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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Israel and the South Caucasus: Building a New Approach

No. 632
| November 2, 2017

One might be excused for believing the South Caucasus to be of little interest to Israel, as it does not border the Jewish state and hosts several intractable conflicts. But Israel has unique interests in each of the three component South Caucasus countries – interests that have only grown as Iran’s influence has expanded following the lifting of sanctions in 2016.

The Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Conference

No. 631
| November 1, 2017

On October 18, 2017, representatives of the Communist Party of China (CPC) met for their party conference, which takes place every five years. At the event, President Xi Jinping significantly consolidated his position in the party and the state. The Chinese leadership is facing complex challenges, but also has much to be proud of. The party is showing strength and stability, and is taking steps to demonstrate that China has leaders who can take the country forward to face the challenges of the future – even if its approach does not always comport with a Western worldview.

Can Europe Restrain China’s Influence?

No. 630
| October 30, 2017

In recent months, Germany and France have expressed skepticism and raised security concerns about the implications of Chinese investments in Europe. The 2017 State of the Union speech by the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, reflected those voices, marking the beginning of a new period in Sino-European relations. The EU seems determined to be more careful about welcoming future Chinese business interests and is devising a screening model. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the new European strategy will be efficient, as the EU  needs foreign cash and investment.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft: What It Brings to the IAF

No. 629
| October 29, 2017

The F-35 Joint Strike fighter aircraft is about to become fully operational in the Israel Air Force. An intelligence-gathering machine in a league of its own, the F-35 can evade the various enemy radar systems deployed in the northern arena. It will play a key role in Israel’s quest to stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria, and will also help Israel guard against Hezbollah’s heavily armed fortress in Lebanon. The new platform will also boost Israel’s long-range capabilities. 

Kurdish Battle Positions Kurds as US Ally Against Iran

No. 628
| October 27, 2017

There may be a silver, if risky, lining for Kurdish nationalists in their devastating loss of Kirkuk and other cities on the periphery of their semi-autonomous region as they lick their wounds and vent anger over the deep-seated internal divisions that facilitated the Iranian-backed Iraqi blitzkrieg. Mounting popular anger coupled with US Congressional fury could position the Kurds as a key player in potential US efforts to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq and counter the Islamic Republic as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tougher approach towards Tehran.

ISIS: Some Things Cannot Be Killed Off

No. 627

ISIS is facing defeat and liquidation, but its members are dispersing throughout the world and establishing local branches. The idea of the Islamic Caliphate is not dead, and the struggle in the West is not over. ISIS may disappear as an organization, but the world will continue to suffer from the evil spirit that this organization has instilled among too many Muslims.

President Moon Jae-in’s Dilemma

No. 626
| October 25, 2017

South Korean President Moon Jae-in faces pressure from Pyongyang, Beijing, and Washington as well as from his own country about the North Korean crisis. He needs to find ways to balance the multilevel exterior pressure with the expectations of the South Korean voting public, which elected him in the hope of bringing about a more peaceful North Korean policy.

Why Is Israel’s Image Improving in Greece?

No. 625
| October 24, 2017

Israel’s image in the Greek media has been negative for decades. However, the rapprochement between Athens and Jerusalem and improvement in their political and economic relations since 2010 have affected Greek journalists. While sympathy for the Palestinians has not completely faded, Israel is no longer represented exclusively as a villain. It is now often portrayed as a useful partner. While anti-Semitism remains a problem in Greece, this new media attitude could lead to its decline over the long term.

The Kurds: Neither the Twin of Palestine Nor the Clone of Israel

No. 624
| October 23, 2017

The Kurds are an ancient tribal people indigenous to West Asia. Between 1918 and 1925, they were made part of four newborn countries, each of which continues to deny its Kurds their fundamental freedoms, let alone nation-statehood. Neither “a second Israel” nor “a second Palestine,” Iraqi Kurds are ready to govern themselves as a functioning democratic nation – an authentic nation-state in a region substantially constructed from without.

The Dynamics of Saudi-Russian Relations

No. 623
| October 22, 2017

The Saudi Arabia-US partnership is a defining pillar of Middle Eastern geopolitics. However, increasing Saudi-Iranian hostility, recent changes inside the Saudi regime, and lingering questions over the consistency of the Trump administration’s support have led Riyadh to diversify its bilateral relationships. King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s historic four-day visit to Moscow in early October must be seen in this context. The Saudi-Russian rapprochement will likely have huge strategic and economic consequences for Middle Eastern geopolitics.