U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).
What is the U.S. up to in the Middle East? How does the granular reality of developments as seen from the region square with Washington’s strategic assessment? Last week, a senior Biden administration official offered some answers to those questions in a briefing for journalists on the White House’s plan for a realistic, downsized Middle East policy. (Though the official remained anonymous, it sounds an awful lot like Brett McGurk ). Whether or not this plan will work—and I’m not so sure that it will—the administration’s description of its own approach sounds accurate, and that’s a welcome change. It does away [...]
Tunisians demonstrate against Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia, Oct. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).
Tunisian President Kais Saied announced a timeline for a new constitutional referendum Monday, to be followed by elections to restore the parliament he disbanded in July. But the plan remains silent on the question of who will draft the new constitution, and Saied’s announcement suggests that the country will remain without an elected legislature for at least another year. Saied said in a televised speech that there would be three months of vaguely defined consultations before the constitutional referendum, which is to be held next year on July 25—the one-year anniversary of his seizure of power. Tunisians would then go [...]
Iran’s national security adviser, Ali Shamkhani, and the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, shake hands prior to their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 6, 2021 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).
High-level diplomacy has intensified among competing Middle East regional powers, a flurry of bilateral talks that increasingly suggests what a “Plan B” would look like if, as seems likely, the U.S. and Iran fail to revive the deal that briefly constrained Tehran’s nuclear program. The pace of contacts and meetings between the region’s prime movers has stepped up a notch in recent weeks, in a tangible sign that governments in the Middle East are responding to what they see as a clear downsizing of Washington’s role in the region. The most visible example of this adjustment was a meeting that [...]
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