Mideast Security and Policy Studies

Mideast Security and Policy Studies serve as a forum for publication or re-publication of research conducted by BESA Center research associates.

View Archive

Operation “Shahid Soleimani”: Iran’s Revenge

| February 13, 2020

Operation Shahid Soleimani, the Iranian revenge attack for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, was less spectacular than the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last September and was apparently controversial even within Iran’s top leadership. Still, Israel can learn lessons from it: that Iran’s regime is willing to take extraordinary risks when it feels humiliated; that in certain scenarios precision missiles can be as effective as combat aircraft; that even a few precision missiles can disrupt the operation of modern air bases; and that good public diplomacy is crucial for crisis management.

Iran’s Missiles and Its Evolving “Rings of Fire”

| January 9, 2020

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning on the emergent Yemen-originating missile threat  corresponds to Iran’s modus operandi of surrounding its foes with missile “rings of fire” and will enable Tehran to complete the missile encirclement of the Jewish state as a step toward its eventual demise. Israel must do its utmost to confront this new strategic threat by establishing an alert system and defense capabilities against Yemen-originating cruise and ballistic missiles, whatever the cost.

The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment

The targeted killing by the US of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force and close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has unsettled the region and the world. We have assembled initial takes on this event by five BESA researchers: Prof. Hillel Frisch, Prof. Eytan Gilboa, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Dr. Doron Itzchakov, and Alex Joffe. 

Land Combat Vehicles: Protection Must Come First

| November 28, 2019

For decades, western armies have been working on developing a land-combat vehicle that would address the changing nature of warfare — notably fighting in densely populated urban and rural terrains — and
new operational threats like mines, side bombs, and short-range rockets for purposes of ambush. But attempts to circumvent the use of expensive heavy armor by harnessing advanced sensory-fire and mobility technologies to neutralize potential threats before their actualization has been far from successful, leaving ground forces vulnerable and exposed. Development of a new land-combat vehicle
will thus necessitate a highly inventive engineering and technological approach that slashes costs and weight of protective armor without compromising its effectiveness.

Trump’s Trade Wars: A New World Order?

| November 8, 2019

President Donald Trump’s declared economic protectionism has taken the US’s international relations with several foes and allies into uncharted territory. His open-ended trade wars with several nations have triggered criticism among conservatives and liberals alike in the US. He has justified his actions by arguing for a downturn of America’s trade deficit, but the American people don’t seem to be on board with his logic. This paper examines the ramifications of President Trump’s policy of economic sanctions and tariffs vis-à-vis several nations and international groupings. It also looks at China’s counter-strategy and considers whether Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia will be caught in the web of the current trade wars.

What Happens to Israel If the US and Iran Go to War?

| September 12, 2019

On core matters of peace and security, two closely interrelated questions must be asked: 1. What precisely does Donald Trump have in mind regarding any potential armed conflict with Iran? 2. What might such a possibility portend for Israel, a US ally? Answers to these questions must extend beyond narrowly partisan simplifications. They should be nuanced and subtly overlapping. At a minimum, once a shooting war were underway, the Israeli armed forces (IDF) could become involved, possibly to a substantial degree. In a worst case scenario, clashes would involve unconventional weapons and directly affect Israel’s civilian population. The worst of the worst could involve nuclear ordnance.

EU Funding of Illegal Palestinian Settlement in Area C

| September 3, 2019

“Area C,” which makes up about 60% of the biblical lands of Judea
and Samaria (known as the West Bank since their 1950 annexation by Jordan), is making news these days. This time, the hot button issue is the illegal Palestinian settlements that are sprouting up across the region. These settlements shred the last scraps that remain of the Oslo Accords,
which propelled the idea of the “two-state solution” for a generation.

The funding for these illegal Palestinian settlements, which amounts to hundreds of millions of euros annually, comes from the EU. According to the Oslo Accords, only Israel can issue construction permits in Area C. In joining forces to promote the rapid expansion of illegal  Palestinian settlement in Area C, the EU and the PA have dispensed entirely with any coordination with Israel, in direct contravention of the Accords.

A Geopolitical Crossfire: Al-Azhar Struggles to Balance Politics and Tradition

| August 22, 2019

When Pope Francis I visited Egypt in 2017 to stimulate interfaith dialogue he walked into a religious and geopolitical minefield at the heart of which was Al-Azhar, one of the world’s oldest and foremost seats of Islamic learning. The pope’s visit took on added significance with Al-Azhar standing accused of promoting the kind of ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim Islam that potentially creates an environment conducive to breeding extremism.

Israeli Nuclear Deterrence in Context: Effects of the US-Russian Rivalry

| June 20, 2019

Israel’s presumptive nuclear deterrence posture depends upon several separate but intersecting factors. Most important, of course, are the country’s weapons, infrastructures, and missile defense capabilities. Less conspicuously urgent, but still important, are the principal defining structures of world politics. These include (as ever) the fundamentally anarchic system created after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia (“The State System”) and the more transient or temporary US-Russian rivalry. This essay casts attention on the latter set of factors, or “Cold War II.” Israel’s strategists should pay close attention to this critical expression of geopolitical “context.”

The West Bank’s Area C: Israel’s Eastern Line of Defense

This study explores the strategic-military implications of the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-June 1967 lines. Its central thesis is that the creation of such a state, on the heels of the IDF’s total withdrawal from the West Bank, will not only deprive Israel of defensible borders but will almost certainly lead to the advent of a terrorist entity like the one created in the Gaza Strip – at a stone’s throw from the Israeli hinterland.