Middle East

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Snapshot,
Nimmi Gowrinathan

Reports that women have formed their own brigade within the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have confounded experts -- and worried them. For many, the idea of women as violent extremists seems paradoxical. Why should women want to join a political struggle that so blatantly oppresses them?

Essay, SEPT/OCT 2014
Kenneth M. Pollack

Washington’s current efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria will not break the stalemate. The only way to restore peace without committing U.S. troops is to build a new Syrian army capable of defeating both the Assad regime and the extremists. 

Essay, SEPT/OCT 2014
Ruchir Sharma

Global investors usually focus on economic data such as GDP growth, employment, and trade. But in today’s trying economic climate, they have started to train their gaze elsewhere: on national political leadership and the prospects for reform.

Response, SEPT/OCT 2014
Christopher de Bellaigue; Ray Takeyh

De Bellaigue faults Takeyh for minimizing the CIA’s role in the 1953 coup in Iran; Takeyh responds and criticizes De Bellaigue for viewing the Iranians as “benighted pawns.”

Snapshot,
Kevin Russell

Haider al-Abadi, selected to be Iraq’s new prime minister, is already being hailed as a potential savior for his country. But the system of power sharing that resulted in his appointment is part of the reason that Iraq’s politics are so turbulent in the first place.

Snapshot,
Barak Mendelsohn

It is hard to believe ISIS did not understand that threatening the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan would mean directly challenging the U.S. alliance with the Kurds and potentially provoking it to fight. Indeed, it is likely that ISIS viewed the possibility as a win-win.

Snapshot,
Bilal Y. Saab

The United Arab Emirates has recently said and done all the right things to prove that it wants a stronger partnership with NATO. It is clear what NATO might want from the deal: help combating terrorism, funding military operations, and protecting regional sea-lanes, energy supply routes, and cybernetworks. It is less clear, however, what the UAE hopes to gain.

Snapshot,
Michael O'Hanlon

After containing ISIS with air strikes, the United States will need to consider what comes next. And here, Obama must be fair to his critics and avoid suggesting that those in favor of doing more want to return to the Iraq mission of 2003–2011. In fact, there are many options in between an all-out use of U.S. combat forces and the limited measures employed in recent days.

Snapshot,
Robin Simcox

Washington's Iraq strategy is backward. If the United States wants to influence the political situation in Iraq, it must first make itself an indispensable military player there.

Snapshot,
Reidar Visser

Obama has declared that he does not want to be dragged into another Iraq war. But it is not like this war came from nowhere. It is, in fact, the same one that he tried to finish in 2010 and 2011 by papering over glaring holes in the Iraqi government and then leaving.

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