What Does President Raisi’s Death Mean for the Islamic Republic?

Shiite Muslims light candles during the condolence meet for Iran's late president Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash, at a mosque in Chennai on May 22, 2024. - Iran's powerful allies mourned the death of its president, Ebrahim Raisi, in a helicopter crash, while regional militants hailed him as a supporter of the Palestinian cause. (Photo by R.Satish BABU / AFP)

On May 19, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, accompanied by his Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash. The helicopter was en route to an event in the mountainous East Azerbaijan province when it encountered severe weather conditions, leading initially to what was described as “a hard landing.” Despite prompt rescue efforts,… Continue reading What Does President Raisi’s Death Mean for the Islamic Republic?

What Next for the War Between Iran and Israel?

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 21: A protester holds a placard reading 'No war on Iran' as pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather outside Union Station during a rally in Toronto, Ontario on April 21, 2024. Mert Alper Dervis / Anadolu (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s direct attack against Israel was the first of its kind since the country’s clerical rulers seized power in 1979. In a major show of force, Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles from its own territory—an unprecedented break with its past approach. Israel and its allies, including the United… Continue reading What Next for the War Between Iran and Israel?

Security Sector Reform: An Exercise in Futility?

A member of the Imam Ali Battalions, the armed wing of the Islamic Movement of Iraq -- a member faction of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) paramilitaries -- holds up a picture depicting Iraqi PMF commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (who was in a US drone strike in early 2020), as other group members gather with its flags during a rally to mark annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations in Baghdad on April 5, 2024. - Quds (Jerusalem) Day is commemorated in support of the Palestinians annually on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by an initiative started by late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. (Photo by Murtaja LATEEF / AFP)

Since the onset of the post-October 7 regional escalation, the ascension of militia groups has had increasingly visible implications for global security. This has been highlighted by the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, which have had far-reaching consequences for the global economy. However, the Houthis—an armed political movement controlling most of Yemen—represent only one… Continue reading Security Sector Reform: An Exercise in Futility?

Iran-Israel Tensions Emerge from the Shadows – Council Views

TEHRAN, IRAN - APRIL 14: A new wall mural is displayed at Palestine Square picturing Iran's attack on Israel in Tehran, Iran on April 14, 2024. Haydar Sahin / Anadolu (Photo by Haydar Sahin / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

On April 13, Iran attacked Israel directly for the first time in its history, retaliating for Israel’s killing of three top Iranian commanders in Damascus on April 1. Israel has since responded with a limited strike, and the United States and its allies imposed expanded sanctions on Iran. Middle East Council scholars examine the implications… Continue reading Iran-Israel Tensions Emerge from the Shadows – Council Views

Washington’s Dilemma over Hamas in Qatar

A handout picture released by the Palestinian president's office (PPO) shows Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C-L) meeting with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani (C) and Hamas exiled leader Khaled Meshaal (C-R) in the capital Doha on August 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ PPO / THAER GHANEM === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/ PPO / THAER GHANEM" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === (Photo by HO / AFP)

“Tell Hamas that they must deliver on a hostage and ceasefire deal that would halt the war in Gaza or risk getting kicked out of the Qatari capital of Doha.” That was U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s message to Qatar in early March, according to a report by CNN five months into Israel’s war… Continue reading Washington’s Dilemma over Hamas in Qatar

Interview: Erdogan’s Last Elections?

A voter casts his ballot during the Turkish municipal elections, in Istanbul on March 31, 2024. - Turkish citizens head to the polls on March 31, 2024, in local elections as the President sets his sights on winning back Istanbul, the country's economic powerhouse, after he was re-elected head of state in a tight contest last year. The latest elections come in the throes of an economic crisis that saw the inflation rate surge to 67.1 percent and the Turkish currency crumble against dollar. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)

1. In 2019, the leading opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), won mayoral elections in Türkiye’s three biggest cities—Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir—marking the height of opposition unity under the Nation Alliance (Millet İttifakı). This time, despite the Nation Alliance’s dissolution, the opposition won even more cities in a landslide victory for the CHP not… Continue reading Interview: Erdogan’s Last Elections?

