Middle East and North Africa

Syria and the Outside Powers: What They Want and Can They Have It?

The Syrian civil war is many overlapping conflicts, including the competition and cooperation among outside powers vying to protect their interests, often at the expense of Syria’s sovereignty. What are Russian, Iranian, Turkish, Israeli, and American objectives in Syria, and can they achieve them? Four analysts of Syria and the region addressed the issue of outside powers and the future of the country.

Selected Quotes

 

Aaron David Miller

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.

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