Middle East and North Africa

Must Read

Financial Times: Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom on Guard

Author: Roula Khalaf

"Two camps are emerging: one led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which maintains that political Islam is a perilous force that should be confronted; and the other led by Qatar and Turkey's ruling party, which believes in political Islam's ability to transform the region. 'This confrontation has not reached its peak yet,' [Tarek Osman] says. Saudi Arabia's policies might be pursued in the name of stability. But they could well achieve the opposite."

See more in Saudi Arabia; Politics and Strategy

Op-Ed

Sisi 2014!

Author: Steven A. Cook
ForeignPolicy.com

With Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's recent entry into the country's presidential race, many consider his victory a foregone conclusion. A Sisi presidency, however, will be fraught with numerous challenges, writes Steven A. Cook, coming from the Muslim Brotherhood, a crippled economy, Mubarak-era business tycoons, and Egypt's fractious security establishment.

See more in Egypt; Elections

Ask CFR Experts

How critical is Hamas to the success of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty?

Asked by Yijia Liang, from Upper Arlington High School
Author: Robert M. Danin

Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel in any form, opposes the negotiations taking place between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and believes that Israel should not exist. Its control of Gaza, constituting roughly 40 percent of the population (overall 4.4 million) slated to be part of a Palestinian state, would pose a major impediment to the success of any Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. The current reality—a divided Palestinian polity with Gaza under Hamas' rule and the West Bank under PLO rule—is a formidable challenge to the viability of any peace agreement signed between Israelis and Palestinians. For instance, in the event the PLO and Israel reached an agreement, with Gaza under Hamas, how would the PLO take control and create a unified Palestinian state consisting of both Gaza and the West Bank?

Read full answer

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Must Read

Washington Institute: The Assad Regime Winning by Inches?

Author: Jeffrey White

"The regime's political goals are to remain in power, restore its control over as much of Syria as it can, and render the political opposition an irrelevant exile movement. Its military goal is to reduce the armed opposition to a manageable terrorist threat. This does not imply that the opposition has to be completely eliminated or that every inch of lost ground has to be recovered. Yet the regime has never shown any intention other than to fight, and it fights essentially everywhere in Syria."

See more in Syria; Conflict Assessment

Must Read

Majalla: Iran's Fourth Estate

Author: Arash Karami

"The state of the Iranian media can serve as a bellwether for understanding where the country is headed. In the past, the restrictions under which Iranian journalists had to operate fluctuated as the political fortunes of conservatives and reformists shifted."

See more in Iran; Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Op-Ed

Israel Gets No Credit From Obama for a Year of Moderate Settlement Construction

Authors: Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot
Washington Post

President Obama recently complained about "aggressive" settlement construction by Israel, but the facts are otherwise. The new statistics show that Israel is building energetically in Jerusalem and in the blocs it will obviously keep, and slowing construction in smaller settlements beyond its security barrier in areas that may someday be part of a Palestinian state. Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot explain.

See more in Israel; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Ask CFR Experts

How should the United States react to Al-Qaeda regaining influence in Iraq?

Asked by Tyler Malcolm
Author: David Palkki

Recent gains by al-Qaeda's main offshoot in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), are dangerous and discouraging. ISIS control of Fallujah is particularly disheartening, given the U.S. blood spilled to liberate this city in 2004. ISIS occupation of cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi in western Iraq, and Raqqa in eastern Syria, are part and parcel of a plan to destroy the Iraqi state and to create an Islamic caliphate. Important U.S. interests in Iraqi stability and regional security are at stake.

Read full answer

See more in Iraq; Regional Security

Primary Sources

UN Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

The UN Human Rights Council issued this report on Syria on November 23, 2011. It states that "gross violations of human rights have been committed by Syrian military and security forces since the beginning of the protests in March 2011." On March 4, 2014, the commission released its seventh report (A/HRC/25/65) and states that sieges of civilian areas are leading to mass casualties and starvation in Syria.

See more in Syria; Human Rights

Op-Ed

Egypt's 2011 Uprising is a Cautionary Tale for Ukraine

Author: Steven A. Cook
Fortune.com

"Although comparisons between Egypt's 2011 uprising and the recent turmoil in Ukraine are largely unwarranted, CFR's Steven A. Cook writes that there is an important lesson for Ukraine in the Egyptian experience: the need for simultaneous economic and democratic reforms to achieve both political stability and economic prosperity."

See more in Ukraine; Egypt; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Must Read

Foreign Policy: The $20 Million Case for Morocco

Authors: Eliza Barclay and Kristen Chick

"Morocco's lobbying efforts still appear capable of influencing American policy. The U.S. mission to the United Nations, for instance, recently proposed adding a human rights mandate to the UN mission in Western Sahara -- it is, after all, currently the only UN peacekeeping force without one. But the United States dropped the proposal after the government of Morocco and its allies lobbied against it."

See more in Morocco; Politics and Strategy