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  • Author: Jennifer Rowland, Nada Zohdy, Brian Katulis, Michael Wahid Hanna, Faysal Itani, Muhammad Y. Idris, Joelle Thomas, Tamirace Fakhoury, Farouk El-Baz, Kheireddine Bekkai, Amira Maaty, Sarah McKnight
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Our Spring 2015 volume captures the troubling developments of the past year in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2014, the Syrian conflict that has so beguiled the international community spilled over into Iraq, with the swift and shocking rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS is causing the ever-complex alliances in the region to shift in peculiar ways. In Iraq, US airstrikes provide cover for Iranian-backed militias fighting ISIS; while in Yemen, the United States supports a Saudi intervention against a different Iranianbacked armed group that has taken control of the Yemeni capital. Meanwhile, simmering political disputes in Libya escalated into a full-blown civil war, sparking concern in neighboring Egypt, where the old authoritarian order remains in control despite the country’s popular revolution. The Gulf countries contemplate their responses to record-low oil prices, continuing negotiations between the United States and Iran, and the threat of ISIS. And Tunisia remains one of the region’s only bright spots. In November, Tunisians voted in the country’s first free and fair presidential elections. This year’s Journal brings new analysis to many of these complex events and broader regional trends. We begin with the positive: an exclusive interview with former Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. In this year’s feature articles: Brian Katulis zooms out to assess the Obama administration’s record in the Middle East over the past six years; Michael Wahid Hanna refutes the notion that the Iraqi and Syrian borders will need to be redrawn as a result of ISIS’ takeover; and Faysal Itani analyzes the US coalition’s strategy to defeat ISIS, arguing that it cannot succeed without empowering Sunni civilians. Muhammed Idris and Joelle Thomas turn to economics in an assessment of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to go green. Tamirace Fakhoury points out a blind spot in the study of the Middle East and North Africa: how large diaspora communities affect political dynamics in their home countries. Farouk El-Baz takes us to Egypt, where he proposes a grand economic plan to pull the country out of poverty and set it on a path toward longterm growth. From Egypt, we move west to the oft-neglected country of Algeria, where Kheireddine Bekkai argues for more inclusive education policies on national identity. Finally, Amira Maaty comments on the region’s desperate need for robust civil societies, while Sarah McKnight calls for improvements in Jordan’s water policies.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Development, Environment, Migration, History, Natural Resources, Social Movement, Islamic State, Economy, Political stability, Arab Spring, Military Intervention, Identities, Diversification
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Algeria, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
  • Author: Ruben Tuitel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Connections
  • Institution: Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes
  • Abstract: The Sinai Peninsula has been a center of conflict for many years, starting with the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. After Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David Accords in 1978, it became a peaceful region, strongly controlled by the military during Hosni Mubarak's rule in Cairo. Now, after several years of non-violence, the Sinai Peninsula is once again the center of a complicated conflict. Heavy protests across Egypt in 2011 forced Hosni Mubarak to step down from the presidency, creating a security vacuum in the Sinai that allowed radical Islamists to almost freely operate in the region. During the months that followed, insurgent groups grew in number, recruiting frustrated Bedouin who have been neglected by the Egyptian government for years.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: A. Kadir Yildirim
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Egypt's democratization efforts require domestic and international considerations: Domestically, the country must focus on the economy at the expense of the military's political role: While military involvement in politics is crucial to democratization, improvements in this area represents an outcome, not the cause, of the process. Discussions should concentrate on protecting lower- and middle classes, generate prosperity and create common ground between democracy and class interests. At the international level, Egypt requires countries to support democratization efforts and condemn extra-democratic actions. Meanwhile, the prominence of Islamists causes concerns for Western governments with regard to the Peace Treaty and Israel's security.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Helena Burgrová
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Obrana a strategie (Defence & Strategy)
  • Institution: University of Defence
  • Abstract: The article deals with the security situation in Egypt after the ousting of Mubarak's government in 2011. It addresses implications of the security void in the Sinai Peninsula, which are closely related to the failure of the Egyptian security forces to ensure security in this area. The focus is turned at the growth of violent attacks against security personnel and cross-border attacks aimed at Israeli targets. By comparing three periods - before the 2011 uprising; between the 2011 uprising and 2013 Mursi's deposition; and the period after Mursi's deposition on July 3, 2013 - the article maps changes in the pattern of violent conduct. It documents a significant rise of violence and intensification of Jihadist activities in the region after the uprising of 2011. Mursi's deposition triggered further intensification of violence in the region, as well as novel patterns of violence such as the use of sophisticated weaponry and methods of combat (e.g. suicide attacks). This change is linked to the expansion of the Jihadist agenda and the greater involvement of the Jihadist groups in the battle against the Egyptian security forces. The article suggests that the core of the security crisis is closely linked to negligence and marginalization of the local population by the government. Therefore, as long as Sinai is approached merely through firm security measures that fail to address the developmental needs of the locals, the security of the region cannot be guaranteed.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Egypt, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Jennifer Lind
