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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Issue 2026

The Pandemic and the Middle East
Introduction
Introduction

The Pandemic: Sovereignty And Globalization In Tension?

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The old cracker barrel wisdom inside the Beltway (if there had been a country store inside the Beltway) used to be “This is a Presidential Election Year, so don’t believe anything you hear.”  What we’ve been hearing recently are media spats about U.S-China immoral equivalency that could produce “a new Cold War.”  Don’t believe it.  Presidential year politics has Trump shaping his re-election around “I’m tough on China; Biden is soft”. 

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

Turkey's COVID-19 Response

by Soner Cagaptay, Deniz Yukselvia The Caravan
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Ankara's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak has left Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan falling behind the wheel, also revealing competition among advisors inside his presidential palace (known as Saray in Turkish) in Ankara. Meanwhile, popular initiatives to battle the pandemic, launched by recently-elected opposition mayors of key cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, have allowed these politicians to emerge as problem-solvers in the country.

Featured Analysis

Iran’s COVID-19 Response And U.S. Policy

by Alma Keshavarzvia The Caravan
Thursday, June 4, 2020

The United States has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but so has the Middle East. While combating the virus at home is the priority, foreign policy is entwined with the overall strategy. The Pentagon and Department of State – and other agencies – are still hard at work keeping a watchful eye on the Middle East’s response to the virus and how adversaries could potentially take advantage of the pandemic.

Featured Analysis

The Corona Pandemic And The Middle East

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The public health crisis and challenge of COVID-19’s impact on most of the Middle East, as on other parts of the non-Western World, has been limited. While the extent of the pandemic in Iran and Turkey has been significant, the figures cited by and for most of the Arab World have been low, certainly low when compared to the early concern that high density (in countries like Egypt and in the Gaza Strip) and weak public health systems could lead to an exponential spread of the disease.

Featured Analysis

The Pandemic: A Global Review

by Walter Russell Mead via The Caravan
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is not, by the standards of the great plagues of the past, a particularly deadly disease. The plague that struck the Athens of Pericles seems to have had a much higher mortality rate, though its geographical reach was restricted. The epidemic that wrecked the Emperor Justinian’s drive to re-establish imperial authority in the west was similarly responsible for more death than the current outbreak – so far.

Featured Analysis

The Primacy Of Pragmatism

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Thursday, June 11, 2020

“A plague has occurred that is unprecedented and the likes of which we have never heard of before … it has spread throughout the country, east and west, and we have seen wonders from it in its phases and conditions for it has annihilated most of the people in the country … and the markets were closed … and the call of prayers from mosques has been disrupted … and crops have been left unharvested and dried up on the face of the earth because there was no one to harvest it.”

Featured Analysis

Mackinder’s Return

by Matt Trevithick via The Caravan
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Halford Mackinder began his sketch on a spare map in 1904 by putting his pencil down on a point near the seas north of Russias St. Petersburg, by the Kanin Peninsula. From there, he laid down a southward graphite trail, bending west to incorporate Moscow, then heading south once more, threading between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea until he stopped barely above the Persian Gulf. 

Featured Analysis

Covid-19 And Middle Eastern Tyranny

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In the democratic West, many expect there to be a post–Covid-19 reckoning. That politicians who did poorly in handling the pandemic will fall from office. There isn’t a clear understanding of what virological competence in a leader ought to look like (Angela Merkel appears, for now, to be the exemplar), but many executives in the more severely infected nations—for example, Donald Trump, Emanuel Macron, and Boris Johnson—aren’t role models and should be punished.

Featured Analysis

The Pandemic In The Middle East: Unexpected Results And Pending Shifts

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

As bad as the cumulative impact of COVID-19 in terms of loss of life has been, it has been less devastating than initially predicted. At least such are the results to date, in mid-May 2020.

E.g., 7 / 10 / 2020
E.g., 7 / 10 / 2020

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Featured Analysis

Turning A Blind Eye: Why Are Muslim Governments Around The World Keeping Silent About China’s Human Rights Violations Against The Uyghurs?

by Kelly A. Hammond via The Caravan
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Since 2009, the Chinese Party-state has increasingly suppressed the Uyghur community in its northwest province of Xinjiang. However, in the last year, three new concurrent trends have emerged: the situation for Uyghurs both in Xinjiang and for the Uyghurs living abroad has gotten much worse; academics and journalists have been working extremely hard to document and expose the human rights violations against the Uyghurs; and, the international community has finally started to take notice of the abuses inflicted on a Muslim minority population by the Chinese Party-state in a remote region of the People’s Republic of China. 

