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  • Commentary posted January 28, 2015 by James Phillips A Big Foreign Policy Challenge: Regaining Saudi Arabia's Trust

    The passing of King Abdullah and ascension to the throne of Crown Prince Salman has proceeded smoothly at a time when the Saudi kingdom faces growing challenges at home and abroad. King Abdullah, 90, compiled a record as a relatively liberal reformer who helped modernize the kingdom, reform its educational system and somewhat expand opportunities for Saudi women to work,…

  • Commentary posted January 23, 2015 by Peter Brookes Al Qaeda threat grows in Yemen

    Last September, President Obama told us that his strategy for taking down the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would be similar to the one his administration had “successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” Those are words the prez probably would like to have back, especially with regards to Yemen. News reports indicate Yemen is falling apart; an insurgent…

  • Commentary posted January 21, 2015 by James Phillips ISIS vs. Al Qaeda: The good news and the bad news

    The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), has become a bitter rival of Al Qaeda, its parent organization. Its leaders represent a new generation of Islamist militants who have broken with Al Qaeda in a power struggle over Syria and the future of the global Islamist revolution. Both groups share the same ultimate goal: the…

  • Issue Brief posted January 12, 2015 by Brett D. Schaefer, James Phillips Provocative Palestinian U.N. Actions Require Strong U.S. Response

    The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in assistance to facilitate peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite America’s financial support and its repeated diplomatic efforts, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has demonstrated little serious interest in negotiating a peace agreement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist, commits the Palestinians to…

  • Commentary posted January 2, 2015 by Peter Brookes 2015 promises world of flash points, surprises

    The Danish physicist Niels Bohr is supposed to have said something along the lines of: Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future. Roger that. But despite the warning’s obvious wisdom, busying ourselves in prediction is inescapable whether it’s in selecting a spouse for life or a rapid route to work in the morning. International security is no…

  • Issue Brief posted November 22, 2014 by James Phillips Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: U.S. Must Avoid a Rush to Failure

    The November 24 deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran is fast approaching, with no sign that a deal that would advance U.S. national security interests can be reached by that date. After almost a year of negotiations, Iran has won international acceptance of its once-covert uranium enrichment facilities and obtained substantial sanctions relief in exchange for…

  • Special Report posted November 17, 2014 by Lisa Curtis, Charlotte Florance, Walter Lohman, James Phillips Pursuing a Freedom Agenda Amidst Rising Global Islamism

    Contributors Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. Charlotte Florance is a Research Associate for Economic Freedom in Africa and the Middle East in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National…

  • Issue Brief posted October 6, 2014 by James Phillips The Rise of Al-Qaeda’s Khorasan Group: What It Means for U.S. National Security

    The air strikes against Islamist terrorist groups in Syria that the U.S. launched on September 22 included strikes against a group that few Americans had heard about before: the Khorasan group. Although sometimes mistakenly characterized as a new terrorist group, Khorasan is a new tentacle of an old organization—the al-Qaeda high-command or core group. The rise of the…

  • Commentary posted September 17, 2014 by Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Isolating the Islamic State

    It’s good to see President Obama move beyond the “we don’t have a strategy yet” phase in the fight against the Islamic State. On the plus side, he seems to have a good grasp of just how serious a threat the Islamic State poses to the United States and much of the free world. The fact that an attack on the U.S. homeland won’t occur tomorrow is no excuse for inaction…

  • Commentary posted September 16, 2014 by Peter Brookes President Obama too fond of fairy tales

    President Obama would rather have been anywhere else on Earth but at that White House podium Wednesday night unveiling a new counterterror strategy for dealing with the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. Why? The speech — given in the shadow of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — cut sharply counter to the “wishful-thinking” narrative…

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  • Issue Brief posted January 12, 2015 by Brett D. Schaefer, James Phillips Provocative Palestinian U.N. Actions Require Strong U.S. Response

