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Guide Syria and Lebanon : International Relations and Diplomacy in the Middle East

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The so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, triggered by the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February , brought to an end three decades of Syrian military presence in the country. Here, Taku Osoegawa challenges the commonly-held claim that Lebanon and its leaders were simple puppets of the Syrian regime during the thirty years characterised as Lebanon under Syrian hegemony.

Furthermore, by examining Lebanon s relations with Syria from the establishment of the Asad regime to the current violence in Syria, Osoegawa concludes that the Lebanese government has had its own reasons for aligning with Syria. As the Lebanese-Syrian relationship has had an enormous impact on the international relations of the Middle East, this book is essential reading for those interested in the contemporary regional dynamics. Introduction: The Analytical Framework 2. Disruption of the Lebanese State and Syrian Intervention — 3.

Lebanon from 'Anarchy' to 'Indirect Rule' under Syria — 4. The withdrawal focuses the mind on an unpleasant reality, one that the withdrawal did not create. After all, the 2, American troops had no legal mandate to engage Iranian troops unless directly threatened by them as they were last February.

Trump and his foreign-policy advisers, led by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will likely be eager to provide Israel with any weapons and intelligence it may lack to do the job. They will also continue to coordinate closely with it politically, and ensure that the United States serves as a deterrent to Russian military action. About six months into the Trump presidency, I asked a senior Israeli official to describe the difference between working with the Trump and the Obama administrations.

In this rendition, Obama cared deeply about democracy and human rights—meaning Palestinian rights—whereas the chauvinistic government of Benjamin Netanyahu did not. Granting that Obama did sincerely disagree with Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue, this claim was nevertheless a dodge. Joseph Biden, the former vice-president, recently expressed the matter with admirable clarity.

While in office, Biden had made the same statement, but in the belief that he was speaking off-the-record. When the statement became public, the ensuing controversy forced him to retract and apologize.


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As we now see, it was no mere slip of the tongue but in fact his considered judgment. Finally, Saudi Arabia. Nowhere has the Biden mindset been more pervasive, or more pernicious, than in the prevailing attitude among liberals and Democrats and some Republicans toward Saudi Arabia, which, under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has committed the unpardonable sin of working closely with the Trump administration to dismantle the Iran deal and to reconstitute a coalition dedicated to containing Iran.


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  4. The crown prince has been depicted as spoiled and reckless, and his erratic behavior, so the story goes, is a major threat to stability in the Middle East and a danger to the United States. Before swallowing this tale whole, one would do well to ask a few pointed questions. Which state is similarly dedicated to curtailing Iranian power on the ground in Syria and Yemen? Which will help promote a strategic view of the Middle East that correctly sees the rise of Iran, and not the Palestinian question, as the key problem to be solved?


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    8. Finally, which Arab leader has done the most to advance a general warming of relations with Israel and, incidentally, shares with Israel a deep distrust of the growing influence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Arab world? Indeed, the Saudi—Israeli convergence is, in part, a response to the fact that, on the international scene, America has gone wobbly.

      There can be no disputing that the murder of Khashoggi deserves a very sharp response from the United States. But influential voices are calling for much more, advocating what amounts to a restructuring of U. In September , for example, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his hostility to the Saudis in the sharpest of terms. Nor have Republicans been paragons of strategic clarity. To take a single instance: instead of directing the resources of his office to the machinations of the primary enemies of the United States, the Tennessee senator Bob Corker, outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, busied himself with the weighty task of thwarting Trump over the Khashoggi murder.

      Corker, together with Senator Bob Menendez, also sent a letter to Trump demanding a formal determination as to whether bin Salman was personally responsible for the killing of Khashoggi. Under the terms of the Global Magnitsky Act, such a determination would automatically trigger sanctions against the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

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      Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor and former senior official of the State Department, has been a key player in connecting the murder of the journalist with the global defense of democracy and freedom. But what makes Khashoggi a test in the competition with authoritarian powers? Over the last three months, as the American media have been obsessed by the Khashoggi affair, stories have broken regarding, among other things, the forcible detention by China of one-million Uighurs and the kidnapping and forcible return to China of Meng Hongwei, the former president of Interpol.

      Both are far more consequential for American foreign policy than the Khashoggi affair, yet they have received a fraction of the attention. The case of Meng is particularly noteworthy. In recent years, Beijing has kidnapped, forcibly repatriated, incarcerated, and tortured numerous Chinese nationals. Among the hundreds captured in this brazen worldwide operation, code-named Fox Hunt, are dozens of individuals from Canada and Australia; others have even been snatched from American soil. How many well-informed Americans can identify by name a single one of them, or even identify the American cities where they were taken?

