Featured Commentary

RAND researchers often write commentaries for publications on a variety of topics. This page lists recent commentaries and op-eds about the Middle East. For a complete list of commentaries and op-eds by RAND staff, visit the RAND Blog.

  • Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022, photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

    'Wonder Weapons' Will Not Win Russia's War

    With its army increasingly in shambles, Russia has turned to attacking Ukraine's civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones in an effort to destroy Ukrainians' will to fight. These tactics will inflict pain on the Ukrainian population, but if history is any guide, they will not forestall a Russian defeat.

    Nov 10, 2022

  • Protesters chant at a vigil for Mahsa Amini at the entrance hall of the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, in this screengrab from a social media video released October 26, 2022, photo via Reuters

    The Iran Protests: A Crossroads in Governance?

    Iran has seen large-scale protests in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of the Iranian morality police in September. But are these protests the spark that will usher in a democratic form of governance in Iran?

    Nov 4, 2022

  • Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends a news conference in Tehran, Iran, August 29, 2022, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

    The Iran Nuclear Deal: Is the Juice Still Worth the Squeeze?

    The talks to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal have been dragging on for 18 months. But the negotiations are not about very much; the general contours of the original agreement still hold. As the clock keeps ticking, though, it gets harder to revive it. At some point, the juice won't be worth the squeeze.

    Oct 10, 2022

  • Attendees pose for a family photo during the Security and Development Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 16, 2022, photo by Balkis Press/ABACA/Reuters

    American Investment in Mideast to Stay Focused on Larger Economies Amid Ukraine War

    China is often viewed as the economic powerhouse in the Middle East, but the United States has extensive trade, investment, and financial links. U.S. economic involvement in the Middle East is likely to stay focused on larger markets in line with economic growth, without dramatic shifts in location or magnitude.

    Sep 30, 2022

  • Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in Jamkha, Afghanistan, May 1, 1998, photo by Balkis Press/ABACA/Reuters

    The Question of Succession in Al-Qaida

    Two months after the death of al Qaida leader Aymin al-Zawahiri, experts continue to debate potential contenders for his replacement while waiting for al-Qaeda to make an announcement. A dark horse contender with long ties to Osama bin Laden could upend predictions and threaten to revive one of history's most lethal terrorist groups.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Putin's Latest Threats, U.S. Policy in the Middle East, Disaster Recovery: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Russia's troop mobilization and the ongoing war in Ukraine, U.S. policy in the Middle East, building a more diverse teacher workforce, and more.

    Sep 23, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks regarding the East Jerusalem Hospital Network at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, July 15, 2022, photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

    Middle East Peace: The Biden Administration's Approach

    The primary goal of President Biden's July trip to the Middle East was clearly to reassert U.S. leadership with traditional allies in the Arab world. There are a few points worth highlighting from the Israel/Palestine portion that may be important to keep an eye on.

    Aug 31, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Our New CEO, Algorithmic Bias, Equity in the Workplace: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what RAND’s new president and CEO envisions for the future, addressing bias in health care algorithms, creating equitable change in the workplace, and more.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • People wearing face masks walk past shops amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the Old City of Tunis, Tunisia, August 3, 2021, photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

    Tunisia: Challenges and Successes in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    Tunisia's response to the COVID pandemic has been spotty, though vaccination rates have improved and mortality rates have dropped. When the political instability is factored in, Tunisia's emergence from the pandemic may not be quick.

    Jul 22, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Gun Storage, the Dangers of Replacement Theory, War in Ukraine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Americans store their guns, why "replacement theory" is a danger to us all, the war in Ukraine, and more.

    Jul 15, 2022

  • People wait to have their Iftar meals during the holy month of Ramadan in Amman, Jordan, April 9, 2022, photo by Muath Freij/Reuters

    Jordan: Challenges and Successes in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    Lockdown restrictions that may have contributed to low COVID-19 case numbers in Jordan early in the pandemic resulted in economic stresses and increased psychological distress in the general population. RAND researchers identified challenges faced by Jordanians during the crisis and the country's innovative and equitable response to mitigate them.

    Jun 20, 2022

  • A COVID-19 vaccination center in Doha, Qatar, April 27, 2021, photo by PHCC/Handout/Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

    Qatar: Challenges and Successes in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    Qatar adopted a spectrum of policies and health measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and encouraged its innovation ecosystem to play a role in fighting the pandemic. The health sector has gained experience during the pandemic that might inform response to future spikes in demand for health system resources.

