While the debate over whether Israel will strike Iran ebbs and flows on an almost weekly basis now, a larger collision-course trajectory is undeniably emerging. To put it most succinctly, Iran won’t back down, while Israel won’t back off, and America will back up its two regional allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — when the shooting finally starts. There are no other credible paths in sight: There will be no diplomatic miracles, and Iran will not be permitted to achieve a genuine nuclear deterrence. But let us also be clear about what this coming war will ultimately target: regime […]

Although Syria’s Kurds have a long history of opposing the central government in Damascus, they have so far refrained from widespread, proactive participation in the ongoing rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist regime. However, if they continue to limit themselves to being mere spectators to the unfolding drama, they may well find themselves deprived of any long-term political gains in a post-Assad Syria. The Kurds’ forbearance to date does not signal a fear of government repression or an unwillingness to make sacrifices. They have demonstrated such willingness on numerous occasions, most recently in 2004-2005, when clashes between civilian protesters and […]

It has been frequently noted over the past year that the ongoing turmoil in the Arab world has until now largely spared monarchies in the region. But observers of the region, and its rulers, also know that this state of affairs could suddenly change. As a result, Arab kings and emirs are under pressure to find a new governing formula: reforms that introduce elements of democracy without bringing an end to their rule. Over a number of decades, the emirate of Kuwait has managed to maintain a measure of stability under a system that combines a strong monarchy and an […]

Afghanistan to Highlight Challenges of Collaboration Between Pentagon and CIA

In the weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Special Operations Command sent intelligence officers and special operations forces to Afghanistan, making them the first American boots on the ground. Now, with the official end of the Iraq War and the upcoming withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, it is becoming clear that the first ones in will be the last ones out. As the U.S. military begins to shift away from combat missions in Afghanistan over the coming two years, instead focusing on advising Afghan forces, CIA paramilitary operations officers […]

One of the most important developments in the Middle East during the past decade was the remarkable expansion of Turkey’s relations with its neighbors. After ignoring the region for decades while trying to integrate into the European Union, Turkey devoted the past 10 years to improving its ties with Iran and Arab countries, while taking the lead in the mediation of several regional conflicts. This was a visible break from the past, when Turkey played a more or less subordinate and supportive role to U.S. and European policies in the region. In recent years, Turkey has asserted its own independent […]

Russia has adopted a surprisingly firm stance regarding the ongoing violent crackdown on domestic opposition in Syria. Despite facing a solid bloc of Western and developing nations calling for strong action against the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow defiantly vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution this weekend that would have supported the Arab League’s efforts to secure a peaceful transfer of power. Russian officials claimed that the resolution represented a masked call for “regime change” that would only help fuel the conflict. Although China also voted against the proposed resolution, Russia would probably have cast the sole […]

Clinton Calls for Support for Syrian Opposition

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling for “friends of democratic Syria” to unite to stop funds and arms shipments to President Bashar Assad’s regime. US News Video by NewsLook

Now that the United States, France and other Western powers have endorsed the Arab League’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down — even if that formulation is ultimately edited out of the final draft of the resolution pending before the U.N. Security Council — it is time to start making plans for the various contingencies that may erupt on “the day after.” Most Western policymakers, at least in their public rhetoric, continue to cling to an optimistic scenario in which a broad-based, inclusive opposition takes power in Damascus after an initial transition from Assad’s rule. Reassured of […]

Global Insider: With Trade Booming, China-GCC FTA Would Change Little

During a visit to the Persian Gulf countries last month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for the conclusion of negotiations for a free trade agreement between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. In an email interview, Jean-Francois Seznec, a visiting associate professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, discussed the proposed China-GCC free trade agreement. WPR: How has trade between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries evolved over the past decade? Jean-Francois Seznec: Trade between the GCC and China has grown to about $90 billion in 2010 from $10 billion 10 years ago. China imports […]

The next general election in Israel is officially almost two years away, but the domestic political scene has suddenly erupted into a frenzy of activity, with politicians on all points of the political spectrum preparing for a likely call for early elections. The swirl of speculation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might decide to call early elections started in December, when Netanyahu surprised members of Likud, the party he leads, with a call for a snap primary vote, leading the opposition Kadima party to move up its primary schedule as well. Netanyahu’s decision to rush an internal leadership vote was […]

Kuwait Elections Set to Take Place on Thursday

Candidates in Kuwait’s general election this week are calling for sweeping reforms including a new constitution that would turn the oil-rich Gulf state into a full democracy. World News Videos by NewsLook

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