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  • Author: Dogan Gurpinar
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: This article analyses the evolving discourses over Turkish foreign policy deeply entrenched within the Turkish cultural wars. It demonstrates the process and mechanisms that render Turkish foreign policy an extension of the pursuit of cultural politics and statements of identity. It also assesses how the Middle East was posited not only as a theater of diplomacy but also as a rhetorical gadget over contested Turkish identity, especially pushed by the AKP intelligentsia and policymakers and avidly defied by the secular opposition. Its emphasis is on the Arab Spring and Turkey’s immersion into the Syrian civil war, as these developments exacerbated the overlap between foreign policy making and discourses on foreign policy, particularly since the AKP sought not only diplomatic opportunities but also a regional transnational realignment as a result of the Arab Spring and the regional revolutionary milieu.
  • Topic: Populism, Arab Spring, Syrian War, Islamism, AKP
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Kelsey Wise, Amin Awad
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • 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: The series of refugee crises in the Middle East and North Africa has created urgent need for coordinated international responses and advocacy. To learn more about the complexities of meeting the needs of diverse refugee populations across the region, and addressing their root causes, JMEPP Levant Regional Editor Kelsey Wise sat down with Amin Awad in advance of his appearance at the Harvard Arab Conference. Mr. Awad currently serves as the Director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and has extensive experience working on refugee issues and in humanitarian relief in the MENA region. He is also the Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria and Iraq.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Refugee Crisis, Displacement, Syrian War, Resettlement, Child Marriage
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Yemen, United Nations, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Reva Dhingra
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • 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: The 2018-2019 school year opened with some worrying figures for Syrian children in Jordan. Over forty percent of an estimated 240,000 registered Syrian school-aged refugees remain out of formal school. Despite ongoing efforts, enrollment levels of about 131,000 in September remained well below the target of 170,000 children. With most refugees unlikely to return to Syria in the immediate future—the number of registered refugees increased in 2018—education while in Jordan remains a pressing concern. Funding cuts, school and teacher quality, documentation barriers, and complex mental health and psychosocial problems among refugee children contribute to education shortfalls, but only partially explain the unexpectedly low enrollment of refugee children. The initial education response was fractured between the immediate imperative of keeping children off the streets and the long-term imperative of integrating children into formal school. As the crisis stretches into its eighth year, however, the impulses of the early education response continue to impede efforts to educate Syrian children in Jordan. Despite the best efforts of donors, NGOs, and the Jordanian government, this early approach may have inadvertently increased time out of school for children who, under government regulations, are not allowed to re-enroll after three years. As a result, many of these children will likely never be able to enroll in school again. Examining the refugee education response in Jordan offers lessons for providing education during the early stages of refugee crises.
  • Topic: Education, Children, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Abdul Basit, Iftekharul Bashar, Amresh Lavan Gunasingham, Jade Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Current narratives on terrorism and violent extremism by governments, policymakers and law enforcement agencies are largely Islam-centric with an overt focus on the military defeat of terrorist groups. This issue firstly looks into the assumed link between a reduction or elimination of territorial control by terrorist groups and their so-called ‘defeat’. Using the Islamic State (IS) as a study, this issue explicates further on a group’s cross-border/global networks, linkages and ideological spread to assert that the victory-defeat framework against IS is flawed, as its threat has transformed into a network of smaller cells and geographically dispersed cells. Secondly, this issue looks at the rising threat of far-right extremism and terrorism; a phenomenon which has been under-explored, given the Islam-centric nature of terrorism in recent decades. For instance, it has been reported that 71 percent of fatalities linked to terrorism between 2008 and 2017 in the United States were committed by far-right extremists and white supremacists. This issue specifically examines the recent Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand by a far-right extremist and possible implications for the Asia Pacific region. In the first article, Abdul Basit discusses the narrative of defeat against IS after US forces eliminated its last physical stronghold in Syria. It is argued that while IS territory shrank considerably, the group is still active with its ideological appeal attracting smaller networks and cells globally. The author states that IS has managed to remain relevant and active despite losing its physical sanctuaries due to three reasons: (i) revising the ideological narrative; (ii) organisational restructuring; and (iii) forming new networks. This is likely to have far-reaching implications on the global threat landscape that will witness a rise in low-end urban terrorism, more competition from rival groups and reactionary violence from right-wing extremists. Next, Amresh Gunasingham studies the recent attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that heightened post-war ethnic tensions and brought forth civil war traumas amidst an ongoing political crisis. The article examines the possibility of a communication gap among security agencies that prevented early detection of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country’s history. It further details the motivations for the attack as: (i) the Wahhabi factor; (ii) anti-Muslim violence furthering radicalization; and (iii) the possible links to IS. Possible implications and responses to the attack include a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and violence with tightened security measures imposed by the state. In order to ensure long-term stability, the state needs measures to promote ethnic and religious harmony with strong counter-terrorism legislation. Iftekharul Bashar details the threat landscape in Western Myanmar, focusing on (i) Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an ethno-nationalist group and (ii) IS and Al-Qaeda (AQ), both Islamist terrorist groups. The article argues that the threat brought on by ethnic violence and Islamist terrorism is facilitated by grievances of the local Rohingya Muslims and motivations for revenge and active presence of IS and AQ networks in the South and Southeast Asia region. The exploitation of the local refugee crisis by IS and AQ coupled with ARSA’s resilience requires comprehensive responses that centre on communal harmony in addition to hard-power measures. Lastly, Jade Hutchinson discusses the far-right terrorist threat, specifically in light of the Christchurch shooting at two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019 where 51 people were killed. The article focuses on the attack, the attacker, his links to other far-right extremist groups and the key role the Internet and social media played in facilitating the attack. This incident in New Zealand signals the possibility of further copycat attacks in Australia and other countries, further recruitment towards far-right extremism online and the need to devise policies to effectively counter far-right extremism in the online space.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Refugees, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East, Sri Lanka, Syria, New Zealand, Myanmar, United States of America
