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  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A few hours after the official demonstration marking the February 11 anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated, "Was the presence of tens of millions of motivated and aware people in the festival of the thirty-first anniversary of revolution enough to awaken [to their mistakes] the internal enemies and deceived individuals who sometimes hypocritically speak of 'the people'?" Khamenei had spent months worrying that the opposition Green Movement would hijack the anniversary. Yesterday, he seemed to regain his self-confidence by proving that he could manage Tehran's streets. In light of this development, how will the Supreme Leader deal with both Iran's political crisis and the nuclear dossier?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Cvach, Ali Alfoneh
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The means for assessing political fissures in Iran are by nature very limited and have become even more so since the June 12, 2009, election. Independent studies and data on the Iranian public, such as opinion polling, are sparse and not useful, and the Iranian press follows very strict red lines in discussing politics. Western diplomats in Iran are also restrained from understanding the political environment due to the oppressively formal nature of relations with Iranian officials, who rarely discuss sensitive issues with their Western counterparts. The latter are thus forced to gather information anecdotally, in private meetings with business leaders, cultural elites, and journalists -- hardly a sufficient sample of Iranian society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two months after nationwide elections, Iraq's government formation process is still on hold. The final voting results have yet to be announced as disputes over recounts and candidate disqualifications linger. Nor is it clear how a governing majority will be formed, and power shared, among the four major party alliances, each of which garnered somewhere between 16 percent and 28 percent of the vote: the Kurdish bloc and its affiliates; the largely Sunni or secular Iraqiyah party led by a former prime minister of Shiite origin, Ayad Allawi; incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's largely Shiite State of Law Alliance (SLA); and SLA's rival Shiite/Sadrist list, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition that includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Central Asia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 6, Britain went to the polls to elect a new government, producing no clear result but forcing the resignation of Labor Party leader Gordon Brown. Within hours of taking over as prime minister, Conservative Party leader David Cameron had created a new body, a British national security council, whose first meeting focused on "discuss[ing] the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and review[ing] the terrorist threat to the UK." Apart from Britain's economic problems, these issues and Middle East policy in general will likely dominate the new government's agenda -- and its relations with Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Terrorism, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, United Kingdom, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Monday, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri will visit Washington for a meeting with President Obama. In announcing the meeting, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it "a symbol of the close and historic relationship between Lebanon and the United States." Indeed, between 2005 and 2009, bilateral ties were never closer or more consequential, with the Cedar Revolution ending nearly three decades of Syrian suzerainty in the country. Over the past year, however, Hariri has had to govern in coalition with Hizballah. The Iranian-Syrian backed Shiite militia will be the elephant in the Oval Office during Monday's meeting.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The August 3 fatal shooting of an Israel Defense Forces officer by a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier has sparked debate regarding the utility and wisdom of the U.S. military assistance program to Lebanon. Although such assistance is not new, the program's scope dramatically increased after the 2005 Cedar Revolution ended Syria's thirty-year occupation and swept the Arab world's only pro-Western, democratically elected government to power. In recent months, however, Syrian influence has returned, while Hizballah has secured enough political power to effectively reverse many of the revolution's gains. Even before the August 3 incident, these changes on the ground prompted Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to place a hold on the 2011 assistance package.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, according to Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency, presidential chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashai claimed that the West had raised no objections to President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad's open proclamation that the Islamic Republic could build a nuclear bomb. How should this surprising claim be interpreted? And what implications might it hold for Iran's domestic politics, especially when viewed alongside Ahmadinezhad's history of confrontational rhetoric?
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's recent health scares -- including major surgery in Germany in March --have raised critical questions regarding the future of one of America's most important allies. In the event of his death, how would his successor be chosen, and who would it most likely be? Will the next president respect core U.S interests or challenge them? And how would the United States advance those interests in post-Mubarak Egypt? To reflect on these questions, The Washington Institute's Project Fikra recently brought together leading scholars, former senior U.S. diplomats, and other officials and activists for an off-the-record discussion on what to expect from Egyptian succession. Much of this PolicyWatch is based on that discussion.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following summary is part two of Robert Satloff's presentation to a June 18, 2010, Washington Institute Policy Forum on the impact of the Gaza flotilla incident. Part one, issued yesterday as PolicyWatch #1670 , focused on implications for U.S. policy. For full audio of the event, which also included presentations by Michael Eisenstadt, Soner Cagaptay, and David Makovsky, click here. The Gaza flotilla episode pitted Israel versus Turkey, with Arabs as bystanders and observers. Yet reverberations of the incident have had a keen impact across Arab capitals.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky, Michael Eisenstadt, Robert Satloff, Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although a full narrative will have to wait until the ongoing Israeli inquiry is complete, it is possible to sketch the outlines of what happened on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara . The six boats of the "Free Gaza Flotilla" departed Turkey on May 28, and Israeli naval vessels began shadowing them two days later, around 11:00 p.m. on May 30. At that time, Israel requested that the boats divert to Ashdod to allow inspection of their cargo for contraband, but they refused to comply.
