What is going on in Israeli politics? Two elections this year, both leaving no clear majority and a deadlocked parliament, a prime minister facing imminent criminal indictment, Israeli Arab leaders hinting at a willingness to join a Zionist government, and the clock ticking down to a possible third election - Israel expert and author David Makovsky explains who's who in Israeli politics, what each party and leader wants, and why repeated rounds of voting keep producing political deadlock for one...more
"Turkey more isolated, more alone, and more exposed to foreign policy threats than it has been for decades if not centuries." Soner Cagaptay, author of a new book on Turkish foreign policy, details the ways in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan represents both a revolution in Ankara's regional relations and deep continuity with centuries of Ottoman and Turkish strategy. Find Cagaptay's new book, "Erdogan's Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East" at https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-...more
What sets Israel's greatest leaders, Labour and Likud, apart from others? And can U.S. policy encourage wiser statesmanship from our Israeli allies? In this episode, David Makovsky and Ambassador Dennis Ross, veteran observers of and participants in the peace process, discuss the lessons of their new book on Israel's greatest leaders. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
What are the consequences of the Iranian government's massive, systematic campaign to spread disinformation about religious minorities through social and traditional media? Three leading Iranian activists detail Tehran's campaign of slander and incitement and offer practical suggestions for how tech companies and Western governments can act to protect vulnerable religious minorities in Iran. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Pol...more
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkote, IDF (ret.) delivered the 2019 Zeev Schiff Memorial Lecture on Middle East Security earlier this month. In his first public remarks since his retirement as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, General Eizenkot detailed the four pillars of Israeli strategy and shared his assessment of Israel's military position as it faces new threats on multiple fronts. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to President Donald Trump, was the keynote speaker of the Washington Institute's 2019 Soref Symposium dinner on May 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. Kushner was interviewed by Institute executive director Robert Satloff. Since becoming the President's senior advisor, Kushner has traveled extensively in the Middle East and has met numerous times with the region's key leaders. He has been present for major Middle East policy decisions, including moving the U.S. Embassy ...more
A notably divisive Israeli campaign is coming down to its final hours. Will Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu survive the election, a likely corruption indictment, and a strong challenge by a new centrist party led by three former top IDF generals? And whoever leads Israel's next government, what do the April 9 elections mean for American interests and for a potential U.S. peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians? Three leading experts, Ehud Yaari, Tal Shalev, and David Makovsky, share...more
The Arab states of the Persian Gulf region perceive that U.S. interest in and commitment to their region is declining even as Russian and Chinese military and economic activity in the Middle East grows. As a result, the Gulf states are looking to their west, to the Red Sea, to bolster their own long-term commercial and security interests. In this episode of Near East PolicyCast, Institute scholar Elana DeLozier explains the new Red Sea competition, why Gulf states are getting involved, and what ...more
Israel's April 2019 parliamentary elections feature two of the most significant developments in modern Israeli political history, says Institute scholar David Makovsky: The formation of a new opposition coalition featuring three recently former IDF commanders and the criminal indictment of a sitting prime minister. In this episode, David explains the issues, parties, and personalities at play in Israel's parliamentary vote and what the outcome may mean for American policy and interests. Near Eas...more
American Middle East policy has focused on forging security and economic ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In a new report (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/reclamation), Joseph Braude documents growing opportunities for reclaiming cultural space for Arab-Israeli reconciliation. In this episode, Joseph joins Brookings Institution scholar Tamara Cofman Wittes to discuss the possibilities and obstacles facing this new cultural opening, and how U.S. policy can encourage it. Near East Po...more
Iran's latest missile tests point to a new generation of rocket, one potentially capable of delivering a first-generation nuclear warhead, and defeating advanced missile defenses, to targets up to 2,000 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy. Farzin Nadimi, a longtime student of Iranian military capabilities and doctrines, joins us to explain the significance of Tehran's new missile and what it tells us about Iranian intentions. Also see Farzin's January report, "Iran’s Continued Push for a Nucl...more
