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June 2018

Center for Middle East Public Policy

Featured Commentary

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a long and medium-range ballistic rocket launch drill in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on August 30, 2017, photo by KCNA/via Reuters

Photo by KCNA/via Reuters

North Korea Is Not Like Libya

Statements by U.S. leaders in the weeks preceding the recent summit between North Korea led to a flurry of analogies between the present case and that of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya. In reality, the two situations have little in common, and looking to Libya as a precedent for either denuclearization or regime change in North Korea has the potential to lead to confusion and disappointment.

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Modern Political Warfare

Chess board made out of a world map

Actions taken now by the United States, the Iraqi government, and private parties could determine the war-torn country's future. The message the Sunnis receive in these next six months will determine whether Iraq is on the path to stability.

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Europe's Great Challenge: Integrating Syrian Refugees

Syrian-born mayor of the local Andravida-Kyllini municipality Nampil-iosif Morant meets Syrian refugees near the town of Myrsini southwest of Athens, Greece, August 13, 2016, photo by Michele Kambas/Reuters

Since March 2011, close to 1 million Syrian refugees have requested asylum in European countries, with Germany being the primary destination. Social and economic policies to deal with the refugee crisis will require collaborative planning, monitoring, and assessment efforts to be successful.

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Five Thoughts on Jerusalem, Gaza, and What's in Between

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018, photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Last month, as Israel celebrated the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem just 50 miles from Gaza dozens of people were killed and more than 2,000 injured in protests in the Gaza Strip.

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Defeating the ISIS Nostalgia Narrative

Destroyed buildings during sunset at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria, October 6, 2017, photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

It is crucial that the United States and its coalition partners take into consideration and preempt the ISIS nostalgia narratives that may seek to define the group's legacy and prepare a foundation for its resurgence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The legacy ISIS should be remembered for is one of misery and despair.

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Iran Deal Commentary

The U.S. Is Out of the Iran Deal. What Now?

James Dobbins

The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

Dalia Dassa Kaye

Regime Appears Fragile as Iranians Turn Much of Their Ire Inward

Richard Charles Baffa and Nathan Vest

Researcher Spotlight

Q&A with Ben Connable

Ben Connable

Ben Connable is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a retired Marine Corps intelligence and Middle East Foreign Area officer. He focuses on irregular warfare issues and intelligence methodology, and also works on European regional, Middle East regional, and other warfighting issues in support of U.S. Department of Defense sponsors.

1. In what specific areas does your research focus?

I work on Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and intra-regional dynamics. In addition to my RAND work on Iraq, I remain engaged with the international community of Iraq experts. I travel frequently to Jordan.

2. What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m examining how changing alignments in the Middle East are likely to affect U.S. strategic options in the near future. What impact has the Arab Spring had on allegiances and basing rights? What is the likelihood that an intra-regional conflict with Iran could draw in the U.S. military?

3. Why is this work so important?

There is explicit Middle East fatigue in the U.S. national security community, and therefore a reluctance to stay engaged or consider the necessary long-term thinking needed to stabilize the region. I see our research as a way to answer critical questions that are being overlooked in the boom-bust cycle of interest we seem to have in the Middle East. I also think it is incumbent upon Middle East researchers to help sustain focus on the region.

4. What have you discovered so far?

My work on Iraq, Jordan, and Syria suggests that we have to do a much better job of articulating our regional interests and long-term objectives. Walking away carries perhaps as steep a cost—or perhaps a steeper cost—than staying engaged.

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RAND Arabic Language Website

Young entrepreneurs work on their laptops at the Amman-based Oasis 500, photo by Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

RAND's Arabic-language website provides an overview of recent and past RAND work in the Middle East, as well as other research that is relevant to the region. Find Arabic reports on health, education, political transitions, and more.

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The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy brings together analytic excellence and regional expertise from across the RAND Corporation to address the most critical political, social, and economic challenges facing the Middle East today. Our goal is to inform policy in ways that help improve the security and well-being of people living in the region.

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