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A nonpartisan resource for information and analysis

Published: Mon, 24 Oct 2016 23:25:36 -0400

Last Build Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2016 23:25:36 -0400

Copyright: Copyright 2016 by the Council on Foreign Relations. All Rights Reserved.

Must Reads of the Week: Saudi Royalty, Dwelling on Brexit, and More

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:46:12 -0400

What Editors are reading the week of October 17–21, 2016.


U.S. Navy Operations in a Maritime Chokepoint

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:05:32 -0400

A missile attack on a U.S. warship in the Bab al-Mandeb strait, off the coast of Yemen, illustrates how the U.S. Navy responds to an array of threats while patrolling the world’s waterways, says CFR visiting fellow Captain Clint Carroll.


The Crisis in U.S.-Israeli Relations

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:12:31 -0400

In a review essay in Foreign Affairs, Philip Gordon asks whether the United States and Israel are drifting apart and assesses proposals to keep them together.


The Perplexing Problems of Solving Syria

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:00:39 -0400

The assumptions held by those advocating military action in Syria are weak, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Military punitive measures are not likely to make Russia, Iran, the Syrian regime, or militant forces back down from their current stances, either on the battlefield or in negotiations.


There’s a Way Obama’s White House Can Save Syrian Lives, There’s Just No Will

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 14:26:28 -0400

While increased U.S. military action in Syria may be favored by numerous policymakers, the Obama administration remains unwilling to sanction further intervention. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that “The Obama White House has long argued that it was elected to end wars in the Middle East, not to escalate them…” but meanwhile, Aleppo remains “full of carnage and bunker-busting munitions with rockets falling on children and no hope of escape for anyone.”


Southeast Asia—The Islamic State's New Front?

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:46:07 -0400

Joshua Kurlantzick discusses the threat to South and Southeast Asia posed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.


Aleppo: Where Children Die, but the World Does Nothing

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:14:12 -0400

Many experts and policymakers had predicted the humanitarian catastrophe that is underway in Aleppo, but no one is willing to intervene. “There is nothing either timely or decisive about the world’s approach to Syria, which has become the theater in which global and regional actors pursue their own goals,” writes Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.  


Human Soldiers Will Always Cause Human Tragedies

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:56:58 -0400

Tragedies keep occurring in war, despite the best intentions of U.S. troops. Micah Zenko provides recommendations to reduce the inevitable human errors in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq that have led to avoidable civilian casualties.


What the 9/11 Lawsuits Bill Will Do

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:37:47 -0400

Congress overrode a presidential veto to enable the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts. But the law will be a thorn in U.S. foreign relations, and plaintiffs will not likely get justice, says expert Stephen I. Vladeck. 


Putin Is Making a Mistake in Syria—and Russia Will Pay the Price

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:09:11 -0400

Writing in the Washington Post, Philip Gordon warns that Russia will pay a price for its unconditional support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria.


'Historic' in the Worst Way

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:46:06 -0400

President Obama and his defenders are trumpeting the new aid agreement with Israel as proof that he is the best friend Israel ever had in the White House. In fact, it’s a bad deal and should be treated the same way Obama treated prior agreements he didn't like: It should be forgotten by the next president.


Iran’s Likely Next Supreme Leader Is No Friend of the West

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 09:55:02 -0400

The man most likely to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Iran's supreme leader, Ibrahim Raisi, is neither pragmatic nor friendly to the West, writes CFR's Ray Takeyh. Raisi, who heads one of the Islamic Republic's largest charitable foundations, embodies the repressive and revolutionary values of the regime and would continue Iran's transformation into a police state.


Why Trump Is the Islamic State’s Dream Candidate

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:08:06 -0400

Trump’s reaction to terrorism — his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his misunderstanding of Middle Eastern politics — is exactly what extremists want in a U.S. president.


A Conversation With Javad Zarif

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:01:33 -0400

Javad Zarif discusses regional politics, nuclear security, and U.S.-Iran relations.


Beware Investing Too Much Hope in the Syrian Ceasefire

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:14:11 -0400

Even if Assad is prepared to abide by the truce, rebel groups may not be, writes CFR president Richard N. Haass


A No-Fly-Zone Doesn’t Mean a No-War-Zone

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 15:42:44 -0400

And the politicians and pundits calling for one in Syria ought to remember how toothless and ineffective the U.S. air patrols were -- for 12 long years -- in Iraq.


