Analysis & Commentary

Policy Briefs

16th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Crown Prince Must Improve Saudi Human Rights Record to be a True Reformer

Varsha Koduvayur

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Trump. The prince has won praise from Western leaders for bold reform initiatives, including the expansion of women’s rights – especially the right to drive – as well as calls for...

16th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Iraq’s 2018 Budget Deadlock Deepens Tensions Ahead of Elections

Romany Shaker

On March 3, the Iraqi Parliament adopted a budget of about 104 trillion Iraqi dinars ($88 billion) for 2018, the first since the country declared “full victory” over the Islamic State. However, both Kurdish and pro-Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Shiite factions have sharply criticized...

14th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Abused Western Dual-Use Technology to Inject Spyware

Aykan Erdemir, Trevor Logan

Turkey’s leading internet service provider, Turk Telekom, in which the Turkish government owns a minority golden share, has been reportedly using web-filtering technology to install spyware on customers’ computers – an allegation the company denies. The Citizen Lab, an award-winning...

13th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Prosecutor Seeks Life Sentence for U.S. Pastor

Aykan Erdemir

A Turkish prosecutor today demanded a life sentence for U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson on charges of “leading a terrorist organization.” The North Carolina pastor, who is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, served a small Protestant congregation without incident for over two...

12th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Oman Needs to Prevent Iranian Weapons Shipments to Houthis

Nicole Salter

Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Oman yesterday to meet with Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. Among other things, the two are discussing the war in Yemen and Iranian arms trafficking through Omani territory to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

9th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

President Trump Accepts Kim Jong Un’s Invitation for U.S.-North Korea Summit

Mathew Ha

On Thursday, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a bilateral summit to achieve permanent denuclearization. Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security adviser who just returned from meeting with Kim in Pyongyang, announced at the White House...

9th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Catholic Church in Turkey Attacked – Again

Aykan Erdemir

A lone gunman fired a shot Tuesday evening through the window of the Saint Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon, a city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. This is the fifth confirmed attack against the church since the assassination of its priest Andrea Santoro in 2006.

8th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

The Islamic State is Far From Finished in Iraq

Amir Toumaj, Romany Shaker

Deadly attacks by the Islamic State are calling into question Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of a “final victory” over the so-called Caliphate. With national elections set for May, further attacks could threaten Abadi’s bid for a second term while benefiting...

7th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Cairo’s Warm Welcome for Saudi Crown Prince

Varsha Koduvayur

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched his first foreign tour as crown prince with a three-day visit to Egypt, which will be followed by stops in the UK and then the U.S. Bin Salman’s choice of Cairo as his first destination reflects warming ties with Saudi Arabia after...

23rd February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Treasury Sanctions Increase Pressure on North Korea’s Global Shipping Network

Mathew Ha

Today, the Treasury Department issued its “largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche to date” against 27 entities, 28 vessels, and one individual tied to Pyongyang’s shipping and trading network. The U.S. also issued a global advisory on North Korea’s deceptive shipping...

23rd February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Egypt Launches Massive Anti-terrorism Operation ahead of March Elections

Romany Shaker

In a surprise move, Egypt launched a massive anti-terrorism operation on February 9, covering northern and central Sinai, plus parts of the Nile Delta, the desert areas west of the Nile Valley, as well as the country’s long border with Libya. Egyptian military spokesman Colonel Tamer...

23rd February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

The Dire Consequences of Iran’s Water Crisis

Amir Toumaj, Saeed Ghasseminejad

The Islamic Republic’s decades-long mismanagement of water resources has led to a shortage of fresh water, a problem compounded by drought and rising temperatures due to climate change. The shortage is acutely felt across Iran and has fueled recent protests against the government.

22nd February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Iranian Cruise Missiles also a Proliferation Threat

Behnam Ben Taleblu

In its new Worldwide Threat Assessment for 2018, the U.S. intelligence community warns that Iran continues to “enable” attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels against America’s Persian Gulf partners. The new assessment highlights “an attempted 3 December cruise missile attack on an...

16th February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Lawmakers Can Defend Iranian Dissidents and Punish the Revolutionary Guards at the Same Time

Toby Dershowitz, Saeed Ghasseminejad

There is bipartisan consensus in Congress on the need to support the nonviolent protesters in Iran who are calling for an end to corruption and dictatorship. One important way to protect the protesters from surveillance and punishment would be to sanction Iran’s largest telecommunications...

13th February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Tillerson Goes to Turkey amid Sanctions Talk in Washington

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit Turkey on Thursday amidst a breakdown of trust between the U.S. and its longtime NATO ally. Analysts are warning about “a real danger of a clash between U.S. and Turkish forces” in northern Syria. In Washington, lawmakers are calling...

6th February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Syria and Russia Test Trump’s Red Line on Chemical Weapons

David Adesnik

Just days after an explicit warning from Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Syria has launched another round of chemical gas attacks in the northwestern province of Idlib. Footage posted by volunteer rescue workers showed suffocating men being stripped of their clothes and doused with water....

6th February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

The Case for Designating Iran’s State Media

Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg

During the recent protests in Iran, dissidents both inside and outside the country asked the U.S. government to enforce sanctions against Tehran’s state-run media enterprise, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

5th February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Iranian Women Protest the Mandatory Hijab

Tzvi Kahn

Iran has now arrested at least 29 women for refusing to wear the hijab, or headscarf. These acts of defiance reflect women’s second-class status in the Islamic Republic, where they face a range of discriminatory laws aimed at reducing their perceived threat to the sexual and religious...

1st February 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Civil Society Also a Casualty of Erdogan’s Afrin Campaign

Aykan Erdemir

On January 20, the Turkish government launched a ground offensive into northwestern Syria, codenamed “Operation Olive Branch.” Ankara’s ongoing intervention in Syria’s Afrin region aims to clear the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish force, away from Turkey’s...

30th January 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

With Strategic Dialogue, the U.S. Can Hold Qatar Accountable on Terror Finance

Varsha Koduvayur

Today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, along with their Qatari counterparts, will co-chair the inaugural U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue in Washington, DC. The dialogue has been touted as a sign that the alliance between Qatar and the United States has...


David Adesnik

Director of Research

Tony Badran

Research Fellow

John Cappello

Senior Fellow

Toby Dershowitz

Senior Vice President

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