Russia is increasingly emerging as an enemy of the United States, not just a rival. Although President Trump generally seems to oppose any attempt to confront Russia—with the exception of a tweet this morning in which he warned the Kremlin to “get ready”—it’s worth considering how a more strategically minded administration might do so, particularly in the Middle East, where Moscow has vastly expanded its influence.
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Many critiques of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy concern his open brinksmanship with enemies like North Korea or jarring antagonism of rivals like China and Iran. But much of the administration’s worst behavior concerns how it treats America’s friends.
Shuttle Diplomacy Falls Short in Gulf Crisis, Israel Concerned about Ceasefire in Syria, and Two Tenuous Years of the Iran Nuclear Deal
Emirati-backed Hackers Started Gulf Crisis, According to U.S. Intelligence
Will Saudi Arabia’s experiment in economic reform outlast the low oil prices that precipitated it?
Russia Embraced Responsibility for Syria’s Civil War
Russia has been supporting the Assad regime since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, but the nature of that support changed this year. The depth of Russia’s backing for the regime was made clear in September 2015, when the Russian military intervened in response to a request from the regime to stop a rebel advance in northwest Syria. Then, over the past 12 months, Russia has demonstrated how far it's willing to go to protect its last partner in the Middle East.
When Turkish people of all ages took to the streets on July 15 to face army tanks and take a stand for their democratically elected government, Turkish soldiers--except in a handful of instances—refused to fire at them and eventually surrendered to them and to members of the police.
Editor's Note: For those of us focused on the Middle East, the bad news seems unending: war, terrorism, poor governance, and other problems plague the region and stump U.S. policymakers. But the United States might do better if it used additional tools. Science diplomacy is one such tool: it can be less controversial and highly effective, leveraging a U.S. area of strength. David Hajjar, a veteran science diplomat himself who is a senior non-resident fellow here at Brookings, makes the case for science diplomacy.
In the wake of Saudi cleric Nimr al-Nimr's execution, Afshon Ostovar examines the growing sectarian rift in the Middle East and options for mitigating the outbreak of conflict.
Editor's Note: The Saudi-Iranian rivalry has long been a driver of instability and extremism in the Middle East, and this tension grew even worse when the Saudis executed Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric and outspoken critic of the ruling family, on January 2nd. The rivalry has played out across the Middle East, with Yemen being one key -- and often neglected -- arena.
UN Human Rights Council votes to adopt Gaza report: The report of the HRC’s “Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict,” which Ben and Yishai discussed here, is highly focused on and critical of Israel’s conduct during last summer’s operations in Gaza.