  • Topic: Political Violence, International Law, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In an August 2 speech, President Obama confirmed that regardless of the status of government formation in Iraq, the U.S. military remained committed to the withdrawal of all combat forces by the month's end. Meanwhile, Iraq is still struggling to form a government in the long wake of the March elections, and the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan -- when much political and business life slows almost to a standstill -- begins next week. If an Iraqi government does not form fairly quickly after Ramadan ends in mid-September, Iraq's political scene may worsen, including an increased risk for violence. Ramadan has always existed in Iraqi and U.S. minds as a break point, when a new government may finally come together. Failure to make progress during the month is thus likely to elicit at least mild panic amongst politicians and the public. So how might the deadlock be broken?
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas conducted an unprecedented sequence of three public events during his visit to Washington last week, during which he articulated his positions on a range of issues. The events included an on-the-record dinner hosted by philanthropist Daniel Abraham, a television appearance with PBS host Charlie Rose, and a speech at the Brookings Institution.
  • Topic: Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Stephen Hadley, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two-state solution is widely accepted as the ultimate outcome of any Middle East peace process. Despite this consensus, progress toward a solution has slowed to a near halt. The difficulty Israel's right wing coalition faces in making concessions on key issues has proven a major obstacle to negotiations, while the split between a Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Hamas in Gaza further diminishes the probability of reaching a solution in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With smiles, compliments, and a strong dose of hospitality, President Obama did his best to provide a dramatically improved backdrop for U.S.-Israeli relations during Binyamin Netanyahu's July 6 visit to the White House, compared to the climate that greeted the Israeli prime minister upon his strained April visit. This included strikingly specific commitments on key issues important to Israeli security. Netanyahu, in turn, responded with generous and deferential praise for U.S. leadership on the broad array of Middle East policy issues. Given the near-term political and policy imperatives of both leaders, the result was a meeting doomed to succeed. Lurking behind the warmth and banter, however, remain tactical obstacles on how to proceed in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as well as strategic uncertainty about how each side views the other's regional priorities.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the United Nations Security Council has now voted for new sanctions against Tehran, the Iranian regime and opposition -- preoccupied this week with the anniversary of last year's fraudulent presidential election -- seem more concerned about domestic political struggles. To outsiders, it is an often-confusing contest, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei continuing to support President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad while leaders of the opposition Green Movement choose their battles carefully.
