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.

  • COVID-19 and the Economy, America's Blood Supply, 10 Years of the ACA: RAND Weekly Recap

    Mar 27, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on COVID-19 and the economy, strengthening the U.S. blood supply, 10 years of the Affordable Care Act, and more.

  • A man walks near the Shalamcha Border Crossing, after Iraq shut borders to travelers moving between Iraq and Iran, March 8, 2020, photo by Essam Al Sudani/Reuters

    COVID-19 Effects on Strategic Dynamics in the Middle East

    Mar 26, 2020

    The pandemic is sure to have transformational effects everywhere, and the Middle East is no exception. But it's unlikely that the crisis will lead to new regional strategic dynamics. Rather, it's more likely to reinforce existing and largely negative trend lines.

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibrahem Alomari/Reuters

    Peace Hasn't Broken Out in Afghanistan

    Mar 16, 2020

    The United States and the Taliban signed a preliminary peace deal in February, aimed at ending nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan and calling for the United States to gradually withdraw its troops. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government called for in the agreement and scheduled to begin on March 10 did not happen. What happens now?

  • Russian Subversion, Truth Decay, Supervised Drug Consumption Sites: RAND Weekly Recap

    Feb 28, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on responding to Russian subversion, how the media can help fight Truth Decay, the first supervised drug consumption site in the United States, artificial intelligence, and more.

  • U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army base in Logar province, Afghanistan, August 7, 2018, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    The First Step on a Long Path to Peace in Afghanistan

    Feb 27, 2020

    It has taken 10 years to reach the brink of a first substantial step in toward peace in Afghanistan, and much could still go wrong. Can the Taliban and the Afghan government come together to jointly govern the country?

  • New START, Trump's Middle East Peace Plan, New Tobacco Products: RAND Weekly Recap

    Feb 21, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on why the United States should extend the New START agreement, the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, new tobacco products, and more.

  • Infectious Diseases, Zimbabwe, Students with Disabilities: RAND Weekly Recap

    Feb 14, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on the U.S. response to infectious diseases, Zimbabwe after Mugabe, the support for students with disabilities, and more.

  • President Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu hold a joint news conference to discuss the Peace to Prosperity proposal in Washington, January 28, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Peace with the Region Is Not a Peace Plan

    Feb 13, 2020

    Acceptance of Israel from the broader Arab world will not resolve the dilemma of how the Israelis and the Palestinians can agree to live on the same land together. A viable plan for the future, one that is about real peace and not a one-sided political gambit, must recognize these realities.

  • Community Schools, Brexit, Coronavirus: RAND Weekly Recap

    Jan 31, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on the promise of community schools, the costs of uncertainty after Brexit, the coronavirus, and more.

  • Australia's Fires, Artificial Intelligence, Fentanyl: RAND Weekly Recap

    Jan 24, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on Australia's devastating fires, how artificial intelligence could manipulate the masses, the fentanyl crisis, and more.

  • People in New York City react after hearing of the death of Osama bin Laden, photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton/U.S. Marine Corps Photo

    The Politics of Man-Hunting and the Illusion of Victory

    Jan 22, 2020

    Captures and strikes are important accomplishments and the countless nameless professionals who carry them out deserve the credit for executing them. But leaders are charged with something larger and should be judged by a higher standard: namely, seeing beyond the illusion and producing actual strategic victories.

  • U.S.-Turkish Relations, Airports, Opioids: RAND Weekly Recap

    Jan 17, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on the future of the U.S.-Turkish partnership, helping America's commercial airports meet rising demand, the opioid crisis, and more.

  • A demonstrator holds a picture of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a protest in Tehran, Iran, January 3, 2020, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency/Reuters

    Iran Claws Back Its Regional Influence

    Jan 17, 2020

    Last year, Iran faced protests at home as well as in Iraq and Lebanon, where thousands rallied against Tehran's regional hegemony. But with its recent machinations and the fallout over the killing of Soleimani, Iran has succeeded in changing the regional conversation.

  • Iran, Mental Health and Jail, Russia: RAND Weekly Recap

    Jan 10, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on Iran and Iraq following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, supporting those experiencing mental illness in jails, Russia's hostile measures, and more.

  • An Iranian mourner holds a picture of late General Qassem Soleimani as people gather to mourn him in Tehran, Iran, January 4, 2020, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    How Will Iran Respond to Soleimani's Killing—and Where Will the Escalation End?

