West Asia

  • Smoke rises during clashes between Kurdish peshmerga troops and militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL, on the outskirts of Sinjar, August 5, 2014

    Blog

    Disrupting Terrorist Safe Havens

    Disrupting the terrorist safe havens in Syria and Iraq would require a balanced approach that makes the business of terrorist planning and training difficult without entangling U.S. forces in new conflicts and angering the very populations the United States seeks to assist.

    Aug 18, 2014

  • Syrian refugees walk amid damage and the remains of tents that were burnt in the fighting between Lebanese army soldiers and Islamist militants in the Sunni Muslim border town of Arsal, August 9, 2014

    Blog

    To Fight ISIS, Make Peace with Syria's Assad

    To disrupt al-Baghdadi's advance, the United States and its allies should start by addressing the source of the problem — the conflict in Syria. They can begin by negotiating a truce with President Bashar Assad to stop the fighting in Syria.

    Aug 14, 2014

  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from the Islamic State, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, August 11, 2014

    Blog

    What's Going on in Iraq?

    While the United States could embark on a much wider war in Iraq, there's little reason to think it will rush to do so or that using airpower to help defend the Kurds will make such an escalation inevitable.

    Aug 14, 2014

  • A man purported to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State, allegedly in what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq

    Blog

    Hitting ISIS Where It Hurts: Disrupt Its Cash Flow in Iraq

    President Obama's decision last week to conduct airstrikes against ISIS and send humanitarian aid will help buy time for both Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regroup. But Baghdad needs a strategy that aligns the political and economic interests of all Iraqis to hit ISIS where it hurts: its war chest.

    Aug 13, 2014

  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands before the opening ceremony of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit in Shanghai May 21, 2014

    Report

    China's Strategy Toward South and Central Asia

    China's response to the complex challenges on its western borders during the past two decades has been to adopt an "Empty Fortress" strategy, whereby China boldly projects an image of considerable strength in Central and South Asia to mask serious frailty. China is not a major threat to U.S. interests there and is unlikely to pose one in the near future.

    Aug 11, 2014

  • U.S. soldiers on patrol in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, April 24, 2012

    Blog

    Iraq's Lessons for Afghanistan

    The successes of ISIS and other Sunni groups have raised important questions about the wisdom of America's decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Iraq in 2011. They raise equally significant questions about the U.S. decision to exit Afghanistan in the future.

    Aug 4, 2014

  • U.S. Capitol building with summer flowers

    Blog

    Summer Reading for Congress

    No matter how policymakers spend their break—meeting with home-state constituents, traveling abroad with congressional delegations, or spending time with family—this summer reading list contains policy ideas that can help them hit the ground running when they return.

    Jul 31, 2014

  • A militant Islamist fighter films his fellow fighters in a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014

    Blog

    An Evil Wind

    The threat of global terrorist enterprises has been enhanced by Western fighters joining al Qaeda offshoots like the Islamic State. With the terrorist threat evolving, the United States has little choice but to evolve with it.

    Jul 31, 2014

  • A demonstrator, her face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, outside the Israeli Embassy in London, July 26, 2014

    Blog

    Gaza and the Nuclear Negotiations

    Whether a deal materializes that meets Iranian demands for a civilian nuclear program, but is limited enough to satisfy the U.S. and its partners remains to be seen. But the longer the Gaza conflict continues, the harder it'll be to insulate the negotiations from broader regional trends.

    Jul 28, 2014

  • Soldiers entering building

    Testimony

    Jihadist Sanctuaries in Syria and Iraq

    The large number of Western violent extremists in sanctuaries like Syria and Iraq requires the adoption of policies and practices in the U.S. homeland and overseas to ensure that these extremists are detected if they return to the West and, more broadly, to reduce the flow of foreign fighters from the West.

    Jul 24, 2014

  • Palestinians mourn their relatives, whom medics say were killed by Israeli shelling, at a hospital morgue in the southern Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014

    Blog

    With the Death Toll Rising in Gaza, Is There Any Hope for Peace?

    Casualties are rising in the conflict between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Are there any realistic expectations for peace in the region? Who could broker a settlement between Hamas and Israel?

    Jul 22, 2014

  • Shi'ite volunteers, who've joined the Iraqi army against militants from the radical Islamic State, take part in weapons training, July 18, 2014

    Blog

    Defeating the Islamic State: Crafting a Regional Approach

    While ISIL may achieve temporary tactical gains from declaring the caliphate, it made the strategic error of declaring all other Sunni political actors illegitimate. This may provide an opening to build a coalition that can create and implement a regional strategy to attack ISIL.

    Jul 22, 2014

  • Followers of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who fought U.S. troops under the banner of the Mehdi Army during the 2003-11 occupation, have returned as Sadr's new "Peace Brigades"

    Blog

    Iraq Makes Strange Bedfellows

    In seeking to quell the unrest in Iraq, the United States must balance its own interests with those of a diverse cast of players that includes Iraq, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, an unpredictable and violent jihadist front and others.

    Jul 15, 2014

  • Members of Shi'ite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq carry coffins of fighters killed in clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), July 7, 2014

    Blog

    The United States Must Remain Cautious About Intervening in Iraq

    It is difficult to see how the United States can favorably affect the situation in Iraq without making a costly and risky investment. But that does not mean doing nothing. An immediate objective is to contain the conflict.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Iran's Nuclear Program — U.S. Policy Choices and the Challenges Ahead

    RAND international security experts Lynn E. Davis and Alireza Nader hosted a media conference call on Monday, July 14, 2014 to discuss the July 20 deadline for the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany) to reach a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, and the policy choices confronting the United States should an agreement be reached. Media relations manager Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter throws a Molotov cocktail in West Aleppo December 2013

    Report

    Getting to Negotiations in Syria

    It appears that there is almost no prospect for a negotiated solution to the civil war in Syria in the near term. This is because the Syrian factions believe — perhaps rightly — that they have more to gain by carrying on the fight than by negotiating toward peace.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama announcing an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, November 23, 2013

    Blog

    How the United States Can Use Its Non-Military Power

    Because the United States has relied so heavily on force, we tend to equate it with power. Some results can only be achieved through force, but coercion can be an effective substitute. A superpower, by definition, has many options to have its way without always needing to send troops into battle—a smart superpower will use those options.

    Jul 10, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009

    Blog

    Can U.S. and Iran Work Together in Iraq?

    The presence of Iranian and American troops in Iraq may necessitate clear and direct communications between the two sides, at least to prevent misunderstanding and greater chaos. But Washington should tread carefully and focus on nuclear negotiations for now.

    Jul 3, 2014

  • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to a Shi'ite cleric march during a military-style training in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    Blog

    A Long-Term Strategy for a Democratic Iraq

    Unfortunately, no strategic option for a unified, democratic Iraq has a good chance of success. But any well-considered option that doesn't involve ineffective killing or risking U.S. lives is preferable to simply allowing Iraq to disintegrate and feed broader regional instability.

    Jun 30, 2014

  • Jordanian youth use laptop computers

    Report

    Youth in Jordan: Transitions from Education to Employment

    Despite Jordan's strong economic growth during the last decade, youth unemployment remains high, as graduates don't possess the skills necessary for their desired professions. Numerous policy reforms could turn the tide.

    Jun 30, 2014