Opinion: How Kirkuk could trigger a new major war
Iraqi Kurdistan’s disastrous decision to press ahead with an independence referendum has allowed the Iraqi federal government to reassert control over Kirkuk and its vital oil fields. But an even bigger consequence of Baghdad’s resurgence could be a potential conflict with its erstwhile sponsor, Tehran. Any such confrontation would quickly become regional in scope, bringing in Saudi Arabia, the United States and possibly Israel.
GIS Dossier: Iran’s rise
Iran has methodically built up its influence in the Middle East to become one of the most important powers in the region. It has a growing foothold in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Qatar. Its rise has inflamed tensions with Saudi Arabia, while a nascent rapprochement with the U.S. has withered under President Donald Trump. It is stepping up military interventions abroad, but remains deeply divided at home. This edition of our Dossier series reviews how Iran got here and our experts’ predictions about what this means for the region and the world.
Jordan’s admirable stability – can it last?
Surrounded by a sea of instability and with few natural resources, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has its share of challenges. So far, however, it has met them with considerable success. Western assistance has helped, especially support from the United States. But Jordan’s leaders – first King Hussein and now King Abdullah II – carefully steered the country toward peaceful coexistence and even security cooperation with Israel, while keeping terrorism at bay. The question is whether this linchpin of the Middle East can continue to hold.
Opinion: Long-simmering tensions over Qatar come to a boil
Qatar has quarreled with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states before, but this latest flare-up is far more serious. While the cause of the crisis – an allegedly fake news report – seems a flimsy justification for a diplomatic and economic blockade, Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and friendly ties with Iran have put it in this fix. Qatar will have to agree to at least some of the 13 demands made by Saudi Arabia and its allies, and the U.S. will probably help broker a compromise to end the impasse.
America edges back into the Middle East
The United States is cautiously reengaging in the Middle East. To deal with an explosive situation that threatens world peace, President Donald Trump must first tackle the legacy of the Obama years, which left Russia and Iran well entrenched in some of the region's Arab countries. Forcing them out may not be possible, but the U.S. could restore some equilibrium.
Global Outlook 2017: Israel and its neighbors
Concerns about Israel focus on President Donald Trump's explosive proposal to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which could set off another Intifada in the Occupied Territories. But the bigger danger lies in Syria, especially if President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah decide to strike south. That would put Israel eyeball-to-eyeball with Iran on the Golan Heights, and trigger a wider regional war.
Global Outlook 2017: The Middle East
The dangerous military situation in the Eastern Mediterranean opens a list of troubling scenarios in the Middle East. Just as grave is the possibility of turmoil in Egypt, which could launch a migrant wave of millions into Europe. Daesh's impending military defeat will pose challenges as the movement disperses and infiltrates Europe. Saudi-Iranian relations will remain tense, and the new U.S. administration's effort to revive an alliance with Sunni Gulf states could be derailed by its pledge to build an embassy in Jerusalem.
Lebanon’s ramshackle state and the last vestiges of public services are falling apart. President Michel Aoun's election at the end of October has done little to end the country's political paralysis, as Hezbollah continues to block the formation of a new government. Unless it relents, the next stop may be partition.
Hezbollah’s role in Syria
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s to fight Israel and subvert Sunni regimes in the Middle East. Now, it is doing Tehran’s bidding in the Syrian civil war, supporting President Bashar al-Assad. The experience has given Hezbollah fighters the military skill necessary to strike again at Israel. The coming conflict could be much worse than the previous round of fighting in 2006.
Syria’s future: the losers and winners
For all the confusion about Syria’s civil war, there’s no doubt about the big loser – the Syrian people. But nearly every regional power that has intervened to advance its own interests has also paid a heavy price, as has the European Union, a not-so-innocent bystander. For now, the most likely winners are the former Cold War antagonists, the United States and Russ...