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Middle East
By Amos Yadlin and Yoel Guzansky

Saudi Arabia is challenged in nearly every dimension, on both domestic and external levels. Therefore, the recent turmoil in the kingdom, reflected in an unprecedented number of arrests of hundreds of officials, including key leaders of the economic, communications, and political sectors, may prove to be a development of historic magnitude. Will the political upheaval be perceived by Riyadh’s enemies as a window of opportunity to intensify pressure?Is the kingdom facing an era of instability? (Full Story)

By Udi Dekel 

The current race for control of territory in Syria now appears to be a competition between Iran and the United States, which have established two respective axes – with a vertical American (north-south) effort on the one hand, and a horizontal Iranian (east-west) effort on the other hand. In practice, this is another stage in the shaping of Syria in preparation for the day after the Islamic State. (Full Story)

By Phil Gordon, Amos Yadlin, Executive Director of  INSS and Ari Heistein, 

The recent dispute between Qatar and some of its neighbors is the most serious dispute among them in years, and has the potential to further destabilize an already turbulent region. But the crisis also presents a potential opportunity. If a united front that includes the United States and the leading countries in the Arab world can induce Qatar to contain its support for organizations that promote extremism and threaten regional order, it could help stabilize the region, limit the reach of the Islamic State, and isolate Iran. The United States, which maintains close relations with both sides, should play an active role in trying to bring its quarreling partners together. (Full Story)

 by Amos Yadlin

 Amos Yadlin

International attention has recently been diverted from the civil war in Syria and the global struggle against the Islamic State by the escalation in the confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The recent actions by Saudi Arabia in the international arena – including an energy policy that is in sync with the drop in oil prices, the war in Yemen, declaration of the establishment of a coalition of Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State, hints of measures in the nuclear realm, and the attempt to create a Sunni Arab coalition in the present confrontation with Iran – are indicative of an assertive foreign policy in all areas, against anyone perceived as threatening Saudi interests and national security. Saudi Arabia has become an active player, departing from the cautious and passive policy that characterized it until the outbreak of the Arab Spring.  (Full Story)

by Yoel Guzansky and Ephraim Kam

It has been a long time since Arab countries managed to unite for the sake of taking substantive action, especially military, in order to defend their own interests. However, Iran’s efforts to penetrate various arenas and expand its influence throughout the region are an ominous threat to at least some Arab states. (Full Story)

By Ephraim Kam

It was only a matter of time before the debate began about who was responsible for the failed strategic assessment about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Less than a year ago, few people knew about ISIS and the risks it represented. Suddenly, within just a few months, ISIS leads the list of threats of a long line of nations, beginning with the United States, and is considered a threat so severe that exceptional steps must be taken in order to confront it. (Full Story)

While international media have reported on the surge of violence which, last Wednesday – June 4th - at dawn, has plagued Samarra, an Iraqi city lying directly north of the capital, Baghdad, in what is known as the Sunni triangle, few have actually spoken of the true nature of the clashes. (Full Story)
by Udi Dekel, Orit Perlov

The changes in the Arab world primarily reflect processes underway in Arab civil society, resulting from the rise in power of a younger and more educated middle class population that is mainly secular and has access to new communication technologies.  (Full Story)

by Shlomo Brom,
 
President Obama has decided on punitive action of limited scope and duration in order to deter the Assad regime from making further use of chemical weapons. Many commentators in Israel and abroad are criticizing him for this decision, noting that over 110,000 people, most of them civilians, have already been killed in the Syrian civil war, and the US took no military action whatsoever to stop the slaughter. (Full Story)


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