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

Not Really About Syria

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Geneva Syrian talks, like the President’s speech on Syria, have left out many things, but most importantly several inescapable truths about this conflict:

Featured Analysis

Letter from Istanbul: Where Have The Americans Gone? Who Invited The Russians Back?

by Asli Aydintasbasvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

It is hard to even describe the sense of double-betrayal Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan must be feeling towards the man he considered a friend, Barack Obama.

Featured Analysis

Barack Houdini: Making Syria Disappear

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, September 12, 2013

The online publication, Politico, put it well: Barack Obama tripped over Syria and fell on Iran.  That remarkable Obama luck, the luck that saw him through his bid for the United States Senate, the obtuseness of the Hillary Clinton campaign that had her win practically all the

Featured Analysis

The Great Schism

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grant Egypt its redeeming consolations: it is neither Algeria, nor Syria.  The terror that came to Algeria in the 1990s, a scorched earth war between Le Pouvoir (The Power Structure) and the Islamists which took a toll of no les

Featured Analysis

An Islamist Moment?

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Monday, August 5, 2013

Fifty years ago, the historian Elizabeth Monroe published a beautifully written book with a dismissive title:  Britain’s Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956.  Although one can quibble with the description—the British impact in the region really should be clocked from A

Featured Analysis

Pity Egypt, It Has No Liberals

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Friday, August 2, 2013

What happened to Egypt’s liberals? Jackson Diehl’s question in the Washington Post is not a new one. In the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution and as Islamists swept every electoral competition, the question was being sincerely posed.

Featured Analysis

The Regional Ramifications of Morsi's Removal from Power

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Morsi's removal from power and the exacerbation of the conflict over Egypt's identity and political future add yet another compounding element to the murky arena of Middle Eastern regional politics.

Featured Analysis

A Coup is a Coup is a Coup

by Tunku Varadarajanvia The Caravan
Monday, July 29, 2013

You know a country is benighted when no less a figure than Tony Blair, the world’s official envoy for the Middle East (whatever that means), turns apologist for a coup d’état, stating blithely that the army had no choice but to unseat the elected president.

Featured Analysis

U.S. Policy, Egypt and the Democracy Movement

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Friday, July 26, 2013

A wave of change is sweeping the Middle East, but the foreign policy of the Obama administration has failed to meet the challenge. In case after case, Washington has refused to confront repressive regimes and given short shrift to popular movements for democracy.

Introduction

The Egyptian Coup: Deliverance or the Past Again?

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

There was an Egyptian coup d’état this July, and there was another one, on July 23, 1952.  The earlier one begot a military regime that remained in the saddle for six decades.  It came in the “nick of time,” a renowned historian of Egypt, the late Harvard scholar Nadav Safran, wrote in his seminal Egypt in Search of Political Community (1961).  There was political chaos in the land, a feeble and corrupt monarchy, extremist political parties bereft of wisdom and practicality.

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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.