An Interview with Dr. Asher Susser
By: Matt Gordner
Egypt’s failure to broker an effective reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah makes it a strong probability that the January elections will be considered illegitimate by the Palestinian people – that is, if they happen at all. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) recently declared that the elections will be postponed pending more suitable national conditions. This, of course, renders the possibility of a virtual three state arrangement a viable reality for Israelis and Palestinians in the near future.
For a number of reasons, the speeches delivered this summer by Obama, Netanyahu, and Fayyad promised to bear fruit. Instead, they withered on the vine.
Engagement has been the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s policy in the Middle East. In its broadest sense, it represents a new willingness to listen and cooperate, and take other countries into account when forming our foreign policy. This engagement is meant to convince our adversaries through diplomacy that there is an alternative path available to them in terms of their relationship with Washington if they change certain behaviors that are of critical concern to the United States. President Obama articulated that our relationships abroad will be “based on mutual respect and mutual interests.” It is the second part that I will concentrate on tonight.
By: Michael Sharnoff
On July 21, United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow went to Qatar to discuss methods of advancing U.S.-Qatar cooperation. In the past decade, the tiny, oil-rich Gulf Arab state of Qatar has emerged as a valuable United States ally for three reasons: it possesses the third biggest natural gas reserve in the world (after Russia and Iran); it quarters the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East; and it has served as a force for Middle East stability, mediating between warring factions in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Sudan.
However, while Qatar has demonstrated its value as a U.S. ally, it has also undermined Washington by supporting Iran and its allies. In addition, Qatar controls the Al Jazeera satellite television network that often vilifies the U.S. The curious dichotomy of Qatar raises questions about its long-term potential as a friend of the U.S.
The following is an article I wrote for the American Foreign Policy
Council. It was originally published by The American Spectator.
When President Obama delivers his long-awaited speech in Egypt on Thursday, he will be fulfilling his inaugural pledge to "seek a new way forward" with the Muslim world. But finding areas of mutual interest may prove far more difficult than the president imagines. That is because, in recent years, the Middle East has seen the crystallization of regional politics around two distinct ideologies. Call it the new bipolarity.
Qatar’s renewed quest for a stronger regional role began to take shape in 2006 during the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah. The war served to highlight the differences between the moderate and radical camps led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and Iran and Syria respectively. Following the crisis, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim made camp with the moderates and even called on Lebanon to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. This move, needless to say, did not sit well with Iran and Syria.
Reviewed Book: Barry Rubin, The Truth About Syria (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 304 pp. $14.95.
Forty years ago, in assessing the foreign policy direction of the regime of Hafiz al-Asad in Damascus, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concluded that “[t]he question in regard to Syria’s future… is not whether it will be moderate or radical, but what will be the kind and intensity of its radicalism.” Four decades later, the new U.S. administration finds itself struggling with the same question as it works to craft a new policy toward Syria.
Several myths lie at the core of the arguments in favor of resuming the Syrian-Israeli peace process. The first is that the two parties were close to completing a peace deal in 2000, but diplomacy faltered over final borders—and that it would be relatively simple to solve this territorial dispute. The second is that the return of the Golan Heights is a priority for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is not only capable of making peace with Israel, but could deliver the warm relations that Jerusalem seeks in return. Lastly, there is the myth that if the West sufficiently sweetened a Syrian-Israeli peace deal, Damascus could undergo a strategic shift and even reorient itself toward the West.
The following is an article I wrote for the American Foreign Policy Council. It was originally published here at the Washington Times.
The Obama administration appears to have set its sights on Syria as part of its efforts to turn over a new leaf on Middle East policy. Recent days have seen a spate of diplomatic overtures by Washington to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.
These initiatives have ranged from an administration authorization of spare parts for Syrian aircraft to the very public visit to Damascus of Sen. John Kerry, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Few places can stir such deep emotions as the New Jersey-sized state of Israel. Whether or not one has visited the Jewish homeland, all have strong opinions on how it should behave. For many in the West, Israel is a country that exists in either dreams or nightmares so the state is either above rapprochement or is evil.
Many Jews come from abroad to visit the land they read about in the Torah; the city of Jerusalem to which they face in prayer; where for centuries the Passover meal concludes with the phrase, “Next year in Jerusalem.” They stay in fancy West Jerusalem hotels, tour the Old City, kiss the Wailing Wall, and walk through Mea Sharim and marvel at the near replica of a nineteenth century Polish shtetl recreated in a Jerusalem suburb. They return home with hundreds of pictures testifying to their visits, secure that Israel and the Jewish people are thriving and need think no further.