Expert Voices

U.S.–Iran standoff perpetuates flaws of decades-old policies

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton on stage behind Donald Trump, speaking at a lectern
President Trump at the July 2018 NATO summit with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Current U.S. policy toward Iran has deepened the Middle East's Sunni-Shia divide — embodied in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran — and risks repeating the failures of successive U.S. administrations.

Why it matters: American presidents have often tried to view the Middle East in overly black-and-white terms — from Reagan in Lebanon and Bush in Iraq to Obama’s dreams of Arab democracy. With this mindset still in play, the risks of economic harm and military escalation continue to mount.

U.S.-mediated talks between Israel and Lebanon to start in July

Israel border with Lebanon
Israeli flags flying near an excavation site by the Israeli army near the concrete barrier along the border with Lebanon. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

The first round of U.S.-mediated talks between Israel and Lebanon over the two countries' long-standing maritime border dispute is expected in July, a senior Israeli official told me. 

Why it matters: Israeli-Lebanese talks would be a dramatic diplomatic development and a significant step forward in a long-standing conflict that has stalled natural gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. Solving the crisis could unlock potential natural gas reserves for both countries.