Middle East and North Africa

Foreign Affairs Article

A Hard Education

Authors: Gideon Rose and Jonathan Tepperman

After 13 years of war, the loss of many thousands of lives, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars, what has the United States learned? The answer depends on not only who is asking but when.

See more in Afghanistan; Iraq; Wars and Warfare

Foreign Affairs Article

Withdrawal Symptoms

Author: Rick Brennan

In a speech at Fort Bragg on December 14, 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. military would soon depart Iraq, ending one of the longest wars in American history.

See more in Iraq; 9/11 Impact

Foreign Affairs Article

An Army to Defeat

Author: Kenneth M. Pollack

Syria is a hard one. The arguments against the United States’ taking a more active role in ending the vicious three-year-old conflict there are almost perfectly balanced by those in favor of intervening, especially in the aftermath of the painful experiences of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

See more in Syria; Military Operations

Foreign Affairs Article


Authors: Christopher de Bellaigue and Ray Takeyh

For as long as the shah of Iran occupied the Peacock Throne, his relations with the United States depended on a mutually accepted falsehood. Neither side stood to gain from acknowledging that Washington’s favorite dictator owed his position to American skullduggery. 

See more in Iran; Regime Changes


Aid Fatigue is Hurting Displaced Syrians

Author: Stewart M. Patrick

As civil war in Syria inches toward its four-year anniversary, the nation’s humanitarian catastrophe deepens. Some 7.6 million Syrians are now internally displaced, and another 3.3 million have fled to neighboring countries to avoid the complex three-way dogfight among Assad’s forces, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Syrian rebels.

See more in Syria; Humanitarian Intervention; Human Rights


Rethinking Iran

Authors: Eric Edelman, Dennis Ross, and Ray Takeyh
The Washington Post

With the extension on the nuclear deal with Iran, Western powers would do well to reconfigure their assumptions on how to pressure Iran into a deal, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. Instead of economic or diplomatic punitive measures, the United States needs a comprehensive and coercive strategy that would mend fences between the White House and Congress on the foreign policy front, strengthen alliances in the Middle East, and isolate Iran from its partners.

See more in Iran; United States; Nuclear Energy; Treaties and Agreements

Research Links

Iraq Conflict: Islamic State Group

Iraq Conflict: Islamic State Group Research Links provide news, analyses, background, U.S. government reports, costs and number of deaths, funding, and more on the current conflict surrounding the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as Islamic State In the Levant, ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, or Daesh).

See more in Iraq; Terrorist Organizations and Networks


Sectarian Conflict in the Middle East

Speakers: Ebrahim Moosa and Mona Yacoubian

Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and Mona Yacoubian, deputy assistant administrator for the Middle East at USAID, discuss sectarian conflict in the Middle East at the American Academy of Religion 2014 Annual Meeting, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Religion; Conflict Prevention


Next Steps for U.S. Foreign Policy on Syria and Iraq

Author: Elliott Abrams

Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams details the United States' goals in Iraq and Syria: to alleviate the humanitarian and refugee crisis; to prevent an Iranian victory in Syria; and to strike devastating blows at the Islamic State.

See more in Iraq; Syria; Terrorism

Primary Sources

Proclamation of the International Decade for People of African Descent

The UN published this document on December 23, 2013, and a program of activities followed on November 18, 2014. The International Decade for People of African Descent began January 1, 2015 and ends on December 31, 2024, with the theme "People of African descent: recognition, justice and development." This program builds on the work of the World Conference against Racism and builds upon the UN's other initiatives to acknowledge victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Middle East and North Africa; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity; Human Rights


Iran's Vested Interest in Nuclear Talks

Author: Ray Takeyh
Los Angeles Times

While many seek to pressure Iran into a deal soon, they fail to recognize that Iran continues to participate because the talks act as a shield servicing Iran's interests, writes CFR's Ray Takeyh. From the very start, the Islamic Republic's main policy goal has been to achieved legitimate recognition for its expanding atomic infrastructure.

See more in Iran; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament