Lebanon

Seeking to avoid sectarian conflict, Lebanese leaders created a confessional system that allocated power among the country’s religious sects according to their percentage of the population. Since then, Lebanon’s demographics and political dynamics have shifted, exacerbating tension among groups, at times stoking sectarian violence, and creating political gridlock on issues that require dividing power, such… Continue Reading Lebanon

Bahrain: Unrest, Security, and U.S. Policy

Bahrain is a small island nation, ruled by a hereditary monarchy, that is in a partnership with other Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf called the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman). Bahrain is led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who succeeded his father, Shaykh… Continue Reading Bahrain: Unrest, Security, and U.S. Policy

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven principalities or “emirates.” Its population is assessed at nearly 10 million, but about 90% of the population are expatriates from within and outside the region who work in its open economy. The UAE is a significant U.S. security partner that hosts about 3,500 U.S. military… Continue Reading United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Iran Sanctions

    Successive Administrations and Congresses have used economic sanctions to try to change Iran’s behavior. U.S. sanctions on Iran—primarily “secondary sanctions” on firms that conduct certain transactions with Iran—have adversely affected Iran’s economy but have arguably not, to date, altered Iran’s pursuit of core strategic objectives including its support for regional armed factions and… Continue Reading Iran Sanctions

Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Qatar’s support for regional Muslim Brotherhood organizations and its Al Jazeera media network have contributed to a backlash against Qatar led by fellow GCC states Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, joined by Egypt and a few other governments, severed relations with Qatar and imposed limits on… Continue Reading Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations

The current structure of Palestinian governing entities dates to 1994. In that year, Israel agreed with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to permit a Palestinian Authority (PA) to exercise limited rule over Gaza and specified areas of the West Bank, subject to overarching Israeli military administration that dates back to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Under… Continue Reading Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy

  In light of the approaching withdrawal deadline and the stalling of intra-Afghan talks, the United States appears to have intensified its efforts to broker an intra-Afghan agreement. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly wrote to Afghan government officials in March 2021 to express “urgency” that they form a united front and participate in planned… Continue Reading Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy

Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies

Iran’s national security policy is arguably the product of overlapping and sometimes competing priorities such as the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution, perception of threats to the regime and to the country, and long-standing national interests. The incoming Biden Administration has indicated that it will seek to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement if Iran comes… Continue Reading Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies

Women in the Middle East and North Africa

Many experts have found that women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) fare worse than those in other parts of the world on a range of social, economic, legal and political measures. Some attribute this underperformance to prevailing gender roles and perspectives (including discriminatory laws and beliefs), as well as challenges facing the… Continue Reading Women in the Middle East and North Africa

United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven principalities or “emirates.” Its population is assessed at nearly 10 million, but about 90% of the population are expatriates from within and outside the region who work in its open economy. The UAE is a significant U.S. security partner that hosts about 3,500 U.S. military… Continue Reading United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy