Middle East and North Africa | Wilson Center

Middle East and North Africa

US CENTCOM's Posture in the Region

On March 13, General Joseph Votel briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the status of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) partnerships in the Gulf, Levant and fight against ISIS. Votel testified that that the Counter-ISIS Campaign is on track to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

US CENTCOM Commander on ISIS, Al Qaeda and Violent Extremist Organizations

On February 27, General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), warned the House Committee on Armed Services that violent extremist organizations are one of the most "grave challenges" CENTCOM faces in its area of operations today. "The violent extremist ideologies of ISIS, al-Qa’ida (AQ) and other VEOs remain a threat to the United States and our allies and partners, not just in the CENTCOM region but worldwide," Votel said during the hearing.

How Arab States Are Learning to Stop Worrying and Love Debt

The Arab World's ongoing security predicaments and restrained economic growth have produced a different set of challenges for the governments across the region. In an attempt to continue financing their projects, these governments have circumnavigated their sovereign wealth funds and government subsidy programs, and have turned to the issuance of bonds. This may ameliorate the financial concerns of the region, but it can also worsen the financial climate if economic growth stagnates.

Secretary Tillerson's Middle East Tour

From February 11-16, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with officials in Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey during a tour of the Middle East. A highlight of Tillerson's trip was a ministerial meeting for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Kuwait City, Kuwait. "The global coalition has made outstanding progress, but the fight is not over," the secretary said.

Forecasting Instability: The Case of the Arab Spring and the Limitations of Socioeconomic Data

All stable countries are alike, but all unstable countries become unstable in their own ways. Not surprisingly, the World Bank’s report on the causes of the Arab Spring noted that standard development indicators failed to predict the outburst of popular anger that catalyzed the unrest and revolutions of 2010 and 2011.

From Bytes to Bucks: Soft Power, Policy, Tech, and Culture

Three Wilson Center analysts examine the push and pull between state and society in the expression of cultural values in contemporary technologies, and what this tension implies for the international system:

1. Valerie Anishchenkova:  The importance of video games in modern global culture cannot be underestimated, especially in their increasing impact on personal and collective identities. What do Russian war-themed video games reveal about contemporary Russian nationalism? Who are friends and who are foes? Drawn directly from today’s geopolitical conflicts.

Vice President Pence Visits Egypt, Jordan and Israel

From January 20-22, Vice President Mike Pence met with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Israel in his first official trip to the Middle East. One of the key points of discussion was the issue of terrorism. "Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East, and the wider world," Pence said to the Israeli parliament.

Expert to Expert: The Middle East to Russia

What happens when you sit one of the country’s foremost Middle East experts across the table from one of its foremost Russia analysts? The Wilson Center turned that enticing prospect into reality, as Aaron David Miller and Matthew Rojansky traded insights and offered policy perspectives on two of the highest-priority areas in U.S. foreign affairs.

The Islamist Spectrum - Jordan's Mosaic

By Sarah Timreck

Kennan Cable No. 28: Russian and U.S. Roles in the Middle East: An Israeli’s Perspective

In recent years the Middle East has undergone major upheavals that saw dramatic changes in the roles played by the United States and Russia. Since 2009, Russia’s influence in the Middle East has greatly increased, while American influence has declined. This dynamic has raised concern among many U.S. and other Western observers and spurred much debate over its causes. It is particularly illuminating to look at this issue from the perspective of America’s principal ally in the region, Israel.