Genocidal Starvation in Gaza and the Responsibility of Third-Party States

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rule on emergency measures against Israel following accusations by South Africa that the Israeli military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw - RC2OP5A77N72

The extraordinary scene of U.S. military cargo planes dropping 38,000 ready-to-eat meals to beleaguered and malnourished Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, while 2,000 aid trucks queued, stranded, outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, recently underscored the desperate plight of Gaza’s civilians and the world’s willful failure to help them.   The airdrop represented a tiny… Continue reading Genocidal Starvation in Gaza and the Responsibility of Third-Party States

Erdogan Treads Delicate Line Between Words and Deeds on Gaza

Protesters wave Turkish and Palestinian flags during a rally in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, in Ankara on December 24, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

The war between Israel and Hamas has placed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a tough position. While he has responded with fiery rhetoric against Israel’s leadership and its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in practice his actions have been constrained by various factors, particularly Türkiye’s dire economic situation.   While Erdogan’s forceful criticism of Israeli… Continue reading Erdogan Treads Delicate Line Between Words and Deeds on Gaza

Iran and Türkiye Seek to Avoid Regional War for Different Reasons

On January 24, the presidents of Iran and Türkiye met in Ankara amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Middle East. While the meeting, which had been postponed twice, covered a broad range of bilateral topics, the war on Gaza and related clashes across the region provided an inescapable backdrop. Although the two sides… Continue reading Iran and Türkiye Seek to Avoid Regional War for Different Reasons

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

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 

Conflict in the Red Sea Makes Economic Waves

A grab from handout footage released by Yemen's Huthi Ansarullah Media Centre on November 19, 2023, reportedly shows members of the rebel group during the capture of an Israel-linked cargo vessel at an undefined location in the Red Sea. - Israeli ships are a "legitimate target", Yemen's Huthi rebels warned on November 20, a day after their seizure of the Galaxy Leader and its 25 international crew following an earlier threat to target Israeli shipping over the Israel-Hamas war. (Photo by ANSARULLAH MEDIA CENTRE / AFP)

When the Yemen-based Houthi movement began attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s war in Gaza, the impact on global trade was almost immediate. The international counter-response led by the United States, however, has only increased the likelihood of intensifying conflict and economic damage. As tensions build, the confrontation in the… Continue reading Conflict in the Red Sea Makes Economic Waves

Is a Regional War Inescapable?

SANAA, YEMEN - FEBRUARY 09: Thousands of Houthi supporters, holding Yemen and Palestine flags, gather at the Sebin Square to stage a solidarity demonstration with Palestinians and protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza on February 09, 2024 in Sanaa, Yemen. Demonstrators, carrying banners, chanted slogans against the USA and Israel during the demonstration. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

Since October, the Middle East has edged ever closer to a regional war unlike any it has experienced before. While there has been plenty of armed hostility over the past 75 years, including between multiple state and non-state actors, the ambit of conflict this time around is so sweeping that it risks engulfing the entire… Continue reading Is a Regional War Inescapable?

Condemning Qatar is Counterproductive 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, at the State Department in Washington, DC, on February 10, 2023. (Photo by Kevin Wolf / POOL / AFP)

This article was originally published in The National Interest on February 6, 2024.  The Gulf state of Qatar is again capturing headlines for its role in mediating between Israel and Hamas. While a fresh deal for the release of hostages being held in Gaza is yet to be concluded, these efforts have produced the only… Continue reading Condemning Qatar is Counterproductive 

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

US in the Red Sea: Security Concerns or Power Play?

Members of the Yemeni Coast Guard affiliated with the Houthi group patrol the sea as demonstrators march through the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in solidarity with the people of Gaza on January 4, 2024, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza. (Photo by AFP)

The waters of the Red Sea are heating up. In recent weeks, the United States has intensified efforts to clamp down on actions taken by the Houthis, a Yemen-based movement otherwise known as Ansar Allah, to disrupt maritime shipping believed to be connected to Israel as a retaliation for its near-total destruction of the Gaza… Continue reading US in the Red Sea: Security Concerns or Power Play?

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

Washington Must Do More to Tackle West Bank Settler Violence

Israeli soldiers scuffle with Jewish settlers from the nearby Einav settlement, trying to storm the town of Deir Sharaf in the Nablus governorate of the occupied West Bank on November 2, 2023, after an Israeli was killed when his car came under fire. - For several months, the West Bank has seen increasing Israeli army raids, attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers and Palestinian assaults against Israeli settlers and security forces. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

While the world’s attention has rightly been focused on the tragedy underway in Gaza, another deadly drama has been playing out nearby in the occupied West Bank. Since October 7, Jewish settlers have significantly escalated violent attacks against Palestinians, displacing hundreds from their villages and claiming more land for Israel. In the first month and… Continue reading Washington Must Do More to Tackle West Bank Settler Violence