  • Topic: Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In early September, three senior leaders of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) resigned from the organization's executive bureau after it voted to dissolve the MB political department -- one of the few remaining components of the organization controlled by moderates. The resignations were a protest against not only the executive bureau's decision, but also the MB's increasingly close affiliation with Hamas. Today, the Jordanian MB is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, pitting the traditional moderate East Bank leadership -- Jordanians who are not originally Palestinian -- against the powerful pro-Hamas Palestinian-led element. Lately, these divisions have been aggravated by Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashal's apparent efforts to exploit the shifting balance of power within the MB to further his own organization's agenda in Amman. Ironically, Jordanian authorities -- who have long prided themselves on managing the Islamist issue -- have done little to stem the tide.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Dana Moss
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Numerous celebrations in Libya this week will mark the fortieth anniversary of the September 1 revolution spearheaded by Muammar Qadhafi. For the Great Leader, these events are an opportunity to demonstrate the achievements of the Jamahiriyya and to further legitimize his rule. At the same time, the release and triumphant reception of terminally ill Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, convicted of murder for the Lockerbie air disaster, as well as the recent crisis in Swiss-Libyan relations, serve as a warning about Libya's leveraging of its hydrocarbon riches to achieve policy goals.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 19, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad submitted his list of cabinet nominees to the Majlis (Iran's parliament). The president's choice of individuals clearly shows his preference for loyalty over efficiency, as he fired every minister who, while strongly supportive of him on most issues, opposed him recently on his controversial decision to appoint a family relative as first vice president. Ahmadinezhad's drive to install loyalists involves placing members of the military and intelligence community in the cabinet, as well as in other important government positions. Despite the president's positioning, Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains in firm control of the country's vital ministries.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 10, Fatah concluded its sixth congress, the first in twenty years. Although media attention has focused on some of the summit's disturbing pronouncements, significant political developments have occurred. Over the span of seven days, Fatah leaders discussed the key issues and challenges facing the party, including organizational and political issues affecting its unity, the role of its power centers, the peace process, and the group's relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian government. Whether Fatah is now able to overcome its organizational deficits and restore its popularity and leadership among the Palestinian people remains to be seen. But Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly emerged stronger, competing powers within Fatah seem to have accepted coexistence, and the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is expected to escalate.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 25, Iraqi Kurds go to the polls to vote in a joint parliamentary and presidential election. Although a heated competition in January produced massive change at the provincial level throughout the rest of Iraq, the electoral system produced by the incumbent Iraqi Kurdistan parliament prevents such sweeping changes in the north. Both the current coalition governing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the current KRG president, Masoud Barzani, will most likely be reelected. Despite the lack of change, the postelection period will create an opportunity for Baghdad, Washington, and the KRG to resolve outstanding issues that cause increased tension between Arabs and Kurds. Resolution can occur only if all parties take advantage of new political openings, however narrow.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, the Iraqi parliament went on summer recess after failing to pass a critical election law, delaying the country's provincial elections until sometime next year. The failure comes after the parliament successfully passed the law on July 22, only to be vetoed by the Iraqi Presidency Council in less than thirty-six hours. The core dispute involves the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is currently witnessing an alarming escalation of demonstrations and politically motivated attacks. This forced Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to send his defense minister and an Iraqi brigade to the region in an attempt to deter further problems. As a result of Baghdad's political squabbling, the desperately needed provincial elections may seem unattainable.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that he will not compete in his party's September primary and will resign as premier once a new leader is elected. The move ends Olmert's two and half years as Israeli premier, a post he took up after Ariel Sharon's debilitating stroke in January 2006. High-profile allegations of financial wrongdoing have cast a shadow over his administration in past months, and until recently, he pledged he would only leave if there were a formal indictment. His announcement comes at a critical time for Israel and will certainly lead to sense of uncertainty about the future.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While experts negotiate the technical aspects of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) -- an arrangement that would govern future security relations between Iraq and the United States -- Iraqi politicians are engaged in a rhetorical campaign against such an agreement, making it nearly impossible to finalize a deal by this summer. Meanwhile, the escalating debate now includes Iraq's neighbors, with top Iranian officials expressing their opposition to any kind of security arrangement.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In late May, an official close to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad publicly accused more than forty high-ranking government officials -- including some of the country's most powerful clerics -- of economic corruption. These unprecedented revelations may signal the start of a significant power struggle inside the Iranian government, one likely to intensify between now and the May 2009 presidential election.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Katrib
