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

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?

The Hamas Raid and Israel’s Onslaught of Gaza – Council Views

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023 as raging battles between Israel and the Hamas movement continue for the sixth consecutive day. - Washington urged Israel to show restraint in its response to Hamas's surprise attack -- the worst in the country's 75-year history -- which Israeli forces said killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians. In Gaza, officials have reported more than 1,200 people killed in Israel's uninterrupted campaign of air and artillery strikes, while the UN said more than 338,000 people have been displaced. (Photo by IBRAHIM HAMS / AFP)

On October 7, Hamas shocked the world by carrying out an astonishing raid on Israel that killed around 1,300 people, most of them civilians, and taking an estimated 150 others hostage. The Israeli response has been devastating. For a week, Israel has indiscriminately bombarded Gaza from the sky, destroying residential buildings, hospitals, schools, and other… Continue reading The Hamas Raid and Israel’s Onslaught of Gaza – Council Views

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood Exposes a Massive Israeli Intelligence Failure

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a sophisticated and deadly campaign by Hamas militants deep inside Israeli territory, represents a massive failure by Israel’s defense, security, and intelligence community. The Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, Israeli Military Intelligence, and Mossad all failed to pick up on the group’s extensive planning, training, and supply activities as it prepared the… Continue reading Operation Al-Aqsa Flood Exposes a Massive Israeli Intelligence Failure

Hamas’ ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ Operation Will Leave Nothing Untouched

GAZA CITY, GAZA - OCTOBER 07: Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades enter the Israeli side of the fence in Gaza City, Gaza on October 07, 2023. Hani Alshaer / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Hani Alshaer / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

In the early morning hours of October 7, scores of Hamas fighters launched a dramatic and unprecedented land, air, and sea attack on Israel. Coming a day after the 50th anniversary of Egypt and Syria’s 1973 surprise attack on Israel, the Hamas operation likewise caught the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus completely off-guard, with fighters… Continue reading Hamas’ ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ Operation Will Leave Nothing Untouched

Palestinians Continue to be Haunted by the Ghosts of Oslo

US President Bill Clinton (C) stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin (L) as they shake hands for the first time, on September 13, 1993 at the White House in Washington DC, after signing the historic Israel-PLO Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. (Photo by J. DAVID AKE / AFP)

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

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

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

Saudi-Iran Rapprochement Unlikely to Bring Lasting Peace to Yemen

The head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, shakes hands with Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber at the Republican Palace in Sanaa, Yemen April 9, 2023. Saba News Agency /Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC26B0AVW8UY

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

Biden’s Strategic Neglect of Palestine is Bound to Backfire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a press conference, on January 30, 2023 in Jerusalem. RONALDO SCHEMIDT/Pool via REUTERS - RC241Z9O0NLG

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

The Iraq War 20 Years On – Council Views

A U.S. Marine covers the face of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with a U.S. flag in Baghdad April 9, 2003. U.S. troops briefly draped an American flag over the face of a giant statue of President Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad on Wednesday as they prepared to topple it in front of a crowd of Iraqis.The gesture, likely to be highly provocative in much of the Arab world where the U.S. invasion of Iraq has stirred widespread anger, was quickly reversed and an Iraqi flag was tied instead to the statue's neck.Local residents had earlier scaled the 20-foot (six metre) statue and slipped a noose around its neck to drag it down. PP03040026 REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic GOT/AA - RP3DRIGNTWAA

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

Racism Row Puts Another Blot on Tunisia’s Post-2011 Gleam

A woman carries a banner, which reads: "Feminist, Tunisian, African. We are all men and women immigrants", during a protest after Tunisian President Kais Saied ordered security forces to stop all illegal migration and expel all undocumented migrants, in Tunis, Tunisia February 25, 2023. REUTERS/Jihed Abidellaoui - RC2EIZ9Z64F7

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

Could Israel’s New Government Spell the End of the Palestinian Authority? 

Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich shakes hands with Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir as Israel's new right-wing government is sworn in at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Pool - RC2SFY9T3S1H

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? 

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

Council Views – Iranian protests: Reverberations for the Islamic Republic and the Region 

People rally in support of the worldwide protest following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, died on September 16, following her arrest by Iran's morality police. Milan, Italy, November 19, 2022. Shutterstock

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 

Why Do Young Tunisians Trust the Sea over Their Country?

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?

As PA Loses Grip Over West Bank, Israel Scrambles to Save It

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

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

Iraq is Moving Toward Civil War

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr react as they protest against corruption inside the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

IRAQ’S POLITICAL SYSTEM IS nearing irreversible collapse after months of escalatory measures by rival Shi’ite factions have brought the country to the brink of civil war. The trajectory of conflict appears irreversible and would imperil not only the rebuilding of Iraq after years of upheaval but hold implications for stability in the broader region, as… Continue reading Iraq is Moving Toward Civil War