There are important lessons for the incoming Trump administration on Iran they can learn from their predecessors, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh. They should recognize that the Islamic Republic is a unitary nation-state purged of reformers, that it is susceptible to a threat of force, and that Iran is not interested in normalizing relations with the United States.
Partitioning Syria under a weak federal structure with a massive Western force to enforce a power-sharing agreement is the only real option the United States and its allies has for solving the Syrian conflict, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh.
The assumptions held by those advocating military action in Syria are weak, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Military punitive measures are not likely to make Russia, Iran, the Syrian regime, or militant forces back down from their current stances, either on the battlefield or in negotiations.
While increased U.S. military action in Syria may be favored by numerous policymakers, the Obama administration remains unwilling to sanction further intervention. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that “The Obama White House has long argued that it was elected to end wars in the Middle East, not to escalate them…” but meanwhile, Aleppo remains “full of carnage and bunker-busting munitions with rockets falling on children and no hope of escape for anyone.”
New polls of Israelis and Palestinians prove that peace is not at hand, and views on a peace deal are very far apart. But they also contain some interesting data, as Elliott Abrams explains in National Review.
The U.S. wanted Turkish and Kurdish fighters to fight, but not fight each other. Now the administration is scrambling to keep local allies with their own interests focused on America's goal: defeating ISIS.
Twenty-five years ago this week, a group of Politburo hard-liners launched a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The effort to depose him provoked a gigantic popular protest and collapsed in just three days. With the failure of the coup, the communist system itself began to unravel. “The 20th century” — so claimed Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s rival, rescuer and eventual successor — had “essentially ended.” People power had defeated the Soviet state.
The 2016 Republican Party platform contains no references to the two-state solution. Is this a crisis? Elliott Abrams writes in National Review that, after years of failed attempts to broker a peace agreement, the United States should seek to promote the goal of peace without dictating one sole path forward.
As U.S.-backed rebels fight to liberate Raqqa and Mosul, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon questions next steps for these cities. “Will these disparate forces stay together to form a federation of at least relative order that allows people to go to work and send their children to school?,” asks Lemmon. “Who will do the governing? Under what authority? And what comes next if that doesn’t happen?”
Philip Gordon, along with James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini of RAND, discusses how Syria could decentralize power in order to reduce violence and save lives while the parties work toward a more comprehensive long-term transition.
As fighting rages on in Syria, world leaders in Vienna on Tuesday pledged to turn the limited “cessation of hostilities” into a nationwide ceasefire heralding progress toward full peace and a political end to the war. Yet the question remains, as it has for years: If diplomacy fails, then what?
The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement explains little about the contemporary Middle East’s problems, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Assuming it does is bad history and leads to bad assumptions for U.S. foreign policy.
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