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 25 election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's twelfth president was a central element of the Qatari-brokered compromise between the March 14 coalition and the Hizballah-led opposition. The agreement was greeted with relief in Washington and other international capitals, allaying fears that Lebanon was once again heading toward civil war. Now that Fouad Siniora has been re-designated as prime minister, the Doha agreement's remaining elements include the difficult task of establishing a "national unity government" and holding parliamentary elections in 2009. The new law governing those elections will determine whether Lebanon will have a solid future foundation or if the day of final reckoning has been merely postponed.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, Kuwait's nearly 400,000 voters -- more than half of them women -- will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The incoming body will replace the 2006 parliament that was dissolved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, for failing to work together with the cabinet. Kuwait's parliament is relatively powerful compared to others in the region, but tension with the royal family has often produced only deadlock. Still, the elections are an important and interesting exercise in Arab democracy and may even produce a more constructive political environment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 25, a second round of voting will determine the remaining eighty-eight seats of the Iranian Majlis. The first round, held on March 14, decided 202 seats and was considered a defeat for both the reformists and President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. His reaction to the setback -- the dismissal of Interior Minister Mustafa Pur-Muhammadi, responsible for conducting the election -- is indicative of the difficult times ahead for the president and his allies, whose public and official support is steadily diminishing.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 8, Egypt held elections for nearly 53,000 municipal representatives. Not surprisingly, participation was abysmal: Egypt's ruling faction, the National Democratic Party (NDP), ran unopposed for more than 80 percent of the seats, while the Muslim Brotherhood -- the country's only real opposition party -- boycotted the contest in response to government harassment. Although the White House issued a statement expressing concern about "widespread electoral violations," these issues represent only a fraction of Egypt's domestic problems, which also include food shortages, labor unrest, and increasing Islamist social and political penetration. Complicating matters, these crises coincide with the first political transition in decades -- the impeding retirement of eighty-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981. Taken together, these developments raise the specter of instability for a key U.S. ally.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver, Hale Arifagaoglu
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 14, Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, filed a case with the country's Constitutional Court asking it to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ban seventy-one of its members from seeking elected office for five years. He accused the party of spearheading "anti-secular activities" in violation of the Turkish constitution. Although the court's disposition is uncertain, the case is likely to strengthen the AKP regardless of the outcome.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, it is widely believed that Syria is obstructing the election of a new Lebanese president. Amid this crisis, many are beginning to doubt whether the next Arab League summit, scheduled to open in Damascus at month's end, will take place at all.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Sunnis in Anbar and other western Iraqi provinces have struggled to develop a coherent and representative political leadership. The recently formed Iraqi Awakening Convention (IAC) -- a collective of so-called "Awakening council" leaders -- could represent the next step in that evolution and, if nurtured, make a significant contribution to broader political reconciliation. It will also mean, however, that current elected leaders will have to give way to new local leaders or compete politically with them, since it is pointless to compete violently given the asymmetry of the current power balance.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Iran's March 14 parliamentary elections approach, the prospects for the reformist/technocratic coalition are predictably bleak. Yet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad is expected to lose ground as well. Although his conservative critics are likely to pick up a significant number of seats, the big winner will be Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose role as arbiter and decisionmaker will be reinforced even more.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a six-week delay following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis will go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new National Assembly. Pakistan and Afghanistan are "where many of our most important interests intersect," as Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5. Accordingly, the election results could affect the position of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror -- the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's narrow Kadima party victory over Shaul Mofaz last week, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday night. The following day, Israeli president Shimon Peres asked Livni to form a new governing coalition, but if she is unable to do so in the next six weeks, Israel will head for new elections. Regardless of the coalition's makeup, prospects remain bleak in the short term for a breakthrough on either the Palestinian or Syrian track.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, the Iraqi parliament belatedly passed a provincial elections law, ending a long and costly deadlock. Parliament ratified the initial version of the law on July 22, but it was later vetoed by two members of Iraq's presidency council. This time it is likely that the bill will survive council scrutiny because of the compromises and concessions made in the long negotiation process. Nevertheless, passing the law marks only the beginning of a vital political transition that could lead to either a unified democratic state or a fractured sectarian country prone to foreign influence.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 10, Israelis head to their first national election in nearly three years. With the exception of the 1977 election, this will be the only Israeli campaign in which no incumbent has run for the office of prime minister. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leads the Kadima party, which is neck and neck with Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party; each is expected to garner approximately 30 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Since their views on the peace process differ, the election's outcome will directly affect U.S. regional policy and the future of the Annapolis process.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the end of the Lebanese presidential term neared and then passed on November 23, domestic and international forces have ratcheted up their involvement in electing the country's new president. But the political focus of the presidential elections has shifted from democratic and constitutional ideals to concerns about preventing civil strife -- a potential reality if no consensus on a candidate is reached between the two major Lebanese camps, the pro-Western March 14 alliance and the Hizballah-led opposition.