This article originally appeared in The Hill on November 26, 2020

“America is back,” President-elect Biden is telling world leaders. It is one of the surest bets that the first 100 days of a Biden foreign policy will involve rejoining international agreements, shoring up traditional alliances, and reinvesting in multilateral organizations.

President Trump with then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Minister of Defense at the White House in 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Commitments to partners, organizations, and treaties that share common core values and promote a collective approach to addressing global challenges is the easy part. The hard part will be disentangling the U.S. from entrenched alliances that do neither.

If a new administration is sincere about reflecting on the nature…

This article first appeared in The Hill on January 8, 2020.

On the final day of 2019, Iraqi protesters breached the most formidable U.S. embassy in the Middle East, and several days later the United States assassinated leading Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Suleimani in a drone strike. Within a matter of days, a decade of misguided U.S. policies in the region had given a violent birth to the next one.

U.S. Paratroopers deploy to the Middle East on January 4, 2020, a day after the airstrike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad (Public Domain/U.S. Army)

Some commentators and officials have dismissed the protesters as mere pawns of a pro-Iranian militia, who attacked the embassy in Baghdad in retaliation for an earlier airstrike that killed…

Originally appeared in LobeLog on September 30, 2019

Assessing the damage after a Saudi-led airstrike on the city of Hodeidah, Yemen in September 2016. Photo Credit: VOA

If both the United States and Iran wish to escape the cycle of provocation and escalation in which they currently find themselves, they should begin by ending their involvement in the war they are already fighting in Yemen. Terminating involvement in what started as a local revolt and turned into a proxy war, in which each country sponsors an opposing belligerent, would demonstrate a mutual desire to back away from the prospect of direct armed confrontation. …

“Comment: India’s treatment of Kashmiris shows that the global practice of Muslim repression has now reached new heights, writes Kevin Schwartz.

Police in Kashmir confront protesters in December 2018. (Photo: Tasnim News Agency. Creative commons)

As India continues to silence, oppress and infringe upon the human rights of Kashmiris, through startling methods of violence and under the cover of media blackout, the global practice of Muslim repression has now reached new heights.

Alongside China, which has imprisoned perhaps more than 1 million Uighur and other Muslims in its “re-education camps,” the world can now bear witness that its two most populous countries — comprising more than a third of the global population — have…

This article originally appeared in The Hill on July 4, 2019.

The Fourth of July — for all its pomp and patriotism — ought also to be a moment of self-reflection by U.S. policymakers struggling to develop a coherent strategy for the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia, US Foreign Policy, US-Saudi Relations
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia, US Foreign Policy, US-Saudi Relations
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 16, 2018. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/Public Domain]

They should consider the region’s constellation of autocratic rulers who suffocate dissent and any alternative vision of political, economic, religious, and social life. …

Originally appeared in LobeLog on May 22, 2019

The prospect of war between the United States and Iran is more likely than it has been in decades, with the pretext for justifying a U.S. military strike or invasion already in place. In recent weeks, leading Iran hawks in the Trump administration have presented a framework to assign culpability to Iran in any future attack. Intentionally broad statements threaten military action in response not only to Iranian actions, but the attacks of “their proxies of any identity.” They also assert that the United States will respond to actions against a wide…

A Version of this piece appeared in The New Arab on February 13, 2019

The acclaimed Polish journalist and foreign correspondent Ryszard Kapuściński (d. 2007), witness to numerous coups, wars, and revolutions, once remarked that “every one of us living on this planet is an Other in the view of Others — I am in their view, and they are in mine.” In other words: no one of us is the center of the universe no matter how hard we may wish it. …

Originally published in The New Arab on September 24, 2018.

When President Trump speaks in front of the UN General Assembly today, don’t be surprised if it seems like the leader of the United States describes a nation other than his own as being the world’s most powerful.

As Trump is likely to tell it, much like he and others in the administration have made clear before, Iran is the superpower and source of unrest, conflict, and political instability in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon as well as cause for concern elsewhere.

By way of its destabilising activities, the…

Originally Published in Counterpunch on June 27, 2018

The Saudi and UAE-led operation to retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah, which could jeopardize the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, represents more than the latest tragic chapter in Yemen’s civil war. It is the fully expected outcome of several Western nations’ complicity in a multi-country assault that has made Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian disaster.

The recent attack on Hodeidah is both a function of Western arms support and a feature of longstanding Western political programming that has sustained the coalition’s attack on the country since a bombing…

The Other “Spirit” of the Iran Deal

Originally Published in Counterpunch on October 11, 2017

Among the favored talking points of those arguing for a US withdrawal, renegotiation, or “decertification” of the Iran nuclear deal is that Iran has violated the deal’s “spirit” by pursuing non-nuclear related activity, ranging from ballistic missile testing to destabilizing regional activity. Critics of the deal continue to offer this argument despite the fact the US maintains the country is in compliance with the “technical” aspects of the agreement’s “letter,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently noted.

President Trump now appears likely to not…

Kevin L. Schwartz

Research Fellow, Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague

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