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  • Author: Dahlia Scheindlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Cyprus conflict has been a protracted, unresolved conflict for roughly five decades. The two conflicts share ethno-nationalist and territorial dimensions; tension between a sovereign state and a sub-state entity, and a hostile military presence; decades of failed negotiations, with both sides showing ambiguous commitment to the intended political framework for resolution (two states, or a federated state, respectively); and high involvement of the international community. This paper maps points of comparison related to conflict resolution efforts in both cases, including references to the civil society, public, political leadership, and negotiation processes.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ido Zelkovitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Fatah movement and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Movement) leadership are experiencing a deep internal crisis. In 1969, Fatah leader Yassir Arafat took control of PLO institutions and imposed a political containment policy, combined with a heavy hand, against his opponents. Since then, the Palestinian national liberation movement has been characterized by a highly centralized authority structure. Mahmoud Abbas, an absolute ruler, inherited three ‘hats’ from his predecessor Arafat: In addition to serving as Chairman of the PLO’s Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas also serves as Chairman of the Fatah movement. Fatah is the ruling party in PLO institutions, and constitutes the political backbone of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian justification for the establishment of such centralized rule was the complexity of the negotiations that were held with Israel in the 1990s.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, International Affairs, Fragile States, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Palestine
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Late in the evening of July 15, a faction of the Turkish army blocked key bridges into Istanbul and occupied several locations throughout the country. The attempted coup failed before morning, but its consequences will reverberate far into the future. The government’s response was immediate and harsh: mass arrests and a purge of not only the military, but also civil servants, judges, academics, and political opponents. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned cleric Fethullah Gulen as the chief conspirator and demanded his extradition from self-imposed exile in the United States. Meanwhile, some opponents of Erdogan suggest that the government orchestrated the attempt as a “false flag” operation to consolidate power and crackdown on dissidents. Turkey is not new to coups, but looking at previous conflicts and the political science literature on coups can tell us why this failed attempt is unique and what its repercussions will be in Turkey and the broader Middle East. The pieces in POMEPS Briefing 30 offer insightful and timely analysis from top scholars of the region published in the Monkey Cage blog on the Washington Post.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On February 26, 2016, Iran held elections for its Assembly of Experts, the body tasked with choosing the next supreme leader, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly (its parliament or majlis). As the first major round of voting since 2015’s historic Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action nuclear agreement, the world watched the results closely — and Iran’s leaders leveraged this international focus. While many reformist candidates were barred from running, and those who did were censored on state media, new forms of communication and social media aided existing organizing networks for a strong showing for the reformist candidates, most notably in Tehran. Coalitions between moderates and reformists potentially herald a new era of politics in the Islamic Republic, though it has yet to be seen if these changes will translate mean greater democracy. POMEPS Briefing 29 collects a series of reflections from top regional scholars that provide political context and important analysis of these watershed elections
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed 47 men, including prominent cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr. This sparked immediate backlash, especially among domestic and global Shiite communities. Unfortunately, such rising sectarian tensions are nothing new in the region. Although the media is quick to highlight the Sunni-Shiite divide, it generally points to this split as the root cause of conflicts. How are we to get beyond this primordialist rhetoric and study the real impacts and causes of sectarianism in the region? POMEPS Briefing 28, “The Gulf’s Escalating Sectarianism,” collects 16 pieces previously published by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Monkey Cage to provide a more nuanced look of this divisive trend. There is a growing body of scholarship that places sectarianism within the study of comparative politics and international relations, rather than treating sectarian identity as an unchanging, essentialist trait. Authors in this collection demonstrate how political elites use sectarian language to legitimize authoritarian rule, consolidate power, and rally against internal and external foes. What appear on the surface as entrenched confessional divides are often more about political and economic power than religion. Interested readers should also look at the 2013 POMEPS Studies 4 “The Politics of Sectarianism,” much of which remains relevant today. Analysis of individual Gulf states’ domestic and geopolitical maneuvering supports this theoretical framework. In Saudi Arabia, the new leadership is able to refocus attention away from its international and domestic failures by increasing pressure on Shiite dissidents and provoking its main regional rival, Iran. And, in the wake of the nuclear agreement, the increasing Iranian influence gives Saudi Arabia another reason to amp up the sectarian vehemence. Meanwhile in Yemen, the labels of sectarianism fail to tell the whole story, while in Iraq and Syria violence in the name of sectarian identity continues to polarize and entrench both sides. The Arab uprisings challenged the traditional regional powers, and Sunni leaders continue to vie for prominence in this new order. Meanwhile, the increasing use of information technology and social media reinforces existing communities, while further polarizing users and citizens.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Gulf Nations
  • Author: Tan Sri Munir Majid
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: While the close British decision to get out of the European Union was made in a referendum a while ago on 23 June, there is still the feeling in the UK: What have we done? Where do we go? How do we get there? Questions that should have been asked at the referendum, rather than after it. But there you are. When raw emotion and shallow argument reign, profound decisions are made without proper reflection or preparation. Since then the question has also been raised whether or not such a thing could occur in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It won’t but then again it may. First of all, let’s be clear. It is not likely there will ever be such a surplus of democracy in ASEAN, whether among individual member states or as a group, that there could be an ‘In or Out’ referendum like the one which resulted in Brexit.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Global Markets, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: John Ryan
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: This Strategic Update discusses the most recent problems for the Eurozone, namely the Greek crisis and how the European Central Bank’s (ECB) lack of democratic accountability has contributed to the instability of the Eurozone.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andrey Korobkov
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The 2016 electoral campaign outcome came like a complete bolt out of the blue for the American establishment, including the ruling elites, as well as academics, journalists, and other groups safeguarding the elites’ interests. Ironically, the showy campaign and the scandalous behavior of US billionaire and TV star Donald Trump, now 45th President-elect, overshadowed the fact that such a candidate per se exposed a deep systemic crisis in American society. Both the general public and professionals had overlooked the phenomenon. The crisis is caused by the exhausted potential of the US political and socio-economic system, which took shape in the 1960s and is over 50 years old. That is why the problems that the campaign laid bare will not merely fade away after the elections.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Edward Luttwak
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: In the recent months the US-Russian relations have been in this weird place where Russia suddenly emerged again as a topic of a heated and very controversial electoral campaign and again in a form of an Evil Empire. The relations have been strained since 2014 following the events in Crimea, Ukraine and the sanctions rounds even though the same two countries managed to cooperate around Iran, and were rubbing shoulders in Syria. The recent storm has been caused by the leakage of the Democratic party emails, allegedly done by Moscow with the end goal to undermine Hillary Clinton (who is holding firm anti-Russian position) and support Donald Trump (who has praised Vladimir Putin in the past). With the elections taking place this week, Rethinking Russia spoke to an influential Republican geostrategist, CSIS senior associate Edward Luttwak about the current state of the Russian-American elections.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Thomas Graham
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Beware of rapid improvement in US-Russian relations. It cannot be sustained, and it always ends in sorrow for both countries. That at least is the history of relations since the end of the Cold War, to which each American president – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – can attest.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America