Must Reads of the Week: Syria's Kurds, Remote-Controlled Guns, and More

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 11:16:40 -0400

What Editors are reading the week of August 29–September 2, 2016.


Why Peace Is Not at Hand

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 16:43:19 -0400

New polls of Israelis and Palestinians prove that peace is not at hand, and views on a peace deal are very far apart. But they also contain some interesting data, as Elliott Abrams explains in National Review.



Fighting the Financing of Terrorism: A Conversation With Bob Casey

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:24:42 -0400

Senator Bob Casey discusses ways to counter terrorist financing and facilitation networks as well as his views on authorities the U.S. president should hold to penalize countries that enable terrorist financing.


Media Files:

Fighting the Financing of Terrorism: A Conversation With Bob Casey

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:24:42 -0400

Senator Bob Casey discusses ways to counter terrorist financing and facilitation networks as well as his views on authorities the U.S. president should hold to penalize countries that enable terrorist financing.


Media Files:

The Problem With Vows to 'Defeat' the Islamic State

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 15:21:05 -0400

In recent weeks, ISIS has suffered territorial losses on multiple fronts, including in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The organization may look nearer to defeat than at any time in the past two years, but there is still a great deal of fighting to be done before the group is destroyed, or more likely beaten back to an underground terrorist organization as it was in 2009.


Understanding the Battle for Aleppo

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 17:13:47 -0400

The battle for Aleppo has taken a staggering civilian toll and it is likely to escalate because both regime and opposition forces see the city as crucial to a political endgame, says expert Lina Khatib. 


Checking the Math on the Pentagon’s ISIS Body Counts

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 14:03:33 -0400

The Obama administration steadily updates the tally of dead combatants in its latest war — but can the numbers be trusted?


The Islamic State’s Bloody Summer

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 14:50:32 -0400

Despite facing territorial losses, the Islamic State shows no sign of relenting in its campaign to spread terror beyond Iraq and Syria, says journalist Rukmini Callimachi.


Where the Turkish Military Fails, Egypt's Succeeds

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:53:36 -0400

While Egypt’s military leaders demonstrated unity of purpose when they overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, the officers involved in the recent coup attempt in Turkey were proven weak and divided, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Key differences in the political role and public support of the Egyptian and Turkish militaries explain why one successfully overthrow an elected government and the other failed to.


Can't Have It Both Ways in Iran

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:28:23 -0400

As the U.S. campaign season wears on, both Republicans and Democrats are pledging to stay tough on Iran. Such promises aren’t new. Last summer, as the Barack Obama administration unveiled its nuclear agreement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry assured skeptics that the United States would sustain essential sanctions that punish Tehran for its aid to terrorists, regional aggression, and human rights abuses.


The Disappearance of the Two-State Solution

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 16:30:23 -0400

The 2016 Republican Party platform contains no references to the two-state solution. Is this a crisis? Elliott Abrams writes in National Review that, after years of failed attempts to broker a peace agreement, the United States should seek to promote the goal of peace without dictating one sole path forward.



Does Iraq Have a Plan for After the Islamic State?

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 14:46:03 -0400

Even as Iraqi special forces and Shia militias roll back the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Baghdad has done little to address the underlying causes of Sunni militancy, says journalist Ned Parker. 


Revisiting the Iraq War

Fri, 08 Jul 2016 11:26:30 -0400

The UK's Report of the Iraq Inquiry contains valuable lessons about how flawed assumptions can lead to dangerously flawed policies, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.


The Iran Deal a Year After: There Are No Benefits

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 16:34:27 -0400

On the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s one year anniversary, it is even clearer that there are no benefits to the so-called “Iran nuclear deal,” as Elliott Abrams explains in the Jerusalem Post.


Media Call: The Struggle for Israel

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 16:48:14 -0400

Contributors to Foreign Affairs' July/August issue discuss the profound changes Israel is undergoing, and what they mean for its politics, society, and relationships with the United States and other Middle Eastern countries.