In the year 2020, I will follow up on whether the US policy towards Syria reconciles the objectives sought with the methods used. In 2019, the Trump administration sent very different messages to Syria: After US officials spent much of the year 2019 announcing major expansionist ambitions such as defeating the Islamic state, confronting Iran, and achieving a political transition, the president surprised them in October by announcing the withdrawal of US forces from Syria.
This decision greatly undermined American influence, damaging the anti-terrorist campaign, weakening US partnerships, and leading to tremendous human suffering. Now, after several weeks, officials stated again that the United States is continuing its endeavor to achieve the same ambitious goals in Syria, and has even increased to its list of tasks in the country guarding oil fields, all with a smaller number of American forces and a lesser commitment. Consequently, neither the U.S. partners nor its opponents will be convinced that these measures are viable, and the Trump administration will have to acknowledge in 2020 that it will be unable to achieve more with less.
The following experts on Middle East relations weigh in on the current state of affairs in the region:
Omar Hamzawy Senior Researcher at the Carnegie Middle East Program, and Distinguished Researcher at the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at Spogley Foundation for International Studies at Stanford University
The ongoing protests of Arab citizens deserve the constant attention of Carnegie Middle East Center researchers. Whether popular demands revolve around fair economic policies, anti-corruption measures, or democratic governance, all of this leads to radical reforms in Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Such cases remain essential, even if they involve serious risks that may result in violent outcomes and protracted conflicts between the ruling institutions and the protesters.
Attention should also be paid to the fragmentation of the state and civil wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The two main questions here are: Will the military campaigns set aside in favor of political settlements, and how can the eroded legitimacy of state institutions be restored after several stormy years of violence and repression?
Finally, trends should not be neglected in countries that are on the path of democracy, such as Tunisia and Sudan, and countries where authoritarianism is strengthened, such as Morocco and Egypt. Both of these groups of countries are facing deep political and economic crisis, high levels of poverty, corruption, popular lack of policy, and profound disparities between young citizens who are able to bring about change and the elderly who favor stability.
Zaha Hassan Visiting Researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The future of democracy in Israel and Palestine will appear in 2020, as they head to elections in the spring. For Israel, this will be the third election it is running in one year, and for the Palestinian Authority it will be the first since 2006. The question of whether this path will be a solution to political disputes within the two societies or cause them to exacerbate will affect how the candidates for the US presidential election distinguish themselves About the Middle East foreign policy priorities.
However, the results of the Israeli elections are unlikely to push the Knesset to overturn the Basic Law: Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. This legislation gives rise to constitutional approval of discrimination against Palestinian citizens, and gives priority to expanding and strengthening Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank.
Judith Yaffe – A proper understanding of Middle East affairs must start with a good understanding of politics in the region. Judith Yaffe is a respected fellow who researched as part of the National Defense University. Prior to this position, Yaphe spent more than two decades in the Persian Gulf working as a senior analyst. Yaphe has a collection of books covering Iraq and the surrounding area that are worth your consumption.
Amir Handjani – In order to keep up with the latest news, it may be important to refer to Middle East expert Amir Handjani. Amir Handjani, an energy lawyer, spends time in Washington, DC, as well as in the United Arab Emirates. Handjani covers the Middle East for a number of different publications. He is a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project and director of the Ras Al Khaimah Petroleum Company.
Mohsen Milani – Mohsen Milani is a respected political scientist and foreign policy analyst. Melanie received his PhD in Political Science from the University of California before pursuing his research fellowships at Oxford, Harvard and Foscari University. Melanie has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journals in the Middle East as well as numerous articles in national publications. As one of the most established political authors in the world of politics in the Middle East, Melanie is an important name to remember.
Farhad Kazemi – Our discussion concluded with high-ranking experts from the Middle East, Farhad Kazemi. Farhad Kazemi is currently a professor of politics at New York University. As part of his course, Kazemi seeks to help his students understand the Middle East and the overall political issues affecting the world around us. Kazemi is a frequent contributor to many scholarly journals and has delivered speeches to some of the most powerful personalities in politics in the Middle East while traveling around the world.
Understanding the Middle East is an endeavor that requires more than just tripartite research. While the names highlighted above are some of the most respected journalists and researchers in this field, a multi-pronged approach and commitment to political news is required to obtain a full understanding of the region. With the news cycle always going on, now is the time to get to know you better.