A decade after the initial Oslo Accord was signed in 1993, public opinion on the process it spawned was divided between those who believed it was a promising initiative to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace that was tragically derailed, and those who insisted that it lacked the rudimentary elements of a meaningful peace process. Today, those who… Continue reading Palestinians Continue to be Haunted by the Ghosts of Oslo
Saudi Arabia has been intensifying its diplomatic efforts to join the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), a joint effort by Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy to build a next-generation combat jet. When Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Saudi Arabia in July, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly asked to join the alliance. But… Continue reading Why Japan Should Welcome Saudi Arabia into the GCAP Fighter Jet Alliance
In June, Qatar hosted secret talks between Venezuela and the United States. Doha has an extensive track record of assisting the United States in sensitive negotiations, including a recent prisoner swap with Iran and U.S.-Taliban backchanneling. Qatar’s emergence as a mediator in Venezuela has filled a void left by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and other regional… Continue reading Mediating Multipolarity: Qatar’s Role in U.S.-Venezuela Negotiations
July’s military coup against Niger’s pro-western President Mohamed Bazoum has sparked a complex crisis with momentous consequences for the entire region. The latest in a string of military power-grabs across the Sahel, it has drawn a particularly sharp reaction from former colonial power France, which has forces stationed in the country—ostensibly to fight Islamist militants—and… Continue reading A Military Intervention in Niger Would Deepen the Sahel’s Woes
The Impact of BRICS on the International Order Galip Dalay The 2023 BRICS summit has attracted unprecedented international interest due to the geopolitical context of increasing U.S.-China competition and the Global South’s balancing act regarding the Russia-Ukraine war. As competition between global powers intensifies, Western actors increasingly see this bloc, and others like the Shanghai… Continue reading BRICS Summit: Shaping a New Geopolitical Landscape – Council Views
In July, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi embarked on a three-country tour in Africa to expand relations on the continent, the first of its kind by an Iranian leader in more than a decade. The trip, to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, followed a similar visit to Latin America. Both were part of a strategic push by… Continue reading The Limits to Iran’s Trade Push in Africa
Representatives of 14 Palestinian political factions, including Fatah and Hamas, were invited to the Egyptian coastal city of El-Alamein on July 30, 2023 for reconciliation talks hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Facing challenges from the recurrent and increasingly violent onslaught by Jewish settlers and Israeli occupation forces throughout the West Bank since the beginning of… Continue reading The Persistent Illusion of Palestinian Reconciliation
The visit of Iraq’s prime minister to Damascus in July was the latest sign that Syria is mending ties with its neighbourhood, more than a decade after the Arab League suspended its membership over its brutal repression of anti-government protests. As the country’s catastrophic civil war settles, the regime of Bashar al-Assad can chalk up… Continue reading Syria Is Back, But Normalization Has Its Limits
The creation of a new governing council for Yemen’s largest province could mark a key moment in the country’s nine-year civil war. The Hadhramout National Council (HNC) was unveiled in late June after meetings between influential actors from across the vast eastern province, as well as Western ambassadors, under Saudi auspices. The council, set to… Continue reading Will Yemen’s New Hadramout Council Lead to Federalism or More Fragmentation?
Weeks after winning a new five-year term as president of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with a delegation that included nearly 200 business and government officials. The veteran leader’s first visit to the region since his electoral victory in May is the culmination of a rapid reconciliation… Continue reading Erdogan’s Gulf Visit Heralds New Regional Approach
Speculation has been growing in recent months that Egypt and Iran could be close to putting decades of mutual antagonism behind them. In early May, Egyptian and Iraqi officials said talks were underway in Baghdad with a view to mending relations between the two major regional powers. Later that month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei… Continue reading Will Egypt be the next to normalize relations with Iran?
When Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Iran in June, many viewed the event as further evidence of rapidly warming relations between the two regional rivals, who resumed diplomatic ties in March after years of open hostility. The image of the Saudi prince alongside Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, conveyed the message that the… Continue reading Can Iran-Saudi Rapprochement overcome Tehran’s anti-Western worldview?
