Arab Decline and Iran’s Rising Influence

u1_symbolPublished in Your Middle East.

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, leader of the largest Arab nation during the 1950s and 1960s, was one of the most popular and charismatic statesmen of the twentieth century. In his 1954 memoir, The Philosophy of the Revolution, Nasser claimed that Egypt’s unique geography and historical legacy enhanced its ability to influence Africa, the Muslim world, and the Arab world. Of these three significant regions, it was the Arab world which captivated Nasser’s attention the most: “I always imagine that in this region in which we live there is a role wandering aimlessly about in search of an actor to play it.”

Nasser’s ultimate vision was to become the undisputed leader of the Arab world, and to exert his influence beyond Egypt’s borders. He implemented a brief union with Syria (1958-61) and renamed both nations as the United Arab Republic, but the project collapsed because Syrians viewed it more as an Egyptian occupation rather than a merger of equals.

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Egyptian Attitudes Toward the Yemen War

egy yemPublished in Your Middle East.

On March 25, Saudi Arabia led a pan-Arab military campaign in Yemen known as “Decisive Storm” to expel the Iranian-backed Houthis, who seized control of the country in January after deposing President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

While much has been said about Sunni-Shia sectarianism, the conflict should really be viewed as a struggle for regional influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The proxy war in Yemen is also about whether Yemen is part of the pro-Western Sunni Arab alliance that includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, or if it’s part of the anti-Western Shia alliance led by Iran and its allies, Hezbollah and Syria. Continue reading

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White House Needs to Support Egypt and Jordan With a Consistent Anti-Terrorism Strategy

proxyPublished in the Huffington Post.

Supporting Jordan’s counterterrorism strategy and not Egypt’s is short-sighted and counterproductive in the long-term struggle to defeat ISIS.

Egypt and Jordan, both of whom are close U.S. allies, are on the front lines in a global war against terrorism. Jordan supported the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition after the Sept. 2014 NATO summit in Wales. Initially, the kingdom’s role was primarily intelligence and logistical cooperation with coalition forces, as Jordan historically prefers avoiding direct military confrontation with its neighbors. In Nov. 2011 King Abdullah became the first Arab leader to call for President Bashar Assad to step down but did not advocate direct Jordanian military intervention. Continue reading

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Refugees and the Arab Spring in Jordan

Published in Sharnoff’s Global Views.

While Jordan appears stable and has consistently overcome challenges to the throne since independence in 1946, Arab Spring protests and the influx of more than half a million Syrian refugees pose new concerns for the Hashemite Kingdom. Continue reading

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Anticipate Greater Jordanian Role in West Bank

israel-palestine

Published in Your Middle East.

The recent resignation announcement by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah – who had served just two weeks – struck a humiliating blow to President Mahmoud Abbas and raises serious questions about the competence of governance and the future of the Palestinian question. No one has been tapped to replace Hamdallah, although it is likely to be one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers Ziad Abu Amr or Mohammed Mustafa. Continue reading

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Will Jordan and Egypt Play a Greater Role in Palestinian Affairs in 2013?

palestine-coat

 

Published in Sharnoff’s Global Views on Dec. 31, 2012.

 

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has remained elusive. The politically correct paradigm proffered by the international community including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States has been two states, two peoples: an independent Palestinian state including the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel. Continue reading

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