Perspectives Papers

Perspectives Papers provide analysis from BESA Center research associates and other outside experts on the most important issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.

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Erdoğan’s Kurdish Gambit

No. 642
| November 15, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan perceives the Kurdish belt along Turkey’s Syrian and Iraqi borders as the country’s top security threat, and has recalibrated his policies accordingly. But he has a Kurdish constituency inside Turkey and will need their votes in 2019. During the upcoming presidential campaign, Erdoğan will have to find a miracle equilibrium: how to win Kurdish votes without losing nationalist Turkish votes?

In Shadowy Covert Wars, Iran Takes Center Stage

No. 641
| November 14, 2017

A series of incidents involving Iranian ethnic and religious minorities raises the specter of the US and Saudi Arabia seeking to destabilize the Islamic Republic. Indications are that Iran has no intention of sitting back passively in the face of this threat. Beyond its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and Shiite militias in Iraq, Tehran may be strengthening its relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The British Political Crisis and European Politics: A Dystopian Scenario

No. 640
| November 13, 2017

The ongoing collapse of Theresa May’s government in Britain raises the possibility of new elections in which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be the likely winner. The red-green alliance between the European far left and Islamist parties threatens to create a dystopian scenario in which national identities are rapidly discarded and national security compromised by terrorism and separatism. This would represent a tremendous danger to the continent’s Jews, to Israel, and to the US.

Normalizing Anti-Semitism on Campus

No. 639
| November 12, 2017

In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from student anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israel and its government’s policies, not with Jews themselves. But that specious defense continues to fall away, revealing base anti-Semitism. This represents a seismic shift. Jews are now being indicted not just for supporting Israel but for being Jewish.

As Saudi Arabia Reels, the Middle East Will Only Get Worse

No. 638
| November 10, 2017

While the recent wave of dismissals and arrests of members of the Saudi ruling family, senior officials, and prominent businessmen clouds prospects for Prince Muhammad’s economic reform plans, signs of an escalation in Saudi-Iranian tensions bode ill for the rest of the region.

Has Israel’s Support for Kurdistan’s Independence Helped or Harmed the Kurds?

No. 637
| November 9, 2017

Israel’s public support for the Kurdish referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence roused many demons from their slumber. The question to be asked is whether the damage wrought by this support did not exceed its benefit.

Russia’s Unlikely Withdrawal from Syria

No. 636
| November 7, 2017

Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil war boosted the reputation of the Russian military, afforded it valuable training, and enhanced Moscow’s political clout in both the conflict zone itself and the Middle East more generally. With that said, Syria threatens to become a quagmire for Russia, and Moscow is looking for an exit. This will be difficult to pull off as Russia faces considerable geopolitical constraints.

Saudi Crackdown Raises Specter of Wider Dissent

No. 635
| November 6, 2017

Few noticed a rare protest that took place in Saudi Arabia in late January 2011 as a wave of popular uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa, toppling the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Yet that protest, as well as criticism of the government’s handling of floods in the Red Sea port of Jeddah in 2009, play an important role in Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s extension of his crackdown to members of the ruling family and the military. Prince Muhammad is attempting to stamp out any form of opposition to his mercurial rise, economic and social reform plans, and conduct of the Yemen war.

The Puzzle of the North Korean ICBM

No. 634

Uncertainty remains about North Korea’s technological maturity and ability to launch nuclear warheads that could hit the US homeland, even after its recent success at launching the Hwasong-14 missile and the conducting of its most powerful nuclear test yet. The first-stage engine of the Hwasong-14 is a critical component in its possible operation as an intercontinental ballistic missile, but there are questions about how Pyongyang came by this engine, how many it possesses, and whether or not it can produce them on its own. These uncertainties are troubling not only with regard to North Korea, but also with regard to Iran. They have sobering implications about the possibility of monitoring and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.

Mahmoud Abbas Should Endorse the Balfour Declaration

No. 633
| November 3, 2017

Rather than entrench itself in its century-long rejection of the “other” at the certain cost of prolonging its people’s suffering, the Palestinian leadership should accept the legitimacy of Jewish statehood. This was, in fact, acknowledged 100 years ago by the international community, including the world’s foremost Muslim power, the head of the pan-Arab movement, and most Palestinian Arabs.