Middle East

  • Stein Quoted in TPM on Mike Flynn and Turkey


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  • Hellyer Quoted in The Atlantic on Saudi Arabia and Islam


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  • Squaring the Circle in Eastern Syria

    Readers of SyriaSource are all too familiar with an argument advanced in these pages for well-over two years: ISIS (Daesh, ISIL, Islamic State) should be neutralized quickly in eastern Syria; an American-led, professional ground force coalition-of-the-willing should be assembled to preempt ISIS terror operations in Turkey and Western Europe and minimize Syrian civilian casualties in complex urban battle terrain; and that a post-combat stabilization plan should be drafted and implemented to keep ISIS dead, one drawing on pre-ISIS local councils and the anti-Assad Syrian opposition. The idea was to parlay the defeat of ISIS into a stable, protected eastern Syria where humanitarian aid could be expedited and reconstruction begun, and to exclude the cause of terrorism and state failure in Syria—the Assad regime—from the area.

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  • Vakhshouri Joins Platts to Discuss Saudi Arabia Oil Policy


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  • Shaffer Joins TRT World to Discuss US-Turkey Relations


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  • Budget Politics and Baghdad-Kurdish Relations

    One of the main disputes behind tensions between the Iraqi federal government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) includes disagreement over budget allocation. This month, the Iraqi government approved the proposed budget for 2018 and sent it to the parliament for debate in the coming weeks. The draft budget, strongly criticized by the KRG, is the latest episode in the contention between Baghdad’s vision of a strong center and KRG’s preference of strong regions. It also highlights a fundamental problem: the actual meaning of Iraqi federalism, which still lacks a clear institutional framework.

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  • Western Foreign Policy and the Dignity of the Arab World: Interview with Dr. H.A. Hellyer

    Following a recent controversy where a British journalist at a conference in Egypt casually implied that the peoples of the Arab world were more culturally inured towards restrictions on press freedom, we discussed the issue of democracy and Arab culture with Atlantic Council’s senior non-resident fellow, Dr. H.A. Hellyer.

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  • As Turkey Places New Restrictions on Aid Groups, Syrian Refugees Pay the Price

    Turkish authorities recently withdrew permits from several international humanitarian organizations working with Syrian refugees on its territory. Officials cited several reasons, some relating to security and others relating to new regulations for those organizations to continue working from Turkey.

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  • Trump, Sanctions Hamper Iran’s Renewable Energy Quest

    Doubts cast by US President Donald J. Trump about the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, US sanctions that have restricted access to foreign financing, and a tight budget have hampered the Islamic Republic’s ability to secure significant investments in renewable energy.

    International banks have been reluctant to finance new energy projects in Iran as a result of Trump’s criticism of the nuclear deal that was reached between Iran, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, and the United States in 2015. This reluctance is compounded by the fact that numerous Iranian energy companies are supervised by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is subject to US sanctions.

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  • The Future of HTS with the Turkish Intervention

    The Turkish intervention in Idlib has done well so far, aided by soft coordination with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as Turkish battalions advance into the province and neighboring western Aleppo. It marks a defining phase of the various transitions of Jabhat al-Nusra; the former al-Qaeda affiliate that forms the backbone of the HTS coalition. The intervention will have a major impact on the future of the alliance. Its chief leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, faces a far more daunting challenge than he did when he announced he was breaking ties with al-Qaeda and changing Nusra’s name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, creating the biggest division within the group since it announced not belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh).

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