My latest article published in the academic journal RBPI (Revista Brasileira de Politica Internacional).
Should the US strategy toward the Persian Gulf be one of offshore balancing or one of deep engagement?
The debate on US grand strategy lacks solid empirical ground. I address this issue by providing a study of the US role as the Gulf’s security provider. I investigate the extent to which distinct military strategies have affected the stability of the region.
My findings show no clear correlation between increased US military presence and a reduction in either the incidence or the intensity of regional armed conflict, possibly lending credibility to the arguments of the advocates of a strategy of offshore balancing.
Open access to the full article here
The United Arab Emirates ranks fourth in the list of the most powerful militaries in the Middle East. Here are some data.
$14.4 billion defense budget
65,000 active frontline personnel
The United Arab Emirate’s Union Defense Force is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and boasts diversified military equipment from the US, Russia, UK, Ukraine, France, Italy, and Germany.
Simply put, it’s the Middle East’s rising military power. The UAE has bought new weapons systems, upgraded its existing ones, brought in American trainers and contractors, and instituted universal military service for males. It has been closely involved in the fight against ISIS, and it secretly deployed jets from Egypt to bomb Islamist militants within Libya without US support.
Megahan says that the UAE’s air force has upgraded its planes to the point where it flies some of the most advanced F-16’s on earth. It has even looked into purchasing the F-35. Emirate defense spending has increased by 85% since 2004, and it has now cracked the top 15 of global defense spenders — incredibly for a country with only 9 million citizens.
Key allies: The US and other Gulf monarchies.
Source Business Insider UK 2014
In this post I invite you to read two articles on Iran’s role in the Middle East.
The first one is “Iran and the Middle East: leveraging chaos” by Karim Sadjadpour and Behnam Ben Taleblu.
The second one is “No, Iran Isn’t Destabilizing the Middle East” by Paul Pillar.
The two titles already suggest the existence of opposite positions between the authors.
Sandjapour and Taleblu offer what we could define as the “general wisdom” about Iranian foreign policy in the Middle East.
They address the destabilizing role of Iran in countries like Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen and argue that Iran’s foreign policy is generally guided by revolutionary ideology instead of the pursue of the national interest.
In the second article Pillar (in my opinion convincingly) challenges this general wisdom and offers a different analysis of the facts.
Pillar concludes by saying that:
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This is my latest contribution to the peer reviewed Journal of Terrorism Research published by Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St Andrews University, UK.
In 2011, the Arab Awakening offered an opportunity to the Obama administration to advance the US interest to counter terrorism in the Greater Middle East without compromising its commitment to the promotion of democracy. As of early 2015, however, with the exception of still-hopeful Tunisia, democracy has not made any significant progress in Middle Eastern countries. Additionally, old and new regional extremist groups have become increasingly active. How did the Obama administration miss the opportunity offered by the Arab Awakening? What actions could the United States take to reverse current unfavorable trends and advance US policies of counterterrorism and democratization in the region?
In this post, I collected maps from reports produced by the US Congressional Research Service to provide a picture of the major current extremist threats in the regions of the Greater Middle East and Africa.
The first map refers to the area of the Levant and to the activity of groups such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State. (click on the map to enlarge)
The second map illustrates the situation in the Horn of Africa and the operations of Al Qaeda affiliates there.
The third map is about the areas of North and West Africa and the activity of local extremist groups.