Winning the Peace in the Middle East

Demonstrators rally in the town of Binnish in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on March 1, 2024, to protest against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an Islamist group led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria branch, and calling for the overthrow of the group's leader. - HTS and other groups control swathes of Idlib province and parts of neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces. A brutal Syrian government crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired protests that erupted in 2011 spiralled into a devastating war involving foreign armies, militias and jihadists. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

The military escalation since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7 highlights the vulnerability of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to a relapse of conflict, potentially in a conflagration that could engulf the region at large. Over years of devastating intra-state conflicts and proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and… Continue reading Winning the Peace in the Middle East

Türkiye Leverages Derna Relief to Reconcile with Eastern Libya

LIBYA - SEPTEMBER 13: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - 'TURKISH DISASTER AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (AFAD) / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Teams of Turkiye’s State Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) join search and rescue operations to save lives following devastating floods in Libya on September 13, 2023. Torrential rains from Storm Daniel swept several areas in eastern Libya on Sunday, killing more than 6,000 people with thousands still missing, according to officials. Turkiye's Disaster & Emergency Management Authority (AFAD)/ Handout / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Turkiye's Disaster & Emergen / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

When catastrophic flooding and the collapse of two dams ripped the heart of eastern Libya’s Derna into the Mediterranean on the night of September 10, Türkiye was quick to respond. The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that it was sending two warships to Libya carrying 360 personnel, including members of the state disaster-management agency AFAD,… Continue reading Türkiye Leverages Derna Relief to Reconcile with Eastern Libya

A Military Intervention in Niger Would Deepen the Sahel’s Woes

A supporter holds a t-shirt reading "France Must Go" as supporters of Niger's National Council of Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) protest outside the Niger and French airbase in Niamey on September 2, 2023 to demand the departure of the French army from Niger. (Photo by AFP)

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

Libyan Effort to Clean Up State Finances Sidesteps Deeper Issues

TRIPOLI, LIBYA - FEBRUARY 12: Protesters gather in front of Libya's National Oil Company to protest against renegade commander Khalifa Haftar after depriving public of oil revenues by halting production and exporting in oil fields in Tripoli, Libya on February 12, 2020. Hazem Turkia / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Hazem Turkia / Anadolu Agency)

As political tensions in Libya simmer amid fresh uncertainty over elections, the Libyan Presidency Council recently moved to address another issue at the heart of the country’s divisions. Only July 6, the Tripoli-based body announced it was establishing a High Financial Oversight Committee, with sweeping responsibilities to oversee Libya’s vital oil revenues, scrutinize government budgets… Continue reading Libyan Effort to Clean Up State Finances Sidesteps Deeper Issues

Erdogan’s Gulf Visit Heralds New Regional Approach

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 17, 2023. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC2952AAR2Q1

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

Sudan Conflict: Regional Implications – Council Views

A man walks while smoke rises above buildings after aerial bombardment, during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, May 1, 2023. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2OP0AR0DBV

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

The Saudi-Iranian Deal Is Important, but Don’t Expect a Wider Peace

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang shake hands during a meeting in Beijing, China, April 6, 2023. Iran's Foreign Ministry/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2U80A5199H

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

MENA Outlook 2023 – Council Views

Beirut, Lebanon - July 3 2021: Tens of cars line up near the very few open gas stations in Lebanon. Drivers wait for hours due to fuel shortage.

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

Desperately Seeking Stability: Libya, Elections, and Enduring Political Stalemate

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