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

On The Intersection Of German And Syrian History And The Enduring Importance Of "Coming To Terms With The Nazi Past."

by Jeffrey Herfvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A successful European wide response to Islamism calls for the following policies.

Featured Analysis

A European Crisis

by Olivier Decottigniesvia The Caravan
Monday, May 9, 2016

With the March 22nd Brussels attacks, the Islamic State did not merely hit Belgium: as Dabiq, the organization’s gory and glossy online magazine stressed, it also struck Europe “at its heart.”

Featured Analysis

The Battle For Europe

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Friday, May 6, 2016

In 2004 Gilles Kepel, the noted French scholar of the modern Middle East and Muslims in Europe, wrote: The bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, established Europe as the new frontline for terrorist attacks. Before 9/11 Europe had provided a sanctuary where Al-Qaeda’s planners could complete preparations for the world-shattering operation they had conceived in the mountains of Afghanistan. But with the events in Madrid in spring 2004, Europe emerged as the primary battlefield on which the future of global Islam will be decided.

Featured Analysis

France Refuses To See Islamism As A Cultural Problem

by Fabrice Balanche via The Caravan
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Despite the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, the French government refuses to acknowledge the link between terrorism in France, the crisis in the Middle East, and the complacency towards the threat of political Islam on the domestic scene. The truth is that the jihadists who  hit Paris and then Brussels on March 22, 2016, had been indoctrinated in the Salafi ideology sponsored by Saudi funded mosques, indirectly financed by private donors in the Gulf, and tolerated by Turkey - the country through which they pass to Europe. 

Featured Analysis

How Should Europe Respond To Islamism?

by Ted R. Bromundvia The Caravan
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In this era of mass and uncontrolled migrant flows, Adam Smith’s 1776 classic on The Wealth of Nations offers insight into the nature of the challenge posed by Islamism. Far from being a mere manual of economics, Smith’s work reveals how competition promotes progress across society and government, and how it created the modern state and the modern international state system.

Featured Analysis

Security, Strategy, And Values

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ISIS terrorism in Paris and Brussels underscores the global character of the Islamist threat, but this should surprise no one, given the history of Islamist violence since September 11, 2001.

Introduction

Islamism, Refugees and the European Crisis

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The past several months have seen Europe reeling from ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels. The European security forces have been called to task for their lack of coordination – this compulsion to keep secrets from other services has led in part to the success of these terror attacks.  

Featured Analysis

As Seen By The Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Monday, February 22, 2016

Perhaps no grand strategic moment has been caught by the camera in such an unposed yet meaningful way. There on the heavy cruiser USS Quincy at anchor in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, is President Roosevelt, fresh from Yalta, on his way back across the Atlantic, having tea with Ibn Saud Abdul-Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia. An American orderly squats before His Highness to ask how he likes his tea.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia's Uncertain Future

by Toby Matthiesenvia The Caravan
Monday, February 22, 2016

Saudi Arabia has probably done more than any other actor to repress the hopes and demands of the early Arab Spring protests. It sent troops to neighbouring Bahrain in March 2011 to quell an uprising, gave asylum to Tunisia's ousted dictator Bin Ali, underwrote the coup in Egypt in 2013, and generally propped up the old regimes and monarchies across the region.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia Is Growing Up

by Karen Elliott Housevia The Caravan
Friday, February 19, 2016

After at least two decades of domestic drift under geriatric rulers and overdependence on US protection in a dangerous region, the kingdom is starting to stand up on its own.  There are two reasons for this.

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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.