Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently convened a meeting of Arab leaders in Baghdad to discuss cooperation on water issues. In an email interview, Annika Kramer, a senior project manager at the German think tank Adelphi, discussed the state of cooperation on water in the Middle East. WPR: What is the current state of water management cooperation in the Middle East? Annika Kramer: Cooperation in water resources management only takes place to a very limited extent in the Middle East. None of the main transboundary river basins in the region — the Euphrates-Tigris, the Jordan and the Nile basin — […]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a warning to Syrian forces Tuesday to stay away from the border after Syria shot down an unarmed Turkish RF-4E reconnaissance plane last week. In an email interview, Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based writer and analyst, discussed the state of Turkey’s air force. WPR: What is the current state of the Turkish air force? Gareth Jenkins: Turkey has one of the largest and best-equipped air forces in the greater Middle East. Its main strike force consists of F-16s together with F-4s and F-5s. In recent years, the air force has received a disproportionately large […]

The latest round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries came to a stalemate in Moscow last week, as the two sides once again failed to bridge their differences. Although the previous meeting in Istanbul generated some optimism that a mutually satisfactory solution to Iran’s nuclear program could be within reach, these hopes turned out to be premature in light of the negotiating positions the parties have taken over the past several months. It is now obvious that Western powers were wrong to expect that increased unilateral economic sanctions on Iran could effect some change in Iran’s negotiating […]

Just hours after Mohammed Morsi delivered his conciliatory first speech as Egypt’s president-elect, Iran dropped a bombshell: According to a report on Fars, Iran’s semi-official news agency, the new Egyptian leader had told an Iranian reporter that he planned to transform the political landscape of the Middle East. Morsi, Fars reported, was “enthusiastic” about expanding ties with Tehran, aiming to create “a strategic balance” in the region. In addition, the report said, Morsi would “reconsider” the Camp David Accord, Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. The news threatened to puncture Washington’s hopes for a constructive, cooperative relationship with a democratic Egypt […]

Syria shot down a Turkish warplane last week, raising tensions between the neighbors to an all-time high. In an email interview, Sean O’Connor, a contributor to IHS Jane’s and an expert in air defenses, reviewed the state of Syria’s air defenses. WPR: What are Syria’s current air defenses, and what are their particular strengths and vulnerabilities? Sean O’Connor: A comprehensive analysis of available commercial imagery indicates that Syrian strategic air defenses primarily consist of Soviet-era surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems occupying a total of 76 fixed-site locations. A further 101 fixed-site locations are present to serve as either defensive improvements employing […]

Yesterday’s NATO meeting on Syria’s downing of a Turkish RF-4 Phantom reconnaissance jet Friday underscores the growing importance of Turkey and NATO for each other. Syria claims that the shooting occurred when an unidentified jet made a low and threatening overflight deep in Syrian territory, while Turkey insists that Syria knew the plane was Turkish, and that it had already left Syrian air space when it was shot down. The Turkish government decided to invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which provides for urgent consultations if a member state considers its security interests threatened. It did not call […]

The sudden death last week of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Nayyif, the heir apparent to King Abdullah, caught many by surprise. But the latest royal shuffle, which sees Prince Salman becoming the new crown prince, and the even bigger transition expected to occur in the near future given the poor health of the 88-year-old king will likely feature far greater continuity and stability than the political transformations occurring in Egypt and other Arab countries. The purported ideological tug-of-war taking place inside the royal family is a central theme of much of the commentary on Saudi succession scenarios, with the “reactionaries” […]

In talks over its suspected nuclear weapons program, Iran has repeated urged the international community to respect its “inalienable right” to peaceful nuclear technology. In an email interview, Leonard Spector, the deputy director of the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, discussed Iran’s rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. WPR: What is the legal basis for Iran’s claim to a “right” to nuclear energy technologies and capabilities? Leonard Spector: Iran is relying on Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that nothing in the treaty should be interpreted to affect the inalienable […]

After three days of fighting with Israel, the military wing of Hamas announced Wednesday that it was ready to accept a cease-fire brokered by Egypt. The exchange of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket fire followed an Israeli retaliation against a Palestinian attack launched from the Egyptian-ruled Sinai Peninsula, which has seen a rise in violence amid that country’s broader upheaval. Yoram Meital, chair of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told Trend Lines that if the fighting in the Israel-Gaza-Egypt border junction continues, all three sides could be pulled into […]

Qatar announced earlier this month that it plans to contribute $1.5 billion to the new Gulf Development Fund established by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in December to aid nonmembers Jordan and Morocco. In an email interview, Steffen Hertog, a lecturer in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, discussed the GCC’s development activities. WPR: What is driving the GCC’s interest in enhancing ties with Jordan and Morocco, and what role will the Gulf Development Fund play in these efforts? Steffen Hertog: The primary motivation seems to be the defense of conservative Arab monarchies in the face of regional […]

The early weeks of the Arab uprisings of 2011 led many to believe that the fast-spreading protest movements were ushering in a new age of nonviolent democratic change in the region. Not surprisingly, the exuberant and initially successful uprisings were optimistically labeled the “Arab Spring.” Events have since unfolded in a much less utopian fashion. The early chapters, as we now know, represented just one phase of what would become a complicated process, full of detours, bloodshed and Machiavellian maneuvers. More recently, the violence in Syria and the blatantly anti-democratic developments in Egypt have highlighted the sharply different ways in […]

The elections in Egypt are over. Their conclusion marks the passing not only of Egypt’s democratic experiment but also of a grand opportunity to confront larger questions regarding Islam and society. As one of the more able chroniclers of the aborted Egyptian revolution puts it, what started with “one hell of a bang” is ending with a whimper. First, the presidential election’s wide-open first round left voters with two candidates, Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, who together deflated whatever enthusiasm most Egyptians still had for democracy. Morsi was the second-choice candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization whose popularity in […]

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A Pentagon official says the US believes three Russian ships carrying supplies and possibly personnel will be departing for Syria and the US has no reason to believe they are headed anywhere other than Russia’s naval base in Tartus. World News Videos by NewsLook

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