Policy Analysis

Hamas Plans a Comeback to Damascus: US and Regional Implications

A delegation of Hamas leaders met on July 22 with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enlist Tehran’s support in convincing the Syrian regime to reopen the Palestinian group’s Damascus office. Meanwhile, on the same day, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal al-Mokdad was receiving1 a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) whose most prominent political party is the Hamas rival, Fatah. This split-screen between Iran and Syria shows how the controversial US peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is benefiting Tehran and pushing the two main Palestinian factions into the arms of Damascus. The Hamas visit to Tehran was led by

Policy Analysis

The Symbolism Behind The Latest U.S. Sanctions Against Hezbollah

While the latest American sanctions, imposed on July 9, continue a trend of US pressure on Hezbollah, they symbolize an imperfect realignment of interests between the Trump Administration’s Iran approach and Lebanese leaders’ aim to alter their country’s political dynamics. Lebanon has been mostly shielded from US-Iranian tensions over the nuclear deal, but there are questions about whether this is about to change. Click here to read my latest analysis on Lebanon. This analysis was also republished and/or featured in Lobe Log, L’Orient Le Jour (in French) and Lebanon24 (in Arabic).

Policy Analysis

A US-Turkish Agreement Remains a Challenge in Northeastern Syria

US officials appear to be overselling a potential deal with Turkey on establishing a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, one they hope could peel Ankara away from Moscow. However, this approach might accelerate the confrontation between Turkish and Kurdish forces in the absence of a clear American strategy in Syria and given the uncertainty in US-Turkish relations. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

On Lebanese-Israeli Border, US And Iran Are Negotiating

On May 13, while The New York Times reported that the White House was reviewing military plans to attack Iran, a plane carrying the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield quietly landed in Beirut on an unannounced trip. Heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran did not prevent the US official from rushing to seize a breakthrough as the Iran-backed Hezbollah finally endorsed the Lebanese government’s stance to enter direct negotiations to settle the border dispute with Israel. These negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks as the United States and Iran may explore direct talks for the first time since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

Facing Pressure at Home and Abroad, Jordan’s King Shifts Strategy

As Amman prepares to weather the storm of the anticipated US peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is shifting his approach to domestic politics by realigning interests with the Muslim Brotherhood and clamping down on his critics. The country’s slow economic growth and persistent regional deadlock are constraining Jordan’s rentier state and the monarchy’s rule, as the kingdom continues to lose the support of its traditional allies. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

Trump versus Biden: US Politics and the Middle East

Since formally announcing his presidential bid on April 25, former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged in recent polls as the leading Democratic contender to square off with President Donald Trump. The two men are already testing their messages and setting the stage for the major themes that will dominate the 2020 presidential elections. This article explores the factors that would drive their campaigns if they emerge as the two presidential contenders, and most importantly, how they compare on major US foreign policy issues, most notably regarding the Middle East. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

The Mutually Connected Fronts between Israel and Iran

While a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran is unlikely in the foreseeable future, the two adversaries share three potential war fronts in Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip. As tensions increase between Israel and Iran, there is speculation as to which front might witness the next confrontation. Importantly, all these fronts are mutually connected in terms of military strategy and political calculations. Click here for my latest analysis.





Policy Analysis

The Trump Administration Is Buying Time in Syria

In the past two months, US officials have been baffled by how to spin President Donald Trump’s hast decision last December to withdraw US forces from Syria. Once again, they were unable to come up with an American strategy. Across the US federal government, the advocates for staying in Syria have been buying time from Trump over the last two years to maintain US presence in the war-torn country. Click here for my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

Lebanon’s New Government: No Need for Washington to Panic

After 257 days of political impasse, Lebanon’s 75th government since independence was formed on January 31. The reaction in Washington and in the American media has been that Hezbollah now controls a majority in the Lebanese government and thus the country. However, putting this development in context is crucial to understanding how and why the cabinet was formed and, most importantly, what challenges it will face moving forward. Click here to read my latest policy analysis.