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: Center for the National Interest
  • Abstract: THE UNITED States has security partnerships with numerous countries whose people detest America. The United States and Pakistan wrangled for seven months over a U.S. apology for the NATO air strikes that killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers in 2011. The accompanying protests that roiled Islamabad, Karachi and other cities are a staple of the two countries' fraught relationship. Similarly, American relations with Afghanistan repeatedly descended into turmoil last year as Afghans expressed outrage at Koran burnings by U.S. personnel through riots and killings. “Green on blue” attacks—Afghan killings of U.S. soldiers—plague the alliance. In many Islamic countries, polls reflect little warmth toward Americans. Washington's strategy of aligning with governments, rather than peoples, blew up in Egypt and could blow up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. America's alliances in the Middle East and Persian Gulf are fraught with distrust, dislike and frequent crisis. Is there any hope for them? Turns out, there is. Fifty years ago, a different alliance was rocked by crisis and heading toward demise. Like many contemporary U.S. alliances, it had been created as a marriage of convenience between Washington and a narrow segment of elites, and it was viewed with distrust by the peoples of both countries. Yet a half century later, that pairing is one of the strongest security partnerships in the world—the alliance between the United States and Japan.
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Japan, America, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Shadi Hamid
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: For decades, U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been paralyzed by "the Islamist dilemma" -- how can the United States promote democracy in the region without risking bringing Islamists to power? Now, it seems, the United States no longer has a choice. Popular revolutions have swept U.S.-backed authoritarian regimes from power in Tunisia and Egypt and put Libya's on notice. If truly democratic governments form in their wake, they are likely to include significant representation of mainstream Islamist groups. Like it or not, the United States will have to learn to live with political Islam. Washington tends to question whether Islamists' religious commitments can coexist with respect for democracy, pluralism, and women's rights. But what the United States really fears are the kinds of foreign policies such groups might pursue. Unlike the Middle East's pro-Western autocracies, Islamists have a distinctive, albeit vague, conception of an Arab world that is confident, independent, and willing to project influence beyond its borders. There is no question that democracy will make the region more unpredictable and some governments there less amenable to U.S. security interests. At their core, however, mainstream Islamist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan and al Nahda in Tunisia, have strong pragmatic tendencies. When their survival has required it, they have proved willing to compromise their ideology and make di⁄cult choices. To guide the new, rapidly evolving Middle East in a favorable direction, the United States should play to these instincts by entering into a strategic dialogue with the region's Islamist groups and parties. Through engagement, the United States can encourage these Islamists to respect key Western interests, including advancing the Arab-Israeli peace process, countering Iran, and combating terrorism. It will be better to develop such ties with opposition groups now, while the United States still has leverage, rather than later, after they are already in power.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Bessma Momani, Andrew F. Cooper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is increasingly obvious that Qatar is playing above its weight in the international role. There is no one script that defines Qatar's diplomatic role. It is best seen as a maverick, willing to work with the US as well as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. It operates a complex form of public diplomacy via Al-Jazeera and other high profile initiatives at the same time as it mediates behind the scenes with Israel and Lebanon. Qatar's role as a unique hybrid diplomatic actor is reinforced by the enthusiastic support it displayed towards the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, including operational support for the UN Security Resolution to place a no-fly zone with respect to the Qaddafi's regime, while being more circumspect on the uprising in Bahrain. Such an extensive, unconventional and differentiated approach creates risks as well as opportunities. Yet, through a combination of resources and vision, it is skilled resilience not vulnerability that defines Qatar.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Dublin
  • Author: Christopher Boucek, Mara Revkin
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The wave of popular uprisings sweeping across the Arab world has caught the region's most entrenched authoritarian regimes off guard. Yet unlike Tunisia, Egypt, and other custodians of an undemocratic status quo, Yemen is no stranger to instability. Long before protesters took to the streets of Sana`a on January 20, 2011 to demand political reforms, the 32-year-old regime of President Ali Abdullah Salih was already struggling to contain a daunting array of security, economic, and governance challenges.
