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

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.