Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

Kurds Failing Representation Jeopardizes US Support

August 19, 2015  •  The Pasewan

Superficially, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s representation and influence in America has never been greater. After years of renting space in various office buildings, the KRG now has its own building less than two kilometers from the White House. Whereas once Kurds were largely forgotten in Washington, today a Kurdish Caucus in Congress counts nearly three dozen members. When I first visited Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2000, there were perhaps three non-Kurdish Americans in the area; today, that figure has increased by several orders of magnitude. Few who return from Kurdistan are not struck by the region's energy, the warmth of the Kurdish people, and empathy for the Kurdish narrative. Kurdistan enjoys huge sympathy in the United States.

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Why the Western Sahara Matters

Spring/Summer 2015  •  Journal of International Security Affairs

With the Middle East in chaos, it is understandable that few in Washington have time for the Western Sahara. After all, Syria has become the world's largest generator of refugees. Iraq continues to teeter on the brink of chaos, and both Yemen and Libya are mired in civil war. Iran is resurgent. Afghanistan's stability likely will not last long beyond the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Islamic State has re-introduced a twisted, reactionary version of the Caliphate, replete with plunder, rape, and slavery, and Boko Haram, which has now taken over vast swathes of northern Nigeria and moved into Cameroon as well, isn't far behind in its brutality. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, meanwhile, operates across the Sahel from Algeria to Sudan.

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But what about the Revolutionary Guard?

July 16, 2015  •  The Hill

In March 2003, just weeks before the start of the war in Iraq, White House official Zalmay Khalilzad and senior diplomat Ryan Crocker secretly met with Mohammad Javad Zarif, who at the time was Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. The war in Iraq was looming. Both Washington and Tehran wanted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gone but both wanted to coordinate to prevent any accidental conflict. The meeting was a success. Zarif, who today is Iran's foreign minister and the man with whom Secretary of State John Kerry negotiates, agreed that Iran would not try to shoot down any American planes which strayed into Iranian airspace, would return any pilots who found themselves in Iran and, most importantly, Iran would not interfere in Iraq by inserting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or Iranian-backed militias into the country.

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Obama and Kerry crossed every one of their own red lines

July 14, 2015  •  New York Post

President Obama announced a "historic" agreement with Iran on Tuesday to end decades of conflict over its nuclear ambitions.

Unfortunately, the price tag for this slice of history is the craven capitulation on what were once American red lines.

The deal "makes our country and the world safer and more secure," Obama declared.

Under a compromise worked out by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Congress now has 60 days to review the deal. The irony is that congressional critics might base their opposition on the red lines once drawn by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama themselves.

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The Middle East Studies Mess

July 2, 2015  •  AIJAC

The Middle East is in chaos. After four years of Syrian civil war, there are now more refugees and displaced persons seeking to escape violence than at any point since World War II. Libya and Yemen are in chaos. The Islamic State has both revived medieval notions of the caliphate and returned such practices as slavery, beheadings, and crucifixions to the headlines. Turkey, once celebrated both as a bridge between East and West and more recently as proof of the compatibility of political Islam and democracy, slides down the path to Islamist autocracy. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Iran's path to nuclear weapons seems assured as Western leaders - including Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop - retreat on long-standing principles. Sectarian struggle threatens to set the entire region alight. Indeed, from Algeria to Afghanistan, it seems that the only bastion of stability is Israel.

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Books by Michael Rubin

Cover of Dancing with the Devil Cover of Eternal Iran Cover of Into the Shadows


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