Small Wars Journal

Middle East

Oil and Rentier States: How Falling Oil Prices Will Affect the Middle East

Less than a decade after weathering massive geo-political upheavals from the Arab Springs, the Middle East is on the verge of yet another crisis; the plummeting price of crude oil. “Rentier states” in the Middle East, have for several decades, secured their status-quo by building an overwhelming portion of their economy dedicated to the sale of crude oil. While the rentier system has been successful in propping up Middle Eastern governments for decades, the downside to this system is the economic and political uncertainty created by the rapidly changing value in a single commodity.

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Could the United States Leave the Middle East by 2031? - A Reply to Anand Toprani on U.S. Strategy in the Persian Gulf

Failed dreams of a U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East were very much on my mind while reading a pair of excellent – if flawed – articles in 'War on the Rocks' by Anand Toprani. In the first essay, published in January, Toprani provides one of the best explanations you’ll find on the vagaries of oil pricing and supply, as well as a cogent case for why oil is unlikely to be “just another commodity” anytime soon. In his second essay, published in May, he further underscores that the Persian Gulf remains an irreplaceable source of oil production and argues, to this end, that the United States needs to continue its Cold War role as the region’s strategic guarantor.

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Reclaiming the Initiative: Proxy Warfare in the Middle East

In today's security reality, proxy warfare represents an especially relevant tool in the state's kit. Iran has employed proxy organizations to great effect, while the American and Israeli militaries currently seem reticent to systematically study and employ proxies. Without fully understanding proxy warfare, the US, Israel, and their allies will struggle to take the initiative against Iran in the region.

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War With Iran? - Error, Manipulation and President Donald Trump's "Strategy" of Incoherence

To some extent, there is nothing new under the sun. Fabrication and folly are hardly unknown to US presidential policies on war and peace. Before President Donald Trump commits further to any new or expanding military operations against Iran, therefore, it would be prudent to look back at some of this country's previous war policy manipulations and errors.

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Levantistan and The Confederacy of Afghanistan: How Redrawing the Map Can End America’s Wars

Nation-state borders are not sacrosanct. Exchanging land for peace is always a viable option, and this could provide a solution to America’s involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although multiple solutions are available, we will focus on two: merging nations and fragmenting nations. Merging nations would entail merging Iraq with Syria, and merging Afghanistan with Pakistan. Fragmenting nations would break up the two nations into numerous smaller nations, as happened to Yugoslavia, albeit peacefully.

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Iraq’s Power Vacuum: A Counterfactual Analysis of Saddam Hussein’s Authoritarian Rule

If Saddam Hussein had remained in power, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as Daesh, may not have been able to secure a foothold and establish dominance in the region. This counterfactual approach specifically assesses Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship as a stabilizing factor in the state of Iraq, effectively opposing transnational terrorist networks like Daesh.

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