Persian Gulf

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Dafna H. Rand and Nicholas A. Heras

In early March, Baghdad started a push to retake the historic city of Tikrit, in the center of the so-called Sunni triangle. Some Americans must be feeling a sense of déjà vu; the U.S. military tried something similar as part of the 2006-07 Arab Sunni Awakening. Then as now, counterterrorism operations combined with efforts to win Sunni hearts and minds required the tough, tedious work of offering the right guarantees and incentives to “flip” key leaders of the Iraqi Sunni tribal region away from the terrorists in their midst.

Michael Knights

Unthinkable just a decade ago, the main government forces leading the battle in Tikrit are Shia fighters—the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) that are under the control of militia leaders. Worryingly, these forces’ main partners are Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.

Asher Orkaby

Observers might be surprised to hear of increasingly friendly relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. But a warming of relations—and even coordinated military operationswould hardly be unprecedented, as the historical record makes clear.

Alex Vatanka

Iran may have been happy to see Yemen's pro-Western government ousted last January, but Tehran's influence there is far more limited than many assume.


In Iran, mass urbanization, increasing access to social media, and a more secular public space (despite propaganda otherwise) have made finding potential mates leagues more complicated.

Michael Pregent and Robin Simcox

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is starting to show some wear and tear. True, it has pulled off some gruesome executions, attracted jihadists from across the world, and still holds swaths of Iraq and Syria. But cracks are appearing in the self-styled Caliphate.

Letter From,
Kayhan Barzegar

U.S. President Barak Obama has set a difficult goal in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). To achieve it, he will need to bring Iran on board, especially in the Syrian peace talks.

F. Gregory Gause III

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has moved swiftly to consolidate power. In doing so, he has raised the profile of two of the royal family’s so-called third-generation princes and sidelined a number of their cousins. In a family where, for decades, political power has been dispersed among several members, the centralization of power is certain to raise eyebrows.

Yoel Guzansky and Sigurd Neubauer

This might be the year that changes everything in the Middle East. The reason: a possible thaw in Saudi Arabian–Iranian relations.

Michael Singh

Washington should be wary of pinning its hopes on Rouhani’s camp, much less on influencing the regime’s internal struggle.

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