An unprecedented experiment in economic and social transformation is playing out in Saudi Arabia, and the outcome could have profound implications for the entire Arab world. The main goal of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan is to shift the economy away from fossil fuels. It is a timely pivot, given that greenhouse-gas emissions must be… Continue reading Saudi Arabia’s Great Transformation
Discreet talks between Iranian and Western officials have prompted rumors that they are nearing a new deal over Iran’s nuclear program, five years after the United States withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The original, landmark agreement had been a linchpin in global efforts to cap Iran’s nuclear development. But after… Continue reading Is a New Iran Nuclear Deal in the Making?
As American dominance of the Middle East and North Africa wanes and other world powers step up their efforts to win friends and influence there, long-time U.S. allies are becoming more assertive towards Washington and recalibrating their other ties to better secure their own interests. The growing U.S.-China strategic rivalry will profoundly impact the region… Continue reading MENA States’ Assertive Approach in the Era of Emerging Multipolarity
1. What accounts for the election results, both in terms of Erdogan’s performance and the opposition alliance’s defeat? What will happen to the alliance now? The election results illustrate that President Erdogan’s campaign narratives of maintaining continuity in tumultuous times, his quest to make Türkiye a powerhouse in international affairs, and the fight against terrorism,… Continue reading Interview: What Lies Ahead for Türkiye After the Elections?
In May 2023, Syria returned to the Arab League following a near-12-year suspension. The move has far-reaching implications for both the region and the international community. It came after more than a decade of widespread atrocities by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime against its own citizens, abuses that have cast a long shadow over Syria’s relationships with… Continue reading How Does Iran View Syria’s Return to the Arab League?
Amid the zeitgeist of diplomatic rapprochement and normalization in the Middle East—which has recently seen Saudi Arabia and Iran mend ties and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad welcomed at this month’s Arab League summit—the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas took a step forward to repair its own regional relationships. In mid-April, a delegation of senior Hamas officials, led… Continue reading Will the Saudi-Iran Rapprochement change anything for the Palestinians?
As Sudan’s two main armed forces battle for control of Khartoum, hopes for a truce may lie on the other side of the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia has been holding talks in Jeddah reportedly focused on reaching a ceasefire and ensuring aid can reach those affected by the fighting, which has already killed hundreds of… Continue reading Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Edge as Generals Battle It Out in Sudan
On May 14, Türkiye will hold its most consequential elections in decades, with implications that extend well beyond its borders. For 21 years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dominated the country’s politics, reshaping its identity and outlook at home and abroad, while becoming the most recognizable Turkish politician on the global stage in nearly a century.… Continue reading Will Türkiye’s Elections Produce a Change in Leadership and Regional Posture?
The eruption of violent conflict in Sudan on April 15 has cast the country into, perhaps, the darkest period yet in its five-year transition toward civilian rule, which began with nationwide protests in 2018 and the toppling of Omar al-Bashir a year later, after three decades in power. The recent outbreak of fighting between the… Continue reading Sudan Conflict: Regional Implications – Council Views
It is widely known that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region suffers from a “democratic deficit.” What is less well-appreciated is that the region also suffers from a chronic deficit in transparency. The World Bank’s Vice President for MENA, Ferid Belhaj, recently called attention to this problem, stating that Egypt needs to get… Continue reading Time to Tackle the Transparency Deficit in the MENA Region
A diplomatic agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has raised hopes that it could lead to a peace agreement in Yemen, where war has raged with the help of both parties for over eight years. Over the past week, Houthi officials have been holding peace talks in Sanaa with a delegation led by Saudi Ambassador… Continue reading Saudi-Iran Rapprochement Unlikely to Bring Lasting Peace to Yemen
The March 6 announcement that Saudi Arabia and Iran were re-establishing diplomatic ties was an important moment for the Middle East. The Chinese-brokered deal has the potential to end the devastating eight-year conflict in Yemen and address geopolitical tensions elsewhere. From the Saudi perspective, it may end Iranian proxy attacks on Saudi oil facilities, including… Continue reading The Saudi-Iranian Deal Is Important, but Don’t Expect a Wider Peace
The earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria in February devastated large areas of both countries, killing over 50,000 people and forcing millions from their homes. It was Türkiye’s worst natural disaster in decades. For Syrian refugees living in the area, it was a double catastrophe. Already forced from their country by war, they now found… Continue reading Rising Anti-Refugee Sentiment in Türkiye Unshaken by Earthquakes
Since the start of its term, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has been reluctant to engage substantively with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Instead, it has focused its limited efforts on perpetuating the status quo, on the pretext that circumstances are not conducive to initiatives to change it. What can be described as a policy… Continue reading Biden’s Strategic Neglect of Palestine is Bound to Backfire
Still No U.S. Accountability Adel Abdel Ghafar The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was a terrible calamity, unleashing disastrous consequences that continue to reverberate across the Middle East. First and foremost, the war resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 Iraqis and the displacement of millions. Saddam Hussein’s regime was brutal, and the legacy… Continue reading The Iraq War 20 Years On – Council Views
In late February, Tunisian President Kais Saied made incendiary claims against Sub-Saharan Africans in the country. Asserting that “hordes” of paperless migrants represented a “criminal plot” to change Tunisia’s racial make-up and blur its Arab-Muslim identity, he accused them of causing a wave of “violence, crimes, and unacceptable acts” and called for “urgent measures to… Continue reading Racism Row Puts Another Blot on Tunisia’s Post-2011 Gleam
Reports of direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels have sparked hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough toward ending the country’s devastating eight-year war. Many observers have drawn optimism from renewed peace efforts and months of relative calm on the ground, which has outlasted a formal truce that expired in October. Yet there are… Continue reading Yemen Negotiations: Buying Time or Nearing Peace?
The catastrophic earthquakes and aftershocks that first hit Türkiye and Syria on February 6 have led to a staggering loss of life and infrastructure. Nearly 50,000 people have succumbed in the disaster and many more remain injured, homeless, and vulnerable as people, rescuers, and governments struggle to cope in the harsh winter conditions. In this… Continue reading Lessons Learned from the Türkiye and Syria Earthquake – Council Views
Egyptians are facing a dire economic situation. Since early 2022, the Egyptian pound has lost more than 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar and prices of imported goods have soared, as the impact of the war in Ukraine compounds the effects of stringent bailout conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).… Continue reading Egypt’s Economic Crisis Heightens Need for Reforms
The appointment of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani in October has breathed new life into the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). A militia network formed in 2014 to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the PMF soon morphed into a political force to be reckoned with, making a strong showing in 2018… Continue reading A Change in Iraqi Leadership Is Giving Militias a New Lease on Life
Just a few years ago, Tunisia was a beacon of political renewal in the Arab world, having both sparked the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions and emerged from them with the region’s only dictatorship-turned-democracy. Yet today, Tunisia is straining under the weight of a broken political system, a beleaguered economy and a disaffected public, including thousands… Continue reading Elections Without Democracy Expose Tunisia’s Political Decline
As 2022 drew to a close, the sporting world relished in a riveting FIFA World Cup full of historical firsts. Going forward, policymakers have a chance to reflect on the lessons learned from the organization of that event, which was the first time it was held in the Middle East. With the United States, Mexico,… Continue reading What Can the Next World Cup Hosts Learn from Qatar 2022?
Iraq’s new government is hoping that an influx of investment from its Gulf neighbors can breathe life into its economy and diversify its regional relationships after years of being so close to Iran. But such efforts are likely to face stiff opposition from Tehran and its proxies, who have expanded and consolidated their influence since… Continue reading Can Iraq’s New PM Chart a Different Relationship with the Gulf?
Israel’s new government, widely seen as the most far-right in its history, has wasted no time ramping up pressure on the Palestinian Authority. The latest volley of travel restrictions against top officials, financial pressure and construction freezes are not new in themselves. But viewed in the context of statements by members of the new cabinet,… Continue reading Could Israel’s New Government Spell the End of the Palestinian Authority?
