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 Gulf States and the New Silk Road

No. 1229
| July 17, 2019

The rise of the People’s Republic of China over the past two decades has significantly changed the global economy. This development represents an opportunity for the Gulf states as they seek to diversify their economies, increase trade, and locate investment opportunities in emerging markets. By promoting China’s Belt and Road Initiative, they can boost their own national development plans through access to Beijing’s favorable business conditions, expertise, and experience.

Active Protection Systems in Asymmetric Conflict

No. 1228

A massive concentration of forces is a disadvantage, not an advantage, in the modern era of asymmetric conflict. Active Protection Systems (APS), by contrast, provide small fighting units with protection and enable them to locate hostiles and discriminate them from the surrounding population. They thus reduce the army’s exposure while increasing its effectiveness.

Public Decency Law Puts Saudi Reforms in Perspective

No. 1227
| July 15, 2019

A newly adopted Saudi law on public decency helps define Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s vague notion of “moderate Islam.” It lays bare the pitfalls of his social reforms as well as his preference for hyper-nationalism rather than religion as the legitimizing ideology of his rule and his quest for control of every aspect of Saudi life.

The Berlin Jewish Museum Scandal

No. 1226
| July 14, 2019

The recent resignation of Peter Schäfer, Director of the Berlin Jewish Museum, follows a series of missteps by the museum that have led the German Jewish umbrella organization to declare that the museum has lost the trust of the community. Schäfer, a respected scholar, resigned from a position that requires an experienced manager with profound political understanding and instincts who is able to operate in what is for German Jews a highly problematic reality.

Donald Trump’s “Obama Moments” in Syria and the Gulf

No. 1225
| July 12, 2019

The continuing bombardment of the Syrian province of Idlib by Russia, Iran, and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has been ignored for far too long by the international community. Attention must be paid – in particular by  Donald Trump, who is showing himself worryingly prone to “Obama moments” of hesitation and lack of resolve.

Disowning Ben-Gurion’s Vision

No. 1224

The rejection by Israeli intellectuals of Jewish spiritual and political activism, as exemplified in the preaching and actions of Rabbi Akiva, who was executed by the Romans for his support of the Bar-Kochba revolt (132-35 CE), runs counter to the thinking of David Ben-Gurion, who considered himself a disciple and successor of the eminent sage.

Russia’s and China’s Geopolitical Offensive in Africa

No. 1223
| July 10, 2019

Both China and Russia have increased their influence on the African continent through money, diplomacy, and other measures – efforts that go directly against US interests. Washington has paid little attention to Africa and will find it difficult to compete with Moscow and Beijing, particularly as other geopolitical theaters require its immediate attention.

Russia Joins Gulf States in Coaching Sudan’s Military

No. 1222
| July 9, 2019

Russia has emerged as Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s silent partner in assisting the Sudanese military’s efforts to weaken, if not defeat, a months-long popular revolt that has already toppled president Omar Bashir.

A Flight Guide to Middle East Politics

No. 1221
| July 8, 2019

The flight schedules of the major airports in the states of the Middle East provide an excellent window into regional politics. The absence of air traffic between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to Iran reflects the tacit alliance of the three, while the abundance of connections between Istanbul and Qatar and Iranian destinations reflects the counter-Sunni alliance. Flight data also help us to gauge the extent to which Assad’s Syria has been restored.

Clerics and Entertainers Seek to Bolster MBS’s Grip on Power

No. 1220
| July 7, 2019

A public apology by a prominent Salafi scholar sheds light on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s version of “moderate Islam,” which appears to be an effort to shape the Middle East and North Africa in his image and replace religion with hypernationalism.