After 12 Years, LobeLog Bids Farewell

Dear LobeLog Reader: This is to let you know that, after more than 12 years of continuous operation, LobeLog.com will be placed in internet aspic and our work will continue at ResponsibleStatecraft.org, an internet platform of the new Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI), a newly launched, transpartisan think tank that will promote diplomacy and … Continue reading “After 12 Years, LobeLog Bids Farewell”

French President Macron Is Right, NATO Is Brain Dead Without U.S. Leadership

By Robert E. Hunter  French President Emanuel Macron has said, “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.” He attributes much of that to his belief that “European countries…can no longer rely on America to defend NATO allies.” He is wrong on both points, but he is right in citing U.S. President … Continue reading “French President Macron Is Right, NATO Is Brain Dead Without U.S. Leadership”

Is Iran on the Edge of a Precipice?

By Daniel Brumberg The widespread protests caused by the Iranian government’s decision on November 15 to raise the price of gasoline by a whopping 50 percent have generated a flurry of speculation about their wider political implications for Iran’s rulers. What does seem clear, as several Iran experts have noted, is that these protests were in some … Continue reading “Is Iran on the Edge of a Precipice?”

Background and consequences of protests in Iran: A look from within

By Amir Delshad Two weeks after the eruption of protests in Iran due to the rise in petrol prices, the unrests may have subsided but discontent is still on the rise, like the clam before the storm which may erupt once more in the not so distant future. Without prior notice, petrol prices were increased … Continue reading “Background and consequences of protests in Iran: A look from within”

Netanyahu and Trump, Joined at the Hip

By Paul Pillar  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under indictment for corruption, has been launching vociferous counterattacks that sound quite familiar to anyone (including editorial pages of the mainstream U.S. press) who has been following a parallel story of high-level wrongdoing in the United States. Netanyahu said that earlier reports of the conduct that led … Continue reading “Netanyahu and Trump, Joined at the Hip”

Global Turmoil: Ethics offer a way out of the crisis

Rarely is out-of-the-box thinking needed more than in this era of geopolitical, political and economic turmoil. The stakes couldn’t be higher in a world in which civilizationalist leaders risk shepherding in an era of even greater political violence, disenfranchisement and marginalisation, and mass migration. The risks are magnified by the fact that players that traditionally … Continue reading “Global Turmoil: Ethics offer a way out of the crisis”

Mending Gulf fences could weaken support for U.S. sanctions against Iran

Saudi efforts to negotiate an end to the Yemen war in a bid to open a dialogue with Iran could call into question continued Gulf support for US President Donald J. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic republic. Saudi officials hope that talks mediated by Oman and Britain between the kingdom and Houthi rebels will lead … Continue reading “Mending Gulf fences could weaken support for U.S. sanctions against Iran”

Impeachment and Damage to U.S. Foreign Policy

By Robert E. Hunter Russia, and especially Ukraine, have been centerpieces of the House impeachment hearings, as well as of massive media coverage. But largely lost in the domestic politics focused disarray is serious discussion of the foreign policy aspects of American engagement with these two countries. Factors relating to both are of course “fair … Continue reading “Impeachment and Damage to U.S. Foreign Policy”

After Al-Baghdadi’s Death, Media Failed to Ask Where ‘War on Terror’ Is Going

By Joshua Cho The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October, during a raid by US special forces in Syria’s Idlib province, would have been an opportune time for US media to reflect on the 18-year-long “War on Terror,” and US policy more broadly in the Middle East. But the circumscribed coverage of … Continue reading “After Al-Baghdadi’s Death, Media Failed to Ask Where ‘War on Terror’ Is Going”

Can The Iran Crisis Be A Blessing in Disguise for Europe?

By Eldar Mamedov Popular protests in Iran came at a particularly delicate time for the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA). More than one year after the United States unilaterally withdrew and re-imposed extraterritorial sanctions against Iran, the JCPOA is hovering precariously on a brink … Continue reading “Can The Iran Crisis Be A Blessing in Disguise for Europe?”

