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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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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.

Featured Analysis

Six Components Of A Syria Strategy

by Karim Sadjadpour, Emile Hokayemvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

US policy toward Syria has been debilitated by an irresolvable conundrum. Empirical research suggests most civil wars are concluded by military victories, not political settlements. Yet in the war between the murderous regime of Bashar Assad—backed by Russia and Iran—and fractured Islamist rebels, the United States does not want either side to prevail. 

Featured Analysis

US Military In Syria Must Rely On Political Determination And A Marshall Plan

by Fabrice Balanchevia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In January 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described American strategy in Syria as including maintaining a troop presence in the region until at least 2021 while building a Kurdish-Arab force of 30,000 men, both with the ultimate objective of blocking Iranian influence. As laudable as that goal is, achieving it will require addressing a complex nexus of interrelated issues.

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Great Game

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

By definition “great games” are complicated with lots of moving parts.  Battles on the ground, intense, myriad, and sometimes fratricidal, always connect, however indirectly, to the larger collision of great powers.  In Syria, the tug-of-war is a lopsided affair, where Iran, Russia, and the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad are invested in winning.  The opposing side—Syrian Arab Sunnis, Sunni Gulf Arabs, Israel, the United States, and Turkey—is barely an entente.

Featured Analysis

The Descent Of Syria Into The Abyss

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

“Greetings, softer than the breeze of Barada …. I send my tears, which will never dry, O Damascus.” The opening line of Ahmed Shawqi’s famous poem was written as news of the Syrian defeat by the French in 1920 reached Egypt. Less than two years earlier, Faisal I had entered Damascus and raised the flag of Arab nationalism. The jubilation was felt across the Levant. 

Featured Analysis

America And Syria: Life After Hegemony

by Camille Pecastaingvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The 24-hour news cycle has offered a sequential, fragmented vision of the Syrian conflict. A chemical attack here, a temporary cease fire there; a wave of hopeless refugees, a gruesome terrorist attack; the fall of a besieged city, yet another round of negotiations. Caught in the fractional details, few looked at the bigger picture of how the position of influence the US had secured in the Middle East from the mid-1970s unraveled. 

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Crisis: Strategic Challenges For The United States

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Syrian crisis, which since 2011 has been the focal issue in the Middle East, has now entered a new phase, confronting the United States with fresh challenges. From the early stages of its evolution, the Syrian crisis has unfolded on three levels: domestic, regional and international. The Assad regime's success in capturing Aleppo in late 2016 marked a turning point in the war's domestic dimension. 

Featured Analysis

Why Offense Is The Best Defense Against Russia And Iran In Syria

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In January, the Trump administration unveiled its strategy for Syria. In an address at the Hoover Institution, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out five key objectives, in the process, made clear that the top priority was containing Iran.  The US, he said, would deny Iran the “arch” it is building from Tehran to the Mediterranean, and it would prevent Iran from using Syria as a springboard from which to threaten neighboring countries.

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Rebellion And Its International Resonance

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

With all the optimism of the Arab Spring, the Syrian rebellion began with the belief that the people of Syria deserve better than the cruelty meted out by Assad family rule. That aspiration alone ought to be sufficient grounds to stand with the democratic forces pursuing self-determination. Yet the United States has been hesitating, a legacy of the Obama administration’s preference for tyranny in Tehran over freedom in Damascus. 

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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.