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“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010

Middle East Analysis

Upcoming Events

The U.S. Agency for International Development and Conflict: Hard Lessons from the Field

May 17, 2011, 12:00pm – 1:15pm

From Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan, Somalia, and South Sudan, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is engaged daily in trying to help some of the most troubled nations on the planet make a lasting transition to stability, open markets, and democracy. Few areas of the agency’s work are more challenging or more controversial.

Join us for remarks by, and a roundtable with, the deputy administrator of USAID, Ambassador



    • Robert Ford’s Visit To Hama
    • Analysis | Jul 11, 2011
    • The New York Times reports that angry crowds in Syria have attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus, apparently in response to U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit last week to the city of Hama, which was seen as a gesture of support for Syrians protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Former Bush administration official Elliott Abrams suggests that the Obama administration has “two options” in regard to Ambassador Ford:

      The first is to recall him, citing


    • After Turkey’s June Elections
    • Analysis | Jul 1, 2011
    • Turkey’s parliamentary elections earlier this month set the stage for how Turkish leaders pursue reform at home and approach the many challenges and opportunities in the country’s tumultuous neighborhood. How this all plays out will have important implications for U.S. foreign policy in the region. Why? Because U.S.-Turkish relations as they relate to the many conflicts in the region may well be key to addressing these conflicts effectively to the benefit of both countries.

    • Engaging Iran
    • Analysis | Jun 10, 2011
    • This piece was written by six former ambassadors to Iran from European countries: Richard Dalton (United Kingdom), Steen Hohw-Christensen (Sweden), Paul von Maltzahn (Germany), Guillaume Metten (Belgium), Franois Nicoullaud (France) and Roberto Toscano (Italy)

      As ambassadors to Iran during the last decade, we have all followed closely the development of the nuclear crisis between Iran and the international community. It is unacceptable that the talks have been deadlocked for such a long time.

      The Arab


    • In Gaza, time to try a new option
    • Analysis | Jun 10, 2011
    • The partial opening of the Rafah crossing by Egypt’s military rulers, coupled with the anticipation of another Turkish-led naval flotilla seeking to breach the Gaza blockade, provide a timely opportunity to review the logic of Israel’s restrictions on movement into and out of the Strip. The Egyptian move also raises the issue of Gaza’s future relationship with Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.

      There was never any compelling strategic logic behind Israel’s refusal to


    • Making Sense of Libya
    • Analysis | Jun 10, 2011
    • The character of the Libyan crisis today arises from the complex but so far evidently indecisive impact of the UN-authorised military intervention, now formally led by NATO, in what had already become a civil war. NATO’s intervention saved the anti-Qaddafi side from immediate defeat but has not yet resolved the conflict in its favour. Although the declared rationale of this intervention was to protect civilians, civilians are figuring in large numbers as victims of


    • Israel’s Palestinian Arab Spring
    • Analysis | May 16, 2011
    • Why did thousands of Palestinians yesterday converge upon Israel’s borders? Partly because Syria’s war-criminal leader, Bashar al-Assad, and his ally, Hezbollah, wanted them to. But there’s more to it than that. Palestinians also marched from Jordan and Egypt, whose governments did their best to stop the protests. In fact, they marched from every corner of the Palestinian world, in a tech-savvy, coordinated campaign. What hit Israel yesterday was the Palestinian version of the


    • Inevitable and Unpredictable Regime Change in Iran
    • Analysis | May 16, 2011
    • I was in Los Angeles recently to speak at a conference at UCLA on Iran. There was sufficient disagreement about policy issues to keep most of the discussions lively. There was mostly consensus, however, on the prospects for change from the current regime. As Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment characterized the situation, the collapse of the regime is both inevitable and unpredictable. Sadjadpour noted that on each of the dimensions


    • A Middle East Without a Peace Process
    • Analysis | May 16, 2011
    • Welcome to the post-peace process: The drama that unfolded on Israel’s boundaries on Sunday as 12 Palestinians were killed in a wave of unarmed civil disobedience was but a taste of things to come. That was the warning from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Sunday night,and he’s certainly got reason to worry: Rather than pin their hopes on a moribund peace process,Palestinians have begun instead to align themselves with the Arab Spring by


    • The Iraq War Helped Bin Laden
    • Analysis | May 3, 2011
    • When confronted with such questions as why it took the U.S. a full decade to kill Osama bin Laden, there’s a tendency to engage in Monday morning quarterbacking: evaluating past decisions in light of information we have now, and assuming alternative courses of action would have been superior only because they are different.

      In the case of the search for Bin Laden, there are a couple of clear errors, and a lot that even now we don’t


    • Three reasons the U.S. was able to kill Osama bin Laden
    • Analysis | May 3, 2011
    • On Sunday night, President Obama seized the brass ring that his two immediate predecessors, and dozens of their counterterrorism appointees, had longed for: the chance to appear in front of the nation and announce that Osama bin Laden was dead. Predictably, twelve hours had not gone by before commenters were either insisting that this success could be linked back to actions of President Bush, or debunking that view. It’s worth trying to unpack