    Jan 7, 2020

    Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani's death will reverberate in the Middle East region for a long time. The United States must know its end game and be able to respond to this changing landscape of its own making, without stumbling into another full-fledged conflict that the Trump administration itself, Congress, and the American people have said they do not want.

  • Members of Iraqi security forces in front of U.S. Embassy during a protest, in Baghdad, Iraq, January 1, 2020, photo by Khalid Al Mousily/Reuters

    Baghdad Siege Wasn't Benghazi, and Never Will Be

    Jan 6, 2020

    Given the heightened tension between the United States and Iran and the ongoing instability in Iraq, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad may very well be attacked again. If such an attack were to be successful, it would be more akin to the fall of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon than the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

  • Following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, members of Iraq's parliament voted to expel American soldiers from Iraq, January 5, 2020, photo by Iraqi Parliament Media Office/Handout via Reuters

    Iraq's Vote to Expel U.S. Troops Is Iran's True Victory

    Jan 6, 2020

    If American soldiers are ejected from Iraq, the consequences may be far-reaching and damaging to U.S. strategic interests. What options remain to reset the relationship between Washington and Baghdad?

  • Hezbollah supporters attend a funeral ceremony rally to mourn Iran's Qassem Soleimani, in the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, January 5, 2020, photo by Aziz Taher/Reuters

    All-Out U.S.-Iran War Is Unlikely. But Low-Level War Expected to Continue

    Jan 6, 2020

    Iranian retaliation for Soleimani's killing and counter-retaliation by the United States seem likely. But Tehran and Washington have good reasons to inflict limited pain without engaging in a full-scale war.

  • U.S. Army soldiers man a defensive position at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2019, photo by Maj. Charlie Dietz/Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs Handout via Reuters

    Can Iraq Evict U.S. Forces?

    Jan 6, 2020

    The Iraqi parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from Iraq. This vote was nonbinding, and the Iraqi caretaker government cannot pass laws, but it does indicate that a majority in parliament wants U.S. forces to leave.

  • Militia members hold a portrait of Iranian Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani during a protest of an air campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition, Baghdad, March 31, 2015, photo by Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

    Iranian Commander Soleimani Killed: RAND Experts React

    Jan 3, 2020

    The White House has confirmed that a U.S. airstrike authorized by President Trump killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani just outside the Baghdad airport in Iraq. We've rounded up how RAND researchers reacted to the news.

  • Image by Alyson Youngblood/RAND Corporation

    Most Popular RAND Blog Commentary of 2019

    Dec 23, 2019

    Terrorism. The humanitarian crisis at the border. How to engage friends and foes on the world stage. Here are the top 10 commentaries that readers engaged with most on The RAND Blog in 2019.

  • U.S. President Jimmy Carter shakes hands with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty on the grounds of the White House, Washington, D.C., March 26, 1979, photo by Warren K. Leffler/Reuters

    Carter's Compromise: Cowardice or Calculation?

    Dec 20, 2019

    Jørgen Jensehaugen's Arab-Israeli Diplomacy Under Carter is a valuable addition to the literature on American peacemaking efforts that deepens our understanding of the difficult choices future administrations will confront in their effort to defuse the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • Iraqi demonstrators carry pictures of people who were killed during ongoing anti-government protests in Nassiriya, Iraq, December 4, 2019, photo  by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    Iraq at the Crossroads

    Dec 18, 2019

    The protests gripping Iraq pose an extraordinary challenge to Baghdad's political leadership, which must move the country ahead or step aside. Unless it finds the will to compromise for the common good, the governing class could risk thrusting the country into civil war.

  • U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division secure an area during Operation Mountain Sweep near Narizah, southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 22, 2002, photo by Scott Schonauer/Stars & Stripes/Reuters

    The Post's Afghanistan Series

    Dec 17, 2019

    The Washington Post series “The Afghanistan Papers” charges that “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign.” As someone who was both an occasional participant in and frequent critic of the Bush and Obama administrations' Afghan policy deliberations, James Dobbins finds this charge considerably exaggerated.

  • A fighter loyal to Libya's U.N.-backed government looks at a room burned during clashes with troops loyal to Khalifa Haftar in Tripoli, Libya, May 28, 2019, photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    Can Anything Stop the Flow of Advanced Weapons into Libya?

    Dec 13, 2019

    Weapons proliferation has been a security concern for Libya and its neighbors since the revolution of 2011. If foreign arms transfers into Libya aren't reduced, the country's security situation will continue to deteriorate, giving militant groups a chance to increase their lethality and further destabilize the region.