Interview: Russia in the Middle East

Preliminary voting results in the Russian presidential election are displayed on a screen at the Central Election Commission in Moscow on March 17, 2024. - Vladimir Putin secured 88 percent of the first votes counted in Russia's presidential election, the head of Russia's election commission said on March 17, 2024. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

1. Over two years into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russians have just gone to the polls and Ukraine appears set to postpone an election slated for the end of March. In Russia, Putin reportedly spent more than $1 billion on a public relations campaign in the lead-up to the election. What is the significance… Continue reading Interview: Russia in the Middle East

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

Iran’s Strategy in the War on Gaza

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (Top) speaks in an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Iran, on October 18, 2023. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto) (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

The recent drone strike on American soldiers stationed near the Jordan-Syria border, and Washington’s retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria, underscore the dangerous potential for a major escalation between the United States and Iran that could engulf the wider region. Washington and Tehran have engaged in a tit-for-tat conflict for several months now, which has… Continue reading Iran’s Strategy in the War on Gaza

Gaza and its impact three months on – Council Views

A Palestinian man is carrying the body of a child after it was unearthed from the rubble of a building following an Israeli strike on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip on December 30, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Hamas movement. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto) (Photo by MAJDI FATHI / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is entering its fourth month with no end in sight and with the most devastating consequences imaginable for the 2.2 million Palestinian civilians living there, for which Israel is now facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice. The effects of this are also being felt well beyond… Continue reading Gaza and its impact three months on – Council Views

A Ceasefire in Gaza is the only Bridge toward Durable Peace in the Middle East

11 November 2023, Berlin: A participant in a demonstration holds a placard with the words "Ceasefire Now!". The organizers want to demonstrate against the "ongoing violation of human rights". The demonstration is also being called for by pro-Palestinian groups. Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa (Photo by Christophe Gateau / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance via AFP)

The shocking and unprecedented attack by Hamas on southern Israel caught the technologically advanced Israeli army and security forces by surprise. Hamas’s initial assault killed more than 1,400 Israelis, and thousands of Palestinians have been killed as Israel has retaliated in Gaza. Israel has said hundreds of hostages are being held in Gaza. In addition… Continue reading A Ceasefire in Gaza is the only Bridge toward Durable Peace in the Middle East

“Global Boiling” is a Grim Reality: MENA Governments Must do More to Prepare

Participants walk past banners at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 3, 2023. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

For residents of sweltering parts of the Middle East and North Africa, it will come as little surprise that 2023 could be the hottest year on Earth since records began. July has already set a grim landmark as the hottest month on record, prompting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to remark that “the era of… Continue reading “Global Boiling” is a Grim Reality: MENA Governments Must do More to Prepare

Syria Is Back, But Normalization Has Its Limits

A handout picture released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcoming Iraq's Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani in Damascus on July 16, 2023. (Photo by - / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === /

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

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

MENA States’ Assertive Approach in the Era of Emerging Multipolarity

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 02: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - 'BRICS / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhanbir (R) attends the "BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting" in Cape Town, South Africa on June 2, 2023. Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhanbir, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahiyan also attend the meeting was hosted by South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor. BRICS / Handout / Anadolu Agency (Photo by BRICS / Handout / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

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

How Does Iran View Syria’s Return to the Arab League?

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad arrives in Jeddah, to attend the Arab League summit the following day, Saudi Arabia, May 18, 2023. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2611A8XF20

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?

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

Rising Anti-Refugee Sentiment in Türkiye Unshaken by Earthquakes

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds up a photo of what he described as a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey as he addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky - HP1EI9K17FV1I

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

Lessons Learned from the Türkiye and Syria Earthquake – Council Views

People look at damaged buildings and piles of rubble in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 17, 2023. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RC22DZ9X2BBZ

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

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

Turkey’s New Syria Narrative

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