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

Sudan’s Policy in the Era of Arab Upheaval: For Good or for Evil?

| April 13, 2018

Starting in the mid-1970s, the Sudanese identity that initially was molded by the ruling elite as an Arab and Middle Eastern one was transformed into a radical Islamic-Sunni one. The attitude towards Israel – as evidenced, for example, in the pan-Arab “three no’s” of the 1967 Khartoum summit conference – evolved into Islamic hostility towards the Jewish state. Along with other major changes, the removal of Hassan al-Turabi from the political arena (and his death) has led the leadership to consider establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Water, Trump, and Israel’s National Security

| March 29, 2018

Access to potable water is critical for Israel’s future, yet the country depends more and more on its desalination plants, aquifers, and water from outside its borders. Pollution and other factors may jeopardize water supplies as Israel extracts oil and natural gas on and off its coast. American oil and natural gas firms, with the assistance of the Trump administration, may pressure the Israeli government to allow the extraction of these resources in exchange for additional assistance. Jerusalem must put access to potable water at the forefront of its national security goals.

Reframing the Middle Eastern and Palestinian Refugee Crises

and | March 13, 2018

There are two Middle Eastern refugee crises currently vying for resources and attention. One is nominally focused on Syria but in fact extends from Libya to Afghanistan. The other crisis is Palestinian and has supposedly been going on since 1948. A closer look at the causes of these crises shows the former to be primarily the result of the collapsing Arab state system and the rise of militant Islam, while the latter cannot be considered a crisis at all.

Militant Islam’s War Against the West

| March 8, 2018

For more than 30 years, an ideological movement called Islamism has been at war with the West. This paper presents a long-term perspective on the nature of this war, alternative Western reactions to the attack, possible future developments, and the likely outcome.

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.

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.