into Western capitals. But ISIS is hardly the only challenge to American power and the international order.

Introduction

The US And The ISIS Challenge

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Caravan was conceived as a vehicle for thoughtful and elevated discourse on the Middle East, especially the dangers that Islamism poses to the international order. This time we turn to the terrorist attacks in Paris which demonstrated the capacity of ISIS to cause devastation in Western capitals, even as it remains a formidable force in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Featured Analysis

The Obama Declaration

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

World-historical changes are not conveniently demarcated by the turn of the centuries, but the 21st century looks like the opening of a new “paradigm” that might replace what has been called “The Modern Era” itself.

Featured Analysis

The Middle East After The Iranian Nuclear Accord

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Monday, October 19, 2015

Not long ago the Obama administration tried to explain Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s budgetary priorities.  The White House’s assertion that the Islamic Republic’s future spending would overwhelmingly be used for domestic, non-military needs was a response to the bipartisan fear that the clerical regime might use some of its new, post-sanctions cash—likely between $100 and $150 billion—on its expeditionary efforts in Syria and Iraq...

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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.