On May 6, Lebanese voters will elect a new parliament for the first time in nine years. This election introduces a new electoral law that scraps the former winner-take-all model in favor of a proportional representation system, aimed at opening the door for smaller parties and independent candidates to make it into parliament. While the election is an important development for Lebanon’s democracy and stability, it will be closely watched by regional and major powers alike.
Tehran’s interventions in conflicts throughout the Middle East have become a particular point of contention for detractors of the Iran Deal, which placed constraints on the country's nuclear program without addressing its role in Syria, Yemen, and across the region. There is no place Iranian influence has played a more conspicuous role than in neighboring Iraq.
Curbing US involvement abroad was a signal campaign promise of the new US administration. Anything that smacked of nation-building drew the sharpest criticism. The appeal to many voters of such disengagement is understandable and the view is woven into an evolving foreign policy.
The United States launched its first air strikes against forces backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the country’s civil war began six years ago, in retaliation for a chemical-weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilian men, women and children. Elie Abouaoun, who is director of Middle East and North Africa programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace and is based in the region, examines the strategic implications, and USIP President Nancy Lindborg, who has worked for nearly 30 years on humanitarian crises and areas affected by conflict, comments on the factors that prompted the U.S. attack.
The Lebanese Parliament’s selection this week of General Michel Aoun as president ends 2 ½ years of a leadership vacuum that mired decision-making on fundamental economic, social and political crises facing Lebanon. The Parliament had been unable to elect a new president since May 2014, even as it faced emergencies such as the influx of more than 1 million refugees from the war in neighboring Syria. USIP Middle East and North Africa Director Elie Abouaoun examines the potential effect of the ...
Russia’s military involvement in Syria has further complicated a four-year-long civil war that the United Nations says has killed more than 250,000 people and driven half the population from their homes. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just visited Moscow, his first trip outside Syria since the conflict began in 2011 – to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Elie Abouaoun, director of Middle East programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, considers the ramifications, the prospects for r...
Attacks by militants in Lebanon backed by an Al-Qaida affiliate and the Islamic State have highlighted again the vulnerability of the country's armed forces to terrorist threats and the political establishment's failure to reach agreement on a military strategy to confront terrorism. The solution will require much more than addressing the shortcomings of the military. Political leaders must address the underlying factors that contribute to the ability of extremists to make inroads and recruit on Lebanese soil.
The Institute invited leading experts from the U.S. and across the Middle East to identify key vectors of influence Syria’s neighbors are bringing to bear on the conflict; to forecast how the on-going conflict in Syria will affect the delicate and volatile regional balance of power; and to examine how the Syrian opposition and the Syria regime are factoring in regional and cross-border dynamics.
Iraq’s reaction to the popular uprising in Syria is mostly determined by the chaos its Shiite-led government believes would follow the sudden collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This Peace Brief outlines how Baghdad possesses limited ability to influence the course of events in Syria, but uses this to provide modest support to the Assad regime. This Peace Brief is part of a series examining the regional dimensions of Syria’s popular uprising.