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Qualitative Military Edge

Qualitative Military Edge

An open source tool designed to help foster a better understanding of the military balance in a changing Middle East.

For decades American presidents have emphasized the need to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). The U.S. legal definition of QME is, “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.”

QME is intended to provide Israel with the necessary means to successfully deter and defend itself, by itself, against any likely combination of threats. So, while a coalition of Arab states and terror groups could easily outnumber the tiny Jewish state, QME provides a backstop of sorts. However, in recent years, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring and the political upheaval that it has spawned, the potential for previously unlikely coalitions has grown. The calculus for understanding QME has become increasingly complex. This website is a good faith effort to help policy makers gain a better understanding of the challenges of the new QME environment.

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The Saudi-Led Coalition Is Not Ready To Fight The Islamic State

26th April 2016 –

The Saudi-Led Coalition Is Not Ready To Fight The Islamic State

Patrick Megahan

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited Saudi Arabia last week hoping to reassure nervous Gulf allies that American security commitments remain in force in the wake of last year’s Iran nuclear deal. In exchange, the White House was hoping to encourage the Gulf states to play a more active role in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). more...

Analysis & Commentary

11th October 2016 –

Iranian-Backed Houthis Fire a Shot at the U.S. Navy

Patrick Megahan

While the United States was fixated on the second presidential debate on Sunday night, one of its ships was under fire in the Middle East. Details remain few, but reports suggest that the Houthis, a Yemeni militant group backed by Iran, fired two anti-ship missiles at the USS Mason as it patrolled the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. more...

6th October 2016 – Military Edge

Discerning Iran’s Role in Expanding Houthi Rocket Capabilities

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Yemen’s Houthi rebels tested a new rocket last Thursday, marking the fourth new projectile they unveiled this year. Dubbed the Somoud, or “steadfastness,” the projectile’s launch was broadcast late last week across Arab and Iranian media. more...

1st September 2016 – FDD Policy Brief

Understanding Iran’s Deployment of the S-300 System

Understanding Iran’s Deployment of the S-300 System

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Patrick Megahan

Iranian outlets this week revealed that components of Iran’s first Russian-made S-300 missile system were positioned around the Fordow fuel enrichment plant – an underground bunker which, until recently, was used for uranium enrichment. more...

28th April 2016 –

Crowded Skies Over Syria Raise Risk of Unintended Clashes

John Cappello

Russian forces in Syria have fired upon Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft on at least two different occasions, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported last week. Officials in Moscow unsurprisingly dismissed the report, but the possibility of Russian-Israeli clashes over Syria is actually more plausible than it may seem. more...