Middle East: United States Policy Toward the Middle East: a Dossier
What is a Dossier?Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
U.S. policies in the region include:
- Helping Iraqis build a unified, stable, and prosperous country;
- Renewing progress toward the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict;
- Working against terrorists and their state sponsors, as well as against the spread of weapons of mass destruction; and
- Supporting efforts at economic and political reform in the region.
Major US Government Statements
A select list of major statements with policy value.
Latest US Government Statements
The most recent statements in reverse chronological order.
-07/31/13 Where is Turkey Headed? Gezi Park, Taksim Square, and the Future of the Turkish Model Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-07/30/13 Syria's Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress [305 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-07/26/13 Iran Sanctions [668 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-07/25/13 Crisis in Egypt Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-07/16/13 Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy [507 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-07/12/13 Oman: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy [517 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-07/11/13 Assessing the Transition in Afghanistan Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-07/10/13 Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy [430 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/21/13 Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations [854 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/18/13 The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy [408 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/17/13 Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses [819 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/14/13 Armed Conflict in Syria: U.S. and International Response [1816 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/12/13 Israel: Background and U.S. Relations [618 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/12/13 The United States and Europe: Responding to Change in the Middle East and North Africa [521 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-06/03/13 Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights [506 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-05/21/13 Prospect for Afghanistan's 2014 Elections Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-05/15/13 U.S. Policy Toward Iran Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-04/11/13 U.S. Policy Toward Syria Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-04/11/13 U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel [422 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-04/01/13 Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations [385 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
03/19/13 Syria's Humanitarian Crisis Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee.
-02/28/13 U.S. Trade and Investment in the Middle East and North Africa: Overview and Issues for Congress [804 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
-02/26/13 Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations [412 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress.
The Middle East at Crossroads. NCAFP, American Foreign Policy Interests, July 2013, pp. 221-234. Following the Arab Spring, the countries of the Middle East may have entered an Islamist “Winter”; they seem to have set themselves on different paths, but all are looking for a new model of governance. Egypt remains the region's linchpin. While Islamists seem to have gained the upper hand in Egypt for now, they apparently cannot govern, and Egypt's people (and other peoples in the region) are in revolt at the ballot box and in the streets. The issues for the United States remain oil and the Iranian nuclear program. For Iran, its nuclear program has proved to be a double-edged sword. However, the United States continues to misread Iran and is dealing with a powerful, domestic “engagement” lobby that favors Iran. Palestine is another issue, but with recent significant Qatari investment, it may have turned a corner economically. The U.S. role in the region does vary by country, although the goal is still to extend its influence and to advocate for and support democracy. READ MORE
Yemen and the Arab Spring: Elite Struggles, State Collapse and Regional Security. Thomas Juneau, Orbis, Summer 2013, var. pages. "Yemen, the poorest and most populous country on the Arabian Peninsula, has long been a prime candidate to join the failed state club. After the wave of uprisings sweeping through the Middle East reached the country in early 2011, the already high levels of instability and violence reached new heights and threatened to accelerate a steady march towards collapse. Even though a variety of scenarios can be identified for the future of Yemen, the most likely paths all imply a period of prolonged instability. This will carry significant consequences for regional and international security, in particular, by providing al Qaeda's local franchise with an attractive safe haven from which to plan and launch operations." READ MORE
The Price of Peace: A Reevaluation of the Economic Dimension in the Middle East Peace Process. Robert Mason, The Middle East Journal, Summer 2013, pp. 405-425. "The economic offshoot of the Oslo Accords governing Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation failed in 2000. The Paris Protocol, as it was known, has become increasingly irrelevant due to the Israeli closures policy, disengagement, and economic policies aimed at maintaining the status quo, asymmetry, and dependence in Israel-Palestine economic relations. This article argues that not only is a new version of the Protocol urgently required, but that it should facilitate cooperation on some final status issues, including the future of Palestinian refugees and the economic status of Jerusalem. The greatest threat to a new protocol is a lack of trust and security that stems from political issues, ongoing disputes over settlements, and the non-resolution of final status issues. For international donors such as the US, the price of peace stacked against tackling the accumulating economic cost of related conflicts, terrorism and regional insecurity will make even long term and sustained investment look favorable." READ MORE
The Underlying Causes of Stability and Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: An Analytic Survey. Anthony H. Cordesman, Nicholas S. Yarosh, Chloe Coughlin-Schulte, CSIS, Aug 21, 2013, var. pages. "The political dynamics and violence that shape the current series of crises in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – and daily events in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen – dominate the current course of virtually every aspect of these states including much of the current course of violence and instability in the region. Political dynamics and violence, however, are only part of the story. The current patterns of events have many underlying causes, and causes that vary sharply by country. The current pattern of politics, religion, and ideology are shaped by major tribal, ethnic, sectarian, and regional differences within each given nation." READ MORE
The Permanence of Inconsistency: Libya, the Security Council, and the Responsibility to Protect. Aidan Hehir, International Security, Summer 2013, pp. 137-159. "Many observers heralded the Security Council–sanctioned intervention in Libya in March 2011 as evidence of the efficacy of the responsibility to protect (R2P). Although there is no doubt that the intervention was significant, the implications of Resolution 1973 are not as profound as some have claimed. The intervention certainly coheres with the spirit of R2P, but it is possible to situate it in the context of a trajectory of Security Council responses to large-scale intrastate crises that predate the emergence of R2P. This trajectory is a function of the decisionmaking of the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5), a group guided by politics and pragmatism rather than principles. As a consequence, the Security Council’s record in dealing with intrastate crises is characterized by a preponderance of inertia punctuated by aberrant flashes of resolve and timely action impelled by the occasional coincidence of interests and humanitarian need, rather than an adherence to either law or norms. The underlying factors that contributed to this record of inconsistency—primarily the P5’s veto power—remain post-Libya, and thus the international response to intrastate crises likely will continue to be inconsistent." READ MORE
Transforming the Arab World’s Protection-Racket Politics. Daniel Brumberg, Journal of Democracy, July 2013, pp. 88-103. "The Arab world’s old autocracies survived by manipulating the sharp identity conflicts in their societies. The division and distrust that this style of rule generated is now making it especially difficult to carry out the kind of pact-making often crucial to successful democratic transitions." READ MORE
Algeria versus the Arab Spring. Frédéric Volpi, Journal of Democracy, July 2013, pp. 104-115. "Not only did the Algerian regime survive the “Arab Spring,” it hardly deviated from its normal methods of authoritarian governance—patronage, pseudodemocratization, and effective use of the security apparatus." READ MORE
Bahrain’s Decade of Discontent. Frederic Wehrey, Journal of Democracy, July 2013, pp. 116-126. "When this small island kingdom in the Gulf joined the wider Arab world’s political upheavals in March 2011, it was a reaction to regional events, but also a reflection of internal problems that had been festering for a decade." READ MORE
Jordan: The Ruse of Reform. Sean L. Yom, Journal of Democracy, July 2013, pp. 127-139. "The Hashemite monarchy still fails to understand the challenges that threaten Jordan’s political order. The old playbook of limited, manipulated reform is no longer enough, but key players fail to realize it." READ MORE
The Consequences of Forced State Failure in Iraq. Andrew Flibbert, Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp.67-95. The author "argues that most of the pathologies in Iraqi political life since 2003, from sectarian mobilization to insurgent violence, are best understood as consequences of forced state failure." READ MORE
