Op-Ed

What’s next for Lebanon now that Hariri is back?

The prime minister’s triumphant return to Beirut followed by the decision to suspend his resignation breathed new life into the Hariri dynasty and the Lebanese oligarchy that embraced Saad. However, containing the long-term repercussions of Lebanon’s latest political turmoil will largely depend on the relation between that dynasty and its enabler. It is a relation shaped by four factors: the shakeup in Saudi politics, the Saudi-Iranian regional enmity, Lebanon’s internal dynamics and the struggle within Hariri’s Future Movement. Click here to read my latest Op-Ed on Lebanon.

Op-Ed

How Riyadh orchestrated its own downfall in Lebanon

While deterring Hezbollah is paramount, doing so requires a long-term approach of cultivating relations in Lebanese politics, whereas Saudi policy has been absent from Lebanon since 2011. Riyadh’s risky gambit had no realistic endgame or allies to execute it. It has failed miserably no matter the outcome. Once Saudi Arabia overcomes its own domestic turmoil, damage control is imperative to sustain influence in Lebanon. Click here to read my latest analysis on Lebanon.

Op-Ed

Is Saudi Arabia bluffing on Iran?

The Saudi leadership will most likely tone down the rhetoric once it contains the fallout of the domestic purge. While the White House will give Riyadh latitude for a while, pressure will grow in Washington to prevent further regional escalation. Iran has been expectedly reserved in its reaction and prefers not to risk regional gains for an impromptu confrontation. If the US does not contain the situation, unintended consequences might follow. Click here to read my latest analysis on what to make of the Saudi rhetoric toward Iran.

Op-Ed

After Hariri’s resignation, what’s next for Lebanon?

If there is any benefit from the resignation, it is that it should be a wake-up call for Hezbollah’s miscalculations concerning Hariri by overtly embracing him, portraying him as weak and hinting there is a daylight between him and Riyadh. Prolonging the Iranian-backed group’s controversial adventure in the Syrian war carries dangerous regional risks, and normalizing relations between Beirut and Damascus should not have been a pressing priority ahead of the legislative elections. There also should be recognition that the Saudi return to Lebanese politics, after a long absence, might be too little, too late, that having a Lebanon policy might not be enough to counter Iran if there is no Syria policy, and that the common interests that bind the Lebanese oligarchy are usually stronger than any external pressure. Here’s a link to my latest analysis on the day after Hariri’s resignation.

Op-Ed

Israel, Hezbollah playing Russian roulette in Syria

Israel’s unmasking of Munir Ali Naim Shati, also known as Hajj Hashem, was a warning shot in the absence of a channel for reducing tensions with Hezbollah. While it is hard to envision how both sides can resist the temptation of clashing in Syria in the long term, Russia will have to try to set new rules of engagement, or the next war will do so instead. Here’s a link to my latest analysis on the dynamic between Israel and Hezbollah in Syria.

Op-Ed

Macron, Trump and the Middle East

On paper, Emmanuel Macron is an antonym to Donald Trump. Yesterday’s French presidential elections will have ramifications on both transatlantic relations and the Middle East. The two novice leaders, who never held elected office, have a choice to either mend fences, confront or manage their deeply rooted ideological and political differences. Here’s a link to my latest Op-Ed on the election of Macron and its impact on US-French coordination in the Middle East.

Op-Ed

Trump’s lack of strategy on Syria is dangerous

The only two viable options to oust Assad from power are either by launching a military campaign or engaging Moscow to transit him out of power. The Trump administration needs to level with its allies that while its posture has changed, the US strategy remains the same with limited options in Syria unless it decides to move towards direct military involvement. Hence, the crucial question that should be asked is whether the Trump administration will put money where its mouth is in Syria. Otherwise misleading the Syrian people will only lead to further bloodshed. Here’s a link to my latest Op-Ed on Syria…

Op-Ed

Decoding Steve Bannon’s ouster from the NSC

Ousting Chief Strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council is one of many shake-ups that will continue to define Donald Trump’s White House. Yet, this realignment is different in the impact it will have on US foreign policy. Trump’s decision to oust his chief strategist Bannon is significant, but it doesn’t mean populism left the White House. Here’s a link to my latest Op-Ed

Op-Ed

US expects allies to pick up the pieces after ISIL

The only good reason to have a meeting is to deliberate and decide on a shared objective. From that business angle, the March 22 meeting in Washington of the Global Coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) did not serve any purpose. The US message to its allies was clear: let us alone deal a military blow to ISIL, you deal with the day after. Here’s a link to my latest Op-Ed about the Trump Administration’s approach in the Global Coalition meeting…