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The conflict in Iraq has reverberated across the Middle East, affecting the balance of power between neighboring states, their internal political dynamics, how their publics view American credibility, and the strategies and tactics of al-Qa'ida. No matter how the internal situation in Iraq evolves, its effects on the broader region will be felt for decades, presenting new challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy. A better understanding of how regional states and nonstate actors have responded to the Iraq conflict will better prepare the United States to manage the war's long-term consequences. To that end, the authors conducted extensive fieldwork in the region and canvassed local media sources to inform their analysis. Among their key findings: The war has facilitated the rise of Iranian power in the region, but Iran faces more limits than is commonly acknowledged; the war has eroded local confidence in U.S. credibility and created new opportunities for Chinese and Russian involvement; the war has entrenched and strengthened neighboring Arab regimes while diminishing the momentum for political reform; and the war has eroded al-Qa'ida's standing in the region, but the network and its affiliates are adapting with new tactics and strategies.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    An Altered Strategic Landscape: The Shifting Regional Balance of Power

  • Chapter Three

    New Challenges to American Influence: Chinese and Russian Roles in the Middle East

  • Chapter Four

    Domestic Reverberations of the War: Internal Challenges to Regime Stability

  • Chapter Five

    The Iraq War and the Future of Terrorism: Lessons Learned and New Strategic Trends

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusion: Managing the Aftershocks of Iraq and Seizing Opportunities

Book Review Excerpts

"A rigorous, challenging assessment of regional trends which refreshingly draws primarily on regional sources instead of recycled American conventional wisdom."

- Marc Lynch, Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

"The Iraq Effect offers a comprehensive and nuanced assessment of how the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the civil strife that followed are reshaping the greater Middle East. The authors capture the diplomatic, political, and economic dimensions of the region today and offer valuable lessons for U.S. policymakers."

- Daniel L. Byman, Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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