Dana Stroul, The Washington Institute's newest research fellow, is a veteran Pentagon and U.S. Senate foreign policy staffer. In this podcast, Dana shares her insights about Capitol Hill's role in making foreign policy, from the fraying bipartisan consensus on vital Middle East issues to the conflicts between the legislative and executive branches that transcend administrations. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Period. It has held that dubious distinction for many years now and shows no sign of relinquishing the title." Speaking at The Washington Institute on November 13, State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Nathan Sales announced new diplomatic and financial sanctions against Tehran and its terrorist proxies. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Since the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), November 4 has loomed large as the date on which significant U.S. sanctions on Iran, and on third parties doing business with Iran, return to force. Former Treasury Department sanctions expert offers a guide to what the new sanctions mean for U.S. strategy, for global markets, and for American businesses and citizens. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near Eas...more
Do the counterterrorism partnerships that Washington has developed with Middle Eastern states since the 9/11 attacks helped or hindered the global war on terror? Four leading CT scholars debate the past success and future utility of counterterrorism partnerships in this latest episode of Near East PolicyCast. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In early August, the Trump administration issued sanctions against Turkey for its continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Ties between the two governments have been under strain for years, but the latest incident has seemingly touched off the most severe crisis in recent memory. What are the future prospects and pitfalls for U.S.-Turkish relations? Listen to analysis from an expert panel as they debate how to salvage the bilateral relationship - and even whether the alliance is wo...more
When he passed away in May, Bernard Lewis—the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton and inaugural recipient of The Washington Institute’s Scholar-Statesman Award—left behind a legacy of unparalleled scholarly consequence that crossed disciplines, centuries, continents, governments, and generations. To discuss his influence on the study, politics, and policy of the Middle East, the Institute hosted a forum with three of his former students: Martin Kramer, the Institute...more
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Nagata, director of strategic planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, delivered a hard-hitting address at the Institute earlier this month. After nearly two decades and much success, General Nagata said it's time for Americans to ask ourselves had questions: Why is terrorism today more widespread and complex than ever? Why have terrorists proven so resilient and adaptive in the face of massive military pressure from the United States and its global ...more
Barbara Leaf served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2014-2018 and recently joined The Washington Institute as Rosenblatt Distinguished Fellow. In this episode, Ambassador Leaf looks back at her time as American envoy in Abu Dhabi, what the future holds for American interests in the Gulf, and her own transition from policymaker to scholar. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
On June 24, Turks voted for president and parliament for the first time under their new constitution, handing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party narrow victories that may reshape Turkish politics and society for years to come. Did Erdogan win fairly, and what does his victory mean for the future of Turkey, the Middle East, and American relations with this key NATO ally? Turkey scholar Soner Cagaptay joins us to explain the elections and their implications for the future. Near East ...more
How can policymakers deal with the urgent crises of the day without neglecting important issues of long-term strategy? Ambassador Dennis Ross has advised presidents from both parties since the 1980s, and he literally wrote the book on diplomacy and statecraft. In this episode, he connects the dots between immediate policy challenges in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, as well as the rising threat of a regional war, to chart a wider policy agenda for securing the mos...more
In a rare public address in Washington, D.C., Israel's defense minister explained his government's strategy for dealing with challenges including the emergence of a direct Iranian front to the north and recurrent mass protests along the Gaza border to the south. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In military terms, what did the April 13 allied airstrikes on Syria accomplish? Will deterring the Assad regime from using chemical weapons change the Syrian battlefield? Veteran military analyst Michael Eisenstadt shares his insights into the tactical and strategic effects of the coalition airstrikes and the future course of the conflict there. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Amid dimming hopes for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and growing disarray in the Palestinian political scene, one bright spot remains the growing effectiveness and professionalism of the Palestinian Authority's 30,000-man security services. Neri Zilber and Ghaith al-Omari, coauthors of a new study of the past, present, and future of PA security forces, discuss the evolution of Palestinian domestic security services as well as whether and how they can retain morale and competence. Near East Po...more
