This absence of clear unanimity in the Gulf, combined with the momentum of U.S.-Iranian talks, leave Riyadh few options. Moving forward, it is likely to follow in the broad wake of U.S. policy, but with a greater preference for hedging. It may pursue multiple, overlapping policy initiatives as a form of insurance, some of which may clash with U.S. strategies and goals.
"Beltway analysts draw the same conclusion: U.S. aid has not bought leverage over Egypt. Their argument is that cutting aid is futile and actually detracts from U.S. interests. It's quite a tautology. Since American assistance doesn't buy leverage, Washington should keep the aid flowing. If we agree that American assistance doesn't do much, then why continue it?"
"One of the misconceptions about the Syrian refugee crisis is that it mainly involves people in large camps, above all in Jordan and Turkey....But according to UN figures, a full three quarters of the Syrian refugee population throughout the region are surviving on their own in towns and rural areas."
Ed Husain hosts author Matt Levitt in a discussion of Hezbollah's terrorist activities, focusing on the group's presence internationally and including not only attempted and successful attacks, but also the group's illegal financial activities.
"Weapon systems, just like cars, are bought on credit. Most countries receiving [Foreign Military Funding] aid are required to show they have the funds to cover the full cost of the order, and the value of their orders cannot exceed the credit extended by the US. But Egypt was offered a credit arrangement more generous than most."
Following the Navy SEAL operations in Somalia and Libya, Micah Zenko reflects on reactions to the raids, which "remind us that perceptions of success, failure, and trends in preventing terrorism swing wildly based upon public events."
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, CFR Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh discusses the perception of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani as a reformer or pragmatist, the role of the Supreme National Security Council, and the future of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
"Iran's rulers, like all men of revolutions, live in the long shadow of the revolution that made them. To them, the revolution is both home and prison. As home, it is a source of identity; as prison, it locks them in ideological boxes, and spawns holier-than-thou tests of will between purists and pragmatists."
"Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world. 'Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,' a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, 'and no one's ever heard of him.'"
"A century after the British adventurer-cum-diplomat Sir Mark Sykes and the French envoy François Georges-Picot carved up the region, nationalism is rooted in varying degrees in countries initially defined by imperial tastes and trade rather than logic. The question now is whether nationalism is stronger than older sources of identity during conflict or tough transitions."
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
2011 Corporate Conference: Recaps and Highlights
To encourage the free flow of conversation, the 2011 Corporate Conference was entirely not-for-attribution; however, several conference speakers joined us for sideline interviews further exploring their areas of expertise.
Former Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin and Nobel Laureate economist Michael Spence on the global economic outlook.
Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose and Edward Morse on energy geopolitics.