Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

  • Yemen: The Battle for al-Hodeida Between War and Peace

    There are three possible outcomes to the ongoing battle for Hodeida. First, the Saudi-led coalition succeeds in ousting the Houthi fighters from airport, seaport, and city. Second, the Houthi forces succeed in thwarting the land assault, but remain surrounded from the south and the east. Third, both sides accept a UN sponsored compromise, placing airport and seaport under an international force to keep the flow of humanitarian assistance going and provide a lifeline to civilians across the country. In all three options, the war continues grinding agonizingly on, though obviously the compromise option would not only provide relief to the civilian population of Hodeida, but also serve as a possible stepping stone to a broader peace agreement in the war-torn country.

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  • Stein in War on the Rocks: The Military Logic Behind Assad's Use of Chemical Weapons


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  • Raqqa: Amnesty International and Taking Responsibility

    On June 5, 2018 Amnesty International issued a report entitled “War of Annihilation:” Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria. A shockingly painful account of the experiences of four Syrian families during the June-October 2017 military campaign to oust ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State, IS) from its self-declared “capital” in Syria, the report (based largely on a February 2018 on-site investigation) alleges that the anti-ISIS Coalition took insufficient steps to protect civilians. Specifically:

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  • The Superficial Removal of Iranian Troops from Southern Syria

    Much has been said in the last week of a possible Israeli-Russian arrangement in Syria aimed at curbing Iranian presence in strategic areas like the country’s southern border with Israel. Contradictory reports of troop movements in Qusayr by Tehran’s proxy, Hezbollah, do not change geopolitical realities: the militant group is there to primarily protect Iranian security interests, which remain focused on a long- term presence across the borders, even if this translates into possible dissensions with its tactical ally Russia.

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  • The White Helmets Struggle Without US Funding

    In early May, CBS confirmed that the US administration had frozen aid to the Syrian Civil Defense organization known as the "White Helmets." The US State Department said the aid–which is part of a $200 million assistance package–has come under close review since March. Unexpectedly, the freeze came after the State Department hosted a White Helmets delegation that same month, which sparked strong positive signals afterward. Senior US officials even committed to US support for the Syrian Civil Defense until 2020.

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  • Alfoneh Quoted in the Washington Times on North Korea Summit and Iran


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  • Stein Quoted in the Daily Beast on Turkey's Upcoming Election


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  • Jordan’s Austerity Protests in Context

    The protests that have spread to every corner of Jordan since May 30 are the largest since 2011. Tens of thousands have taken to the street in opposition to proposed changes to the tax code and increased prices for fuel and electricity, beginning with a call from professional associations to their members but quickly spreading to small and large urban centers across the kingdom.

    These protests are not so much the latest wave of protests that emerged in Jordan since the outbreak of the Arab uprisings, but rather the newest incarnation of the nationwide protests against economic austerity measures that date back to 1988. These protests have emerged in response to numerous reforms mandated by Jordan’s agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), particularly but not only in opposition to the lifting of government...

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  • Factbox: Jordan's Austerity Protests

    Jordan, a key Western ally and major recipient of US aid, has recently experienced its largest protests since 2012. The ongoing protests began in May as a direct response to the new tax bill backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which increases tax brackets, widens the tax base, and penalizes tax evaders. The IMF is pushing Jordan to enact austerity measures and address its ongoing economic crisis in an effort to lower public debt and reduce public sector financing needs. Jordan faces ongoing challenges in securing energy supply and foreign investment, requiring significant IMF assistance since the Arab Spring.

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  • Elections in Libya: No Alternative?

    The idea of holding presidential and legislative elections in Libya by the end of 2018 continues to gain traction, since it was first proposed in late October 2017. A tentative agreement to hold elections on December 10 was reached at a conference held on May 29 in Paris, attended by the main Libyan political figures: the Presidency Council’s Chairman Fayez al Sarraj, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Aghila Saleh, the President of the High State Council Khaled al Mishri, and the Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar. The international community was also present with delegations from most European and regional stakeholders.

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