A Model Humanitarian Intervention?: Reassessing NATO’s Libya Campaign. Alan J. Kuperman, International Security, Summer 2013, pp. 105-136. "NATO’s 2011 humanitarian military intervention in Libya has been hailed as a model for implementing the emerging norm of the responsibility to protect (R2P), on grounds that it prevented an impending bloodbath in Benghazi and facilitated the ouster of Libya’s oppressive ruler, Muammar al-Qaddafi, who had targeted peaceful civilian protesters. Before the international community embraces such conclusions, however, a more rigorous assessment of the net humanitarian impact of NATO intervention in Libya is warranted. The conventional narrative is flawed in its portrayal of both the nature of the violence in Libya prior to the intervention and NATO’s eventual objective of regime change. An examination of the course of violence in Libya before and after NATO’s action shows that the intervention backfired. The intervention extended the war’s duration about sixfold; increased its death toll approximately seven to ten times; and exacerbated human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If it is a “model intervention,” as senior NATO officials claim, it is a model of failure. Implementation of R2P must be reformed to address these unintended negative consequences and the dynamics underlying them. Only then will R2P be able to achieve its noble objectives." READ MORE
Albania and the Middle East. Michael B. Bishku, Mediterranean Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 81-103. "This essay reviews and analyzes Albania’s connections with the Middle East since the era of Enver Hoxha’s rule, when ideology was a strong factor in international relations. Since the end of the Cold War, Albania has been most interested in developing political, economic, and cultural ties, especially with Turkey, Israel, and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf region. Through its modern history, Albania has been a good example of a politically and economically weak state exercising a fairly consistent asymmetric foreign policy based on the support of great powers and their allies." READ MORE
Russia and Syria: explaining alignment with a regime in crisis. Roy Allison. International Affairs, July 2013, pp. 795–823. This article explores explanations of Russia's unyielding alignment with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad since the Syrian crisis erupted in the spring of 2011. Russia has provided a diplomatic shield for Damascus in the UN Security Council and has continued to supply it with modern arms. Putin's resistance to any scenario of western-led intervention in Syria, on the model of the Libya campaign, in itself does not explain Russian policy. For this we need to analyse underlying Russian motives. The article argues that identity or solidarity between the Soviet Union/Russia and Syria has exerted little real influence, besides leaving some strategic nostalgia among Russian security policy-makers. Russian material interests in Syria are also overstated, although Russia still hopes to entrench itself in the regional politics of the Middle East. Of more significance is the potential impact of the Syria crisis on the domestic political order of the Russian state. First, the nexus between regional spillover from Syria, Islamist networks and insurgency in the North Caucasus is a cause of concern—although the risk of ‘blowback’ to Russia is exaggerated. Second, Moscow rejects calls for the departure of Assad as another case of the western community imposing standards of political legitimacy on a ‘sovereign state’ to enforce regime change, with future implications for Russia or other authoritarian members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia may try to enshrine its influence in the Middle East through a peace process for Syria, but if Syria descends further into chaos western states may be able to achieve no more in practice than emergency coordination with Russia. READ MORE
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Is a two-state solution still possible? Pete Katel, The CQ Researcher, June 21, 2013, pp. 545-572. " The decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians might seem to have a simple solution: Create a Palestinian state next door to Israel in territory that the Jewish state seized from invading countries in 1967. But a 'two-state solution' has eluded decades of attempts to reach agreement — most of them shepherded by American presidents and diplomats. Israeli and Palestinian leaders each charge the other with responsibility for the latest deadlock. Now, the Obama administration is warning that time is running out on the possibility of an accord. Indeed, hopes are dimming among both Israelis and Palestinians. However, a sense of urgency is building among neighboring Arab countries, which are being rocked by war and political turmoil. They have joined with Secretary of State John Kerry in trying to push both sides to the negotiating table over a new peace plan." READ MORE
Who Will Save Egypt? Cairo's Economic Disaster and Those Fighting to Fix It. Marina Ottaway, June 30, 2013, var. pages. "Egyptians have a lot to be upset about these days, and they are showing it. The one-year anniversary of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration has brought with it major protests and counter protests, raising fears of renewed political violence. Underneath all the anger lies a basic fact: The Egyptian economy is in deep trouble." READ MORE
