Persian Gulf

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Snapshot,
Steven Simon

Despite the pandemonium in the Middle East, Sykes-Picot seems to be alive and well. That shouldn’t be surprising. Land borders settled via negotiation, especially when sealed by treaty, tend to be stable, even where relations between the neighboring states remain volatile or even hostile.

Snapshot,
Henri J. Barkey

Geography and realpolitik have been cruel to the Kurds. Divided among four countries, they have been easy prey for anyone willing to engage in mischief and machinations in the region -- and engage the United States has.

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. 

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,
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,
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,
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.

Snapshot,
Steven Simon

Air strikes in Iraq might be necessary for the narrow purposes stipulated by Obama. But they will have a wide range of unintended consequences -- some relatively manageable, others less so.

Snapshot,
Farea Al-muslimi

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that Yemen could be an example for how to bring stability to Iraq. His comments came as a shock to most Yemenis. The contradiction between their country’s political reality and its reputation as an Arab Spring success story has always been glaring, but now it had become absurd.

Snapshot,
Erica De Bruin

The problem of how to improve Iraqi military capacity without undermining civilian control won’t go away when Maliki leaves office. It will persist until norms of democratic and civilian rule become entrenched in Iraq -- a process that could take decades, if not longer.

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