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 5, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deputy chief of military staff Gen. Ergin Saygun visited President Bush in Washington to discuss the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The composition of the Turkish delegation was symbolically important and demonstrates a new political stability based on the working relationship between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Turkish military. Yet the newfound weight of the PKK issue may prove problematic for the United States -- and, in the long term, for Turkey as well.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 3, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, putting at risk, despite claims to the contrary, the upcoming January elections. Musharraf justified his move by citing an increase in "the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks." The action was taken despite recent pleas from U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, as well as Admiral William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, who visited Musharraf on November 2. Instead of political stability in Pakistan, U.S. policymakers are now confronted with a more difficult battle against al-Qaeda in neighboring Afghanistan, a perhaps less secure Pakistani nuclear weapons arsenal, and a postponed democratic revival of the world's second most populous Muslim state.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 31, Saad Hariri, leader of the "March 14" majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament, met with opposition leader Michel Aoun, head of the Hizballah-allied Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the largest Maronite Christian party in Lebanon. Discussions focused on the September 25-November 25 presidential elections, which will decide whether Lebanon's next chief executive will align with the pro-Western, reform-minded March 14 coalition or follow the path of current president Emile Lahoud and align with Syria. Despite increasing pressures on the March 14 forces -- including an apparent Syrian-orchestrated assassination campaign -- a breakthrough agreement between the majority and the opposition remains unlikely. Meanwhile, Hizballah has warned the March 14 bloc that if it does not compromise on the choice of president, the opposition will adopt a "more direct" approach.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the first eighteen months following its January 2006 electoral victories, Hamas took an incremental approach toward official integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Since its takeover of Gaza in June 2007, however, Hamas has changed tactics and imposed an independent, authoritarian regime. After an initial period of calm, there are increasing signs of public discontent over the faction's nascent rule. Yet, Hamas has a near monopoly on the means of force -- its disciplined and well-organized security forces have managed to control Fatah-led disturbances. The group will continue to consolidate its rule in Gaza unless PA officials in the West Bank initiate a clear strategy aimed at the long-term restoration of authority there. Without such an effort, Hamas will further undermine the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, limiting their mandate to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians at the planned international peace conference this fall.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Emma Hayward
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 7, Morocco will hold its first parliamentary election since 2002. That election ended with the Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist faction, just eight seats short of becoming the largest party in parliament. Despite several years of significant political and social reform -- or perhaps because of those reforms -- the PJD has a chance of emerging even stronger after this week's vote.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two intriguing developments have unfolded in Iran over the past week: the election of a new Assembly of Experts Speaker on September 4 and the appointment of a new Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in chief on September 1. Both suggest the growing power of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a powerful politician who is openly critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and his policies.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 9, the Turkish parliament elected Koksal Toptan, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its speaker. The AKP, which won 46 percent of the vote in July 22 parliamentary elections, controls 341 seats in the 550-member Turkish parliament. Thus has Turkey begun a very busy political season, with serious issues put off since the April constitutional crisis over the AKP's attempt to appoint its foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, as president.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, in a contest widely seen as a tune-up for November's parliamentary balloting, Jordanians went to the polls for municipal elections. Amman had hoped these would showcase Jordan's relatively advanced style of representative democracy in the Middle East. Instead, in a surprise development, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- the political party of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood -- withdrew hours into the voting, claiming that government-sponsored fraud had "overstepped the bounds." Subsequently, independent and progovernment candidates swept the elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Reports that Ayatollah Ali Meshkini has either died or is on the brink of death shed light on the nature of power in Iran. Meshkini is speaker of the Assembly of Experts -- a body that, despite its traditionally minor role in Iranian politics, is constitutionally empowered to not only elect a new Supreme Leader if the post becomes vacant, but also to dismiss a sitting leader. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cannot be pleased that this body may now be headed by deputy speaker Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president known to be a wily comeback artist. Although Khamenei has taken full advantage of the constitution to make the Supreme Leader the ultimate arbiter of Iranian politics, that could change depending on his health and Rafsanjani's scheming.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 19, the Turkish Supreme Elections Board, an independent body that monitors the elections process, finalized the candidate lists for the July 22 early parliamentary polls. The outcome at the polls should be easier to estimate now that the electorate can judge the parties as well as their candidates. Will the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) win? How will the other major parties fare? And what issues will dominate, among them the Constitutional Court's decision yesterday to overturn President Ahmet Sezer's veto of the AKP's proposal for direct presidential elections?