  • Author: Çiğdem Nas
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: The article aims to analyze the European Union (EU)’s approach to the Syrian crisis and to evaluate the role it attributes to Turkey. The EU’s approach staggered between supporting transition in Syria to a post-Assad regime and the need to protect itself against spill-over effects of the conflict. Two issues emerged as urgent priorities that determined the EU’s approach to the conflict. One of them was to control the outpouring of refugees fleeing war and oppression in Syria and the other was to deal with the growing threat of terrorism, mainly the ISIL threat. The influx of Syrian refugees through the Aegean and Balkan route to the EU surged in the summer of 2015 leading to practical and political problems for EU countries. In the meantime, ISIL related terror attacks in the EU created a major security problem and led several Member States to bring back border controls in the Schengen area. The EU turned to Turkey and sought Turkey’s cooperation in controlling the refugee flow and also keeping away the ISIL threat. The article looks at cooperation between Turkey and the EU and also points of contention that created hurdles in this cooperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Refugee Crisis, Syrian War, Borders
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Burcu Sari Karademir
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Alliances under unipolarity operate with different logic than under bipolarity. Unipolarity makes the twin dangers of abandonment and entrapment more likely for the weaker states that need the unipole for the pursuit of their regional security interests. The article takes the US-Turkish relations within the context of Syrian conflict as exemplary and shows how the strategic discrepancies between the US-Turkish positions paved the way for Turkey’s abandonment in Syria. The article concludes that the unipole’s strategic alliance commitments are no longer reliable for regional allies to assume risky regional restructuring roles as they face the risk of abandonment on the halfway.
  • Topic: International Relations, Alliance, Syrian War, Unipolarity
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Behlül Özkan
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: The aim of this study is to examine how continuities and discontinuities over a period of nearly half a century have shaped the AKP government’s relationship with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the Assad regime. From the start of the 1980s until the 2011 Arab Uprisings, relations between Turkey, Turkish Islamists, Syria, and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood remained highly complex. Based on the information available from open sources and newspaper archives, this study terms the conflict between the Turkish and Syrian intelligence services that broke out in the 1980s as an “intelligence war.” Both countries viewed the PKK and the Muslim Brotherhood – domestic enemies which they were trying to stamp out – as useful actors to be played off against the other party. While the Syrian/PKK part of the equation was frequently alluded to by the Turkish media and Turkish academia, Turkey’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood were gradually forgotten. Though open support for the Brotherhood was never an element in Ankara’s official foreign policy, Turkey’s intelligence and security forces did establish ties to the Brotherhood in order to strengthen Turkey’s hand against Syria and made use of the organization insofar as it was in their interest to do so.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, History, Syrian War, Islamism, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Serdar Ş. Güner, Dilan E. Koç
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Various balance and imbalance conditions among the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iran are analyzed to present how changes in the direction of conflict and cooperation disturb the regional balance in the Syria conflict. We find that given a stable hostility between the U.S. and Russia, and the stable friendship between Russia and Syria, Turkish preferences over coveting friendship and leaning toward enmity are central in the formation of balances. Turkey-Syria relations constitute a key for the balance in the region. A main Russian foreign-policy problem thus remains to help Turkey and Syria to conduct friendlier relations. A competition or an agreement between the U.S. and Russia over Kurdish independence underlies TFP alignment choices and a high likelihood of a protracted conflict for years to come in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Power Sharing, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Deniz Çıtak
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • 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: On January 20, 2018 at 17:00 local time, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) entered Afrin, a city in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan named the military operation “Operation Olive Branch” (Zeytin Dalı Harekâtı) for the region’s many olive trees. According to Turkey, the operation does not violate international law because the operation was against the PYD and YPG as an act of self-defense, aiming to guarantee the security of Turkey’s borders. For Turkey, the links between the PKK and Syrian Kurdish groups classify Kurdish activity in northern Syria as a threat to Turkey’s domestic security.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Nicholas Norberg
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • 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: In the backdrop of negotiations over drafting Syria’s new constitution and a transition in UN representation on Syria, the conflict in Idlib continues to simmer. Unrest in Idlib and dissatisfaction there with the internationally-recognized opposition, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), leaves residents of Syria’s northwest excluded from constitutional committee. This is significant because the constitutional convention is increasingly viewed as a precondition for advancing the larger peace process. The constitutional committee is no place to hammer out granular differences between warring factions in Idlib, but the course of events there hold significant implications for the future of the broader peace process.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Conflict, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, United Nations, Syria, Idlib