Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s narrow triumph in Israel’s election this past week constitutes a big win for the right and, with Netanyahu’s last-minute pledge to annex the West Bank, a definitive end to any substantive peace process. Netanyahu’s political survival spells the beginning of a newly-emboldened leader who, with the seemingly unconditional backing of the Trump administration, is likely to implement far-reaching policies that pander to his base. For his far-wing coalition partners, moreover, Netanyahu’s annexation promise will become a tactical instrument of quid pro quo. Facing an upcoming indictment over a myriad of corruption charges, Netanyahu will thus likely be forced to see through his promise in return for legal protection.
On the afternoon of April 5, 2019, just three days after the resignation of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, demonstrators took to the streets once again after nearly eight weeks of protest. As many predicted, the demand to end Bouteflika’s twenty-year rule was one of many to come. The demonstrators’ February chants of “no to Bouteflika,” specifically protesting against his bid for a fifth term, shifted to broader demands to remove the system, or “Le Pouvoir.” Calls for the dismantling of the system speak to long-held grievances against the country’s endemic corruption and stagnant economy.
Recently the White House and the Department of State released statements: one proclaiming American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights; and the other commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Israel-Egypt treaty of peace. Each, in its own way, revealed serious leadership dysfunction.
President Donald Trump famously bragged during his election campaign that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” If the consensus of the US intelligence community is to be believed, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman may actually accomplish a comparable feat.
The 2003 US invasion of Iraq ushered in a new era in the country’s modern history, with many accomplishments and setbacks. The invasion ended a fifty-year period of autocracy that regressed from a benevolent dictatorship to absolute tyranny. Though there have been critiques, protests, and anger towards the government over the past fifteen years, Iraqis have shown a desire to reform their political system and have shown no tendencies toward destroying the political system or regressing to the tyrannical past. Given all the blood and treasure invested in Iraq as well as its strategic importance, the United States should take note of the progress Iraq has made and work with Iraqis to double down on their results thus far to ensure the positive trajectory only continues.
The passage of Senate Joint Resolution 7 is a fresh rebuke for the Trump administration, that its support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen is unauthorized, illegal, and an immoral assault on the Yemeni people. To boot, the war, already in its fifth year, does nothing to enhance US national security interests according to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and other sponsors of the bill.
The recent demonstrations in Algeria are the latest indicators of a shifting tide. The majority of the population has become disenchanted with the elite—or the “pouvoir.” In addition to their commitment to old values and unfulfilled promises, they maintain a tight control over the government. Now, younger Algerians are taking to the streets to show their frustration. By doing so, they are breaking the long held regional taboo about debating politics publicly for fear of retribution or getting arrested—and now are going so far as to make demands. “We want [President Abdelaziz] Bouteflika to go, enough, we want change and we want change peacefully,” said Mohamed Aissiou, an avid protestor and engineer.
Read in Arabic here. Algerian elites are missing a Leopardian moment. Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa’s masterpiece, the Leopard—which has become a staple of political science—, expresses the intrinsic idea that elites must change in order to remain elites. In the book, the old baron reprimanded his nephew because he joined forces that landed under the revolutionary general Garibaldi to overthrow exactly the system that constituted the elite to which they belonged. The answer of the nephew was “if we want that everything remains as is, it is necessary that everything changes.” He had to join the revolutionary forces in a commanding position in order to effect change in the system, but preserve their family’s power in the new elite system.
Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the US President Donald Trump, is on his way to six countries in the Gulf states to discuss and present part of his long awaited Israel-Palestine peace process plan in private meetings with foreign diplomats. He is expected to visit Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey over the next few days. While the plan is still held tightly secret, experts are speculating on the selection of countries Kushner is to visit and what that implies for the plan. Below are Atlantic Council’s Middle East experts analysis on the implications of this visit and what it means for the later unveiling in April this year.