Middle East

Harvard Hires PLO Executive to Mentor Students

Featured image The Clarion Project reports that Harvard University has selected Saeb Erekat — who serves as secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) — to be a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Erekat’s duties will include mentoring students and giving seminars in the school’s “The Future of Diplomacy Project.” Erekat is rabidly anti-Israel, as one would expect from a »

PL Podcast: The Three Whisky Happy Hour, with Guest Bartender Charles Lipson

Featured image This week’s Power Line Three Whisky Happy Hour finds Charles Lipson bellying up to the bar for a flight of whiskys that begins with a tale of his mis-spent youth discovering the “bootleggers and Baptists” hypothesis in the course of violating numerous federal and state laws, as well as his legendary Henry Kissinger impression. We take up three topics to go with three shots of whisky: the rapid transition from »

A skeptical note on Israel’s deal with the UAE

Featured image In a deal brokered by the Trump administration, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to normalize relations. In exchange for normalized relations, Israel agreed to suspend its West Bank annexation plans. The two sentences above point to an obvious problem with the deal. Normalized relations between two states are normal, and usually benefit both states. Why should one — and only one — of the two states have »

A Win In the Middle East

Featured image Today the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates jointly announced an agreement whereby Israel and the UAE have fully normalized their relationship. President Trump tweeted: Joint Statement of the United States, the State of Israel, and the United Arab Emirates pic.twitter.com/oVyjLxf0jd — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2020 The communique paints an optimistic picture: Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming »

What happened in Beirut?

Featured image The best analysis I have found so far on the August 4 explosions in the port of Beirut is set forth in David Wurmser’s August 7 column “Lebanon: What happened?” Also useful is this backgrounder disseminated by the Shurat HaDin/Israel Law Center. I thought readers might find it of interest. With Shurat HaDin’s kind permission, I am posting it below: As the Lebanese people struggle to recover from the catastrophic »

The explosion in Beirut

Featured image If you’re wondering about the explosion that rocked Beirut yesterday, you may want to check out the Times of Israel staff report “Mystery swirls around what caused ammonium nitrate to explode in Beirut.” The Times of Israel report is the best I have seen so far. The Times of Israel site has more in the Gambrell/Federman AP story “Expert says ‘cheap pyrotechnics’ likely lit up ammonium nitrate in Beirut.” The »

Was Soleimani overrated?

Featured image Thomas Friedman calls the late Gen. Soleimani “Iran’s most overrated warrior.” He also calls Soleimani “possibly the dumbest man in Iran.” Friedman explains: In 2015, the United States and the major European powers agreed to lift virtually all their sanctions on Iran, many dating back to 1979, in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program for a mere 15 years, but still maintaining the right to have a peaceful »

On blaming Trump for Iran’s aggression against Saudi Arabia

Featured image It has become a standard talking point among leftists and Democrats to blame President Trump for Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. This Washington Post column by David Ignatius provides a good example of the genre. In his opening sentence, Igantius claims that Trump “start[ed] the fight” with Iran. We shouldn’t be surprised by this line of argument. As Jeane Kirkpatrick observed decades ago, the left always blames America »

What Next in the Persian Gulf?

Featured image Assuming Iran is indeed behind the attack on Saudi Arabia’s major oil refining facility, it represents a step-increase in Iranian-backed aggression in the region. The Wall Street Journal‘s Spencer Jakab says this attack is “the big one“: Saturday’s attack on a critical Saudi oil facility will almost certainly rock the world energy market in the short term, but it also carries disturbing long-term implications. Ever since the dual 1970s oil »

Trump administration backs Israel as tensions rise in region

Featured image Hezbollah has stated that it intends to produce missiles capable of striking Israel with pinpoint accuracy. Iran is assisting Hezbollah in this enterprise. It is helping Hezbollah construct and develop facilities at which precision missiles are manufactured. Israel has responded by attacking targets in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Attacks in the latter two countries are a recent development, prompted by stepped up Iranian efforts to assist Hezbollah’s missile development. The »

How to respond to Tehran’s pirates, Part Two

Featured image Yesterday, I discussed a column by Bret Stephens about how the U.S. should respond if Iran continues to attack ships in the Persian Gulf. Stephens recalled that in 1988, after a U.S. frigate was badly damaged when it hit an Iranian naval mine, we destroyed half the Iranian fleet in a matter of hours. I noted that today Iran is much more capable than in 1988 of inflicting damage on »

Withdrawing from Syria

Featured image In the current Mosaic podcast (introduced here), the Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran supports the withdrawal of American troops from their stations in Syria. In his January essay for Mosaic, Doran defended the White House’s strategy in Syria based on a prudent assessment of geopolitical realities. Weighing the pros and cons, Doran forcefully makes the case that, if the United States is to succeed in advancing its interests and elevating its »

Pompeo’s thankless visit to the Middle East

Featured image Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Middle East trying to assure friends, allies, and non-adversaries that the U.S. isn’t walking away from the region. He claimed that progress has been made in addressing Turkey’s objections to Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria and that Turkey has provided “commitments” that Kurds who fought with U.S. forces against ISIS will be protected when the U.S. leaves Syria. The only public commitment »

The Mike Lee-Bernie Sanders show

Featured image Sen. Mike Lee used to be something of a conservative hero. More recently, he’s become heavy into working with Democrats. Not just any Democrats, but some of the most liberal, most stridently partisan Senate Dems. He and Sen. Dick Durbin combined to sponsor the jailbreak legislation that may well be on the verge of passing the Senate. A few years ago Lee and Durbin collaborated on a jailbreak bill that »

Middle East disconnect at the Washington Post

Featured image The Washington Post takes time out from urging that the U.S. blow up relations with Saudi Arabia, as retribution for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, to provide a clear-eyed assessment of reality in the Middle East. The Post’s Liz Sly finds that Russia has become the region’s rising power. Russia has made huge inroads, commercial and diplomatic, throughout the Middle East. The nations that now woo Putin run the gamut »

Trump stands with Saudi Arabia

Featured image President Trump today announced that, notwithstanding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, “the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.” The essence of Trump’s explanation for the decision is contained in the first sentence: “The world is a dangerous place!” Elaborating on this obvious but oft-neglected truth, Trump cited our interest in »

Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post, Part Three

Featured image On Sunday, the Washington Post (paper edition) published a lengthy tribute to Jamal Khashoggi, its former columnist. The article is worth reading. Joby Warrick, Loveday Morris, and Souad Mekhennet present a more nuanced and informative account of Khashoggi than the Post has been willing to render until now. I think the Post has recognized that its portrait of Khashoggi as a pro-democracy saint needs to be modified slightly now that »