Winning the Peace in the Middle East’s Fragile States

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’s Fragile States

Regional Diplomacy Amid the War in Gaza 

RAFAH, GAZA - FEBRUARY 27: Dozens of Palestinian children and teens, taking refuge in Rafah from Gaza, hold banners as they gather to hold a protest the scarcity of food and water under the ongoing Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on February 27, 2024. The children marched in the streets of Gaza City holding banners with some written on them 'bread becomes my dream' and 'we want food,' among others. Abed Zagout / Anadolu (Photo by Abed Zagout / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

Over the past four months, Middle Eastern nations have been dismayed by the near-unconditional support from Western governments to Israel as it has bombarded and besieged the Gaza Strip and is now ramping up an assault on Rafah—a sliver of territory where more than a million displaced civilians have gathered. As a result, some have… Continue reading Regional Diplomacy Amid the War in Gaza 

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

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

Interview: What Lies Ahead for Türkiye After the Elections?

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets the audiece after a press conference where he announced the new cabinet, in Ankara, Turkey June 3, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC2WB1AS37AP

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?

Will Türkiye’s Elections Produce a Change in Leadership and Regional Posture?

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wave national and AK Party flags during a campaign event ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul, Turkey May 9, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC24V0AOG9WM

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?

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 post-Arab Spring Middle East policy sharpens its focus 

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the World Cup in Doha, Qatar, November 20, 2022. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS

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 

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