Indyk vs. Indyk

by Jamie Stern-Weiner | published May 12, 2014 - 11:31am

Israelis and Palestinians share responsibility for the collapse of Middle East peace talks. That was the message delivered on Thursday by US special envoy to the peace process Martin Indyk, in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Israel issued tenders for 4,800 settlement units during the talks, he noted, while on the Palestinian side, accession to international treaties and reconciliation with Hamas had been “unhelpful” to US efforts to rescue an already faltering process.

Washington Gets “Less Crazy”

by Chris Toensing | published May 9, 2014 - 2:27pm

Yesterday the New America Foundation (NAF), a center-left think tank located one block north of big, bad K Street, hosted a discussion about the 1948 war, the expulsion of Palestinians from what would become Israel, the new state’s imposition of a draconian military regime upon the Palestinians who managed to stay inside the armistice lines, and all that this painful history implies for the present and the future.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER270

“Will China dominate the twenty-first century?” So asks the title of a short book by Jonathan Fenby, a British journalist who was editor of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post during the period when that bustling entrepôt was being transferred from British control to the sovereignty of the People’s Republic.

In Egypt, Nasty Business as Usual

by Steven Brooke | published April 29, 2014 - 9:18am

Egypt certainly has a penchant for tragicomedy. A week after prosecutors in the terrorism case against Al Jazeera employees introduced a video of sheep farming -- among other absurdities -- as evidence, a judge in southern Egypt sentenced 683 alleged supporters of the Society of Muslim Brothers to death. Last month the same judge pronounced the same sentence upon 529 other members of the group.

"Progress" in Afghanistan, Then and Now

by Darryl Li | published April 24, 2014 - 2:06pm

I recently came across a document in the archives, a reminder that the march of “progress” in Afghanistan sometimes seems more reminiscent of a never-ending marching band reliably circling a parade ground. The martial metaphor here isn’t accidental: As elsewhere, security forces have been central to nearly every attempt to make Afghanistan a “modern” nation-state, a pattern echoed in today’s Beltway anxieties over how many local troops are deemed “ready” to take over in the event of a US withdrawal.

A Loveless Diplomatic Marriage with No Future

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published April 16, 2014

Among the would-be therapists of the foreign policy world, the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a textbook case of a “loveless marriage.”

Though the values of the two states are at odds, or so the thinking goes, the great democracy and the absolute monarchy are bound together by mutual interest in the stability of the Persian Gulf, home to almost half of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves.

Learning from the Past in the Iranian Nuclear Dispute

by Tytti Erästö | published April 16, 2014

The controversy over the Iranian nuclear program is in many ways a product of the US-Iranian conflict. The United States and Iran are in the grip of mutual negative perceptions that, in turn, have been reinforced by the escalatory dynamics of the nuclear dispute. After years of seeming diplomatic deadlock, these dynamics suddenly changed for the better in the autumn of 2013. The positive trends culminated in November, when Iran agreed with the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, the so-called P5+1, on a confidence-building deal known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Given the record of diplomatic non-achievement, the deal is a historic development.

Death and Taxes

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published April 15, 2014 - 1:25pm

Last year 27 cents of every income tax dollar in the United States went to the military. Even so, that proportion has not generated enough revenue to pay for the military’s operations over the last 13 years, which, in a historic departure, have been funded largely by borrowing.

Preening Like a State

by Darryl Li | published April 3, 2014 - 3:21pm

On Tuesday, Mahmoud ‘Abbas surprised peace processers by making use of Palestine’s recently upgraded status as a UN-recognized “state” to sign 15 international agreements, mostly concerning human rights, humanitarian law and diplomatic protocol. The move was announced at a hastily convened meeting of the PLO executive committee, but appears to have been carefully crafted to support extending the US-sponsored negotiations that have dragged on haplessly over the past nine months.

Stuck (or Not) in a "Special Relationship"

by Toby Jones | published March 27, 2014 - 2:20pm

What to make of the anxieties surfacing in the press in advance of President Barack Obama’s stopover in Saudi Arabia? Is the US-Saudi “special relationship” really in trouble?

Officials say no, of course. But beneath the surface, the relationship is indeed marked by uncertainty. The rulers in Riyadh have come to question Washington’s commitment to the kingdom’s security, to Saudi primacy in the Gulf and to what has been one of the region’s most durable (and profitable) alliances.