As the center of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths; the world's main source of petroleum; and a religious, political, and ethnic tinderbox, the Middle East plays a considerable role in world affairs. RAND research on the region covers a wide range of cultural, economic, educational, military, and political topics, including in-depth examinations of Qatar, Palestine, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Israel.
The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) provides expertise on the Middle East. CMEPP analysts are in touch with political, social, economic, and technological developments in and around the region. Through research and analysis, CMEPP helps public and private decision makers solve problems, tackle challenges, and identify ways to make society safer, smarter, and more prosperous.
President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah offers an opportunity to engage in a much needed dialogue about the future of the conflict in Syria and to hear what a strong ally and friend has to say about stability in the region.
If NATO wants to avoid strategic irrelevance, it needs to give increasing attention to the threats from the Middle East and North Africa region. A southern strategy should draw on recent experience, such as NATO's intervention in Libya and the successful operation in Mali.
Overall, divisions in Al Qaeda's ranks are good news for the United States. While the split will not end the jihadists' terrorist campaigns, it will preoccupy Al Qaeda's leaders and create uncertainty in its ranks.
As the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood reclaiming power recedes, it will become difficult for the new authorities in Egypt to hold together a coalition that is built solely on its members' shared antipathy for the Islamist group.
This time, the Taliban do not have the luxury of ingratiating themselves as purveyors of justice amidst chaos, only to later reveal themselves as bullying extremists. Moreover, in a post-9/11 world the international community now understands the potential ramifications of allowing such extremism to metastasize unchecked.
The mission of preventing al Qaeda from threatening the U.S. is an enduring one that will require a long-term commitment not just to counterterrorism, but to training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces so that they are better able to prosecute their own campaign against terrorists.
As embattled French president François Hollande prepares for his state visit to Washington next week, defense cooperation is sure to be a bright spot on the agenda — especially when it comes to emerging security challenges in Africa.
Rouhani, while so far effective in Iran's nuclear negotiations, has an uphill battle at home. While the Iranian conservative establishment is likely to support his nuclear policy for now, it is unlikely to concede him the full economic and political agenda he seeks. Not without a fight, anyhow.
Paul Miller takes issue with four of Steve Walt's 10 points in his latest essay that lists President Obama's withdrawal deadline as one of the top 10 biggest mistakes in the war in Afghanistan.
Over the past month, al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made a concerted effort to seize the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The attacks have received a lot of attention, but ISIS does not represent a majority of Iraqi Sunni in Anbar. Many Sunni Anbari leaders continue to reject al Qaeda.
Iran may be more influential in Iraq today than it has been since the Safavid era, but this is not so much due to Iranian strength as Iraqi weakness. Iraq will need Iran as long as it faces an uncertain future — unrest at home, war in Syria, and isolation from the Arab world.
Sanctions are not a button that can be pushed to strengthen the U.S. position automatically; they must be used in tandem with diplomacy, and a deeper understanding of Iranian, Chinese and Russian motivations.
With little chance of a negotiated end to the fighting, the war in Syria is likely to drag on. And even if somehow the bloodshed were to end relatively soon, the war will leave a legacy of odium and thousands of fighters that will threaten the region and beyond far into the future.
The current negotiations with Iran designed to eliminate its nuclear weapons capability seem to lack a broader strategic objective: stabilizing the Middle East with a regional balance of power. What does the China experience tell us about prospects for a strategic breakthrough with Iran?
The American investment in Syria thus far can be accurately described as timid and minimal. The United States can do more to assist the rebels without directly using American military power or sliding into a strategy of escalation.
While many policymakers and analysts focus on who will be the next president of Afghanistan, the more important question may be whether the country's Pashtun, Uzbek, Tajik, Hazara, and other major constituencies will support the 2014 election's outcome.
Recent comments by key U.S. lawmakers have again raised the issue of where the United States is in its campaign against al Qaeda. This has left some to wonder if the terrorism threat is increasing and if Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago. Three senior RAND analysts offer their take.
It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.
As important as a bilateral security agreement is to formalize America's long-term presence in Afghanistan. The current draft doesn't spell out the details of a U.S. military presence after 2014, including the size, composition, and strategy of U.S. forces. Those details are what matter most.
The Geneva agreement is only a first step toward a comprehensive deal but it is an important achievement. Iran's ability to move toward a nuclear weapons breakout capability has been halted in return for limited sanctions relief.