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Iran and its role in Syria are likely to be the main agenda item at the June 24-26 trilateral meeting of the US, Russian, and Israeli national security advisers in Israel. What US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, want from Russia is clear: Moscow’s in reducing or even eliminating the Iranian presence in Syria. Russian National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev, though, is unlikely to meet their demands on this score.

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In January 2018, eight members of the non-profit wildlife conservation Non-Governmental Organization, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), were arrested and held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Managing Director Kavous Seyed-Emami soon died while being questioned. The others, plus an associate, were accused of spying on military installations on behalf of the US and Israel, and have since been held and subjected to different forms of torture and abuse. The author of this article was also falsely identified as a Central Intelligence Agency case officer involved.

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Sixteen years have gone by since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the country is still suffering from major unresolved political, economic, and social issues. Even the most pessimistic people in Iraq did not think that the situation would be this dire.

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In early May, the United States deployed an aircraft carrier group, a bomber wing, and a Patriot Battery to the Gulf region reportedly in response to threats by Iran and its proxies. At the time, the potential for escalation seemed high with the Air Force flying “deterrence missions” and Iranian military leaders referring to the aircraft carrier as a “target.” Shortly after the United States announced the deployment, four ships—including two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship—were damaged and intelligence reporting of possible attacks prompted US Embassy Baghdad to evacuate non-essential personnel. In fact, after the evacuation, a rocket landed less than a mile from the embassy compound that appeared to have been launched from a Shia-dominated area of Baghdad. Around the same time, Houthi rebels in Yemen, who receive support from Iran, used drones to attack an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia and may be responsible for recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

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Fewer students from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are pursuing university studies in the United States. In its most recent “Open Doors” report, the Institute for International Education measured an 8.7 percent reduction in the number of undergraduates from the region attending US colleges and universities for full-time studies and 5.2 percent decline in graduate students. Why are more and more students and their families rejecting the United States for higher education? 

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In October 2019, an estimated 6.7 million Tunisians will head to the polls to elect their next parliament and the following month elect a new president of the republic. Yet, the gains are significant in terms of consolidating the democratic process that started in 2011. However, five years after the adoption of a progressive constitution in 2014, the democratic transformation of the country reveals that it is still in its early stages.

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Renewable freshwater resource constraints constitute one of the most critical challenges to sustainable development and human security in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Climate change is expected to exacerbate this challenge. Regional climate models have indicated that the MENA region is exposed to significant adverse climate change impacts due to rising temperatures and associated changes in rainfall patterns and freshwater runoff in a region that is already considerably warm and largely arid most of the year. What is increasingly at stake is no longer just the available quantity of renewable freshwater, but also the security of its supply.

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The art industry in the Middle East had historically flourished in the cultural capitals of the region namely Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo. Over the last few decades, the arts lost their foothold in these capitals due to conflict, repression, and ongoing security threats; specifically in Cairo and Damascus.

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The forces of Libya’s rebel army officer Khalifa Haftar are on the outskirts of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, in his ongoing bid to claim the city. Some of his forces traveled more than 1,000 kilometers from Libya’s eastern towns where Haftar has his stronghold. Others hail from Tarhouna, a city just to the south of Tripoli that was close to former dictator Muammar Qaddafi and remains hostile to the UN-backed government which they consider a fig leaf for armed groups.

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Since his election, US President Donald Trump has pursued a maximum pressure policy toward Iran, in an attempt to push Tehran back to the negotiating table. Yet, despite increasing US pressure on Iran, tit for tat statements, and subversive operations in the Persian Gulf, Tehran is far from willing to antagonize Washington to the point of no return.

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