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  • Author: Paulo Gerbaudo
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The 2011 protest wave, encompassing the Arab Spring revolutions, the Indignados movement in Spain and Greece, and the Occupy Wall Street movement has often been described as a new global protest cycle. However, the dynamics of diffusion suggest a more complex picture. Transmission of protest frames and repertoires from one country and cultural region to another was quite slow and tortuous. Moreover, adoption of the new ideas and practices of protest spawned by the protest wave of 2011 involved laborious dynamics of cultural translation and domestication. This situation points to the continuing importance of local protest cultures and cultural contexts, in addition to channels of transmission, even in an era of instantaneous communication technologies.
  • Topic: Communications
  • Political Geography: Greece, Arabia
  • Author: Timo Behr
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The rise of political Islam in the EU's southern neighbourhood represents a political as well as conceptual challenge to the EU as a foreign policy actor. In the past, the EU reacted to this challenge based on its essentialist perception of political Islam and its overarching interest in regional stability and security. However, the growing salience of 'contingencist' interpretations of political Islam and the resolution of the EU's democratisation-stabilisation dilemma in the wake of the Arab Spring have recently provided an opportunity for greater engagement and cooperation. This has enabled a switch in EU policies from a strategy of containment to a strategy of engagement. Despite this, problems remain as the EU continues to expect Islamist actors to adjust to its own discursive framework and as intra-European divisions revive as a result of the renewal of secular-religious divisions in the neighbourhood. This will complicate EU attempts to build a new partnership with Islamist democracies and will fuel old stereotypes and animosities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Nikolay Kozhanov
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Russian government sincerely believes that Assad's removal from power would trigger the expansion of jihadism and instability in the Caucasus and southern Russia. Moscow is deeply concerned about the rise of Islamists in the Middle East, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia's efforts to support the most radical factions in Syria. At the same time, the obvious absence of the ideological background behind current Russian-Syrian relations makes them a trade item. Thus, official guarantees that the jihadists will not export their revolution elsewhere accompanied by promises to preserve some Russian economic positions in post-Assad Syria will probably create the necessary ground for the emergence of a compromise stance on Syria (including the issue of foreign intervention).
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Marco Pinfari
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since 1960, Latin American attempts at regionalism have undergone distinct phases. More notably, they have tended to diverge across space, gradually giving birth to separate blocs that seem to be tearing South, Central and North America apart. Additionally, within and across these regions several overlapping projects coexist. This article focuses on the dynamics of segmented and overlapping regionalism in order to describe what they look like, analyse how they articulate with one another, and explain why member states have pushed for such a messy outcome. This situation, linked to the evolution of the global context, might be indicating that regionalism in Latin America has reached its peak, beyond which it may be difficult to achieve further progress. Two conclusions are elicited: first, economic integration is becoming a geographically diffused phenomenon rather than a regional one; second, regionalism is still a compelling foreign policy but its causes, goals and outcomes are no longer what they used to be.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Latin America, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Robert Springborg
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The dramatic thawing of the Cold War at the end of the 1980s accompanied by the rapid democratisation of Eastern Europe served as inspiration and model for political transitions in other settings. Now the Arab world, the securitisation of which has kept it frozen in what amounts to a regional cold war long after the global prototype ended, may be entering its springtime of political freedom. Tunisia's 'Jasmine' and Egypt's 'Midan al Tahrir' Revolutions chased established autocrats from power, thus making possible new domestic political orders and substantial reorientations of foreign policies. Imitative uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria have thus far resulted in widespread violence, regime retrenchments and even foreign interventions, although prospects do remain for more positive outcomes. Intermittent demonstrations in various other Arab countries, including Morocco, Algeria, Oman, Jordan and Iraq, have typically been met with limited political reforms and promises of more to come. So the region is definitely in political ferment, but whether that presages transitions to democracy à la Eastern Europe in 1989, or revanchist reconsolidations reminiscent of those that overwhelmed the 1848 liberal nationalist movements in Western Europe, remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: Roberto Aliboni
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Arab revolts are one dimension of the strategic change that is affecting the Middle East and Arab world as a consequence of the failure of the West, especially the United States, to shape the region in line with their views during the last decade. They definitely point to the weakening, or perhaps even the end, of a long period in which US and Western objectives in the region were supported by a large coalition of regional powers with conservative interests. The revolts did not come out of the blue and have quite a different nature and significance from the ones that Western official rhetoric and media tend to assign them. To understand the Arab revolts and work out a fresh Western approach toward the region, the West must frame the revolts in the region's evolving strategic context.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Kamleh Khatib
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Through a series of open-question interviews carried out with those responsible for the UfM file between late 2008 and early 2009, some undeniable and unanimously accepted merits were voiced. However, views from the southern shores of the Mediterranean appear to be multifaceted and not uniform with only one dominant common trait echoing in all interviews and shaping negative perceptions, namely, the weight the Arab-Israeli conflict exerts in hampering the initiative. While a Union of projects could "address the architectural deficit that has prevented the Mediterranean from becoming a coherently functional economic regional space", high politics emerge, yet again, as an inescapable reality that demands prioritisation.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Giacomo Luciani
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Several Arab countries have recently manifested an interest in civilian nuclear energy. For some, like Egypt, this is the revival of an old interest, for others, notably the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it represents a clear reversal of previously held positions. This interest has been interpreted as an implicit threat to move in the direction of acquiring a military nuclear capability, in case Iran develops a bomb. Instead, the article argues that interest in nuclear energy has strong economic motivations for all Arab countries, although the position of the GCC is quite different from that of North Africa and Levant countries, from the point of view of both the cogency of motivation and the ability to concretely and rapidly launch a civilian nuclear program.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Menachem Klein
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: With Israeli having de facto control over historical Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from being a border conflict to an ethnic struggle between almost minority but powerful Israeli Jews and Arab Palestinians. Hence, the "one-state proposal" now circulating for the two peoples is not a viable solution but rather the current problematic reality: the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is heading toward Balkanisation. Nevertheless, as long as the majority on both sides rejects the joint state in favour of their own nation state, the Balkan model can be avoided. Indeed, when the cost of ethnic conflict becomes too high, Israel will be quick to put new effort into working on the idea of two states.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Volker Perthes
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The summer 2006 war in Lebanon can be perceived through at least five different frames of reference. The US administration saw the war in Lebanon as a local manifestation of the global war on terror. According to this framework, Hezbollah is an Al Qaeda-type enemy, not a national group with a local agenda and constituency; bargaining with Hezbollah is not possible. This point of view makes fighting global terror more difficult and jeopardises the search for stability and peace in the region. Many Israeli and European politicians saw the war as a confrontation between radical Islam and a modern Israeli state, a clash of cultures between Islamic fundamentalists and Western civilisation. This frame of reference, however, fails to recognise the fault line within the Muslim world itself, between those who want to integrate their societies into a globalised world and those who do not. The conflict in Lebanon can also be interpreted as a consequence of the weakening of a state, a framework which underlines the need to strengthen Arab institutions, or as an asymmetrical war between an armed nation state and a guerrilla movement. Finally, the war in Lebanon can be seen as a conflict over power, land, resources and sovereignty - the classic realist perspective. If the international community fails to work toward a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, another framework will gain strength in the Arab world: one that interprets events according to a theory of non-negotiable conflicts between Western imperialism and radical Islamic resistance.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon