Over the past two weeks, the Syrian government has embarked on a military offensive across Syria’s southwest, focused on retaking the city of Dara’a. Russia has played a critical role, backing the operations with airstrikes. The United Nations estimates that at least 160,000 Syrian civilians have been displaced by the fighting, and the number could increase as the battle intensifies.
Ties between Tehran and Damascus have been close since the 1979 revolution, but the relationship deepened after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. With the Assad regime’s survival at stake, Tehran doubled down on its support, providing critical military assistance—fighters and strategists—and economic aid estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
A confluence of factors this week led to heightened tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary, the United States officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem, and protests in Gaza led to levels of violence not seen in several years. Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen shares her analysis and discusses the perfect storm of events leading to the tumult between Israelis and Palestinians and explains why Middle East peace remains a generational goal.
This week, a perfect storm of politics, mounting despair, and competing narratives of historic memory and grievances converged in Jerusalem and Gaza. The effects have been devastatingly deadly. The implications for Israeli-Palestinian peace are profound.
This week in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu successfully shifted the optics from mounting domestic pressure. Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen shares her analysis about Netanyahu’s warm reception at the AIPAC conference and his White House meeting focused on Iran. The conversation continues with Kurtzer-Ellenbogen explaining the latest hurdles for Middle East Peace and the anticipation for the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan.
Vice President Mike Pence heads to Egypt, Jordan and Israel with little diplomatic quiet, and even less hope, on the Israeli-Palestinian front. President Abbas has declared the Oslo peace process dead, and the U.S. mediating role over, President Trump has broken with international consensus on Jerusalem, and pointedly not endorsed a two-state solution since coming to office, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has now hedged on his commitment to the end goal of a Palestinian state.
Even before President Donald Trump upended a core U.S. policy recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, late 2017 has been tumultuous in the Middle East. The Islamic State (ISIS) “caliphate” collapsed. Syria’s Assad regime all but won the six-year civil war, consolidating Iranian and Russian influence. Saudi Arabia purged...
Today, President Trump—for the second time while in office—exercised his waiver authority on the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. The law calls for the United States Embassy, currently located in Tel Aviv, to be moved to Jerusalem, in recognition of that city as Israel’s capital. The choice to waive enactment in the name of national security interests hits the president’s desk every six months and, beginning with President Clinton in 1998, has been continuously exercised by each president. But this time was different.
Tension and hostilities have increased markedly between Israeli and Palestinian societies since the collapse of another round of peace negotiations in the spring of 2014. Violent incidents have sparked retaliatory attacks in both directions, including over access to the Jerusalem religious site known as the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif. The risk of more widespread and sustained violent conflict looms, and political and social dynamics in both societies challenge the prospects for a negotia...
With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a centerpiece of his first official trip abroad, President Donald Trump is staking out some delicate terrain. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has taken the risky step of highlighting the importance of religion to his policy goals with stops in Saudi Arabia, ...