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 Hajj and the Struggle for Islamic Hegemony

No. 573

The ethnic Sunni-Shiite rift parallels the Saudi-Iranian political rift, the Wahhabi-Muslim Brotherhood ideological rift, and the historic rift between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Tensions over Islamic hegemony arising from these rifts are likely to come to a boil at the 2017 Hajj.kecar

The Iranian Fortress

No. 572
| August 28, 2017

There are many questions about Tehran’s long-term foreign policy following the lifting of western sanctions in 2016. To answer these questions, it is helpful to consider Iran’s geography and the way it affects the country’s behavior in terms of international relations. Iran’s geopolitical imperatives to defend its core land, project power where necessary, and limit foreign encroachments have remained largely unchanged throughout many centuries of its history.

Beware Media Fear-Mongering

No. 571

The developments that followed the Temple Mount crisis highlighted the media’s penchant for manufacturing unnecessary drama. If anything, the decision to roll back security measures on the Temple Mount was a sign of Israel’s strength, not its weakness.

Victory, Not Deterrence, Will Be Israel’s Goal if War Breaks Out Again in Gaza

No. 570
| August 26, 2017

Creating deterrence was Israel’s goal in the last three conflicts it fought against Hamas, but that objective has been cast aside. Any future armed clash with Gaza’s Islamist rulers will be guided by a new Israeli objective: that of achieving a crystal clear victory over the enemy.

Suggestion to the New Saudi Crown Prince

No. 569
| August 25, 2017

It is unlikely that the new heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who will be the first of King ibn Saud’s grandchildren to come to power – will stop the private Saudi program of promoting Salafism. Salafism is the radical form of Islam practiced by the Saudis, and their export of their beliefs has been a major cause of the Muslim world’s move towards radicalism over the last nearly 40 years. But the Saudi leadership might respond to a US suggestion that they begin to omit Indonesia and India from their program. This would protect a critical quarter of the world’s Muslim population from moving from moderate to radical Islam.

Why National Leaders Can Go Against Expert Advice

No. 568

In making decisions, the national leadership has not only the legal authority to ignore expert recommendations but also a solid conceptual basis for doing so based on broader considerations that transcend advanced knowledge.

China in the Red Sea: The Djibouti Naval Base and the Return of Admiral Zheng He

No. 567
| August 23, 2017

Last month, the Chinese established their first-ever military-naval base outside the Asia-Pacific region, in Djibouti. The establishment of the base is an expression of the “Maritime Silk Road” policy intended to exert Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and into the Mediterranean. The establishment of the Djibouti base also reflects Beijing’s recent celebration of Zheng He, the 15th century admiral, whose voyages in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean have come to symbolize Chinese power and a Chinese-led global order. 

Iran and North Korea: Two Peas in a Nuclear Pod

No. 566

Much separates Iran and North Korea, but the two have plenty in common when it comes to nuclear ambitions. Whenever they move to appease the West, they somehow get closer to realizing their goals, while the world fumbles to curtail them.

The New US “Peace Team”: A Test of Will

No. 565
| August 21, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell will soon arrive in our region. This “peace team” will meet with leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority to examine ways to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process while also addressing issues of far more importance to Arab leaders, such as Iranian subversion in the region, the situation in Syria, the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the Sunni Muslim states, as well as what is commonly referred to as “the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Erdoğan’s Turkey: A Step Closer to the Orient

No. 564
| August 20, 2017

Despite Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s charisma as a politician, he has failed to promote stability in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East due to his maximalist ideas. Erdoğan’s negligent decision-making in foreign affairs is leading Turkey away from the West and closer to the instability of the Orient.