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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

Not Really About Syria

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Geneva Syrian talks, like the President’s speech on Syria, have left out many things, but most importantly several inescapable truths about this conflict:

Featured Analysis

Letter from Istanbul: Where Have The Americans Gone? Who Invited The Russians Back?

by Asli Aydintasbasvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

It is hard to even describe the sense of double-betrayal Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan must be feeling towards the man he considered a friend, Barack Obama.

Featured Analysis

Barack Houdini: Making Syria Disappear

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

The online publication, Politico, put it well: Barack Obama tripped over Syria and fell on Iran.  That remarkable Obama luck, the luck that saw him through his bid for the United States Senate, the obtuseness of the Hillary Clinton campaign that had her win practically all the

Featured Analysis

The Great Schism

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grant Egypt its redeeming consolations: it is neither Algeria, nor Syria.  The terror that came to Algeria in the 1990s, a scorched earth war between Le Pouvoir (The Power Structure) and the Islamists which took a toll of no les

Featured Analysis

An Islamist Moment?

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Monday, August 5, 2013

Fifty years ago, the historian Elizabeth Monroe published a beautifully written book with a dismissive title:  Britain’s Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956.  Although one can quibble with the description—the British impact in the region really should be clocked from A

Featured Analysis

Pity Egypt, It Has No Liberals

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Friday, August 2, 2013

What happened to Egypt’s liberals? Jackson Diehl’s question in the Washington Post is not a new one. In the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution and as Islamists swept every electoral competition, the question was being sincerely posed.

Featured Analysis

The Regional Ramifications of Morsi's Removal from Power

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Morsi's removal from power and the exacerbation of the conflict over Egypt's identity and political future add yet another compounding element to the murky arena of Middle Eastern regional politics.

Featured Analysis

A Coup is a Coup is a Coup

by Tunku Varadarajanvia The Caravan
Monday, July 29, 2013

You know a country is benighted when no less a figure than Tony Blair, the world’s official envoy for the Middle East (whatever that means), turns apologist for a coup d’état, stating blithely that the army had no choice but to unseat the elected president.

Featured Analysis

U.S. Policy, Egypt and the Democracy Movement

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Friday, July 26, 2013

A wave of change is sweeping the Middle East, but the foreign policy of the Obama administration has failed to meet the challenge. In case after case, Washington has refused to confront repressive regimes and given short shrift to popular movements for democracy.

Introduction

The Egyptian Coup: Deliverance or the Past Again?

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

There was an Egyptian coup d’état this July, and there was another one, on July 23, 1952.  The earlier one begot a military regime that remained in the saddle for six decades.  It came in the “nick of time,” a renowned historian of Egypt, the late Harvard scholar Nadav Safran, wrote in his seminal Egypt in Search of Political Community (1961).  There was political chaos in the land, a feeble and corrupt monarchy, extremist political parties bereft of wisdom and practicality.

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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.