Middle East

  • MASHAV: How at 10, Israel was Busy Helping Others

    Ten years after its founding, Israel established MASHAV—Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation—that has over the past six decades helped nations in need.

    On July 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center co-hosted a celebration of MASHAV’s sixtieth anniversary.

    Ambassador Gil Haskel, deputy director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and head of MASHAV, recalled that the agency was born out of a trip by then-Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir to Africa in 1957. On the trip, Meir “went into the communities first hand to see what the challenges were,” and, despite the considerable economic and political obstacles facing the Israeli state, “came back with a very deep conviction to establish an international development agency.”

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  • What's Next After Helsinki?

    Whatever they may have discussed privately, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump did not announce a grand bargain over Syria at their joint press conference in Helsinki. They indicated agreement on several issues: Israel’s security, increased humanitarian assistance, the need to finish off ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State), and the soundness of Russian-American military deconfliction. They seemed to be leaving it to subordinates to try to flesh out a broad, operational agreement.

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  • After the World Cup, Will Iranian Women Still Be Able to Watch Soccer?

    The 2018 World Cup is over after a whirlwind month of matches, with France claiming the title. There was no shortage of engrossing stories from the tournament, with political drama undergirding the action. In Iran, for example, beyond the national team’s relatively impressive display, the country grabbed headlines off the pitch for allowing women to attend viewings of the men’s national team soccer matches.

    On June 20, the Iranian government allowed women to watch Team Melli’s World Cup match against Spain in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, reversing a ban on women attending male sporting events that has been in place—though not necessarily uniformly enforced— since 1981. After Islamic Revolution, women were prohibited from attending male sporting events as part of a broader cultural shift toward gender segregation and “public decency,” such as protecting women from hearing men swear. However, with soccer a hugely popular sport in Iran, women long have used disguises to sneak into games and also protested outside stadiums, leading to arrests by security forces. Over the years, civil society groups like OpenStadiums and Women in White Scarves—not to be confused with White Wednesdays, a campaign against the headscarf law—have campaigned for the right to attend sporting events, using op-eds in Western newspapers and social media to draw attention to their causes. FIFA has emerged as a target for activists aiming to apply pressure to the Iranian government.

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  • Netanyahu’s New Iran Approach: YouTube Diplomacy

    Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership style always includes dramatic warnings about threats to Israel. For more than a decade now, Israel’s prime minister warns that Iran—in particular its nuclear program—are the chief threat.

    In 2015, a glaring Netanyahu stared down the United Nations General Assembly in silence for almost a minute. The gesture was to protest what Netanyahu described as the organization’s lack of action against Iran’s murderous plans to destroy Israel.

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  • Bryza in EURACTIV: Turkey and the migration crisis: a positive example for the Transatlantic community


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  • Helsinki: Why Not Win on Syria

    President Trump travels to Helsinki with impressive Syria-related leverage. If he chooses to use it in his meeting with his Russian counterpart, he can increase the chances for real Russian cooperation in ending the Syrian crisis on mutually acceptable terms. If he gives it up, his pockets will be emptied to the delight of Iran, the Assad regime, and the Kremlin. The negative national security consequences of a diplomatic debacle in Finland for Americans, Europeans, and Syria’s neighbors would be serious and long-lasting.

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  • Expect Russia to Do Little on Iranian Presence in Syria

    Israel’s prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Iranian presence in Syria, on the same day the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor arrived in Moscow with a message.

    Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia’s president on June 11, “Our opinion is known that Iran needs to leave Syria—that is not something new,” hours after a Syrian drone entered Israeli airspace. According to Reuters, an anonymous official claimed that Netanyahu also told Putin, “We won’t take action against the Bashar al-Assad regime, and you get the Iranians out.”

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  • Stein Quoted in Foreign Policy on Turkey's Role in Syria


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  • Slavin Quoted in the Nation on Regime Change in Iran


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  • Here's Why Syrian Women Need to be Included More in Peacebuilding

    Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, Syrian women have been involved in all aspects of the conflict: from fighting, demonstrating and documenting war crimes to providing humanitarian relief and local politics.

    Syrian women, who make up more than 50 percent of the Syrian population, are also taking on a more active role in local negotiations to end the conflict that has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more, including tens of thousands of females. However, women remain grossly underrepresented in international peace negotiations.

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