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Middle East and North Africa

Bahrain’s Shiite-Sunni Apartheid

Like many other countries of the Middle East, Bahrain has been repeatedly conquered by foreign invaders, including the Abbasids, Jarwinids, Omanis, Persians and Portuguese....

Brief: With Long-Range Bombers, the US Sends a Message

Background: The United States is trying to make good on its plans to reduce its global military footprint. At least partial troop withdrawals have...

Brief: Turkey Comes Around on Economic Reform

Background: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can no longer ignore the (most recent bout of) trouble Turkey is in. The economy is in shambles, support...

The Limits of Syrian Kurdish Self-Determination

The creation of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq in 1992 had a tremendous impact on Kurds throughout the Middle East. In Syria,...

Brief: Tensions Flare in Iraq Again

Background: Tensions heightened earlier this year after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary...

The Future of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Just six weeks after the beginning of the 1980 Iraq-Iran War, Arab countries gathered for a summit in Amman, Jordan. It was there that...

Brief: Russian Troops Deploy to Nagorno-Karabakh

Background: Since September, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in the latest round of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia, Turkey and Iran all have interests...

For Oman, It’s the End of an Era

When Qaboos bin Said declared himself sultan of Oman in 1970, he strove to modernize the country and disentangle it from the Middle East’s...

Brief: Turkey Considers a Partial Withdrawal From Syria

Background: Since 2016, Turkey has had a firm foothold in northern and western Syria, in part by supporting Sunni rebel militias. Its presence there...

Turkey and France: More Than Just a War of Words

Last month, a cartoon depicting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lounging in his underwear graced the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication...

The meltdown of autocratic regimes currently underway in the Arab world has led to the growth of ungoverned spaces. The resulting vacuum is being dominated by armed Islamist non-state actors – in particular Salafist-jihadist militias.

The three non-Arab powers – Turkey, Iran and Israel – are trying to manage the regional commotion according to their national interests.

It was during the Cold War era that a deep ideological chasm in the Middle East began to coagulate. The struggle between those who adopted European secularism and those who crafted an ideology based on religious tradition had its roots in late 19th century Ottoman Empire. Roughly 100 years later, this struggle had polarized the region.

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Required Reads: Middle East and North Africa

From our 2020 Forecast...

In the long term, Turkey is the dominant regional power. Except for cross-border operations into northern Syria, it has thus far hesitated to undertake activities far beyond its border. By the waning months of 2019, however, Turkish troops were again in northern Syria, drillships were venturing farther and farther out in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Ankara was offering to send troops to Libya and signing maritime delimitation deals with one of Libya’s rival governments. The Turks will increase their assertiveness in 2020, with dramatic consequences for the region.

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Latest Posts

Bahrain’s Shiite-Sunni Apartheid

Like many other countries of the Middle East, Bahrain has been repeatedly conquered by foreign invaders, including the Abbasids, Jarwinids, Omanis, Persians and Portuguese....

Daily Memo: Russia’s Missile Test, Concerns Over Central Asia

Conspicuous missile test. Russia’s newest naval corvette for the first time test-launched a cruise missile at a naval target in the Peter the Great...


Thanksgiving is a family holiday. For our family it is truly a family holiday, for my wife, Meredith, is a descendent of William Bradford,...

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