      How many American pundits and politicians screaming to punish Mohammad bin Salman have made similarly urgent arguments about the need to punish Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his multiple affronts to American sovereignty? Every word expended on the Khashoggi affair has been a lost opportunity to discuss, for example, such simultaneous machinations as the plot by Iran to carry out an assassination in Denmark, the second such plot in Europe this year, or the discovery of tunnels being dug by Hizballah from Lebanon into Israel.

      The panic reached its apogee in the week before Christmas, when a bipartisan clutch of senators raced to advance legislation to combat the threat. The spirit of the Senate was well captured in the title of the resolution sponsored by the Republican senator Lindsey Graham—a title made absurdly long so as to cover every conceivable evil:. A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia be held accountable for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, preventing a resolution to the blockade of Qatar, the jailing and torture of dissidents and activists inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the use of force to intimidate rivals, and the abhorrent and unjustified murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

      If the paltry, non-lethal support the U. In Yemen, however, what will determine the course of events is indeed the iron logic of war. The Houthis are an Iranian proxy force. If they win, Iran will win. Precisely as it has done in Lebanon for Hizballah, and against Israel, Iran will have every incentive to increase the size and power of that arsenal. No senatorial display of outrage can refute this logic. It will succeed only in handing Iran a victory and the U. By contrast, the only way to insure that we do end the killing, end the humanitarian crisis, and achieve our strategic goal of containing Iran is to work for a Saudi victory.

      This is the stark logic of war. If the humanitarian cost of a Saudi victory is too high for our moral sensibilities to bear, then the only answer is for the U. Those are the real options—moral and strategic. No one in the Senate is discussing them. Call it the punitive agenda: one that will weaken the American position in the Middle East and expose Israel to further risks, as some Israelis themselves have made abundantly clear. It is wise counsel, unfortunately unheeded by American senators who, full of passionate intensity, have lent bipartisan legitimacy to a program designed to destroy any effective containment policy of the kind outlined above.

      No good can come from this, and it has the potential to do much harm.

      Introduction and summary

      The challenges of the Middle East are many and complex. But in an era of deep skepticism about the deployment of American forces in general, it represents the only viable strategy if the twin goals of American policy are to contain the Sunni terror organizations and Iran simultaneously. The successful containment of Iran would, in turn, reduce the power of Russia, whose expanded influence in the region is largely dependent on Iranian-led ground forces.

      In a January interview with David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker , Barack Obama made clear that although the allies of the United States expected him to help them contain Iran militarily, he refused to play that role. From on, Obama sought to implement this conception, which his acolytes continue to tout. Obama saw the Middle East as a roundtable, at which Iran and Russia would be prominently seated. But this approach suffered from a debilitating fallacy or, rather, delusion: namely, that the true ambitions of Iran and Russia were purely defensive and, therefore, limited.

      What Iran truly coveted, they believed, was legitimacy and security. It was looking for a deal.

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      If the United States would only treat Tehran with respect, the Islamic Republic would become a reasonable partner for stabilizing the region. During the Obama presidency, Iran pocketed every tangible concession from the United States while offering largely token concessions in return. As a result, the region grew more violent and more unpredictable, and America less reliable. Iran today is more than happy to continue nurturing this delusion through limited diplomatic engagement, provided that America continues to turn a blind eye to its military advances on the ground while offering Tehran a short path, by means of the nuclear deal, to a completely unfettered nuclear program.

      In the Trump conception, by contrast, the Middle East is not a round table but a rectangular table. On one side are the United States and its traditional allies. On the other side are its adversaries: Russia and Iran, their proxies, and the Sunni terror groups. The job of the United States, in this conception, is to elevate the power of its friends over its adversaries while simultaneously mediating among the allies, who are a fractious bunch. To repeat: the choice faced by Americans and their allies in the Middle East is plain.

      It is between seeking to co-opt Iran through American concessions and emoluments and, instead, seeking to contain it and Russia through American financial pressure and military and diplomatic pressure from allies. The current approach is the only viable option that holds out any chance of success.

      Geopolitical analysis 2017: Middle East

      Last March, when the Senate first addressed the question of whether to punish the Saudis over Yemen, Lindsey Graham, who had not yet fallen victim to the moral panic, spoke judiciously. I think that is a very unwise analysis—to suggest that Saudi Arabia is just as bad as Iran is just missing the point big time.

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      Two questions should thus decide whether America treats a state as a friend or as a foe. Will the state actively help to defend that system against those—Russia, China, and Iran—who seek to weaken or destroy it? In the Middle East, if not in the world, these questions should take precedence. When an ally stumbles, we should help it to its feet. When our enemy stumbles, we should help keep it down and on the ground.

      In the absence of a viable security system, its moral influence in the world will decline significantly. Register Now. Michael Doran. The truth is less alarming, however. Daily Weekly. The neoconservatives, rejecting the notion that non-interventionism is now inescapable, continue to push muscular answers as if they enjoyed mainstream support. The Obama administration, in pursuing its Iran policy, fell out with all three.