Unrest and State Response in Arab Monarchies. Zoltan Barany, Mediterranean Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 5-38. "The turmoil associated with the Arab Spring in the region’s eight monarchies has received comparatively modest attention because, aside from Bahrain, the demonstrations were mostly small and nonconfrontational, there were few calls to overthrow the regimes, and states’ coercive powers were applied with relative moderation. Behind these generalizations, however, lies a more complex reality: the extent of the strife was quite different, as were state actions to counter them across the eight cases. What explains these disparities? This essay argues that the differences in the levels of unrest are largely illuminated by varying degrees of societal support for monarchical regimes, deep-seated societal cleavages, and the deficiencies of political mobilization. The variation in state responses, in turn, is mainly explained by divergent financial resources, the quality of political leadership, and external diplomatic, financial, and security assistance." READ MORE
Overcoming the Secular Suspicion? State Secularity and its Impact on Societal Relations in Turkey and Egypt. Birol Baskan, Arab Studies Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 165-183. "The article discusses Turkey and Egypt's policies on Islam and secularism from the 1970s through the early 2010s. The relationship between secular and religious groups, including the impact of Egyptian Islamists' opposition to secular groups on Egypt's putative Islamization, is discussed. An overview of the Islamic movement the Muslim Brotherhood, including their support from professional classes during the 1980s and the Brotherhood's opposition to a 2008 Egyptian law criminalizing female genital mutilation, is provided." READ MORE
Teaching about the Middle East Since the Arab Uprisings. Bassam Haddad, Jillian Schwedler, PS, Political Science & Politics, April 2013, pp. 211-216. "The Middle East has been treated as exceptional in much of the scholarly literature. It was entirely absent from comparative studies of political transitions until the late 1990s, and even in the early 2000s some of the literature on resilient authoritarianism reproduced a narrative of a region seemingly immune to normal (that is, happening elsewhere) forces of political change. Following this trend, the politics and history of the region are routinely taught in region-specific courses, but they are far less frequently integrated into thematic courses except when the teacher is an area specialist. Unfortunately, the absence of Middle East cases from many broader courses reinforces popular conceptions of regional exceptionalism and deprives possibilities for comparative theorizing. Even worse, our years of teaching undergraduates have taught us that images of harems, pyramids, and desert warriors wielding sabers on camelback still shape many Americans' perceptions of the region. Obviously our classrooms challenge these images, but demand for specialized courses consistently exceeds capacity at a time when sensational images from the region saturate the news media. For those students who do not take or cannot gain a seat in those courses, images of harems, camels, and violence are likely to endure. Worse, the analytical implications of one-dimensional portrayals in political science have been grave, notably when the preoccupation with "culture" as a singular explanatory variable prejudices against exploring other influences on political practices and institutions." READ MORE
The Egyptian Revolution and the Politics of Histories. Hesham Sallam, PS, Political Science & Politics, April 2013, pp. 248-258. "The Arab "revolutions" and the events surrounding them have posed a variety of theoretical challenges to political scientists. Popular uprisings have resulted in the ouster of long-standing autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, and are seriously threatening the survival of incumbent authoritarian rulers in a region that once seemed immune to democratic change. These unforeseen developments pushed scholars of politics back to the drawing board to revisit dominant theoretical understandings of the drivers of regime change and stability. READ MORE
Syria's Collapse: And How Washington Can Stop It. Andrew J. Tabler, Foreign Affairs, June 14, 2013, var. pages. "To stop Syria’s meltdown and contain its mushrooming threats, the United States should launch a partial military intervention aimed at pushing all sides to the negotiating table." READ MORE
Syria Contextualized: The Numbers Game. Musa al-Gharbi, Middle East Policy, Spring 2013, pp. 56-67. "The article discusses several claims related to the 2011 Syria revolution and the factors that Western countries, particularly the U.S., should consider before making a foreign policy about it. It examines the validity of these claims which include 60,000 Syrians were killed in the revolution, most of those who died were civilians, and the unpopularity of President Bashar al-Assad. It explores how these data could affect the foreign strategy of the U.S.." READ MORE
Syria's Crisis of Transition. Chester Crocker, National Interest, Mar/Apr2013, pp.16-24. "The article discusses government policy challenges that occur when political regimes face crisis and focuses upon political transition and political violence. The author discusses the crises faced by the Bashar Assad regime in Syria as of 2013. The article examines local power balances, humanitarian concerns, and the possibility or internationally negotiated political transitions. The article also discusses the concepts of revolution, government repression, and political stalemates." READ MORE
