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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The Gaza Border Fence Riots as an Operational Campaign

No. 821

When it comes to defending the Gaza border against the physical threat, the responsibility of the Chief of Staff and the commander of Southern Command is clear-cut and well fulfilled. That, however, does not constitute a sufficient response to Hamas’s effort to turn the border fence events into a strategic achievement.

Most Iranians Couldn’t Care Less About the Palestinians or Israel

No. 820
| May 2, 2018

Diplomats who served in Tehran frequently claim that Israel and the Palestinians are marginal to Iranian concerns. They are correct about the Iranian public and wrong about the leadership. Maybe this and other formidable gaps between the Iranian public and the leadership could provide the fuel to ignite the opposition to remove them from power.

Iran Faces Economic Challenges as Its Currency Plunges

No. 819
| May 1, 2018

The sharp decline in the value of the Iranian currency is causing upheaval in the Iranian economy and challenging the government and the banking sector. The local currency’s plunge to a rate of 6,000 tomans to the dollar, despite the high level of oil and gas revenues, reflects a lack of trust between the citizens and the banking system. A consideration of Iran’s economic policy sheds light on the limitations of the “dual economy” practiced by the Islamic Republic since its inception.

Iran Struggles with Potentially Explosive Environmental Crisis

No. 818
| May 1, 2018

Iranian leaders are struggling, three months after anti-government protests swept the Islamic Republic, to ensure that environmental issues that helped spark a popular uprising in Syria in 2011 leading to a brutal civil war don’t threaten the clergy’s grip on power.

Discouraging the Use of Chemical Weapons Is Valuable Unto Itself

No. 817
| April 30, 2018

The attack on Syria’s chemical weapons (CW) sites wasn’t intended to influence the outcome of the war; it was designed to prevent the future use of CW.  This won’t save many lives, because regular bombs can kill as many people as CW. But ending the horrors of chemical warfare is a worthwhile and feasible international goal.  The way we react to the attack on Assad’s CW assets can affect the possibility of future use. We should applaud the international actions against Assad’s CW instead of complaining about what the attacks didn’t accomplish.

Syria’s Growing Chemical Weapons Entanglement

No. 816

The chemical weapons (CW) possessed and employed by Syria since it undertook to completely get rid of them have become an increasingly tangled web over the past year. This has many ramifications, particularly in light of the recent US-Britain-France raid against Syria.

Israel’s Nuclear and Conventional Deterrence

No. 814
| April 29, 2018

In thinking about deterrence-based national security, Israel must regard the country’s nuclear and conventional threats as seamless and interwoven. This is because a recognizably capable and coherent conventional deterrent could prevent any too-sudden escalations to nuclear dimensions of conflict, and because a similarly capable and coherent nuclear deterrent could best ensure that adversaries remain suitably reluctant to menace Israel’s existence. Moreover, because both interrelated forms of Israeli deterrence always require a presumption of enemy rationality – and because these enemies might not always conform to this reassuring presumption – Israel will have to develop a far more conspicuous doctrine for dealing with prospectively non-rational adversaries. While any such doctrine, inter alia, must include a broad variety of plausible preemption choices, there are conceivable circumstances wherein Israel’s pertinent enemies would be judged irrational or potentially irrational, and where identifiable cost-effective preemption options no longer exist. At that eleventh-hour point of crisis, Israel’s leaders would need to have ready certain still-promising security options other than deterrence (conventional or nuclear) or preemption.

Erdoğan vs. the Free Press

No. 813
| April 27, 2018

The takeover of Turkey’s largest independent media group by an Erdoğan crony was not unexpected given the troubles and systematic state harassment suffered by the Dogan Media Company over the past decade. After the takeover, the opposition media will be limited to one large-circulation daily, a couple of small, left-wing newspapers, and a number of small digital platforms, with the third group now facing new pressure from the government.

New Military Intelligence Chief Arrives at Critical Juncture

No. 812
| April 26, 2018

A new Military Intelligence chief has taken up his position just as Israel’s low-profile campaign to disrupt the force build-up process of its enemies is reaching a critical juncture. An escalation by Iran will jeopardize its Syrian and Lebanese projects. 

Natural Gas: An Underrated Driver of Saudi Hostility Towards Iran and Qatar

No. 809
| April 25, 2018

Debilitating hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about lots of things, not least who will have the upper hand in a swath of land stretching from Central Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa. While attention is focused on ensuring that continued containment of Iran ensures that Saudi Arabia has a leg up, geopolitics is but one side of the equation. Natural gas is the other.