The Caravan

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Issue 2027

Great Power Competition in the Middle East
Introduction
Introduction

The Middle East And The Major World Powers

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

At this disrupted time centered around the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all parts of the globe might there be a way to assess the relative standing of national regimes and the geographical regions as fields in which their interests may compete?

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

Russia And American Power In The Middle East

by Robert Servicevia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Nothing is stranger than the notion, widely held, that Russia is a newcomer to the Middle East. After extending its rule to what is now called southern Ukraine in the late eighteenth century its territories bordered on the vast Ottoman Empire.

Featured Analysis

Mr. Magoo In Turkey

by Michael Doranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Even a kerfuffle can reveal a strategic blunder. In December 2019, the New York Times editorial board taped an interview with former Vice President Joe Biden. A segment dealing with US-Turkish relations did not make the final cut, but eight months later, on August 15, 2020, it surfaced on the internet and sparked outrage in Turkey.

Featured Analysis

Breaking The Cycle: The Need For A Sustainable, Long-Term Policy In The Middle East

by H. R. McMastervia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The inability of the United States, in cooperation with like-minded nations, to implement a consistent policy toward the greater Middle East and North Africa region (spanning Morocco in the west to Iran in the east and encompassing the northern countries of Syria and Iraq to the southern countries of Sudan and Yemen) has contributed to the extent of the region’s unravelling, diminishing American influence there.

Featured Analysis

Is China Pivoting To The Middle East?

by Paul Wolfowitzvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

From the beginning, the “Pivot to Asia,” announced with some fanfare in late 2011 by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, was more about politics than strategy. It provided the appearance of a strategic rationale for the American retreat from the Middle East with its “endless wars,” taking advantage of our new-found “energy independence” to focus instead on the Asia-Pacific with its growing importance for American economic and security interests.

Featured Analysis

Middle East Policy In An Age Of Constraint

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The American public has grown war weary, with no enthusiasm to return to a grand agenda for the Middle East. This reluctance is the major constraint on future policy, and it has multiple causes.

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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.

Introduction

Those Exceptional Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Exceptionalism” was long claimed for America, at least until a president informed us that every nation considers itself exceptional. However that may be, one place now merits that description: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where past, present, and future are entangled as nowhere else; a family, a state, a religion, and an empire variously maneuver for prominence depending on the lens through which the outside world views them. Which is it? What is Saudi Arabia? And how much can it move the political markets of world affairs?

The Caravan: Change In Saudi Arabia

via The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Issue 1818 of The Caravan is now available online. The journal is a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East.

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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.