Women's Role in Syria Uprising Obscured by War and Islamists, but Still Crucial. Eva Sohlman, Eva, American Foreign Policy Interests, Mar/Apr2013, pp. 70-74. "The women in the Syrian uprising have garnered little attention despite the crucial role Syrians say they play and will play in the future of that country. Through some of the women's stories in this article, there emerges a larger picture of their contribution to the struggle for freedom, dignity, and justice, and also their concerns as the conflict turned into a war and Islamists gained more influence in the opposition. At the beginning of the year, more than 60,000 Syrians had been killed1as the Assad regime—seemingly confident it was winning, or at least not losing—continued to claim that it was fighting foreign terrorists. Meanwhile, Russia and China's blocking of any resolution in the UN Security Council continued to paralyze the international community. In this report, journalist Eva Sohlman shares some impressions from the Turkish–Syrian–Lebanese border." READ MORE
From the Arab Spring to the Chinese Winter: The institutional sources of authoritarian vulnerability and resilience in Egypt, Tunisia, and China. Steve Hess, International Political Science Review, June 2013, pp. 254-272. "Following the collapse of long-lived dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011, many analysts have turned their attention to China to identify possible stirrings of revolution. Of course, whereas efforts spiraled into revolutionary outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa, the Chinese Jasmine Revolution stimulated little domestic interest and failed to materialize into a popular movement. Beginning with the cases of Egypt and Tunisia, this article critically examines recent literature identifying the causes of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions to develop several hypotheses on the sources of regime vulnerability in these countries and considers their applicability in explaining the exceptional resilience of single-party rule in China." READ MORE
U.S. Strategy after the Arab Uprisings: Toward Progressive Engagement. Colin H. Kahl and Marc Lynch, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 39-60. "The time has come to articulate a more coherent, overarching, and positive agenda for the new Middle East, focusing on encouraging political reform and broad-based engagement with emerging actors while 'right-sizing' America’s military presence in the region." READ MORE
R2P after Libya and Syria: Engaging Emerging Powers. Ramesh Thakur, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 61-76. "Libya proved to be a textbook illustration justifying the responsibility to protect (R2P) principles, but its implementation also demonstrated the need for legitimacy criteria. Engaging the emerging powers on these criteria is in the mutual interest of these powers and those who support R2P." READ MORE
Culture Clash or Democratic Peace?: Results of a Survey Experiment on the Effect of Religious Culture and Regime Type on Foreign Policy Opinion Formation. Bethany Lacina, Charlotte Lee, Foreign Policy Analysis, April 2013, pp. 143–170. "The logic of the democratic peace suggests that knowledge of a foreign country's regime type should condition whether a democratic citizenry supports or opposes the decision to use military force against another country. Accordingly, US elites and decision makers have invoked the democratic peace to both rally support for and justify an array of foreign policy commitments. US leaders have appealed to the American public's democratic preference, for example, by expanding democracy promotion as a goal of US foreign policy. For at least the last two decades, from Presidents H.W. Bush to Obama, America's commanders-in-chief have spelled out the importance of building democracies abroad by pointing out linkages between democracy, global well-being, and international security. In the scholarly literature, less attention has been devoted to drawing out and testing implications of the democratic peace at the individual level, in particular whether regime type cues weigh most heavily in citizen assessment of threat and trust in foreign governments. Public sentiment and preferences are bound up in the various institutional and normative mechanisms underlying the democratic peace, but the determinants of mass opinions have been a separate field of inquiry." READ MORE
Democratization Theory and the “Arab Spring.” Alfred Stepan and Juan J. Linz, Journal of Democracy, April 2013, pp. 15-30. "More than twenty-five years have passed since the publication of Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy, the four pioneering volumes edited by Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead that inaugurated third-wave democratization theory. More than fifteen years have passed since the 1996 publication of our own Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Looking back, what do we find useable or applicable from works on democratization from this earlier period, and what concepts need to be modified? In particular, what new perspectives are needed in light of the recent upheavals in the Arab world? Here we focus on three topics that have been illuminated by the events of the Arab Spring: 1) the relationship between democracy and religion, especially in the world’s Muslim-majority countries; 2) the character of hybrid regimes that mix authoritarian and democratic elements; and 3) the nature of “sultanism” and its implications for transitions to democracy." READ MORE
