Volume XXIV, Number 4, Winter 2017
The president of the United States left two weeks ago on an extensive trip to meet Asia’s heads of state, unencumbered by diplomats. In a parting shot to reporters, he paraphrased Louis XIV: "It’s all me" — the state, he meant.
Timothy Lenderking, Perry Cammack, Ali Shihabi, David Des Roches
The following is a transcript of the ninetieth in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council. The meeting was held at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017, with Richard J. Schmierer, chairman of the Council's board of directors, moderating, and Thomas R. Mattair, the Council's executive director, serving as discussant. The video can be accessed at www.mepc.org.
This study aims to explain the shift in Qatar's foreign policy since 1995, from a conservative, marginalized state to an active player in the regional and global system. Why has Qatar — despite its small size — had a hyperactive foreign policy since 1995? There are many criteria for defining small states, the most important being population. According to the United Nations, a small state has fewer than one million people. On the other hand, some scholars consider gross national product (GNP) a criterion for defining the small state.1
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, it has become a magnet for countries and organizations that, concerned for their own interests, cannot refrain from interfering. As a result, Syria has regressed about six decades, to the period when its weakness left it prey to both regional and international powers.1 Of all the countries that have taken vigorous action against the regime of Bashar Assad, Saudi Arabia stands out. King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz was the first senior Arab leader to break the silence and condemn the Syrian president's repression of the 2011 protests.
Within the last three years, the Gulf states (especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) have increasingly widened their sphere of influence in the Horn of Africa. While their relations with the Horn have had a long history, their renewed focus on the area is of a far deeper and wider nature than ever before. Today, their proactive role in this part of Africa extends beyond the cultivation and strengthening of commercial and investment ties to include important security aspects. What prompted their preoccupation with East Africa?
The possibility that a nuclear-armed Iran may trigger a regional or global catastrophe has galvanized the debate over how the international community should react to such a threat. Although there was a consensus that decisive action was needed, there was little agreement among analysts or policy makers on what type of coercive measure to employ to roll back the program. After years of delays, the United States and other big powers settled on a carefully calibrated type of sanctions — smart sanctions — subsequently upgraded to super-smart sanctions.
In the wake of the "Arab Spring" revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in late 2010 and early 2011, the conventional narrative, at least in the Western media, soon became one of an unstoppable tidal wave of emancipation. This was expected to leave no stone unturned, at least in the decaying Arab republics, which many academics continued to argue were structurally weaker than the region’s monarchies.1
On January 2013, a terrorist group linked to the organization al-Mourabitoune1 stormed the In Amenas natural-gas facility, Algeria’s "economic lung." Over 800 people were taken hostage, among them 100 foreign workers. Threatening to kill the hostages and destroy the facility, the terrorists demanded the release of all Algerian jihadists and the withdrawal of French troops from northern Mali. Against expectations, Algerian authorities made it clear from the outset that they had no intention of either giving in or letting the terrorists leave Algeria.
To this day, Tunisia remains the only country in the MENA region that has undergone a democratic transition following the popular uprisings of 2010-11. Yet the transition has proven difficult. The young democracy remains plagued by a number of challenges, some of which stem from the legacy of the Ben Ali era and others that have emerged during the transition. Against this backdrop, the country has been confronted with the resurgence of Salafi currents, as well as with the phenomenon of jihadist radicalization.
Since 2003, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been severely tested by armed conflicts in Iraq and Syria, taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees and experiencing economic and demographic shocks as a result. Jordan now hosts more than 654,000 Syrian refugees registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);1 the 2015 census estimated that there were 1.26 million Syrians living in the country.2 Approximately 79 percent of the registered Syrian refugees live outside of Jordan’s two refugee camps for Syrians, Zaatari and al-Azraq.
The 2017 centennial of the Balfour Declaration has been observed with great fanfare. The theme of the 2017 annual meeting of the Association for Israel Studies was "A Century after Balfour: Vision and Reality." In February 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exulted in the British government's invitation to him to attend its celebration of the centenary: "While the Palestinians want to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the British prime minister is inviting the Israeli prime minister to an event to mark the hundredth anniversary of the declaration.
The Arab Spring did not make Salafi jihadism superfluous in the Arab world; rather, the failure of the former became the savior of the latter.
In each of the last 50 years, hundreds of books on the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict have been published.
In this book, Bjorn Brenner discusses one of the few existing cases of Islamic governance, achieved though not maintained through democratic means: Hamas’s rule over the Gaza Strip.
This is an edited collection of chapters by 10 contributors, organized by the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar. The first two chapters, by the co-editors, provide a general introduction to the subject.