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.

  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    Jul 2, 2020

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

  • Russian military jets at Khmeimim Air Base in Syria, June 18, 2016, photo by Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry via Reuters

    Russia Is Eyeing the Mediterranean. The U.S. and NATO Must Be Prepared

    Jun 30, 2020

    As part of its great power exertions Russia seeks more access and freedom of movement in the Mediterranean region, and is bolstering its military footprint to achieve this objective. To address this rising challenge the United States and NATO could develop a more robust southern strategy with a reinforced air and naval presence, respectively.

  • Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two move in a tactical formation during a training evolution to locate, identify, render safe and dispose of an IED, July 12, 2010

    Competition in Iraq

    Jun 5, 2020

    Tensions between the United States and Iran reached a boiling point in January 2020 when Iranian-backed forces attacked American military and diplomatic facilities on Iraqi soil, and the U.S. retaliated. Policymakers and experts again asked: Why are we in Iraq? What would happen if we left, and why would it matter?

  • Smoke rises during a fight between members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces and Eastern forces, in southern Tripoli, Libya June 22, 2019, photo by Yosri Aljamal/Reuters

    Is the Conflict in Libya a Preview of the Future of Warfare?

    Jun 2, 2020

    The Libyan conflict, now entering its ninth year, could well be a testing ground for how wars will be fought in the future. External nation-states have long interfered in other countries' civil wars, so what is new, exactly, about what is happening in Libya?

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, May 17, 2018, p

    Russia's Challenge and Syria's Chance

    May 20, 2020

    With much of Syria lying in ruins, Russia can back a revived United Nations–led peacemaking process, or see the West rebuff its appeals for large-scale aid. If Russia chooses wisely, the West, wealthy Gulf countries, and China could help. If Moscow procrastinates, the West may withhold assistance and continue cooperation with regional partners.

  • Women work on a production line at a mobile phone factory in Assuit, Egypt, September 30, 2018, photo by Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

    Economic Recovery in Egypt Should Include Women

    May 11, 2020

    Despite tremendous strides in educational attainment, women's engagement in the labor force in Egypt remains limited. Will Egypt's post-pandemic recovery further exacerbate structural barriers and inequities? Or could the current economic crisis be an opportunity to develop new opportunities to employ women and foster conditions for a more inclusive and diversified labor force?

  • A Proposed COVID-19 Cure, Economic Decline, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    May 1, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on the unintended consequences of a proposed COVID-19 treatment, another wave of economic destruction, North Korea after Kim Jong Un, and more.

  • Trucks wait to cross the Afghanistan-Iran border in Zaranj, Afghanistan, May 10, 2011, photo by Sgt. Mallory VanderSchans/U.S. Marine Corps

    Does the U.S. Deal with the Taliban Present Opportunities for Iran in Afghanistan?

    Apr 6, 2020

    Iran is watching closely as the United States and the Taliban negotiate an end to America's operations in Afghanistan. If the expected withdrawal of significant U.S. forces destabilizes Afghanistan, how much will Tehran assert its influence over its neighbor to the east?

  • COVID-19's Effects on Mental Health, Food Access, and Education: RAND Weekly Recap

    Apr 3, 2020

    This weekly recap focuses on COVID-19 and mental health, food security challenges during the pandemic, supporting children while schools are closed, and more.

  • An empty market after a curfew was imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, March 18, 2020

    Prof Considers Economic Consequences of COVID-19 in the Middle East, Implications for U.S. National Security

    Apr 1, 2020

    The global COVID-19 pandemic will have a dramatic impact on economies across the globe, but the Middle East may be particularly affected given the simultaneous fall in oil prices, writes Prof. Howard Shatz. The economic consequences of this pandemic are also likely to affect U.S. interests in the region.

  • 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.