Middle East politics / Arabic / Counter-terrorism

My new article for The Hill on US Syria Policy

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Here’s the introduction:

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Here’s the link to the rest of the article. And there is one big way where this policy could go wrong that I mention at the end.


My new WINEP article

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In an article for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy I analyze  President Trump’s focus on rebuilding alliances with traditional US allies in the Middle East.

Making sense of the Sisi-Trump summit


Continuing an early-administration priority of restoring relations with key allies, the POTUS pulled out all the stops Monday for the first meeting to the White House by an Egyptian leader since 2009:

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Was the meeting a success? 

Here are three core principles to keep in mind.

#1 – Allies will act as good allies IF they believe they are considered genuine allies

Bottom line: The only way the US gets the benefits of an alliance with a country like Egypt, is if it’s a strong relationship and one where the junior partner truly feels valued.

Otherwise – and with virtually no exceptions to this rule – this is what happens:

Egypt will give the US the metaphorical finger and do what it wants as part of a classic Egyptian desire to demonstrate a certain spunk and “independence.”

Exact same thing is true of Israel and Saudi Arabia..

Continue reading “Making sense of the Sisi-Trump summit”

My new article on the return of US pragmatism to Mid East policy

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For two core reasons: 

#1 – “Trump’s position makes Iranian adventurism throughout the Middle East far less likely. It also decreases the temptation of U.S. allies to engage in counter-productive and destabilizing unilateral military operations of their own out of a perceived need to project strength in the face of Iran.”

#2 – “by restoring alliances with traditional allies in the Middle East, Trump’s approach is far more likely to get significant contributions from them, furthering his America First agenda.”

Here’s the Link to the article.

Making Jordan Great Again?


Today I read this  scathing attack on Jordanian immigration policy by a leading Jordanian journalist.  In a nutshell, he rips what he considers an over reliance on foreign workers at the expensive of hiring Jordanians.

The Key Question this article raises:  what does this say about the long-term fate of global immigration paradigms if Jordan – a relatively poor country – is having this kind of problem in 2017?

The article is in Arabic – here is my translation of the key points:  Continue reading “Making Jordan Great Again?”

Why Saudi/UAE views on radical Islam during the Trump era will be more influential than the Qatari narrative of the Obama years

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Given the Trump administration focus on rebuilding damaged alliances with traditional Middle Eastern allies that were neglected by President Obama, Israeli, Emirati, Saudi and Egyptian views on issues such as terrorism and whatever relationship the Muslim Brotherhood has to that, will have more influence in the US in the coming years than say, the Qatari narrative that had much weight during the Obama years.

On that note, this is a fascinating article that was published in Al-Hayat, a major regional newspaper, by a distinguished Saudi anthropologist. It sheds some interesting light on those perspectives mentioned above, so I decided to translate it. Continue reading “Why Saudi/UAE views on radical Islam during the Trump era will be more influential than the Qatari narrative of the Obama years”

Beating ISIS the “State” was the easy part – the 100 year ideological war is just getting started

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Over the weekend I read an article by former Obama administration official Andrew Exum stating that “President Trump will defeat ISIS” but that “it will mostly be due to the work of his predecessor.”

My two cents: defeating the geographic entity in Syria and Iraq is great yet hardly the end of the problem.

As I noted in an article I wrote for in Fall 2015:

Defeating ISIS the geographic entity is the easy part:

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Continue reading “Beating ISIS the “State” was the easy part – the 100 year ideological war is just getting started”

Can Egypt’s Muslim Establishment neutralize the anti-Establishment Jihadist narrative?

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Below I have translated a February 13th article in Alaph newspaper titled “Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood Call Upon Their Followers to Kill the Sheikh of Al-Azhar.”

It highlights the extent to which the political violence associated with Jihadist movements everywhere in the Muslim World is best understood using this paradigm:

Establishment versus Anti-Establishment 

The basic divides as relates to  Egypt in particular:

(Group A) Establishment Islam: Continue reading “Can Egypt’s Muslim Establishment neutralize the anti-Establishment Jihadist narrative?”

My review of “Defeating Jihad” by senior Trump CT Advisor Sebastian Gorka

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It is often said that “personnel is policy.”

Today, Dr. Sebastian Gorka – recently appointed to a high-level Counter-Terrorism position in the Trump administration – was the subject of an  in-depth Politico profile.

Over the weekend I read Dr. Gorka’s 2016 book and will review in this post.

Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War is an important text that I highly recommend.  If the recommendations are only generally followed it’s a huge improvement for US national security. Here are the broad takeaways about what we can extrapolate about the new administration’s CT approach: Continue reading “My review of “Defeating Jihad” by senior Trump CT Advisor Sebastian Gorka”

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