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The Yemen War: A Proxy Sectarian War?

Image courtesy of Ibrahem Qasim/wikimedia. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

This article was originally published by The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) on November 14 2018.

The diffusion of protests against authoritarian regimes across the Arab world in 2011 reinvigorated Yemen’s marginalized social movements and united different geographical and political factions in Yemen, such as the northern Houthi movement and the southern secessionist movement Hiraak.1 The Saudi Kingdom, along with other Gulf monarchies, swiftly designed a transitional plan for the country to ensure that President Ali Abdullah Saleh wass replaced with a friendly government led by President Abd Rabo Hadi. Disillusioned by the transition, the Houthis took military control of the capital Sana’a in September 2014, and Yemen descended into a civil war. On 26 March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on Yemen with the aim to restore the Saudi-backed Hadi government and destroy the Houthi movement. What was initially planned as a limited operation degenerated into a war of attrition without a conclusion insight. Scholars and policy analysts moved quickly to examine the Yemen war as a by-product of Saudi-Iranian rivalry and another manifestation of a region-wide war between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. Yet, the crisis in Yemen is more complex; it is neither an international proxy war nor a sectarian confrontation.

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Middle East

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This map shows the key players in the Middle East. For more on how Trump’s Middle East policy differs from that of Barack Obama, see Jack Thompson’s recent addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on proliferation, click here.

When Will the Next War Erupt in the Middle East?

Image courtesy of dozemode/pixabay

The article was originally published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on 4 October 2018.

The signs are ominous—especially in Israel and its neighbours, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Violence, both actual and rhetorical, has been escalating on all three fronts. Gaza could become the immediate flash point as the Palestinians’ ‘March of Return’, which began on 30 March, intensifies and Israeli retaliation becomes increasingly lethal.

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Context is for Kings: Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Represents the Art of the Possible, and Why it is Worth Saving

Illustration: Berkay Bugdan, ‘Iran Nuclear Program’. Charcoal and digital 2006. berkaybugdan.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are exclusively the author’s and do not necessarily represent the position of the Center for Security Studies or of any other institution.

In the conflict over its nuclear program, Iran was subjected to one of the toughest and most sophisticated sanctions regimes ever seen. Yet sanctions alone did not give rise to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The nuclear agreement resulted from an intricate interplay between sanctions and conflict context. This successful resolution of the nuclear issue can be attributed to two factors. First, masterful diplomacy on both sides isolated the issue of the nuclear program from the wider conflict between the Islamic Republic and the West and circumnavigated some of its intractable trials and tribulations. Second, the agreement was reached in the face of the constant machinations of hardliners on both sides, whose precise objective it was to link the nuclear issue to the wider struggle between the Islamic Republic and the West.

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Iran, Russia: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Civil War

Image courtesy of Kremlin.ru. CC BY 4.0.

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures (GPF) on 23 May 2018.

The era of foreign intervention in Syria is coming to an end – at least that’s what Russian President Vladimir Putin said when Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, visited Sochi last week. Granted, Putin’s statement was ambiguous – “in connection with the significant victories … of the Syrian army … foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic” – but Russia’s Syria envoy clarified the next day that Putin was, in fact, calling on all militaries to vacate the country.

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