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

Washington and Moscow: Confrontation or Cooperation?

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.

As Trump replaces Obama’s misconceived policy of strategic patience with proactive strategic savvy, the question of US future policies remains open. Seeking answers requires a fundamental reexamination
of Washington’s 21st century Middle East wars, where at every turn Russian-American relations formed the hidden context.

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.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and the New Regional Landscape

| May 31, 2017

Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have faced serious challenges over the past decade, from the rise of Iran and falling oil prices, to the Arab uprisings. In June 2016, with these issues in mind, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University and the National Security Studies Center (NSSC) at the University of Haifa held a two-day conference on “Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and the New Regional Landscape.” The conference was convened by Dr. Dan Schueftan of the NSSC and Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum of the BESA Center and the Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

Qatar: The Limits of Nouveau Riche Diplomacy

and | April 25, 2017

Under the leadership of Sheikh Hamad al-Thani (1995-2013), Qatar established itself as a regional mini superpower. It launched and subsidized the global media giant Al Jazeera, poured billions into its unrivalled liquefied natural gas infrastructure, made a successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and diversified its economy through international acquisitions by its Qatari Investment Authority.

Israel’s Inelegant Options in Judea and Samaria: Withdrawal, Annexation, and Conflict Management

In advance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror examines the two basic approaches to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the creation of a bi-national state (in practice).

The Kurds in a Volatile Middle East

| February 27, 2017

The Kurds challenge the self-perceptions of the nation-states in which they reside: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq; and they have played a crucial role in combatting Islamic State. This study analyzes the rivalry and interdependence among the four parts of Kurdistan as well as the dynamics of their relations with regional countries and the international community. With the entire region in a state of flux, will the Kurds fulfill their dream for a state or autonomous existence of their own?

North Korea and the Middle East

| January 10, 2017

Kim Jung-un’s new year declaration that North Korea will test its new ICBM this year (2017) poses a further challenge to the incoming Trump administration. It is truly a “rogue state” – a country that conducts nuclear tests in defiance of the UN Security Council, and that is willing to sell conventional and non-conventional weapons to other rogue regimes, including Israel’s enemies. The nuclear cooperation between North Korea, Syria and Iran forces Israel into new alliances to counter this threat.

The Libyan Tragedy and Its Meaning: The Wages of Indecision

| January 8, 2017

Overshadowed by the Syrian tragedy, the collapse of the Libyan state had dangerous consequences for Mediterranean security. It also demonstrated the cost of a hastily organized intervention followed by disastrous neglect and the rise of Islamist forces. Still, its latest chapter – the successful campaign to eradicate IS in Sirte – proves that when carefully chosen, limited military means can achieve strategic goals: and in that basis, measures should be taken to satisfy General Hiftar and his Egyptian backers.

Medium-Intensity Threats: The Case for Beefed-Up IDF Ground Forces

and | October 26, 2016

Some pundits contend that in the absence of a direct threat from state armies, and in a situation where terror, guerrilla and rocket threats predominate, Israel no longer needs heavy maneuvering formations. This study argues the contrary.

The Game of Camps: Ideological Fault Lines in the Wreckage of the Arab State System

| September 21, 2016

This study maps four Arab ideological camps and their interactions: The Iranian camp, Islamic State camp, Muslim Brotherhood camp, and the “counter camp” – which consists of the forces of stability, ranging from Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states to Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as the Kurds and other non-Arab players.