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Can Israel live with an Iranian nuclear bomb? If the Iranians continue to do three things simultaneously -- namely, develop nuclear weapons, be a center of terror, and be fanatical in their ambition to run the entire Middle East -- eventually the three will mix and nuclear bombs may fall into the irresponsible hands of terrorists. Then it will be a problem for the rest of the world. The world cannot live with terrorists obtaining nuclear capacity, and sooner or later the world will take action. However, I do not believe that Israel has to be a volunteer or pioneer in that endeavor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Wafa' Abdel Rahman, Owen Kirby
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Democratic development in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at the top of the Bush administration's priorities. While the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006 were democratic, democratic elections by themselves do not constitute a democratic system. The current situation in the West Bank and Gaza cannot be called democratic by international norms. Respect for the rule of law and human rights and observation of individual rights and freedoms do not currently prevail in the PA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Yuksel Sezgin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 20, thousands of secular Turks demonstrated in the Black Sea port city of Samsun against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has an Islamist pedigree. It was the most recent display of protest in a power struggle between the AKP and its opponents over determining a replacement for outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In addition to the protestors and Sezer, the courts and the Turkish military have weighed in against the AKP. Far from backing down, as Turkey's Islamists would have done in the past, the AKP has stepped up the pressure by introducing a constitutional amendment package that calls for direct presidential elections to replace the current system of voting in parliament. President Sezer could decide the fate of this package, but the political crisis will continue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The just-released Winograd Report, an investigation of Israeli decisionmaking in the 2006 summer war with Hizballah, has put Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a battle for survival. Today, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni publicly called for Olmert's dismissal. Will the prime minister's tenure last beyond this growing crisis?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Vice President Dick Cheney departed today on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. A bland statement issued from his office on May 3 said he was asked to travel by President Bush and would be having "discussions with the leaders of these countries on key issues of mutual interest." No details were offered of the subjects of these discussions, but vice presidents do not travel halfway around the world unless there is important business to conduct.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Selahattin Iban
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The general view held by Middle Eastern nations is that political sensitivities make it impossible for regional or neighboring countries to perform peacekeeping in the area. However, the example set by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in the past twelve years points to the fallacy of this view.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 20, 2006, eighty-three-year-old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced changes to the kingdom's “Basic Law”—effectively its constitution—that appear to formalize procedures for the selection of future kings. However, it is difficult to know how much the current system of succession will actually change. For the foreseeable future, it is most likely that the world's largest oil exporter and the center of the Islamic world will still be led by an octogenarian, with the probability that his successor will be of similar age, and perhaps even infirm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 1, 2006, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit became Turkey's new chief of staff. Compared with his predecessor, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, who came into office about the same time as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, General Buyukanit is a more vocal personality on many issues, including secularism. As Turkey prepares for the April 2007 election of a new president by parliament, General Buyukanit's term marks a new, crucial era in military-civilian relations in Turkey. What are the dynamics of this new era, and what implications does it have for U.S. policy?
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the breakdown in talks over the formation of a unity government in mid-September, the Palestinian political environment has become more dangerous and dysfunctional. Paralyzed by ongoing international economic and political isolation, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has essentially ceased to function as tens of thousands of public sector employees continue to strike in protest against unpaid salaries. Factional violence assumed a new level of intensity on October 1 when the Hamas interior minister, Sayed Siam, ordered Hamas's security force to break up demonstrations by the mainstream Fatah-dominated security services, who were protesting after not receiving salary payments. The resulting gun battles left twelve people dead and dozens injured. Fatah loyalists responded to the incident in Gaza by targeting Hamas interests in the West Bank, burning offices, kidnapping officials, and threatening to assassinate Hamas leaders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Environment, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 20, amid reports of al-Qaeda plots against local American targets, the people of the strategically important but impoverished Arabian Peninsula state of Yemen go to the polls to elect a president. The president will not be new -- the incumbent Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for twenty-eight years, is expected to be reelected. Apart from last-minute doubts about the poll caused by the security crisis, the main question is how sweeping his victory will be. The last time elections were held, in 1999, President Saleh polled 96 percent, including the vote of his only opponent, a member of his own political party who said he considered Saleh more worthy. This time the field includes four other candidates. Saleh's main rival is Faysal bin Shamlan, a former oil minister who is backed by an alliance of opposition parties and whom Saleh has linked to an arrested "major terrorist."
