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

A Deal Among Enemies

by Mehdi Khalaji via The Caravan
Friday, October 16, 2015

Many Western policy makers assume that Iran is a rational player, and its policies are not driven by Islamic ideology. Under this approach, they assume that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will encourage Iran to make tough compromises on the nuclear program to the extent that eventually Iran will also drastically alter its defiant regional policies and work with world powers to bring peace and security to the Middle East.

Featured Analysis

The Iran Deal And Foreign Policy In 2016

by Colin Dueckvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 15, 2015

President Obama has made the Iran nuclear deal a centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy.  Republicans rallied in opposition, along with key Senate Democrats, but because of a prearranged agreement with the White House, opponents were unable to block the Iran deal or even cast a dissenting vote.

Featured Analysis

The Iranian Nuclear Agreement: Not So Big A Deal

by Stephen D. Krasnervia The Caravan
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Under the present regime Iran has every reason to want nuclear weapons. Two of Iran’s neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been invaded by the United States, a country that Iran’s leaders routinely refer to as “the Great Satan.” President George W. Bush named Iran a member of the “axis of evil.” Sectarian divisions in the Middle East are becoming more acute. Iran is feared and loathed by neighboring Sunni states

Featured Analysis

Repercussions Of The Deal: In Syria, Russia And Europe

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The strategic consequences of the deal have become apparent already: The credibility of American power in the region has declined, as the alliance between Iran and Russia grows ever more powerful. In fact, the text of the deal explicitly blessed this alliance by naming Russia an authorized supplier of enriched uranium. However one evaluates the implications of the deal for nuclear security, the political ramifications have become unmistakable.

Introduction

A Tribute, A Relaunch And A Reckoning

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We launched our first Caravan in February 2012 under the leadership of our friend and colleague Fouad Ajami. Fouad spent his life studying, teaching and writing about the rich culture and history of the Middle East. He was a man of the East and of the West – a son of Lebanon who proudly became a US citizen. He loved his adopted country and was a patriot in the truest sense of the word.

Introduction

Syria and the Decline of the West

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Obama is a coward,” said Shifa, 29 years of age, in a government-held suburb of Damascus.  She saw through the American leader: he hadn’t wanted to launch a military campaign to begin with and had taken the exit offered him by Vladimir Putin.  “The Russians are great and very smart,” she said.

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

On the Syria Crisis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Edward Snowden, now in Moscow as special assistant to President Putin, has given us a highly classified telegram, drafted by Russia’s chief diplomat for the Middle East Georgi Kennankov to President Putin, “eyes only.” The telegram was sent from the Russian embassy in Tehran,

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

Not the Right Leader

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

US diplomacy has lost the latest round in the Syria showdown. Just as the Assad regime embraced the proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control, it restarted its bombing campaign against rebel positions in Damascus.

Featured Analysis

The End of Syria?

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Will there be a Syrian state in 2014 or 2015? Unfortunately, it is a legitimate and pertinent question. The Syrian civil war is well into its third year and there seems to be no resolution in sight.

Syrian Refugees
Featured Analysis

Syria and the New World (Dis)order

by Tunku Varadarajanvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not since the early years of the Second World War has Planet Earth been as bereft of American leadership as it is now.

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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.