Iran Isn’t A ‘Unitary State,’ Domestic Politics Play A Role In Its Foreign Policy

By Jalil Bayat A nearly 40-year absence of ties between Iran and the United States has culminated in misunderstandings and mistakes between the two governments and an insufficient understanding between the two societies. This is the case even among the scientific community, political experts, and analysts. U.S. experts have little knowledge of Iranian society, culture, … Continue reading “Iran Isn’t A ‘Unitary State,’ Domestic Politics Play A Role In Its Foreign Policy”

Bearing Witness to the Costs of War: On Being a Military Spouse and Writing About Our Post-9/11 Wars

By Andrea Mazzarino There is some incongruity between my role as an editor of a book about the costs of America’s wars and my identity as a military spouse. I’m deeply disturbed at the scale of human suffering caused by those conflicts and yet I’ve unintentionally contributed to the war effort through the life I’ve … Continue reading “Bearing Witness to the Costs of War: On Being a Military Spouse and Writing About Our Post-9/11 Wars”

Neither Thaw nor War: Steering the U.S. and Iran Out of No-Man’s-Land

By Ghoncheh Tazmini With protests flaring up around the country over a hike in fuel prices, the atmosphere in Iran is febrile. At the same time, it is eerily quiet with the near-total internet shutdown cutting the country off from the rest of the world. The disarray of the current situation has led to a … Continue reading “Neither Thaw nor War: Steering the U.S. and Iran Out of No-Man’s-Land”

Can A Soccer Tournament Help End The Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis?

By Khalid Al-Jaber and Giorgio Cafiero Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain’s football associations recently announced that they would participate in the Arabian Gulf Cup football tournament, which begins tomorrow. As many experts have posited, the reversal of these three countries’ previous decision to boycott the event brightens the prospects for resolution … Continue reading “Can A Soccer Tournament Help End The Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis?”

The Lebanese Uprising: No End in Sight for the Current Impasse

By Joe Macaron It has been over a month since the Lebanese uprising began and there are no indications that the country’s ruling oligarchy is willing or ready to offer concrete concessions in giving up power. The political class seems united in buying time to weather the storm of public anger while seeking to disperse and divide … Continue reading “The Lebanese Uprising: No End in Sight for the Current Impasse”

Turkey in the Gulf: Between Regional Aspirations and Setbacks

By Jacopo Spezia Depretto In recent years there has been remarkable upheaval between Persian Gulf countries. Iran and Qatar have been on mostly extremely negative terms with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain. The U.S.’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has received varying levels of support from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members … Continue reading “Turkey in the Gulf: Between Regional Aspirations and Setbacks”

Will Iraq’s Protests Lead to Radical Change?

By Abdulwahab Al-Qassab and Imad K. Harb The ongoing protests in Iraq indicate that the country’s youth, who are overwhelmingly Shia, have become disillusioned with status quo politics of control by Islamist political parties and with government corruption and ineptitude. Following the 2003 American-led invasion, Iraq became a place of instability and chaos, with Iran-supported militias feasting … Continue reading “Will Iraq’s Protests Lead to Radical Change?”

Don’t Just Focus on Trump’s Crimes at Home

By John Feffer It’s a cliché in Westerns. The bad guys ride into town only to be met by a sheriff who stands tall. “I am the law,” the sheriff says, “and you boys better move on.” This line appears in King Vidor’s 1930 film, Billy the Kid. But the speaker, sheriff William Donovan, is one … Continue reading “Don’t Just Focus on Trump’s Crimes at Home”

Impeachment and Its Lessons About Patriotism

By Paul R. Pillar Sometimes an accusation that a mote is in someone else’s eye (to paraphrase a biblical quotation) ought to underscore the significance of the beam that is in the accuser’s eye.  Donald Trump’s tactic of accusing his critics of some of the very sorts of misconduct for which he is criticized has … Continue reading “Impeachment and Its Lessons About Patriotism”

From Safadi back to Hariri: Lebanon’s search for a prime minister

By Ghassan Michel Rubeiz Lebanon is in search of a new prime minister to replace Saad Hariri, who resigned on October 29 amid protests against government corruption and economic woes under his leadership. But the larger, more complicated question is who (or what) will replace him? On November 14, the informal designation of Mohammad Safadi, … Continue reading “From Safadi back to Hariri: Lebanon’s search for a prime minister”