    The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in assistance to facilitate peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite America’s financial support and its repeated diplomatic efforts, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has demonstrated little serious interest in negotiating a peace agreement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist, commits the Palestinians to…

  • Backgrounder posted December 22, 1986 by James Phillips Updating U.S. Strategy for Helping Afghan Freedom Fighters

    (Archived document, may contain errors) 552 December 22, 1986 UPDATING U.S. STRATEGY FOR HELPING AFGHAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS INTRODUCTION Seven years after the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan Soviet troops remain locked in a protracted guerrilla war with no victory in sight. December 27, 1979, almost one million Afghans have been ki lled most of them…

  • Backgrounder posted April 9, 2012 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., James Phillips, Michaela Dodge Thinking the Unthinkable: Modeling a Collapse of Saudi Oil Production

    Abstract: If an “Arab Spring” uprising completely disrupted Saudi oil production, the U.S. and the global economy would face a massive economic and strategic crisis. Russia and Iran as oil-producing states would likely exploit the crisis to increase their power around the world while undermining U.S. influence, especially in the Middle East. To guard against the economic…

  • Issue Brief posted May 15, 2013 by James Phillips U.S.–Turkish Relations: Greater Cooperation Should Be Goal of Obama–Erdogan Meeting

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Washington this week amid escalating and intertwined Middle East crises. Turkey is a key NATO ally that borders Syria, Iran, and Iraq: three major focal points of U.S. Middle East policy. President Obama should consult with Prime Minister Erdogan to coordinate policies on these three fronts and to encourage Turkey to…

  • Backgrounder posted September 5, 2002 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Iran's Claim Over Caspian Sea Resources Threaten Energy Security

    The need for Washington to focus its attention on energy security and diversification became clear as the war on terrorism began. The U.S. should strongly oppose Iran's threatening military actions to claim a larger portion of the energy-rich Caspian Sea. The Caspian basin, a land-locked body of salt water bordered by Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and…

  • Issue Brief posted March 27, 2014 by James Phillips Obama’s Saudi Summit: Focus on Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Terrorism

    President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday amid mounting reports of acute Saudi disillusionment with Obama’s foreign policy. The Saudis, like other Middle Eastern allies including Israel, are concerned that Obama cannot be trusted to safeguard their national interests in the face of Iran’s military buildup, the political turbulence of the…

  • WebMemo posted April 8, 2003 by Joseph Loconte Fighting a Just War in Iraq

    Numerous gloomy predictions have been made by pundits, journalists and religious leaders about the conduct and effects of a U.S.-led war against Iraq. Critics said that war would devastate Iraq's infrastructure, making it impossible to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. They speculated that Iraqi residents would scorn American and British troops as…

  • WebMemo posted March 3, 2011 by Sally McNamara The Crisis in Libya Exposes a Litany of Failed EU Policies

    Two weeks after the start of Muammar Qadhafi’s violent crackdown on his people, the European Union on Monday agreed to a set of sanctions to be applied against Libya. The sanctions include: A ban on 26 individuals, including Qadhafi and his closest family, from entering the EU; A freezing of Qadhafi’s assets and those of his family and 10 other…

  • Commentary posted October 23, 2013 by James Phillips Why US aid cuts will backfire in Egypt

    Earlier this month the Obama administration announced it was cutting military aid to Egypt by hundreds of millions of dollars.  The move had nothing to do with the budget battle in D.C. Rather, it was a belated reaction to last July’s military coup against President Mohamed Morsi’s increasingly autocratic Islamist government.  Unfortunately, the administration has taken…

  • Backgrounder posted December 20, 2012 by James Phillips The Arab Spring Descends into Islamist Winter: Implications for U.S. Policy

    Abstract: In 2011 and 2012, a wave of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East shook the region’s autocratic regimes, prompting euphoric reactions in the West about an “Arab Spring” and a supposed new age of democracy. While the overthrow of authoritarian regimes can give democracy a chance to bloom, it has also created opportunities for a wide spectrum of…

