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Middle East and North Africa

America’s Iran Strategy

President Barack Obama’s administration had a primary goal in the Middle East: It did not want Iran to become a nuclear power. It did...

Turkey Adjusts Its Foreign Policy

Turkey’s long-term goal is to become a military and economic power with global outreach. Its path to success, however, isn’t a straight line. Crises...

Brief: Putin’s Message to the UAE

Background: Russia’s strategy in the Middle East involves active balancing between actors including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. It often uses the leader...

Brief: A New US Military Base in Syria

Background: For years, the Trump administration sought to reduce the scope of the United States’ military presence around the world, decreasing deployments and withdrawing...

Brief: Black Sea Drills

Background: The Black Sea’s strategic importance as a transportation hub makes it a point of contention between Russia and NATO, as well as nearby...

Biden’s First Middle East Moves

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden took two steps in the Middle East. The first was that he notified Congress of his intention to...

The Enigma of Dubai

First-time visitors to Dubai get the impression that they about to enter to an austere Islamic city with strict codes of conduct. They are...

Brief: Countdown to an Iranian Bomb

Background: The Israeli-Sunni Arab coalition against Iran that started taking shape last year has put even more pressure on the Islamic republic. But the...

The Kurdistan Regional Government: Divided and Dysfunctional

In a 17th-century poem titled “Mem and Zin,” renowned Kurdish poet Ahmad Khani wrote: “If only there were harmony among us, if we were...

Brief: Why Iran Is Interested in Mediation

Background: The U.S. has been leading the charge on a maximum pressure campaign against Iran for years now. Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned...

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.

Middle East and North Africa in our Memos

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