Revolution from the Outside-In: The Periphery Has Taken Center Stage in the Arab Revolts of the 2010s

By Eian Katz It has become popular to frame the ongoing protests in Iraq and Lebanon as a revival of the Arab Spring. One thing that the present unrest undoubtedly shares in common with its 2011 progenitor is its expansive geographic span, a characteristic that differentiates it from previous episodes concentrated in capital cities alone. … Continue reading “Revolution from the Outside-In: The Periphery Has Taken Center Stage in the Arab Revolts of the 2010s”

Saudi Arabia’s Paradigm Shift In Dealing With Yemen’s Houthis

By Khalid Al-Karimi Saudi Arabia has lately adopted a fresh policy on dealing with Yemen’s Houthi group. Over the last five years, the Saudi-led Arab collation has failed to win the battle, and a military victory in Yemen remains a remote possibility.  Changing course, then, appears to be urgent and unavoidable given the fact that … Continue reading “Saudi Arabia’s Paradigm Shift In Dealing With Yemen’s Houthis”

Trump’s Sanctions Have Solidified the IRGC’s Economic Empire

By Shervin Ghaffari In June 2017, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech that “we have given the economy to a government that is armed with guns [that] nobody dares to compete with it.” Conspicuously, he failed to name which entity he was referring to. For many inside Iran, it was clear he was … Continue reading “Trump’s Sanctions Have Solidified the IRGC’s Economic Empire”

Middle Eastern protests: A tug of war over who has the longer breath

By James Dorsey Mass anti-government protests in several Arab countries are turning into competitions to determine who has the longer breath, the protesters or the government. In Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq, countries in which the leader was either forced to resign or has agreed to step down, authorities appear to be dragging their feet on … Continue reading “Middle Eastern protests: A tug of war over who has the longer breath”

How The Supreme Leader Shaped Iran’s View of the Lebanese Protests

By Talal Mohammad With resonating and echoing chants, “Kilon Yani Kilon,” “Everyone Means Everyone,” Lebanese citizens poured en masse to protest the dire economic situation and political milieu that has plagued Lebanon for decades. Few would think that a tariff on internet application calls, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, would cause such a storm. However, … Continue reading “How The Supreme Leader Shaped Iran’s View of the Lebanese Protests”

Pompeo Casts International Law Aside On Israeli Settlement Policy

By Helena Cobban On November 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States no longer judges the settlements Israel has established in the occupied West Bank to be illegal. Under international law, that announcement—like the Trump administration’s earlier determinations that Golan is part of Israel and that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital—has no … Continue reading “Pompeo Casts International Law Aside On Israeli Settlement Policy”

Media and State Control in the Middle East

By Emile Nakhleh As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers and television … Continue reading “Media and State Control in the Middle East”

Pompeo Buries The Two-State Solution With New U.S. Policy On Israeli Settlements

By Mitchell Plitnick In the latest reversal of long-standing United States policy in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared this week that Washington no longer views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “inconsistent with international law.” Pompeo framed the decision as a “reversal” of Obama administration policy. He said, “[Former] Secretary … Continue reading “Pompeo Buries The Two-State Solution With New U.S. Policy On Israeli Settlements”

Economic Sanctions Are Testing the Resilience of Iran’s Islamic System

By Shireen Hunter The popular demonstrations in nearly all Iranian cities that followed the increase in the price of gasoline are only one symptom of the growing challenges facing Iran’s Islamic system. From a purely economic rationale, the price increase is justified as a means to regulate the fuel consumption, which, because of its cheap … Continue reading “Economic Sanctions Are Testing the Resilience of Iran’s Islamic System”

REPORT – Women and Children First: Repatriating the Westerners Affiliated with ISIS

By International Crisis Group What’s new? Alongside the thousands of foreign fighters detained in north east Syria are thousands of non-Syrian children and women. Western governments have for months publicly wrestled with political and policy qualms about repatriating their nationals. Turkey’s incursion into Syria highlights that the window for repatriation or transfer could close suddenly. … Continue reading “REPORT – Women and Children First: Repatriating the Westerners Affiliated with ISIS”