David Cattler, the U.S. government's national intelligence manager for the Near East, recently shared a survey of the Middle East and American security and interests there. Will there be a "peace dividend" from the defeat of ISIS? What keeps the U.S. intelligence community up at night? How likely is war on Israel's northern border? Where do human rights rank among America's security priorities? Does the Middle East really matter to the United States? Cattler addressed these questions, and more, ...more
From February 12 to 14, representatives of governments, NGOs, and private businesses from around the world met in Kuwait for a conference that was intended to raise $85 billion for rebuilding destroyed areas and resettling displaced Iraqis in formerly ISIS-controlled territory. In the end, the Kuwait conference raised $30 billion. Was this a failure for Iraqi reconstruction, or the start of a longer process? Is Baghdad equipped to handle and spend even that lower amount of reconstruction funding...more
What is the Shia Crescent, and how does Iran’s government exploit it to spread its influence and sow division across the region, from the Karun River to the Mediterranean Sea? Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar, a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute, discusses the Shia Crescent, Iranian influence, and the loss of the Lebanon she once knew. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
During an eventful week in the Middle East – which included President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the death of Yemen’s former president Saleh – a fifty-person delegation from The Washington Institute traveled to the capitals of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates to meet with senior leaders, engage with a broad range of local society, and learn about important changes under way in each country. Institute scholars Robert Satloff and Katherine Bauer...more
On December 5, 2017, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy honored three former Israeli ambassadors who fought for justice and fairness at the United Nations: Dore Gold, Dan Gillerman, and Ron Prosor. The annual Scholar-Statesman Awards ceremony, held in New York City, took place on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the ratification of the UN's Partition Plan for Palestine. Institute executive director Robert Satloff led a lively conversation with Ambassadors Gold, Gillerman, and Prosor...more
Do Turkey’s political and social upheavals following that country’s 1980 military coup have anything to tell us about Turkey under President Erdogan today? Journalist Ece Temelkuran believes so, and in her new novel, “The Time of Mute Swans,” she tells a story of post-coup Ankra in which divisions and bloodshed blur the lines between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, beauty and ugliness. Listen to a conversation about authoritarianism and literature with Temelkuran, distinguished American di...more
Seventy-five years ago, in November 1942, American troops made their first landing in the modern Middle East. Operation Torch, the allied invasion of French North Africa, set the stage for subsequent offensives against Axis forces in Sicily, Italy, Greece, and France. Did American decisions during and after Torch also set the stage for the next eight decades of U.S. policy across the broader Middle East? Institute executive director Robert Satloff and historian Eliot Cohen explore the choices ma...more
Functioning as a state within the Lebanese state, Hezbollah has accumulated more rockets than many European militaries. But it is also an irregular army that uses terrorism as a strategic weapon against adversaries at home and abroad. Today, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have reconfigured Hezbollah and other forces in ways that could lead to a new war, one far more destructive than previous Middle Eastern conflicts. In this episode, we'll hear from three senior European military leaders who ha...more
On October 13, President Trump announced a new Iran strategy, including decertifying the 2015 nuclear deal and asking for changes from Congress and from international partners. Does this mean the end of the nuclear deal? What comes next for the executive branch and for Congress? Can the administration bring our allies on board for a comprehensive push to counter the full range of Iran's destabilizing activities? Institute scholar and former National Security Council senior official Michael Singh...more
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly to seek national independence - and their neighbors, as well as the Baghdad government, have responded with a rapidly escalating war of words. Iraqi politics expert Bilal Wahab joins us to explain what comes next, whether armed conflict can be avoided, and how the United States can best approach the rising tensions between its vital partners, the Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi national government. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Wash...more
On September 7, distinguished Israeli general Yair Golan, who recently completed service as the IDF’s deputy chief of staff, delivered The Washington Institute's 2017 Zeev Schiff Memorial Lecture. General Golan’s remarks focused on three themes: the role of vision and founding values in Israeli society, the overall contours of Israeli national security policy, and military defense as a component of that policy. In assessing the current military situation, the general emphasized the threat posed ...more
