Middle East and North Africa Publications
Iraq’s Kurdistan has signed multiple energy agreements with neighboring Turkey and is about to become an independent oil and gas exporter in defiance of Baghdad and Washington. This will provide Kurdistan, already an autonomous region within Iraq, with the financial and economic basis for its possible eventual independence. Turkey strongly opposes this and even limited autonomy for its own Kurds but has succumbed to its voracious appetite for new energy sources.
The Rouhani government, barely 100 days old, has delivered what no other Iranian government had achieved since the initiation of Iran’s nuclear program: a deal between the United States and Iran.
This publication is the outcome of the July 10, 2013 conference of the same name co-sponsored by the Middle East Program, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, Environmental Change and Security Program, and Global Health Initiative. Women leaders and activists from the Middle East write about the current women’s rights situation on the ground in the region and what strategies can be employed to use international human rights norms to secure their rights going forward.
Michael Adler has been covering the Geneva talks on Iran’s nuclear program. The confrontation over Iran’s nuclear work contains contradictions that will be difficult to resolve, even with the better atmosphere brought in by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The mixture of Iran reining in its nuclear work and the United States and its allies letting go of sanctions requires sacrifices that neither side is yet willing to make.
A central principle of Putin’s foreign policy is reasserting Russia’s role as a great power on the global stage. Moscow has worked to restore and build ties to its former Cold War allies in the Middle East in pursuit of this goal.
The failure of Tunisia's ruling Islamic Ennahda movement to convince secular parties and civil society groups that it is truly committed to the separation of religion and state underlies the current political crisis there. Ennahda's moderate leadership has made repeated compromises on religious issues to meet secularist demands for a new constitution. But it has lost their trust by showing too much deference to its own militant Islamic wing and fundamentalist Salafis outside the movement.
U.S. policy toward the Maghreb countries is presently driven above all by security concerns. Although three of the four countries—Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya—have experienced considerable political change since 2011 and Algeria is on the verge of a succession crisis with potentially significant consequences, the United States is not deeply involved in these transitions. Exhausted and disappointed by failed nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States seems to be moving toward the opposite extreme, neglecting political transformations to focus on security. Unless the countries restore or maintain political stability, however, counterterrorism efforts cannot succeed
The Obama administration’s policy of non-intervention in Syria has been criticized both for permitting the ruling minority Alawite regime there to continue oppressing the Sunni Arab majority as well as for allowing the radical jihadist opposition to grow in strength vis-à-vis the moderate opposition. Several important domestic political and foreign policy concerns, though, have impelled President Obama to pursue this non-interventionist policy.
The opening of a dialogue between the United States and Iran has stirred deep-seated fears in Saudi Arabia that the Obama administration may be headed for a “grand bargain” with Tehran at the Saudis’ expense, raising further doubts about Saudi dependence on Washington for its security. The Saudis have already sensed flagging U.S. support in their confrontation with Iran over Iraq and Syria as they wage a bitter battle with the Iranians for Arab and Muslim world leadership.
Lebanon is finally getting Washington’s attention after spending the last four years languishing on the back burner. The Lebanese are now hopeful that maybe the days when Lebanon was a priority in Washington are upon them once again.