In various ways, 2022 was arguably a positive year in much of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The COVID-19 pandemic subsided in many states and the intensity of violence ebbed in several conflict zones. Competition between regional powers receded and gave way to an increase in diplomacy and rapprochement. However, with a… Continue reading MENA Outlook 2023 – Council Views
The Islamic Republic of Iran is engulfed in crisis as a popular uprising threatens the foundations of the regime. The brutal murder of an Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, while in police custody for not wearing her headscarf according to government-imposed standards has galvanized Iranians of all backgrounds at a moment when the regime faces several… Continue reading Council Views – Iranian protests: Reverberations for the Islamic Republic and the Region
The arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Saudi Arabia marks an important moment in the historical relationship between the two countries and their respective regions. While the United States has recently been eager to drive a wedge between its partners in the Persian Gulf and its rival to the East, heads of state from… Continue reading China’s Xi travels to Saudi Arabia as Asia-GCC relations reach new heights
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s handshake with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi on November 20 marked a turning point in a relationship broken for over a decade by deep differences over the Arab Spring protest movements. The same day, Turkey carried out its latest air strikes against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, amid growing threats… Continue reading Turkey’s post-Arab Spring Middle East policy sharpens its focus
The elections held in the United States on November 8 were billed as the most crucial midterms in a generation. In a country deeply divided along ideological and party lines, the implications of such polls go well beyond domestic affairs. Polarization at home is seeping into Washington’s policy abroad, meaning that even congressional polls, once… Continue reading For Nations Abroad, U.S. Midterm Elections Are of Increasing Importance
On December 2, 2010, Qatar won the bid for hosting the 2022 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, becoming the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to host this tournament. Ever since, the country has launched several mega projects, ramping up its infrastructure capacity, amid wide controversy about… Continue reading Council Views – Hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022: Impact on Qatar and the Region
Although Yemen has experienced several decades of autocratic rule, the country also has a long history of being governed by councils representing its diverse political landscape. So, when a new leadership council was formed in April to replace President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, it was welcomed by many Yemenis and felt like an appropriate and familiar… Continue reading Can Yemen’s New Leadership Council Buck the Trend of History?
The month of September ended in tragedy for several families in the small coastal city of Zarzis in southern Tunisia. Around 18 young people went missing during an attempt to reach Europe, believing a tiny boat would carry them to a land of more opportunity. Yet, like many before them, they never reached their destination… Continue reading Why Do Young Tunisians Trust the Sea over Their Country?
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on the sidelines of the European Political Community meeting in Prague on October 6, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan created diplomatic waves by stating that he could meet with Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad “when the time is right.” Erdogan’s comment was the first of its kind since the… Continue reading Turkey’s New Syria Narrative
In a letter addressed to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on September 29, U.S. Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) and 26 of her colleagues called for imposing sanctions on Algeria through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The move is ostensibly connected to the war in Ukraine and the intensifying competition between… Continue reading Why the U.S. Congressional Effort to Pressure Algeria on Russia Could Backfire
In the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, Israeli military raids have become a near-nightly occurrence. So far this year, Israeli soldiers have killed more than 80 Palestinians in the West Bank—the most since 2015—and arrested hundreds of others, in what amounts to a far-reaching campaign to crush Palestinian resistance groups that have… Continue reading As PA Loses Grip Over West Bank, Israel Scrambles to Save It
During the past five months, Yemenis have experienced a welcome lull in their country’s devastating seven-year civil war. In April, a United Nations-brokered truce went into effect between Yemen’s transitional government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and a tepid partnership with Yemen’s southern separatist movement, and the Houthi-led movement allied with elements of Yemen’s… Continue reading Yemen Truce: a Window for Peace Not to Be Missed
It has been a long, hot summer in Libya. Demand for air conditioning has strained the country’s electrical grid, leading to rolling blackouts that have underscored the unity government’s inability to improve the daily lives of its people. With frustration mounting over the ongoing failure of political elites to organize elections, the blackouts prompted well-organized—if… Continue reading Desperately Seeking Stability: Libya, Elections, and Enduring Political Stalemate
In 2002, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) produced a remarkable and far-reaching document titled the Arab Human Development Report. Written largely by Arab authors, the report mobilized a wealth of data to argue persuasively that the lack of socio-economic development within the Arab region is the product of three fundamental deficits in freedom, knowledge,… Continue reading Twenty Years of Governance Reform: What’s Next for the MENA Region?