There are a lot of moving parts in the Middle East, and in this week’s edition of the Action Update, we focus on three storylines that, while ostensibly independent of one another, ultimately are all interconnected: Ramadan, Syria’s Middle East charm offensive, and U.S.-Israel cooperation.

Reducing Tension


As we discussed previously, Ramadan is often a time of increased tension, sensitivity, and even violence in the Middle East. The recipe for a potential conflagration is not complicated. Basically, there is a religious extremist component to Palestinian terrorism. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, people attend mosque more frequently, which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.  However, those Muslim leaders with extremist tendencies ramp up their rhetoric during this time. Mix that with the larger crowds at the Mosque and you have an often-deadly formula.

Israel knows this all too well. But the Jewish state’s spirit always bends towards peace. Though they fight when there’s no other choice, Jerusalem is always seeking to avoid conflict. As such, it should come as little surprise that Israel is seeking to ease tensions and minimize friction. One of the ways in which they are doing so is by opening the Allenby Bridge 24 hours a day, except during the Jewish Sabbath.

The Allenby Bridge is the border crossing between Jordan and Judea and Samaria. By making such a crossing easier, Israel is enabling more Palestinians – who make up the majority of Jordanian citizens – to visit their families in the West Bank and vice versa. Hopefully the Palestinians will choose to spend Ramadan with their loved ones rather than making war.


Disengagement Leading to Realignment


Regular – or, frankly, even casual – readers of the Action Update know that one of our central qualms with the Biden administration’s foreign policy is its disengagement from longstanding U.S. allies in the Middle East. In Syria, Washington seems to have taken this a step further by ignoring nearly anything and everything going on there. In fact, a recent opinion column in the Washington Post ran with the following headline, “The Biden administration barely pretends to care about Syria anymore.”

The author of the piece, a generally well-respected center-left writer named Josh Rogin, notes, “The administration has abdicated diplomatic leadership to Moscow and is turning a blind eye as Gulf states welcome the Assad regime back into the diplomatic fold.”

Rogin is right. Syria’s butcher/President met recently with leaders of Oman, the UAE and Russia. In addition, Syria’s Foreign Minister met with his counterpart in Egypt. This all comes just as Saudi Arabia renewed diplomatic relations with Iran – a close ally of Syria and Russia.

American disengagement in the region and disregard for our traditional allies’ concerns has clearly caused America’s Arab allies to believe that they must at least hedge their bets in the region. This is the first step in a realignment of the region. If we get to the point where Russia and China have effectively maneuvered themselves to unite moderate and extremist regimes, as well as Shia and Sunni regimes, the West’s only foothold in the region will be Israel. This will, in turn, have a highly negative and strategically significant impact on Israel’s ability to protect itself, as well as serve as freedom’s outpost in the Middle East. The bottom line: President Biden needs to do better.


Despite the administration’s rather inept approach to the region, Congress is seeking to advance bipartisan steps to enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship in a mutually beneficial manner. There are two recently introduced bills worth mentioning in this context.

First, the United States-Israel Future of Warfare Act was recently introduced by Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), Jared Golden (D-ME), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Jason Crow (D-CO), Michael Turner (R-OH), and Pat Ryan (D-NY). According to Rep. Wilson’s office, this legislation, “would establish a $50 million fund for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2028 to further support defense collaboration between the two countries in the area of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, automation, cybersecurity, and directed energy.”

In addition, Representatives Mike Waltz (R-FL) and Pat Ryan (D-NY) introduced the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act in the House of Representatives with companion legislation introduced in the upper chamber by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS). According to the bill’s authors the bill would “leverage research assets and experiences of the U.S. and Israel to develop best practices in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD. The legislation also establishes a grant program for American universities and private non-profits teaming up with Israeli counterparts to research PTSD.”

The United States should be proactive in addressing the military challenges of tomorrow while simultaneously ensuring that we are taking care of our warfighters when they come home. As such, we wholeheartedly support both bills.

Given the Biden administration’s missteps in the Middle East, we will be focusing most of our efforts on Congress. It’s not too late for the President to reverse course, but we’ll not be holding our breath.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


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