There is no dearth of conflicts in West Asia. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has defied resolution for seven decades. The fight against the Islamic State and its offshoots in Iraq and Syria has drawn in the U.S., Russia, Iran and Turkey, while the civil war in Yemen has heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. U.S.
Yemen’s divided Huthi movement is sending mixed signals to the US. After President Trump vetoed Congress’ bipartisan resolution to end Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen, Mohammed Abdelsalam, the spokesman and top negotiator of the Huthi movement, stated that this proves the Americans were also “behind the [Saudi] decision to go to war” in 2015. “Surely we are interested in having a good relationship with the United States.
Libya seems to be sinking into civil war again: forces under the control of the Cyrenaica strongman General Khalifa Haftar have launched a military strike on Tripoli. The capital is held at the moment by militias supporting the Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj with UN backing.
The April 9 general elections in Israel are among the most contested, uncertain, and possibly crucial in the country’s republican history. Israel’s society is increasingly polarized, and political tensions are also on the rise: the left-right dichotomy has grown beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and now touches upon a series of questions regarding the fundamental values and institutions of the state.
There are just over 6.3 million Israeli voters on the electoral roll for the 21st Knesset elections. Of these, some 950,000 (15%) are Arab citizens. A recent public opinion poll among Israeli Arab voters, conducted three weeks before Election Day by the German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, found that in the upcoming elections, voter turnout among Arab citizens is expected to reach a low of 51%.
The early elections for the 21st Knesset were supposed to be a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu. This, at least, was the purpose of the Prime Minister himself – along with winning a large personal consensus and a solid political majority recreating a more disciplined right-wing coalition under a stronger Likud, and catching the momentum of the positive mood among the Israelis on security and economic policy.
Over the last few years, the myth of a Russian “return” to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has captured increasing attention from policy-makers all over the area and beyond, as well as the academic community. This widespread narrative originated, in particular, in the Syrian crisis and the Russian military intervention in the country. After a prolonged period of disengagement from the MENA region, the Syrian crisis provided the Kremlin with a front door to return to a region that has always been of geostrategic relevance to its foreign projection.
When Turkey decided to join the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq in July 2015, Ankara’s real target were not IS militants, but the Syrian Kurdish forces. Turkey aimed at avoiding the establishment of Kurdish self-ruled areas in northern Syria, close to its southern border. After almost four years, this remains its main objective in Syria.
Five years of Islamic State (IS) rule across Iraq and Syria have wrecked the shared border between the two countries and created a fragile security situation in the area commonly known as “Syraq”.
This month last year, the Kuwaiti government hosted a ‘Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq’. It was attended by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, along with dozens of foreign ministers and large numbers of other government and business representatives. The timing was perfect for Iraq. The country had recently announced the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) and was enjoying an unprecedented level of optimism and all-round international good will.