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.

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Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options

| February 2, 2018

While Israel has always been determinedly self-reliant on core matters of national security, this posture needs to become even more explicit in the disjointed “Trump Era.” In correctly acknowledging the unpredictability and possible incoherence of Trump’s developing policies towards the Middle East, Jerusalem will need to direct special attention towards growing prospects for “Cold War II,” and certain incrementally needed revisions of Israeli nuclear strategy.

Russia’s Strategic Advantage in the Baltics: A Challenge to NATO?

| January 19, 2018

Because nations have complex histories that mold or mar them, what geopolitical lessons and historical lessons can we draw from Russia’s previous military interventions? Has the historical relationship of Russia with the Baltic states been conditioned by a clash of civilizations as claimed by some Baltic thinkers? If so, how does this factor into the present tensions? What role does the sizable minority of Russians in the Baltic states play in the Kremlin’s policy-making? How can strategic military savvy and diplomacy aid in preventing the escalation of present tensions in the Baltics into full-scale war?

Conflicting Interests: Tehran and the National Aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds

| December 14, 2017

The national aspirations of the Kurdish minority in Iraq pose a challenge to the four countries that have a large Kurdish population. It is not by chance that the decision to hold a referendum provoked furious reactions among the leaders of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. According to the received wisdom, the success of Iraq’s Kurdish minority in realizing its national self-determination will serve as a catalyst for separatist tendencies among the Iranian Kurds. However, Tehran’s firm opposition to the move stems not only from the fear of a “chain reaction” but also from strategic and geopolitical consideration. In other words, the controversy between Shiite Iran and the Kurdish minority in Iraq is not the result of an historical memory of an uprising that led to the establishment of the “Republic of Mahabad” in the 1940s, but consists of other levels that express opposing aspirations in a changing geopolitical space.

Arabs and Turks Welcomed the Balfour Declaration

| November 8, 2017

It was not the Balfour Declaration that paved the road to the “Nakba” but its rejection by the extremist Palestinian Arab leadership headed by the Jerusalem Mufti Hajj Amin Husseini – against the wishes of ordinary Palestinian Arabs who would rather coexist with their Jewish neighbors and take advantage of opportunities created by the evolving Jewish national enterprise. Had this leadership not ignored the wishes of its subjects, and the will of the international community for that matter, there would have been no Nakba.

Greece, Israel, and China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative

| October 31, 2017

China’s “Belt and Road” initiative signals the continuation and expansion of a pre-existing incremental policy that aims to strengthen China’s economic and geopolitical roles, though Beijing’s long-term approach remains unclear. The initiative does not immediately bring Greece and Israel closer. But it gives the two countries an opportunity to discuss China’s new role in the Mediterranean and to maximize bilateral relationships with Beijing without challenging their pro-West orientation.

The Low-Profile War Between Israel and Hezbollah

| August 31, 2017

In defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon war, Hezbollah and its Iranian patron, with the assistance of the Bashar Assad regime, are filling Lebanon with surface-to-surface projectiles, and aiming them at population centers and strategic sites in Israel. To forestall this threat, the Israeli defense establishment has, according to media reports, been waging a low-profile military and intelligence campaign, dubbed “The War Between Wars,” which monitors and occasionally disrupts the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

Foreign Investment in Israel’s Strategic Industries

| July 27, 2017

The changing map of foreign investment in Israel demands a new balance between market access and investment review. The Israeli government has not yet communicated to the global investment community its vision for foreign investment in Israel, especially in the banking, insurance, commodities and defense markets. This vision is crucial so that multinational companies can make informed investment decisions. Current ambiguities in this regard leads to policy inconsistency, resulting in the fact that many potential foreign buyers avoid penetrating the Israeli market altogether.

Washington and Moscow: Confrontation or Cooperation?

| June 20, 2017

Behind the ongoing media frenzy, America seems deeply divided over whether to pursue a hard line with Russia or to cooperate with it. With Donald Trump favoring the latter course, Moscow “voted” for him in the 2016 elections. But the Kremlin’s cybernetic interference in the election has led to ongoing Russo-gate and efforts by President Trump’s foes to paint him as a Manchurian candidate.

Rethinking the Six-Day War

It has long been conventional wisdom to view the June 1967 war as an accidental conflagration that neither Arabs nor Israelis desired, yet none were able to prevent. This could not be further from the truth. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.