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia Or Iran In US Strategy

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Effective US policy toward Saudi Arabia requires familiarity with the intricacies of its history and society, of course. The legacies of the foundation of the state, the traditional collaboration of political and religious leadership and the burdensome privileges of the extended royal family still weigh on the Saudi present, even as new circumstances develop, especially the ambitions of the young generation, eager for the reforms promised by the bold leadership of the Crown Prince.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia At A Crossroads

by Elham Maneavia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia, a kingdom grounded in a dynastic religious alliance, stands at a crossroads. Some observers and journalists, both Western and Arab, eyeing the new assertive leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (henceforth MbS) and his promised economic and social reforms, have rushed to declare him a ‘reformer’.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Reform: Essential But Perilous

by Ali Shihabivia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a perilous, but essential transformation. Those wishing to safeguard one of the last bastions of Middle East stability should support Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s (MBS) dramatic socioeconomic reforms and also appreciate the challenges, resistance, and limitations amid which he is forced to operate. As rapid reform risks destabilizing the kingdom’s broad and deeply divided political base, rule by consensus will not work. Only a strong hand can balance Saudi Arabia’s competing constituencies.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia, The United States And The Anti-Iran Front In The Middle East

by F. Gregory Gause, IIIvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Though he fancies unpredictability a useful negotiating tool, President Trump has been remarkably consistent about the Middle East. He campaigned against the Iran nuclear deal and in May 2018 withdrew the United States from it. He promised, as most presidential candidates have done, to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Unlike any other successful candidate, he actually did it, also in May 2018.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia And The Electric Car Revolution

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Everyone has a plan,” the great American boxer Mike Tyson once quipped, “that is, until you get punched in the face.” Saudi Arabia, as the world knows by now, has a plan. In fact, the Saudi Vision 2030, unveiled in dramatic fashion in April 2016 with a roll-out similar to the launch of a new iPhone, has become one of the most well-known national transformation plans in the world. It has become almost a by-word for the changes dawning in the Kingdom, and the calling card for the reformist credentials of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Featured Analysis

Social Reform In The Kingdom: Between “Westernizers” And “Guardians Of Virtue”

by Cole Bunzelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“These astonishing things that have been happening in the Land of the Two Holy Places … if King Abd al-Aziz were to come out of his grave and witness them, he would not believe that this is his kingdom that he worked so hard to establish and unite.” So lamented Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbad, an outspoken Wahhabi cleric, in a late 2017 assessment of the social reforms being implemented in Saudi Arabia. The king in question was the founder of the modern realm, Abd al-Aziz ibn Sa‘ud (d. 1953), who is also the father of the present king, Salman, and grandfather of the new crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MbS).

Featured Analysis

Saudi Reform And Security Through A Gulf Lens

by Lori Plotkin Boghardtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The arrest of several of the kingdom’s most prominent women’s rights activists six weeks before the date when women would be allowed to drive came as a shock to everyone.  After news of the detentions spread through informal channels, an official announcement on May 19 referred ambiguously to the detention of individuals seeking “to undermine the security and stability of the kingdom” and erode “national unity” through various activities.  Local news outlets quickly vilified the activists – some well-known abroad as peaceful advocates – and branded them “traitors.” 

Featured Analysis

Bin Salman And The Promise (Or Peril) Of Reform

by Nadav Saminvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A mass drugging is how one young Saudi man in Riyadh described to me Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030, eight months after its ostentatious launch in April 2016.  Smoke and mirrors, he meant.  Since then, the energetic and youthful Saudi crown prince has surprised his critics by upending a number of his country’s political, economic, and cultural norms.  But can he safely deliver more change to an already rapidly changing society?  How much tinkering can one do with a fragile polity before it cracks under the pressure?

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia’s Reforms And The United States

by Bernard Haykelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The reign of King Salman of Saudi Arabia (since January 2015) represents a significant watershed in the history of the kingdom’s system of governance as well as in its domestic and foreign policies. These changes reflect the priorities of the king, who is an absolute monarch. The first, and most important, of these is the handing over of de facto rule to a prince of the younger generation: the king’s 32-year-old son and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (known in the West by his acronym MBS), who will become the reigning monarch upon his father’s passing.

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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.