    Jun 9, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Gun Policy, China and Taiwan, Russian Propaganda: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reducing America's unacceptably high rates of gun violence, what would happen if China “quarantines” Taiwan, and Russia's “firehose of falsehood.”

    May 27, 2022

  • In the area of Khaldieh towards Tripoli, the poorest city in Lebanon, Lebanese and Syrian refugee families are waiting to be received at the medical bus of the Order of Malta NGO, August 2021, photo by Didier Bizet/Hans Lucas via Reuters

    Lebanon: Challenges and Successes in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    In Lebanon, COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and daily deaths continue to decline. This is an accomplishment worthy of celebration in the midst of hyperinflation, all-time high unemployment, nadir purchasing power, and a health sector on the verge of collapse.

    May 6, 2022

  • Two women wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the Iran Mall shopping center in western Tehran, Iran, February 5, 2022, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    Iran: Challenges and Successes in COVID-19 Pandemic Response

    Iran has faced an uphill battle since the first cases of COVID-19 were found in the country. Despite limited resources, Iran has also had its share of successes and innovations in combating the virus.

    Apr 20, 2022

  • Two hands holding a heart made out of flowers in the colors of Ukraine'a flag, photo by Maryna Petrenko-Shvets/Getty Images

    Reopening Old Wounds: Two Stories, One Lesson

    The shocking events unfolding in Ukraine have reopened old wounds for two RAND researchers. Their personal stories stand as testaments that the traumas inflicted by Russia's war on Ukraine will echo for decades to come.

    Apr 16, 2022

  • Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg for nuclear talks Vienna, Austria, February 28, 2022, photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    A Renewed Nuclear Deal With Iran: Turning Back the Clock?

    Diplomats from Europe, the United States, Russia, China, and Iran are in Vienna trying to revive the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015. But even if negotiations succeed, the post-deal environment could be much more unstable than it was seven years ago.

    Mar 4, 2022

  • The Most Popular RAND Research of 2021

    As another extraordinary year draws to a close, we continue to believe that objective, nonpartisan research and analysis has a key role to play in navigating what continues to be a difficult time. Here are the 10 research projects that resonated most with rand.org readers in 2021.

    Dec 22, 2021

  • RAND Commentary Highlights of 2021

    Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.

    Dec 21, 2021

  • RAND Video Highlights of 2021

    The best RAND videos from the past year brought our research to life in new ways. From the sidewalks of Pittsburgh to preschools in the Middle East, see how people around the world are using RAND research to make their communities safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

    Dec 20, 2021

  • Afghan nationals enter Iran at the Dowqarun border crossing between Iran and Afghanistan, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran, August 29, 2021, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

    Afghan Refugees Are Being Recruited to Join an Iranian Paramilitary

    As Western policymakers consider how to deal with Afghan evacuees, including former members of the Afghan security forces, they might consider how to prevent adversaries such as Iran from recruiting Afghan refugees for dangerous and destabilizing operations. Greater attention to these risks may become increasingly important as refugee flows from Afghanistan continue.

    Nov 23, 2021

  • Jonathan Wong and Joslyn Fleming at RAND's Santa Monica headquarters in September 2021, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    A Tradition of Service: Q&A with Two Veterans

    Before they became RAND researchers, Jonathan Wong and Joslyn Fleming served as U.S. Marines. In this interview, they discuss what made them want to join the service, what led them to research, and how their military experience guides the work they do at RAND.

    Nov 7, 2021

  • Paramilitary soldiers walk past the Pakistan Parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 10, 2015, photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    Negotiating with TTP—A Different Perspective

    America's withdrawal and the Taliban's swift return to power in Afghanistan could be a primary force in shaping the trajectory of the continuing armed struggle with Pakistan's Taliban. It may be time for Islamabad to consider whether to renew efforts aimed at reaching a political settlement.

    Oct 27, 2021

  • U.S. and UK military leaders tour Main Operating Base Price, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 7, 2013, photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/U.S. Marine Corps

    Reconsidering U.S. Decisionmaking Within NATO After the Fall of Kabul

    With NATO, the United States often tries to have it all: U.S. leadership of the alliance and increased allied burden-sharing. But the recent experience in Afghanistan shows how the form U.S. leadership takes can frustrate allies. Prioritizing allied preferences would help to preserve alliance unity and maybe even strengthen burden-sharing.

    Oct 25, 2021