The Democratic Presidential Candidates Have Foreign Policy Differences, We’re Just Not Hearing About Them

By Najum Mushtaq A day after Paul Pillar expressed his concern on these pages about the Democratic presidential primary’s “unreal quality” of not focusing on a president’s power to enact foreign policy changes by fiat, the national frontrunner in the race, former Vice President Joe Biden, released a 30-second ad in Iowa highlighting his foreign … Continue reading “The Democratic Presidential Candidates Have Foreign Policy Differences, We’re Just Not Hearing About Them”

Presidential Candidates Open to Leveraging American Support for Israel

By Yousef Munayyer American politicians vying for the Oval Office in 2020 recently engaged in a watershed shift in the conversation about the American-Israeli relationship. Several Democratic presidential candidates voiced their support for policies of accountability toward Israel that could leverage the latter’s US support to change its behavior toward the Palestinians. South Bend, Indiana … Continue reading “Presidential Candidates Open to Leveraging American Support for Israel”

The Battle to Defeat Confessional Politics in Lebanon and Beyond

By Daniel Brumberg From Algiers to Baghdad, some quarters of the Arab world are now witnessing an uprising of a mobilized and angry middle class which––by dint of its education, economic interests, institutional resources, and globalized consciousness––is seeking a deep and sustained process of democratization. For many regional powers, not least of which Iran, this … Continue reading “The Battle to Defeat Confessional Politics in Lebanon and Beyond”

Old Roots of the New Arab Spring

By Paul R. Pillar Recent disturbances in Arab countries have not yet become as far-reaching as what ensued after a Tunisian fruit vendor immolated himself in protest nine years ago, but observers are already talking about an Arab Spring 2.0. Extensive unrest has materialized in the streets of Iraq and Lebanon, along with less salient … Continue reading “Old Roots of the New Arab Spring”

It’s Not Too Late for Rojava

By Edward Hunt As Turkey continues its devastating military assault on Rojava, the Kurdish-led region of northeastern Syria, officials in Washington are facing a critical decision: allow Turkey to prevail in its campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds or take action to protect them. The Turkish invasion, which began on October 9, has been devastating for Rojava. According … Continue reading “It’s Not Too Late for Rojava”

Report: Getting a Grip on Central Sahel’s Gold Rush

By International Crisis Group What’s new? In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, a gold boom is attracting the attention of diverse armed groups. Security forces are struggling to control gold mining zones in regions that the state has neglected or abandoned. Why does it matter? Artisanal gold mining provides armed groups, in some cases including … Continue reading “Report: Getting a Grip on Central Sahel’s Gold Rush”

Russia’s Middle East Resurgence Isn’t Just About the Money

By Samuel Ramani and Theodore Karasik Russian foreign policy had a Great October. Last month, Russia brokered a safe zone agreement with Turkey in northern Syria, watched its President Vladimir Putin be feted as a global statesman in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and hosted a historic gathering of African leaders in … Continue reading “Russia’s Middle East Resurgence Isn’t Just About the Money”

Operation Peace Spring Is Europe’s Problem Too

By Tristan Ober Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, which Ankara launched on October 9, appears to have come to a halt. Compared to Russia’s role in resolving the crisis, involvement of the United States is far less prominent, underscoring the extent to which Moscow has capitalized on Washington’s strategic blunders—under both President Donald Trump and his … Continue reading “Operation Peace Spring Is Europe’s Problem Too”

Israeli Settlement Defenders Once Again Turn To False Antisemitism Claims Amid European Court Decision

By Mitchell Plitnick  For many years, the Israeli government has waged what we might call a campaign of normalization regarding its military occupation of the West Bank. Israel has spared no effort to erase the demarcation between its internationally recognized boundaries—the territory Israel controlled prior to the 1967 war when it captured the West Bank, … Continue reading “Israeli Settlement Defenders Once Again Turn To False Antisemitism Claims Amid European Court Decision”

Tehran, It’s Time to Listen and Take A Realistic View Of The Protests In Iraq

By Neda Bolourchi More than a month after protestors first took to the streets across Iraq, Adil Abdul Mahdi surprisingly remains the country’s prime minister. In what has been a movement against high unemployment, poor basic services, and state corruption, demonstrators insist on the removal of factions and political elites that came to power in … Continue reading “Tehran, It’s Time to Listen and Take A Realistic View Of The Protests In Iraq”