Islamists and Democracy: Cautions from Pakistan. Husain Haqqani, Journal of Democracy, April 2013, pp. 5-14. "Success in free elections held after the 'Arab Spring' protests in Tunisia and Egypt has brought Islamists to power through democratic means, and Islamist influence is on the rise throughout the Arab world. Much of the debate about liberal democracy’s future in Arab countries focuses on the extent to which the Islamists might be moderated by their inclusion in the democratic process. There is no doubt that the prospect of gaining a share of power through elections is a strong incentive that favors the tempering of extremist positions. But until the major Islamist movements give up their core ideology, their pursuit of an Islamic state is likely to impede their ability to be full and permanent participants in democratization. The real test of the Islamists’ commitment to democracy will come not while they are in power for the first time, but when they lose subsequent elections." READ MORE
The Responsibility to Protect and the Arab World: An Emerging International Norm? El Hassan bin Talal & Rolf Schwarz, Contemporary Security Policy, March 2013, pp. 1-15. Over the last 15 years, human rights concerns and development issues have been increasingly integrated with security matters on the international agenda. There is a growing understanding that justice, growth in welfare, and sustainable peace are goals that are deeply entwined. This new understanding of development – as encompassing human rights and security concerns to an equal extent – is reflected in the notion of the responsibility to protect. The responsibility to protect (R2P) represents a holistic approach to the challenges of international security, and one that enables human rights violations to be conceived of as a security issue. The arms embargo and humanitarian intervention in Libya and subsequent debate over intervention in Syria brought the issues of R2P into the heart of the Arab world. The Arab world has long been immune to these debates, but the historic changes in Tunisia and Egypt and the humanitarian intervention in Libya have shifted the debate and brought about a paradigm shift. READ MORE
Monarch in the Middle. Jeffrey Goldberg, March 18, 2013, var. pages. "As the Arab Spring swirls around him, can King Abdullah II, the most pro-American Arab leader in the Middle East, liberalize Jordan and modernize its economy, without losing his kingdom to Islamic fundamentalists? The stressful life of a king amidst chaos." READ MORE
Demographic and Economic Consequences of Conflict. Kugler, Tadeusz et al., International Studies Quarterly, March 2013, pp. 1-12. "Research on conflict traditionally focuses on its initiation, duration, and severity, but seldom on its consequences. Yet, demographic and economic recovery from the consequences of war lasts far longer and may be more devastating than the waging war. Our concern is with war losses and post-war recovery leading to convergence with pre-war performance. To test this proposition, we choose the most severe international and civil wars after 1920. We find that all belligerents recover or overtake demographic losses incurred in war. Economic assessments differ. The most-developed belligerents recover like a “phoenix” from immense destruction in one generation. For less-developed societies, the outcomes are mixed. The less-developed belligerents recover only a portion of their pre-war performance. The least-developed societies suffer the most and fall into lasting poverty traps. The overlapping generation growth model accounts for such differences in recovery rates based on pre-war performance challenging arguments from Solow’s neoclassical growth perspective. Our results imply that foreign aid is incidental to the post-war convergence for the most-developed societies, can prompt recovery for the less-developed societies, and is not effective—unless it is massive and sustained—for the least-developed societies. World War II may provide a poor guide to current post-war challenges in Iraq and in Afghanistan." READ MORE
Violence and Ethnic Segregation: A Computational Model Applied to Baghdad. Nils B. Weidmann, Idean Salehyan, International Studies Quarterly, March 2013, pp. 52–64. "The implementation of the United States military surge in Iraq coincided with a significant reduction in ethnic violence. Two explanations have been proposed for this result: The first is that the troop surge worked by increasing counterinsurgent capacity, whereas the second argument is that ethnic unmixing and the establishment of relatively homogenous enclaves were responsible for declining violence in Baghdad through reducing contact. We address this question using an agent-based model that is built on GIS-coded data on violence and ethnic composition in Baghdad. While we cannot fully resolve the debate about the effectiveness of the surge, our model shows that patterns of violence and segregation in Baghdad are consistent with a simple mechanism of ethnically motivated attacks and subsequent migration. Our modeling exercise also informs current debates about the effectiveness of counterinsurgency operations. We implement a simple policing mechanism in our model and show that even small levels of policing can dramatically mitigate subsequent levels of violence. However, our results also show that the timing of these efforts is crucial; early responses to ethnic violence are highly effective, but quickly lose impact as their implementation is delayed." READ MORE
State and society in Iraq ten years after regime change: the rise of a new authoritarianism. Toby Dodge, International Affairs, March 2013, pp. 241–257. "This article examines the rise of a new authoritarianism in Iraq ten years after the invasion that removed Saddam Hussein. It traces the centralization of political and coercive power in the hands of Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. From his appointment in 2006, Maliki successfully moved to constrain the power of parliament and the independent agencies set up by the American-led occupation to oversee the state. He removed key politicians and civil servants who stood in his way. This authoritarian centralization reached its peak with Maliki's control of Iraq's special forces, its army and its intelligence services. The article analyses the civilian institutions of the state, concluding that political corruption has greatly hindered their reconstruction. The result is an Iraqi state with an over-developed armed forces, very weak civilian institutions and a dominant prime minister. Against this background, the sustainability of Iraqi democracy is in question. The article concludes by assessing the ramifications of Iraq's postwar trajectory for military interventions more generally." READ MORE
Pakistan on the Brink of a Democratic Transition? C. Christine Fair, Current History, April 2013, var. pages. “Whoever wins in the upcoming elections, the loser will most certainly be the Pakistani voter, who can expect little improvement in governance or accountability." READ MORE
In Pakistan, a New Focus for Counterterrorism. Shamila Chaudhary, Current History, April 2013, var. pages. "A spike in Sunni-Shiite violence, increasing collaboration between sectarian and insurgent groups, and US forces’ drawdown in neighboring Afghanistan warrant a fresh review of counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan. READ MORE
EU Sanctions on Iran: The European Political Context. Ruairi Patterson, Middle East Policy, Spring 2013, pp. 135–146. Prior to 2010, the role of the European Union in sanctions on Iran was largely limited to enforcing targeted sanctions imposed by the United Nations from 2006 onwards. Beyond this, the EU took measures such as “adding a few names to the lists of individuals and firms subject to [UN] sanctions,” but did not impose major sanctions of its own. In 2009, France, backed by the United Kingdom, for the first time openly proposed significant economic sanctions, in the form of a ban on investment in the oil industry. In Trita Parsi’s words, this “reopened divisions within the EU,” and the sanctions push failed. Since 2010, however, the bloc has imposed three rounds of increasingly comprehensive autonomous economic sanctions that go well beyond UN requirements. They have brought the EU increasingly close to a full or near-full trade embargo on Iran, a measure that recent reports suggest the bloc is also considering. READ MORE
Turkish-Israeli Relations: Their Rise and Fall. Umut Uzer, Middle East Policy, Spring 2013, pp. 97–110. One of the most significant developments in the Middle East in the 1990s was the inception of strategic relations between Turkey and Israel. Going back to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Periphery Pact of 1958, the strategic dimension of bilateral relations culminated in the 1990s in a multilayered liaison including political, economic and cultural dimensions in addition to military cooperation. The two countries were on the verge of establishing an informal alliance against Syria, Iraq and Iran due to common threat perceptions. Furthermore, as a consequence of the warming of relations, Israeli tourists rushed to Turkish beaches to enjoy being in a Muslim, but friendly, country. In fact, this decade can be dubbed as the golden age of Turkish-Israeli relations. READ MORE
Turkey's ‘double gravity’ predicament: the foreign policy of a newly activist power. Philip Robins. International Affairs, March 2013, pp. 381-397. "In November 2012 it was ten years since the Justice and Development Party became the party of government in Turkey. During that time, it has raised its profile abroad and sought to project its influence. In particular, it has tried to increase its impact on the European Union and the Middle East—the primary regions to which Turkey lies adjacent. This approach has been parcelled up in the name of turning Turkey from a state of marginal importance into a ‘centre’ country. The relationship to the EU got off to a good start; Turkey adopted liberal EU norms wholesale, before relations soured over Cyprus and membership in general. By 2006, ties were moribund. Links with the Middle East also started well. Turkey avoided the worst effects of the 2003 Iraq war; and its stature was at its zenith in the early months of the ‘Arab Spring’, when it raised the slogan ‘let the people decide’. But this was hubris. By the summer of 2011, it had become clear that Turkey had miscalculated both with regard to the timing of regime change in Syria and its own leverage, whether on the ground or with NATO. Rather than a new, transregional power house, Turkey looked tentative, frequently inert and increasingly dependent on NATO. Turkey remains a country subject to the highly contrasting twin gravities of the EU and the Middle East in spite of its leadership aspirations and its will to accomplish more. READ MORE