Institute scholar Michael Knights says that the upcoming independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region is already yielding positive results in the form of compromise and cooperation among parties and movements whose enmity has long gridlocked Iraqi Kurdish politics. While a pro-independence result is a near certainty for the September 25 vote, the shape of an eventual settlement between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s national government in Baghdad could take many forms, ...more
Why is the most successful and powerful leader in modern Turkey's history driven by insecurity and grievances? Author and Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay unpacks the ways in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan's biography shapes his politics and the fate of his nation. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Although terror attacks conducted by individuals are not a new phenomenon, recent years have seen an alarming increase in these "lone-wolf" incidents. The Islamic State, for instance, has been proactive in using its global tentacles to inspire individuals to carry out attacks in its name. Meanwhile, in Israel, solo operators unaffiliated with organized terror groups have taken to carrying out attacks with the weapons at hand—cars, knives, homemade. Are such attacks a growing trend and the future...more
Gulf politics scholar and former intelligence analyst Lori Plotkin Boghardt explains the Qatar crisis - what it is, why it's happening now, and how it could affect American interests and alliances in the Middle East. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Jihadism scholar Aaron Zelin explains how al-Qaeda survived drones, revolutions, and the rise of ISIS to persist and re-emerge as a primary local, regional, and global terrorist threat. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
For years, Jordan has been surrounded by an arc of instability, from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon to the West Bank. Yet the kingdom remains, for now, an island of relative calm. Institute scholar David Schenker discusses how the kingdom has weathered regional storms and what the future holds for this vital American friend in the Middle East. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Donald Trump is making his first foreign trip as president to the Middle East, with his initial stop in Saudi Arabia. President Trump will arrive in a kingdom on the precipice of major changes, including a youth boom, technological revolutions, a possible succession to a younger generation of royal leadership, and an ambitious economic reform program dubbed “Vision 2030.” Gulf and energy policy scholar Simon Henderson explains thepolitical, economic, and social changes facing Saudi Arabia, and w...more
To assess the new U.S. administration's approach to Middle East policy at the conclusion of its first 100 days in office - and on the eve of a presidential trip to the region - The Washington Institute hosted a keynote conversation at its 2017 Soref Symposium on Middle East policy between Gen. John M. "Jack" Keane, USA (ret.), Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (ret.), and Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institu...more
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is in Washington, DC, for only the second time since 2010, and meets with President Trump at the White House on May 3. How should the U.S. administration approach Abbas as they begin to lay the groundwork for a new push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Can Turkish democracy - and Turkey's strategic relationships with Europe and the United States - survive Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasing consolidation of domestic political power? Three Turkish experts, including the author of a timely new book on Erdogan's rise and ambitions, discuss the country's likely future. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Defending against terrorism requires more than stopping or catching terrorists. Just as important as military and law-enforcement actions against active terrorists are broader government and community efforts to prevent individuals from adopting extreme ideologies in the first place, and countering the attraction of violent methods for those already radicalized. Counterterror expert Matthew Levitt discusses a new bipartisan report that aims to help the new U.S. administration improve and broaden...more
The countries of northwest Africa – Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria – may look like islands of stability in a sea of Middle East turmoil. But perhaps better to see them as low coral atolls – and the sea around them is rising fast. Soref Fellow Sarah Feuer, coauthor of a presidential transition study of American challenges and policy options in northwest Africa talks about why these countries matter to the United States, what Washington can do to help preserve reform and democracy there, and what t...more
Less than a month into the new U.S. administration, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be the fourth foreign leader to confer with President Trump in Washington. How will the bilateral relationship change in the Trump administration? What is on the Israeli premier’s agenda on this first visit to the Trump White House? And how does the alliance with Israel serve America’s broader interests in the Middle East? Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washingto...more
