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

A Deal Among Enemies

by Mehdi Khalaji via The Caravan
Friday, October 16, 2015

Many Western policy makers assume that Iran is a rational player, and its policies are not driven by Islamic ideology. Under this approach, they assume that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will encourage Iran to make tough compromises on the nuclear program to the extent that eventually Iran will also drastically alter its defiant regional policies and work with world powers to bring peace and security to the Middle East.

Featured Analysis

The Iran Deal And Foreign Policy In 2016

by Colin Dueckvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 15, 2015

President Obama has made the Iran nuclear deal a centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy.  Republicans rallied in opposition, along with key Senate Democrats, but because of a prearranged agreement with the White House, opponents were unable to block the Iran deal or even cast a dissenting vote.

Featured Analysis

The Iranian Nuclear Agreement: Not So Big A Deal

by Stephen D. Krasnervia The Caravan
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Under the present regime Iran has every reason to want nuclear weapons. Two of Iran’s neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been invaded by the United States, a country that Iran’s leaders routinely refer to as “the Great Satan.” President George W. Bush named Iran a member of the “axis of evil.” Sectarian divisions in the Middle East are becoming more acute. Iran is feared and loathed by neighboring Sunni states

Featured Analysis

Repercussions Of The Deal: In Syria, Russia And Europe

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The strategic consequences of the deal have become apparent already: The credibility of American power in the region has declined, as the alliance between Iran and Russia grows ever more powerful. In fact, the text of the deal explicitly blessed this alliance by naming Russia an authorized supplier of enriched uranium. However one evaluates the implications of the deal for nuclear security, the political ramifications have become unmistakable.

Introduction

A Tribute, A Relaunch And A Reckoning

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We launched our first Caravan in February 2012 under the leadership of our friend and colleague Fouad Ajami. Fouad spent his life studying, teaching and writing about the rich culture and history of the Middle East. He was a man of the East and of the West – a son of Lebanon who proudly became a US citizen. He loved his adopted country and was a patriot in the truest sense of the word.

Introduction

Syria and the Decline of the West

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Obama is a coward,” said Shifa, 29 years of age, in a government-held suburb of Damascus.  She saw through the American leader: he hadn’t wanted to launch a military campaign to begin with and had taken the exit offered him by Vladimir Putin.  “The Russians are great and very smart,” she said.

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

On the Syria Crisis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Edward Snowden, now in Moscow as special assistant to President Putin, has given us a highly classified telegram, drafted by Russia’s chief diplomat for the Middle East Georgi Kennankov to President Putin, “eyes only.” The telegram was sent from the Russian embassy in Tehran,

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

Not the Right Leader

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

US diplomacy has lost the latest round in the Syria showdown. Just as the Assad regime embraced the proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control, it restarted its bombing campaign against rebel positions in Damascus.

Featured Analysis

The End of Syria?

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Will there be a Syrian state in 2014 or 2015? Unfortunately, it is a legitimate and pertinent question. The Syrian civil war is well into its third year and there seems to be no resolution in sight.

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

Syria and the New World (Dis)order

by Tunku Varadarajanvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not since the early years of the Second World War has Planet Earth been as bereft of American leadership as it is now.

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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.