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  • Issue Brief posted January 12, 2015 by Brett D. Schaefer, James Phillips Provocative Palestinian U.N. Actions Require Strong U.S. Response

    The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in assistance to facilitate peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite America’s financial support and its repeated diplomatic efforts, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has demonstrated little serious interest in negotiating a peace agreement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist, commits the Palestinians to…

  • Issue Brief posted November 22, 2014 by James Phillips Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: U.S. Must Avoid a Rush to Failure

    The November 24 deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran is fast approaching, with no sign that a deal that would advance U.S. national security interests can be reached by that date. After almost a year of negotiations, Iran has won international acceptance of its once-covert uranium enrichment facilities and obtained substantial sanctions relief in exchange for…

  • Special Report posted November 17, 2014 by Lisa Curtis, Charlotte Florance, Walter Lohman, James Phillips Pursuing a Freedom Agenda Amidst Rising Global Islamism

    Contributors Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. Charlotte Florance is a Research Associate for Economic Freedom in Africa and the Middle East in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National…

  • Issue Brief posted October 6, 2014 by James Phillips The Rise of Al-Qaeda’s Khorasan Group: What It Means for U.S. National Security

    The air strikes against Islamist terrorist groups in Syria that the U.S. launched on September 22 included strikes against a group that few Americans had heard about before: the Khorasan group. Although sometimes mistakenly characterized as a new terrorist group, Khorasan is a new tentacle of an old organization—the al-Qaeda high-command or core group. The rise of the…

  • Issue Brief posted June 3, 2014 by James Phillips To Defeat Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Stronger Counterterrorism Cooperation Needed

    Iraq faces major political, national security, and economic challenges that should be addressed by the new government that emerges from the April 30 elections. Last year, more than 7,800 civilians and 1,050 members of the security forces were killed in political violence and terrorist attacks, making it Iraq’s deadliest year since 2008. The Islamic State of Iraq and…

  • Issue Brief posted April 30, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves, James Phillips Palestinian Intent to Accede to 15 Treaties and U.S. Response

    President Mahmoud Abbas announced on April 1 that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will seek to join 15 international conventions and treaties. This is a new facet of the existing Palestinian policy of seeking international recognition by other governments and membership in international organizations to bolster claims of statehood absent a negotiated peace treaty with…

  • Issue Brief posted March 27, 2014 by James Phillips Obama’s Saudi Summit: Focus on Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Terrorism

    President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday amid mounting reports of acute Saudi disillusionment with Obama’s foreign policy. The Saudis, like other Middle Eastern allies including Israel, are concerned that Obama cannot be trusted to safeguard their national interests in the face of Iran’s military buildup, the political turbulence of the…

  • Issue Brief posted February 20, 2014 by Anthony B. Kim, Charlotte Florance, James Phillips U.S. Should Support Tunisia’s Democratic Progress with Concrete Action

    On January 26, three years after the beginning of Tunisians’ uprising for greater freedom, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly peacefully and decisively ratified a model constitution that lays the foundation for a functioning democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Tunisia’s remarkable political turnaround, epitomized by the near unanimous ratification of the…

  • Issue Brief posted January 14, 2014 by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D., James Phillips Top Five Foreign Policy Priorities for 2014

    The United States faces mounting challenges abroad in 2014. With weak leadership from the White House over the past five years, the U.S. has been confronted and all too often sidelined by America’s adversaries and strategic competitors. The Obama Administration’s “leading from behind” strategy has been a spectacular failure that has led to confusion among traditional U.S.…

  • Issue Brief posted November 5, 2013 by James Phillips Greater Iraqi–American Cooperation Needed on Counterterrorism, Syria, and Iran

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came to Washington last week in search of greater U.S. security assistance in battling the al-Qaeda-led insurgency that increasingly threatens Iraq's internal security as well as regional stability in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The United States shares Maliki's goal of defeating al-Qaeda's franchise in Iraq, which has expanded into…

Find more work on Middle East
Find more work on Middle East