  • Topic: Security, Economics
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Nabil Fahmy
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Nonproliferation Review
  • Institution: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Abstract: This article explores the official Egyptian reaction to the 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) through three lenses: Egypt's national security prism; its ideological stance on nuclear weapons; and the compatibility of the 2010 NPR's goals with the position on nuclear weapons of Egypt's like-minded cohort states, including members of the League of Arab States, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the New Agenda Coalition. Egypt is one of the strongest US allies in the Middle East, a region considered a hotbed of potential nuclear weapons development and activity. As such, Cairo's opinion on the direction of recent US nuclear weapons policy could provide valuable insight into the feasibility of the US goals of preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism and the compatibility of this policy with the Middle East's greater goals of eventual total nuclear disarmament and the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Egyptian officials have reiterated their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East and their support for a world free from the threat of nuclear arms. The Egyptian assessment of the NPR will be contingent on the implementation of the review's lofty goals on a rigorous and progressive pace. This article evaluates the NPR's provisions from three angles with particular emphasis on Egypt's national security prism, which involves a complex regional perspective.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Mert Bilgin
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This paper hypothesizes that analyzing the geo-economic and energy security characteristics of gas supplies to Europe may help in understanding the features of regional and international relations with regard to selected countries. The paper highlights the significance of natural gas in the New Energy Order, and points to the importance of supply security for the EU. It looks at Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Algeria as suppliers and Turkey as a transit country in an emerging gas corridor to Europe. It examines supply-side opportunities, which promote new fields of international cooperation based on gas trade, and addresses certain restraints that may reduce the likelihood of further regional cooperation. Economic and geographic factors create new opportunities for regional trade and international relations. This geoeconomic aspect, however, takes place with international security issues varying from case to case.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Libya, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Egypt
  • Author: Jeremy Pressman
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The administration of President George W. Bush was deeply involved in the Middle East, but its efforts did not advance U.S. national security. In the realms of counterterrorism, democracy promotion, and nonconventional proliferation, the Bush administration failed to achieve its objectives. Although the United States did not suffer a second direct attack after September 11, 2001, the terrorism situation worsened as many other countries came under attack and a new generation of terrorists trained in Iraq. Large regional powers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia did not become more democratic, with no new leaders subject to popular mandate. The model used in Iraq of democratization by military force is risky, costly, and not replicable. Bush's policy exacerbated the problem of nuclear proliferation, expending tremendous resources on a nonexistent program in Iraq while bolstering Iran's geopolitical position. The administration failed because it relied too heavily on military force and too little on diplomacy, disregarded empiricism, and did not address long-standing policy contradictions. The case of the Bush administration makes clear that material power does not automatically translate into international influence.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Mouin Rabbani
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: In this second installment of his interview for JPS, Khalid Mishal, Hamas politburo chief since 1996 and head of the movement since the assassination of Shaykh Ahmad Yasin in 2004, continues his discussion of Hamas's evolution and strategy. Whereas the focus of part I was Mishal's personal background, political formation, and the founding of the movement, here Hamas's more recent history is foregrounded. From the unfolding conflict and troubled relations with Fatah since the mid-1990s, Mishal recounts the thinking behind the decision formally to integrate into the Palestinian political system born of Oslo by participating the 2006 legislative elections and joining the Palestinian Authority government. He also delves into the ongoing repercussions of these decisions, including the splits within the Palestinian movement culminating in Hamas's seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. In the course of the more than three-hour interview, Mishal's straightforward manner is on display, as well as his willingness to be challenged on matters as sensitive as Hamas's suicide bombings and the targeting of Israeli civilians, the utility of armed resistance, and the morality of the struggle. Two themes underlying the interview were Mishal's preoccupation with the need to repair the intra-Palestinian split ("our greatest priority") and the devastating impact of the ongoing siege of the Gaza. Since our interview in early March 2008, two potentially significant developments with relevance to these concerns have taken place. On the internal Palestinian front, Mishal repeatedly emphasized the need for intra-Palestinian dialogue without preconditions, with all subjects on the table including controversial topics like early elections. A first step toward reconciliation was made on 24 March 2008, when Hamas and Fatah representatives signed the "Sana'a Declaration," negotiated in the Yemeni capital, which outlined points of consensus on various domestic issues including security and political institutions. Though the declaration quickly ran aground, with Fatah demanding that Hamas immediately cede control of Gaza before implementation of other aspects would be discussed, by June 2008, Hamas and Fatah were once again considering national unity talks on the basis of the Yemeni initiative. As for alleviating the extreme external pressures on the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel mediated by Egypt produced a bilateral cease-fire that went into effect on 18 June. Though initially confined to Gaza, the understandings also call for a gradual reversal of the siege as well as renewed negotiations on a prisoner exchange, including the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Hovering over both Hamas-Israel and Hamas-Fatah relations is Washington, which remains opposed to any deals through which the Palestinian Islamists can emerge from their enforced isolation. Yet whatever the ultimate success of either development, the reality is that Mishal and Hamas are increasingly central players in the intra-Palestinian, Israeli-Palestinian, and broader regional equations. Indeed, itwas Mishal, not Abbas, whose movement reached an agreement with Israel before the expiration of the Bush administration.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt