Image credit: SGT Daniel D. Blottenberger / U.S. Army
August 03, 2022
Sharper: Middle East
Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.
President Biden’s recent Middle East tour was vital in presenting U.S. foreign policy in the region. Other geopolitical developments including the killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations, the state of Afghanistan one year after the United States withdrew troops, and Russia's growing ties to the region have demonstrated that continued U.S. engagement is vital. CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation around America's Middle East policy. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their analysis, commentary, recommendations.
Al Qaeda Leader Ayman al-Zawahiri Killed in Drone Strike
Center for a New American Security experts Richard Fontaine, Paul Scharre, Lisa Curtis, Carrie Cordero, Christopher D. Kolenda, and Jason Dempsey offer insight into the ramifications of the CIA-led killing of al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri and the lasting legacy of the global war on terror.
Dealing with a Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan
Nearly 20 years after U.S. forces overturned Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the country is likely to reemerge as a terrorist hotbed. While competing with China may be Washington’s current focus, managing evolving terrorism threats and protecting human rights in Afghanistan demands continued U.S. attention and resources. In a CNAS report, Senior Fellow and Indo-Pacific Security Program Director Lisa Curtis provides a detailed roadmap for the U.S. role in Afghanistan moving forward—and how policymakers should support the Afghan people without legitimizing the regime.
Previewing President Biden's Middle East Trip
On the eve of President Biden's departure for his first trip to the Middle East since taking office, CNAS experts Richard Fontaine, Jonathan Lord, Lisa Curtis, and Rachel Ziemba outline expectations, opportunities, and the strategic significance of this visit.
Want More Capable Military Partners? Empower and Promote Foreign Area Officers.
"In addition to the SDO-DATTs, the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) is slated for demotion as well," warns Jonathan Lord in Breaking Defense. "That job is currently filled by a three-star Army general who has played a crucial role in working with both Ramallah and Jerusalem, following the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The shuttle diplomacy required to tamp down tensions and coordinate security operations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority can only be successfully accomplished by a US military officer with the status and credibility to influence the most senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials. Dropping a field-grade officer into that role like an Army colonel or Navy captain is a recipe for failure, and the President’s recent trip to the region demonstrates that the stakes are just too high."
Establishing a Humanitarian Financial Corridor for Afghanistan
"The humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan continues to spiral downward as the harsh winter arrives," writes Alex Zerden in Lawfare. "A humanitarian financial corridor must be established to bring assistance to the Afghan people and stabilize an Afghan economy that is currently in freefall. After the Taliban’s takeover in August, donors suspended billions of dollars in assistance that had propped up 75 percent of the Afghan government’s budget and accounted for 40 percent of annual gross domestic product. The current financial system suffers from acute strains caused by the Taliban’s takeover, such as currency depreciation, rampant inflation, and a shortage of both local currency, the Afghani, and U.S. dollar banknotes upon which the dollarized economy relies. The international community, led by the United States, must take further action to help the Afghan people without rewarding the Taliban."
A New Nuclear Deal With Iran Shouldn’t Be Accompanied By Terrorist Legitimization
"Iran has a new demand for U.S. diplomats as they conclude what will hopefully be the final round of negotiations for a new nuclear agreement later this month: Remove the 2019 U.S. foreign terrorist organization designation on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The United States should reject this demand, even if it risks Iranian noncompliance with negotiations. Removing the terrorist stigma from the IRGC will embolden Iranian proxies and anger regional allies," argues John O'Malley in the Global Security Review.
In the News
Featuring commentary from Richard Fontaine, Lisa Curtis, Elina Ribakova, Samuel Bendett, and Alex Zerden.
About the Sharper Series
The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.
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