It’s when not if China’s Middle Eastern tightrope snaps

By James Dorsey China is manoeuvring to avoid being sucked into the Middle East’s numerous disputes amid mounting debate in Beijing on whether the People’s Republic will be able to remain aloof yet ensure the safety and security of its mushrooming interests and sizeable Diaspora community. China’s challenge is starkest in the Gulf. It was … Continue reading “It’s when not if China’s Middle Eastern tightrope snaps”

WSJ Article Runs Through The Greatest Hits of a Dysfunctional Foreign Policy Debate

By Adam Wunische The unrivaled and unchallenged exertion of American military power around the world, or what’s known as “primacy,” has been the basis for U.S. Grand Strategy over the past 70 years and has faced few intellectual and political challenges. The result has been stagnant ideas, poor logic, and an ineffective foreign policy. As … Continue reading “WSJ Article Runs Through The Greatest Hits of a Dysfunctional Foreign Policy Debate”

A Fitting Tribute to the Fall of the Berlin Wall

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the Berlin Wall “fell,” heralding the end of the Cold War that supposedly was going to last forever. Within a short time, hundreds of millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe no longer lived under communism and the heel of the Soviet Union and … Continue reading “A Fitting Tribute to the Fall of the Berlin Wall”

Apocalypse Approach Update

By Robert Wright Keeping track of Donald Trump’s contributions to the coming of the apocalypse is a job too big for any one person. The best I can do is check in every month or so and list a few of the latest highlights. During the past 10 days: (1) The Trump administration notified the … Continue reading “Apocalypse Approach Update”

Iran’s Strategy of Reducing Its Commitments Under the Nuclear Deal Is Risky And Could Backfire

After the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the reimposition of even harsher sanctions on Tehran, coupled with Europe’s inability or unwillingness to provide Iran with relief from the rigors of U.S. sanctions, Tehran adopted a strategy based on demonstrating the dangers of … Continue reading “Iran’s Strategy of Reducing Its Commitments Under the Nuclear Deal Is Risky And Could Backfire”

Don’t Fall For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Twitter Public Relations Campaign

By Kourosh Ziabari “Throughout history the secret to success has been love, freedom, and justice. … Building a better tomorrow filled with freedom, justice, and love is the goal of every nation. We should all strive to achieve this goal. … The search for freedom, justice, peace, and security is only possible if there is … Continue reading “Don’t Fall For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Twitter Public Relations Campaign”

Repairing the Damage: What Democratic Candidates Ought to Talk About

By Paul Pillar The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination has had the unreal quality of not focusing on what the eventual winner will have the power to do, and will be most pressed to do, as president. Instead the campaign has been more of an abstract discussion of certain high-profile policy issues—abstract not in … Continue reading “Repairing the Damage: What Democratic Candidates Ought to Talk About”

Nothing Will Come of Nothing

By Lawrence Wilkerson On Saturday, October 19 at the College of William and Mary, where I teach, the student veterans group convened “on the green” for a military style breakfast for themselves and military veteran alumnae. The event was well attended—even a veteran of the Korean War was present. I’ll be 75 in January and … Continue reading “Nothing Will Come of Nothing”

The Limited Utility of the Iran Sanctions

By Kenneth Katzman The objective of any sanctions regime is not to punish the target country or weaken its economy as an end in itself. Rather, a sanctions campaign—including the Trump Administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran—is meant to change the target country’s behavior. Such a result could come from a reduction in its … Continue reading “The Limited Utility of the Iran Sanctions”

The Beginning of the End of Yemen’s Civil War?

By Peter Salisbury The Riyadh Agreement, signed on 5 November, has averted a war within Yemen’s civil war, at least for the time being. The deal prevents a collapse of the fragile alliance of Yemeni forces that Saudi Arabia has supported since intervening in Yemen in March 2015 to prevent Huthi rebels from taking over … Continue reading “The Beginning of the End of Yemen’s Civil War?”