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  • Author: Aigerim Zikibayeva
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The demonstrations that were sparked by Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in protest of police corruption in Tunisia in December 2010 spread a contagion of revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East. The revolutionary spirit that spread to the neighboring countries of Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, and Jordan, has raised the question of a possible spillover in other regions of the world. The long-term instability in Eurasia as a whole, in Central Asia and the Caucasus in particular, has caused serious concerns about the possibility of rising radical Islamic threats in these regions, as well as the possibility of similar revolutions against the existing regimes. Perceptions and responses to these events in Russia and the United States also bear impact on the "reset" policy between the two nations.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Central Asia, Arabia
  • Author: William Thornberry, Jaclyn Levy
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emerged from a decades-long militant Islamist tradition in Algeria. In 1998, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat, or GSPC) broke away from the Armed Islamic Group (Groupe Islamique Armé, or GIA) because of the GIA's extensive targeting of civilians. Gradually, the GSPC evolved to encompass global jihadist ideology in addition to its historical focus on overturning the Algerian state. In 2006, the GSPC officially affiliated with al Qaeda core, soon rebranding itself as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In the following years, AQIM was able to conduct a small number of large-scale attacks, most notably its 2007 bombing of the UN headquarters in Algiers. In recent years, counterterrorism pressure and weak governance have combined to shift the center of AQIM's presence to the Sahara-Sahel region. AQIM continues to make its presence known through smuggling operations, kidnappings, and clashes with security forces in the desert. In the coming years, general instability within the region could allow AQIM to further expand its influence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Arms transfer to the Middle East are not the sole cause of the regional problems. In fact the acquisition of arms has been the product of the unresolved political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as other conflicts in the region. Over the past five decades there have been a number of arms control proposals and attempts for the Middle east. One main weakness of these proposals was that they were not integrated into a political process. The continued Arab-Israeli conflict made it practically impossible to formulate and implement formal arms control agreements, resulting in a failure from the beginning. Therefore, in any move towards arms control and regional security in the region, the linkage between both conventional and non-conventional weapons and the ongoing peace process must be made. A peaceful solution to the Arab –Israeli conflict should proceed alongside any arms control negotiations, specially in the establishment of a Weapons of Mass destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the region. It is quite evident that peace cannot be achieved while still being threatened by a weapons of mass destruction capability of a neighboring country, nor can a WMDFZ be achieved without the context of a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. This has been recognized by the Obama administration as being a “vital national security interest of the United States”. The position of many countries in the region is that they find it difficult to enter serious arms control negotiations until some form of regional peace is fully established. This stems from their perception that nations in the region still consider military force as the only viable source to achieve their policy objectives. The danger from this underlying reasoning, if perceived as the only alternative to preserving a regional security balance, is that it could give rise to an uncontrollable arms race and to a parallel proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Any massive rearmament will surely create an unrestricted arms race in the Middle East which will automatically be accompanied by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The fear is that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could give rise to states announcing a so-called “in-kind” deterrence or “the right to retaliate in kind”. Unless controlled this arms race will give rise to another military conflict with catastrophic human and environmental consequences.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, Israel, Arabia