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.
Read in Italian here. The military forces under the command of General Khalifa Haftar launched a large-scale attack on the Fezzan region in January, with the aim of taking control of the main areas of local oil production. Officially motivated by the need to strike at terrorist units operating in the region, the mission led by General Haftar has two main objectives. The first consists of securing the local oil installations, thus subtracting a substantial quota of production technically under the control of Tripoli—even if operated by the National Oil Corporation (NOC), which continues to exercise its functions in a paradoxical dual mode at the service of both political entities. The second objective is to extend the territory under the control of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), thereby lessening an opportunity for the Tripoli authorities to maneuver while consolidating the political and military capacity of Benghazi’s forces.
Former ISIS members continue to emerge wanting to repatriate to their country of origin, in most cases Europe or the United States. Yet, for many countries, this poses a complex problem given the individual’s admitted involvement in a terrorist group. Many seeking repatriation are women with children that likely faced abuse and torture at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) militants via husbands or soldiers. Disillusioned and traumatized, they no longer want to associate with ISIS and seek to rejoin their families. However, for many, that is no longer an option. Hoda Muthana, a twenty-four year old American of Yemeni descent, born and raised in the US, is now in the spotlight. A college student living in Alabama, Hoda became radicalized by ISIS online and left to join them in Syria around November 2014; despite intense objections from her family.
Top officials of the administration of Donald J. Trump love to talk tough on Iran. Last year Trump warned in an all-capitals tweet that Iran “would suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before” if it threatened the US.
Spending the last two weeks of 2018 in Iraq offered a window into Iraqi politics, the economy, and how Iraqis are coping on a variety of issues. My trip began with a conference, and despite the socially and politically contentious issues under discussion—citizenship, identity, inclusive governance, human development, education, among others—and the diverse ethno-sectarian background of the participants, there was a consensus on the most fundamental issue: that Iraqis must build their own nation together and focus on the future, rather than dwell on the injurious past.