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  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that has flourished in the Muslim world for centuries. Sufism has placed a distinctive stamp on the way the religion has been practiced in many Arab countries, in parts of Africa, in Turkey, and especially in Central Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central Asia, Turkey, Kuwait, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Never has the cause of political reform in the Arab world received as strong verbal support— on both the international and domestic political levels—as it did in Palestine between 2002 and 2006. And while much of the Palestinian reform agenda remained unrealized, Palestinian governance changed in fundamental ways during the reform wave. But international backers of reform in particular had a remarkably short-term focus, a highly personalized view of the process, and a very instrumental view of reform, leading them to turn harshly against the achievements of the Palestinian reform movement when it brought unexpected results. What can this combination of success and disillusioned failure teach us about the cause of Arab political reform?
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Even as the United States is preoccupied with how to stabilize and withdraw from Iraq, it risks missing another important opportunity to promote democracy in the Middle East. Among Arab countries Egypt is uniquely positioned to make a transition from authoritarian rule to a more liberal system and eventually to democracy. A looming presidential succession in Egypt makes such changes more feasible. But after several years of modest reforms, the Egyptian government is now backtracking and enshrining illiberal measures in its revised constitution. The United States faces a critical decision about whether to pursue reform seriously with Egypt or to abandon the project of promoting Arab democracy, at least for now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Dina Bishara
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2006 Lebanon war has had a profound effect on Islamist movements that have chosen to compete as legal parties in the political systems of their countries, testing their relationship with the ruling regimes as well as their respect for pluralism and tolerance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recent election results in several Arab countries have transformed formerly theoretical questions into pressing policy concerns: Can Islamist political parties operate within the boundaries of a democratic system? Will participation breed moderation? Strong showings by Hizbollah in Lebanon and by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have made these questions seem less speculative. And the victory of Hamas in the first election it contested has made the questions impossible to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan, Mumbai
  • Author: Julia Choucair
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanon is arguably the most democratic Arab state. Under parliamentary rule since becoming independent in 1943, it has regular elections, numerous political parties, and relatively free and lively news media. Lebanon also has one of the most complex political systems in the Middle East, based on the premise that a careful balance in all aspects of political life must be maintained among the seventeen recognized religious communities. While this confessional system has spared Lebanon the authoritarianism experienced by many Arab regimes in the twentieth century, paradoxically it has also prevented the transition to a truly democratic state. Nor has the confessional system eliminated the factional strife it was designed to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David M. Mednicoff
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE IN RULE-OF-LAW PROMOTION, above all the basic question of whether Western rule-of-law aid programs are on the right track to help build the rule of law in recipient countries, is especially acute in the Arab world. Arab states generally share two features that render external rule-of-law aid particularly difficult—long-standing nondemocratic governments, and legal systems that graft Ottoman, European, and contemporary sources onto Islamic norms. We cannot presume that U.S. common-law practitioners can build the rule of law by transporting or transplanting their technocratic techniques into such different legal soil. Indeed, the very idea that people in Arab societies would be receptive to American guidance in legal reform is dubious in the current climate of broad, popular mistrust of the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The approval of the Iraqi constitution in the October 15 referendum does not put Iraq on the path to stability and democracy but pushes it toward division into largely autonomous regions. And this new momentum is probably irreversible. Whether it will lead to a catastrophic descent into greater violence or even ethnic cleansing, or to a managed transformation into a loose federation of regions enjoying extreme autonomy, depends on whether it becomes possible for Sunni Arabs to form their own region, as Kurds already have and Shias are bound to do once the constitution is in effect. The central thrust of U.S. policy in Iraq must now be to help Sunnis organize an autonomous region and to convince Shias and Kurds that it is in their interest to make this possible. Paradoxically, announcing now a timetable for the inevitable withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq could give Washington additional leverage in influencing all sides to accept the necessary compromises.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Before any significant political reform can take place in the Arab world, the United States and Europe need to begin engaging moderate Islamists, an action less thorny than it might seem because Islamists have embraced democratic procedures and have shown a strong commitment to the rule of law. For a long time Arab regimes have frightened the United States and Europe into supporting regimes' repressive measures toward Islamist movements by invoking the nightmare of anti-Western fanatics taking power through the ballot box. However, today's moderate Islamists—while illiberal in many important respects—no longer match the nightmare. Excluding them from the political sphere weakens the chances of democratic reform and increases the likelihood that eventually they will resort to violence.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: IN PALESTINE, CITIZENS HAVE RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH and free assembly. The most independent judiciary in the Arab world adjudicates their disputes. Palestinians select their leaders freely in competitive elections overseen by an independent electoral commission. A representative assembly monitors the executive, granting and withholding confidence from ministers and reviewing the state budget in detailed public discussions. Elected councils manage local governments that are fiscally autonomous of the center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia