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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Featured Analysis

Nothing Left

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Monday, April 16, 2012

The Afghans want us to stay, so it is long past time to haul up the gear and leave the Hindu Kush to its ways.  In one of his many outrageous statements, Hamid Karzai, last November, laid out his view of our place in his scheme of things.  “The lion doesn’t like it if a foreig

Introduction

What Can Be Done About Syria?

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

For the first Caravan symposium we take up the ordeal of Syria, now nearly a full year into a terrible struggle between a dictatorial regime and a rebellion determined to overthrow it. What can be done about Syria? 

Featured Analysis

"Rattle The Turbans" - Defeating Iran in Syria

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

“What are the range of options open to the United States, and other powers, in the face of the large-scale violence that the Assad regime has unleashed on the Syrian people?”

Featured Analysis

Syria's Future

by Habib Malikvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Assad regime is certainly a brutal and merciless regime when it comes to stifling any internal dissent or throwing its weight around neighboring countries.  Few have forgotten the multipronged misery caused to the Lebanese by Syria’s nearly three-decade long occupation of

Featured Analysis

The Turkish Option

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The cruel violence that the Assad regime is directing against the Syrian population has elicited words of condemnation across the world. Fleeing the wrath of the Syrian military, refugees have poured over the borders into Jordan, Lebanon and, especially, Turkey.

Featured Analysis

Western Inaction, Lebensraum For Jihad

by Nibras Kazimivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

At this point, almost a year into the Syrian revolt, we know this much: President Barack Obama is unwilling to tip the scales, with American heft, against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Featured Analysis

Syria and Iran: Kindred Souls?

by Abbas Milanivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stakes in Syria are high.

Featured Analysis

"Blowback" - Iraq Comes To Syria

by Colonel Joel Rayburnvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

“Blowback” is the decades-old term coined by CIA officers to describe what happens when a covert operation produces forces that return to harm those who set it in motion.  The textbook example of “blowback” in living memory has been U.S.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia Ponders Its Syrian Conundrum

by Joshua Teitelbaumvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Arab awakenings and assertive international role of Russia and China at the expense of the United States have created a new strategic situation for the rulers of Riyadh.

Featured Analysis

Taking Damascus, One, Two, Three

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Although Bashar al-Assad could still kill off the revolt against his tyranny, it seems increasingly unlikely. The rebellion today is far larger—geographically and numerically—than the rebellion of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982.

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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.