Gaza Conflict in Western Media: Distortion of Facts | ME Council

As catastrophe has unfolded in Gaza, with tragic humanitarian consequences for the territory’s residents and far-reaching geopolitical implications for the region and beyond, the Western media has played a pernicious role. Not only has it been sharply skewed in its framing of the tragedy, but its spread of disinformation, rooted in undocumented, contradictory or false narratives,… Continue reading Gaza Conflict in Western Media: Distortion of Facts | ME Council

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

Houthi Attacks in the Gaza War: Military Motives | ME Council

RED SEA - NOVEMBER 20: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - 'HOUTHIS MEDIA CENTER / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) A screen grab captured from a video shows that cargo ship 'Galaxy Leader', co-owned by an Israeli company, being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on November 20, 2023. Houthis Media Center / Handout / Anadolu (Photo by Houthis Media Center / Handout / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have emerged as an unlikely player in the unfolding war in the Gaza Strip. On November 19, Houthi fighters hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea and took its crew hostage, citing the vessel’s association with Israeli business interests. On December 3rd, they attacked two Israeli commercial ships. The group, officially… Continue reading Houthi Attacks in the Gaza War: Military Motives | ME Council

Myth-Makers Cannot Hide Palestine’s Truth

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / People search for survivors following Israeli bombardment on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 22, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The latest round of the Palestine-Israel conflict has lasted more than three weeks and, judging by the reluctance on the Israeli side for a truce, will continue for a long time. Despite the uncertainties of the endgame, the implications are already visible, one of which is that the Palestine issue has come back to the… Continue reading Myth-Makers Cannot Hide Palestine’s Truth

Arrest Netanyahu and Halt the Gaza Genocide

11/04/2023 Washington DC, USA. Demonstrators gathered in Freedom Plaza for a rally in support of Palestinians in Washington, DC, on November 4, 2023. The rally came in the wake of a tragic conflict that began on October 7, 2023 when Palestinian Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip launched a surprise attack in southern Israel, resulting in thousands of casualties, both Israeli and Palestinian. This escalation led Israel to declare war on Hamas in Gaza the following day. (Photo by Ali Khaligh / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP)

For far too long the people of Palestine have been denied the right to exist as human beings, and to enjoy the freedoms we fought so hard for in South Africa. These rights do not belong to some and not to others. We have expressed our outrage at the war crimes in Palestine, particularly the… Continue reading Arrest Netanyahu and Halt the Gaza Genocide

Egypt and the Fear of a “Second Nakba”

Ambulances queue at the Egyptian side of the border with the Gaza Strip in Rafah, on November 1, 2023, before entering to transport wounded to Egyptian field hospitals. - Hundreds of injured residents and foreigners escaped Gaza to Egypt on November 1, the first evacuations from the war-torn Palestinian territory pounded by Israeli warplanes in retaliation for an unprecedented Hamas attack. (Photo by AFP)

As Israel steps up its brutal attack on the Gaza Strip with a ground invasion, a recently leaked concept paper from it’s Ministry of Intelligence adds to the mounting evidence that its ultimate goal is the forcible and permanent displacement of the besieged Gazans into neighboring Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In what effectively amounts to a… Continue reading Egypt and the Fear of a “Second Nakba”

Gaza Crisis puts US’ Unipolarity Push in Doubt

US President Joe Biden (L) speaks as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens on prior to their meeting in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. - US President Joe Biden landed in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023 as Middle East anger flared after hundreds were killed when a rocket struck a hospital in war-torn Gaza, with Israel and the Palestinians quick to trade blame. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Zhai Jun, China’s Special Envoy on the Middle East affairs, is on a trip to the region to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. In his remarks at the Cairo Summit for Peace on the Palestinian Question on October 21, Zhai called for support for “the Palestinian people in restoring their lawful national… Continue reading Gaza Crisis puts US’ Unipolarity Push in Doubt

Gulf Normalization Under Strain as Israel Pounds Gaza 

MANAMA, BAHRAIN - OCTOBER 13: People attend a rally to express their solidarity with Palestinians and protest Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in the capital Manama, Bahrain on October 13, 2023. Ayman Yaqoob / Anadolu (Photo by Ayman Yaqoob / ANADOLU / Anadolu via AFP)

Since an unprecedented conflict flared between Israel and Hamas on October 7, the Arab Gulf states have been working to de-escalate and prevent the crisis from sparking a catastrophic regional war dragging in Iranian allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, armed groups in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen.  Yet while the GCC states agree… Continue reading Gulf Normalization Under Strain as Israel Pounds Gaza