18 Items

Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Yaroun, a Lebanese border village with Israel, in south Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023.

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

The Axis of Resistance Threat to Israel

| Oct. 31, 2023

Hamas’s October 7 cross-border raid landed Israel in its worst strategic surprise in half a century and ignited a crisis with the makings of a regional war. Already now, Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah are engaged in the most serious escalation since the 2006 Lebanon War. And while both are carefully trying to keep the fighting below a certain threshold, the conflict will inevitably escalate further as Israel’s operation in Gaza proceeds. Both Israel and Hezbollah are already mobilized for war. Israel has evacuated dozens of border communities, including the city of Kiryat Shmona. Tension and uncertainty are high, as is the risk of miscalculation. 

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

(AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

The Roots and Consequences of Hamas' Strategy

| Oct. 14, 2023

That the current war in the Gaza Strip poses a clear existential threat to Hamas and potentially to the entire Palestinian cause is abundantly clear. But the current conflict, Israel’s pronounced intent to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth, even if this means a months-long war, will have profound long-term implications for any actor with a stake in the postwar balance of power and regional order in the Middle East. Israel’s purpose and identity as a viable country for and protector of the Jewish people are at stake. But the vital interests of the entire Iranian camp in the Middle East—the self-described “axis of resistance,” of which Hamas has become a key member in recent years, are also hanging in the balance. 

Saudi Arabian oil facilities in flames


Journal Article - Survival

Houthis in the Footsteps of Hizbullah

| 2023

The Houthis' strategic behaviour and communications indicate that they have attempted to succeed against Saudi Arabia in the same way that Hizbullah has succeeded against Israel: to harness their long-range missiles as a means of subjecting their stronger opponents to limitations and 'rules of the game.' So far, the Houthis have been far less successful than Hizbullah. Nevertheless, the Houthis have become an integral part of the Iran-led 'axis of resistance.'

An Israeli soldier stands near the fence on the Israeli border with Lebanon

AP/ Tsafrir Abayov

Journal Article - Middle East Policy

Hezbollah's Coercion And the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Deal

| 2023

A textbook case of coercive diplomacy, Hezbollah's maneuver was calculated and deliberate, which reflects the group's strategic expertise. Drawing on open-source materials and public statements in Arabic and Hebrew, this article analyzes Hezbollah's coercive-diplomacy campaign and examines its implications for escalation scenarios between Israel and its central military opponent.

a cameraman films Aramco's oil processing facility after the recent Sept. 14 attack

AP/Amr Nabil, File

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Saudi-Iranian Agreement is a Positive Development, but Not a Game-changer

| Mar. 16, 2023

Daniel Sobelman argues that the Middle East is today characterized by a deep geopolitical competition over the region's political order and orientation. This reality is the result of the failure, over the past two and a half decades or so, to establish a Western-oriented regional order on the one hand, and the rise of a regional strategic camp seeking to introduce an anti-Western order, whose core values are "resistance" to U.S. influence and the rejection of Israel's existence, on the other hand.

People inspect the wreckage of buildings that were damaged by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Significance of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Agreement Brokered by China

Belfer Center experts on the U.S.-China relationship and Middle East issues shared thoughts on the significance of the unexpected Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement brokered by China. 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to members of the media

Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool

Journal Article - Contemporary Security Policy

Coercive Disclosure: The Weaponization of Public Intelligence Revelation in International Relations

| 2023

Can intelligence serve as a coercive instrument in international relations? While coercion literature mostly addresses military and economic means, this article argues that coercion can also include the deliberate public disclosure of intelligence. Intelligence can be employed to threaten adversaries, reduce their latitude, and force them to adjust their plans and operations

British Foreign Minister Lord Edward Halifax, left, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, back to camera, shaking hands with French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier.


Journal Article - Cooperation and Conflict

Re-conceptualizing Triangular Coercion in International Relations

| 2022

By forcing an otherwise uninvolved intermediary to align with the coercer, a coercer can alter the balance of vulnerability vis-à-vis its otherwise resilient target and enhance its susceptibility to coercion, albeit by extension. Existing scholarship tackles triangular coercion from different angles and mostly focuses on actor typology. This article seeks to promote scholars' and policymakers' understanding of this strategy by proposing a conceptual model that distills its logic into the abstract components of vulnerability, resilience, and leverage.

Thaad north korea alaska

US Defense Department

Blog Post - Iran Matters

Lessons for the U.S. from Israel’s Iran Experience

| Aug. 21, 2017

In its attempts to deter North Korea from developing the capability to credibly threaten the continental United States with a nuclear weapon, Washington now finds itself in a crueler version of the strategic dilemma Israel faced in 2011 amid what it saw—or at least presented—as a closing operational window of opportunity to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. In his piece for Iran Matters, Daniel Sobelman argues that the basic structure of the crisis between the United States and North Korea is analogous to the challenge Israel faced when trying to dissuade or stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Learning to Deter: Deterrence Failure and Success in the Israel-Hezbollah Conflict, 2006–16


Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Learning to Deter: Deterrence Failure and Success in the Israel-Hezbollah Conflict, 2006–16

| Winter 2016/17

Comparing Israel and Hezbollah’s interactions before and after the 2006 Lebanon War offers insights into the sources of deterrence stability. Since 2006, Israel and Hezbollah have learned to apply rational deterrence theory. Careful communication of capabilities and resolve has contributed to a decade without war. This history also illustrates how a weak actor can deter a stronger adversary by minimizing its own vulnerability and maximizing that of its opponent.