Since Brexit, the U.K. has worked to reenergize its ties with Israel, as part of its wider “Global Britain” ambitions. Last month, it launched negotiations to establish a new bilateral free trade agreement—the outcome of which will be shaped by the winner of the Conservative Party’s leadership race.
During the 15 months I wrote the Middle East Memo newsletter, I sought to explore the myriad challenges the Middle East faces, from authoritarianism, to human rights abuses, to the climate crisis, to poor governance. In the end, I remain more certain than ever that the region’s future depends mainly on its people.
The ongoing talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal seem to have entered a critical stage in the past several days, with no small amount of optimism that a breakthrough is near. The problem both sides now face is that the deals underlying logic no longer holds, whether as an arms control agreement or as a confidence-building measure.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who came into office seeking to do “less not more” in the Middle East, is increasingly using the focus on China as an excuse to again do more in the region. But using the “great power competition” frame to justify and shape U.S. engagement in the Middle East is unrealistic and likely counterproductive.
The latest conflict in the Gaza Strip has put the international spotlight on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas. Despite the group’s losses in the fighting, the PIJ may have emerged politically strengthened and with its credibility as a resistance movement enhanced.
In the wake of Joe Biden’s Middle East visit in mid-July, some U.S. officials suggested that critics of the trip should reserve judgement until they see the “deliverables” agreed upon by the regional leaders Biden met with. Hopefully many such deliverables do materialize, beginning with reviving the multilateral Iran nuclear deal.
For the eighth time in 11 years, voters have been called to the ballot box to weigh in on Tunisia’s future. Over the past decade, Tunisians have chosen new presidents, fresh parliaments and local representatives in peaceful elections. But last week’s referendum, which approved a new constitution, may bring an end to that civic process.
Last week, a dozen years after the start of the Arab Spring, Tunisia held a referendum that sealed the fate of its democratic experiment. The vote confirmed that the euphoria of those heady days—the ardent belief that change was on the horizon—was not enough to overcome the obstacles to democratization.
At the heart of Turkey’s cycles of escalation against real or imagined enemies at home and abroad are two core dynamics eroding the power structures Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used to dominate Turkish politics for 20 years: economic mismanagement and the accelerating fragmentation of Erdogan’s electoral coalition.
The political impasse in Iraq has reached an ominous phase that underscores the danger of litigating politics through displays of force. And in Lebanon, the many twists and turns in its deadlocked politics demonstrate that negotiation through violence can give way to a sustainable—if bloody—alternative to civic democracy.