A veteran American diplomatic and strategic advisor to presidents of both parties, Ambassador James Jeffrey discusses the vital U.S. interest in the Middle East and how the Trump administration can protect and advance them. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
If the Trump administration follows through on campaign commitments to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, how should it proceed? How will America's Arab partners respond? And could an embassy relocation play a positive role in reinvigorated American engagement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Join us for a conversation with the scholars David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari about a potential American embassy in Jerusalem. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle Ea...more
After a surprising presidential election, Americans and foreign leaders have closely watched the executive transition for clues to American priorities and policy under the Trump administration. What does Donald J. Trump’s victory tell us about American politics – and how will our allies and adversaries respond? Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Where does the Middle East fit into America's global strategy, and is the rise of Russian and Chinese great-power competition in the region a permanent new reality or an anomaly that the next president can reverse? We talk with Michael Singh, the National Security Council's former senior director for Middle East affairs about regional challenges to America's interests, the policy choices necessary to overcome them, and the personnel and management decisions that can help the next president avoid...more
From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State, the global terrorist threat has evolved rapidly in recent years, and will likely change further still in the next president’s term. Counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt looks ahead to the next administration and the choices the 45th president will have to face to keep Americans safe from this adaptive global menace. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Syria is going to hit the next president very hard," warns Ambassador Dennis Ross. A veteran of five administrations, under presidents of both parties, Ross shares his insights into the decisions that will face the next commander in chief as well as the planning that must take place before Inauguration Day to create an orderly process for making choices. Near East PolicyCast: Conversations on Middle East issues from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Politics has become a life-or-death struggle for several of America's important partners in the Middle East, says Eric Trager, and their leaders increasingly perceive even mild U.S. encouragement on human rights issues as support for domestic enemies. The next president will face a decision about how to prioritize America's strategic and security interests against our commitment to liberal and democratic values in countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq. Eric Trager is the Esther K. Wagner F...more
How the next president deals with the conflict in Syria will shape American foreign policy in the Middle East for years to come, says Andrew Tabler, and American decisions in Syria will determine the course of American relations with our regional allies, with Iran, and even with Russia. Join us for the latest in our Middle East 2017 series with Syria expert Tabler's insights into why Syria in the late 2010s will likely resemble Iraq in the 1990s, with Libya right behind it.
When the forty-fifth president of the United States gets down to work on January 21, 2017, the new commander in chief will face life-or-death decisions that will shape America’s role in the Middle East for years to come. In this podcast series, Washington Institute scholars explore those historic challenges. As former high-level officials in Democratic and Republican administrations, our experts know the issues, the stakes, the leaders and the players on the ground. Ambassador James Jeffrey is S...more
A leading humanitarian criminal justice advocate and a journalist who's helped uncover the Assad regime's atrocities in Syria explain why bringing war criminals to justice matters, and what must be done now to make later prosecutions possible.
A former State Department counterterrorism official outlines the gaps in European efforts to fight violent extremisms: Why they exist, what needs to change, and how they make it harder for U.S. officials to do their job of defending the American homeland.
Diplomat-in-residence Olivier Decottignies from the French Foreign Ministry share an insider’s view of the jihadist threat facing Europe – how the Islamic State seeks to exploit economic, cultural, and political crises facing the European Union and what EU leaders are and should be doing about it.
Days before the deadly bombings in Brussels, Belgian authorities carried out raids that killed or captured several of Europe’s most-wanted terrorists. At the same time, Institute Fromer-Wexler fellow Matthew Levitt was in Brussels, meeting with Belgian counter-terrorism officials from neighborhood cops to national intelligence leaders. What he found was a city where a terrorist safe-haven has arisen side-by-side with the gleaming capital of modern Europe. On one picturesque square in the Brussel...more
Anna Borshchevskaya explains how Russia's growing weakness and Vladimir Putin's focus on maintaining his grip on domestic power have led to meddling and intervention across the Middle East.