Markaz

  • Markaz

    Iranian Press Week in Review

    Cuban soldiers hold flags of Cuba and Youth Communist league

    Iranian officials and media reacted to President Barack Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, a prominent hard-line commentator warned that criticizing Iran’s nuclear program can lead to treason, and Iran’s Minister of Defense explains why Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are components of Iran’s national security interests.  Read More

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    Middle East Scholarship and Engaging the Policy Community

    A tourist gazes up towards the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque).

    Brookings scholars Tamara Cofman Wittes, Dan Byman, and Peter Mandaville discussed how scholars of the Middle East can influence policy toward the region in special panel at the Middle East Studies Association's annual meeting last month.

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    Martin Indyk and Naftali Bennett: A Fierce Contest of Ideas on Israel and the Peace Process at the 2014 Saban Forum

    Martin Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings, and Naftali Bennett, minister of economy; minister of religious services, Jerusalem and diaspora affairs; and chairman, Jewish Home Party, on December 6, 2014. (Photo by Peter Halmagyi)

    One of the highlights of the 2014 Saban Forum came during a conversation on Israel's future moderated by Brookings Foreign Policy program Vice President Martin Indyk. The featured speaker was Jewish Home Party chairman Naftali Bennett, who heads the Israeli economy ministry as well as the ministry of religious services, Jerusalem and diaspora affairs, and the discussion quickly morphed into a fierce debate between two profoundly divergent visions for advancing peace and security for Israel.  Read More

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    In a Speech to the 2014 Saban Forum, Vice President Joe Biden Plays the Mensch and Tries to Dispel "Malarkey"

    Vice President Joe Biden on December 6, 2014. (Photo by Peter Halmagyi)

    Vice President Joe Biden deployed his trademark folksy style in an address to delegates at the 2014 Saban Forum, underscoring the close American-Israeli cooperation on shared priorities and dismissing criticisms of American diplomacy with Iran as "malarkey." The Vice President insisted that "(t)here's absolutely no daylight, none, between us and Israelis on the question of Israel's security," and estimated the odds of achieving a comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear program as "a less than even shot."  Read More

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    At the 2014 Saban Forum, Israeli Labor Party Leader Herzog Declares "I Will Lead Israel in a Different Direction"

    Isaac Herzog, Israeli chair of the Labor Party and leader of the opposition, and Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, on December 5, 2014. (Photo by Peter Halmagyi)

    In an animated conversation with journalist and author Jeffrey Goldberg on the opening evening of the 2014 Saban Forum, Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog made the case for a joint front in upcoming elections led by Labor to "lead Israel in a different direction." While he ranked socio-economic challenges as one of his foremost priorities, Herzog spent much of the discussion arguing forcefully for enhancing Israel's relationship with Washington and reviving prospects for peace with the Palestinians.
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    Addressing America's Challenges in the Middle East, Hillary Clinton Backs Diplomacy with Iran

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Saban Forum Chairman Haim Saban (Photo by Peter Halmagyi)

    In a discussion with Saban Forum Chairman Haim Saban before an audience of Americans and Israelis, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed the Obama administration's efforts to advance an a nuclear deal with Iran, and downplayed reports of frictions betwen the Obama administration and the Israeli leadership as the healthy consequence of "two raucous democracies." Their conversation addressed a range of U.S. foreign policy challenges in the Middle East, including ISIS, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, and the future of the American-Israeli partnership.  Read More

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    Linking Iran and ISIS: How American Public Opinion Shapes the Obama Administration's Approach to the Nuclear Talks

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) shake hands, as EU envoy Catherine Ashton watches, before a meeting in Vienna (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger).

    The Obama administration faces conflicting imperatives in trying to balancing its strategic interest in achieving a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran and its leadership of the campaign against ISIS. The administration appears to have decided to risk appearing open to an Iranian role in fighting ISIS, and evidence from recent polling by Shibley Telhami suggests that this may be consistent with American public opinion. Telhami explains that bolstered by polling data, the administration has concluded that linking Iran to fighting ISIS psychologically prepares the American public for a possible nuclear deal with Tehran.

     

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    Saban Forum 2014: Americans and Israelis Discuss a Tumultuous Middle East

    Israeli schoolchildren hold the Israeli and American flags (REUTER/Baz Ratner).

    The 11th annual Saban Forum, “Stormy Seas: The United States and Israel in a Tumultuous Middle East,” begins today, with webcast remarks by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Labor Party Leader Isaac Herzog and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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    In Syria, A Last Gasp Warning for U.S. Influence

    Free Syrian Army fighters clash with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad near Aleppo.

    Based on intense face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of nearly 50 Syrian armed opposition groups in recent weeks, Charles Lister warns that the levels of trust and respect for the United States within the Syrian opposition is at an all-time low. Rather than bolstering the armed groups Washington has been backing, recent U.S. policy decisions and actions in Syria have dramatically undermined their position within the conflict, thereby emboldening extremists. Washington appears to be on the verge of losing its last remaining elements of leverage in the Syrian conflict.
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    Unprecedented Tension in an Unshakable Relationship? U.S.-Israeli Dialogue in Time of Crisis

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque).

    U.S.-Israeli relations feature prominently in the news, often described as either “unshakable” or, conversely, in grave crisis. Natan Sachs writes about the 2014 Saban Forum, which convenes top level U.S. and Israeli officials and experts to explore the substance behind the dramatic headlines: regional, bilateral and domestic issues that will chart the future of U.S.-Israeli relations.  Read More

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