By Kayhan Barzegar
This article was first published on December 17, 2012 in Persian by Tabnak
The Arab Spring has resulted in a shift in the nature of Iran’s regional policy from a traditional “reconciliation and resistance” approach to a “regional cooperation” approach. The new approach aims to strike a balance between strengthening cooperation with states in the region and containing threats through maintaining traditional relations with ideological movements. As a result, a new kind of pragmatism has emerged in Iran’s regional policy.
Prior to the Arab Spring, Iran was only able to enhance its role and project influence in the region through establishing close relations with the Arab Street and Islamist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Of course, the establishment of a Shiite-majority government in Iraq and its closer relations with Iran was a turning point. But with the Arab Spring and the emergence of new nationalist-Islamist governments, such as that of Egypt, which seek an independent and active role in regional issues, an opportunity has emerged for Iran to simultaneously establish close relations with these Arab states. Read more
By Ehud Eiran
Former Associate and Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, Israelis watch with concern the instability around them. In a Jan. 23 op-ed on ynetnews (the news site of Israel’s popular daily Yedioth Ahronoth), I argued that these concerns are not only new temporally, but also new in their nature.
Rather than fearing the strength of their foes, Israelis should be concerned about their foes’ weakness. Israeli deterrence will face severe limitations if the central authorities in neighboring countries lose control. More immediately, the difficulties of the Egyptian (and possibly Syrian) regimes to exert effective authority in the border regions with Israel can create new opportunities for non-state elements (terror, drugs, illegal migrants) to threaten Israel. Read more
James K. Sebenius
By James K. Sebenius
On May 15, thousands of Palestinians rushed Israel’s Syrian and Lebanese borders, as well as the fences of Gaza. Such actions continued in early June on several Israeli fronts. Arabic social media now buzz with expanded plans for unarmed Palestinian refugees to protest en masse in and around the Jewish state. If stones marked the first intifada and suicide bombers the second, waves of children, women, and men may well characterize a third phase of the conflict. Read more
By Ehud Eiran
By Ehud Eiran, Associate, International Security Program
In the last few months we have seen a schizophrenic Middle-East, operating in parallel universes. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict — once the epicenter of regional instability — was calm as Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas settled into a strange modus vivendi, pending a possible declaration of Palestinian independence in the fall. In the other universe, the one comprised of Arab states such as Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia, an entrenched order of autocratic stability was smashed, when angry youth lashed out at their regimes, toppling leaders with the hope of radical change. Read more
The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum
By Chuck Freilich
We all rejoice when dictators fall and the prospects for democracy flourish. What has happened in Egypt and Tunisia is a regional earthquake and it may be far from over. An opening exists for a better regional future.
Dramatically, Egypt could become a moderate, stable, pro-Western democracy, committed to peace. Other outcomes, however, are also possible.
- Egypt may remain a military dictatorship, or be taken over by some other strongman. The military’s role is as yet unclear. It has begun the reform process, but retained full control over it and clearly wishes to set limits. Just ten days were allotted for reforming the constitution, a ludicrous time period, and the military stated that elections will be held by September “circumstances permitting”. Read more