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Yemen
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 15, Syrian president Bashar al-Asad gave a significant policy speech to the Syrian Journalists Union in which he expressed his support for Hizballah. More importantly, the address sought to redefine Syria's position in the Arab world. Building on Washington's talk of the birth of a new Middle East, Asad described his own vision for a new Middle East, one with an empowered Arab resistance, a weakened Israel, and a renewed regional unity against Western interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 1, 2006, the Honorable Shimon Peres addressed the Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum to discuss Israel's political and military strategy in its war against Hizballah. Shimon Peres is the deputy prime minister of Israel and a member of Knesset from the Kadima Party. A former prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister, he has played a central role in the political life of Israel for more than half a century and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. The following is a rapporteur's summary of Mr. Peres's remarks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Westerners believe Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad to be popular in Iran, in no small part because of his strong support for Iran's nuclear program. However, there is much evidence to the contrary. There is limited information available with which to form a judgment about the popularity of any politician or political program in Iran. The government forbids any independent opinion polling on matters as ordinary as the raging problem of drug addiction, let alone sensitive issues like negotiations with the United States or the nuclear program. The main sources of information for Western media are the statements and photographs that come from Iranian state media, or other Western journalists who go to Iran but cannot work freely in the face of government controls. The Western newsmedia has taken the massive turnouts at demonstrations in support of Ahmadinezhad and his nuclear policy as evidence of popular support for both. But the size of such demonstrations has no meaning beyond illustrating the efficiency of the regime's propaganda machine. Unfortunately, Western media take this propaganda for the truth. The Iranian regime has nearly succeeded in fashioning its own image and imposing it on its critics. Official results show Ahmadinezhad was elected by only 35 percent of eligible voters—in an election that was not free and fair, according to many top Iranian officials. Most of Ahmadinezhad's support came from rural regions and the poorer classes of Iranian society; these voters hoped that Ahmadinezhad's election would reduce corruption and raise their standard of living. Today there are clear signs of dissatisfaction within these constituencies. The evidence comes from independent journalists, blogs, and independent Iranian news websites which have reported increasing discontent with Ahmadinezhad's domestic policies.
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Having come into existence by virtue of Iranian military and financial patronage, Hizballah has used massive Iranian support to transform itself from a purely military group into an armed political party that has had an enduring impact on Lebanese political life and served as an outpost of Islamic fundamentalism in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon
  • Author: Samer Abu Libdeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even while Israelis and Palestinians are locked in deepening conflict over the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier and the future of the Hamas government, political life on the East Bank of the Jordan River is increasingly focused on internal Jordanian concerns.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 29 parliamentary elections in Kuwait achieved international media coverage because women were allowed to stand for office and vote for the first time in the sheikhdom. Less well reported were the local political divisions that had brought about elections a year earlier than expected. The results of the balloting—in which, incidentally, none of the women candidates won office—worsened the divisions between the Kuwaiti government and the National Assembly and could lead to greater public disagreement about the character of the country's alliance with the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Taken together, the kidnapping on Sunday of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier and the signing on Tuesday of an agreement among Palestinian factions to create a unity government for the Palestinian Authority (PA) suggest that significant seismic forces may be developing within Hamas that may have a decisive impact both on the organization's solidarity and on the future course of Israeli-Palestinian relations. While the unity agreement itself has little significance beyond internal Palestinian politics—it is a nonstarter for the Israelis and represents a major retreat from previous Palestinian positions—its importance lies in the fact that it highlights the possible emergence of a fissure within the Hamas organization between its internal leaders, headed by Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, who experience the brunt both of popular concerns and Israeli reprisals, and its external leaders, chief among them Damascus-based Khaled Mashal, who are free of these constraints and therefore able to insist on more maximalist positions. However, in signing this agreement—apparently without full consultation with, or the approval of, the Damascus contingent—the Hamas leaders in the territories have signaled both their independence and their intention to embark on a more pragmatic path than that preferred by Hamas's more ideological external elements. Indeed, the timing and nature of the attack seems to have been specifically intended to disrupt the effort to agree on a unity government with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and thereby, the possible emergence of a more moderate Hamas strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, a gunman chanting Islamist slogans attacked the Turkish Council of State (the Danistay, or high court for administrative affairs) in Ankara. The gunman killed one judge and wounded four others who were sitting in the Council's second chamber, which has recently upheld Turkey's ban on “turbans” in schools. In accordance with the European and Turkish notion of secularism (laïcité in French) as freedom from religious symbols in the public sphere, Turkey bans public officials and school students wearing turbans—a specific style of women's headcover that emerged in the mid 1980s and that the courts consider an Islamist political symbol. (Turbans are distinct from traditional headscarves, which are not banned.) Photographs of the judges had earlier been published in Islamist newspapers with headlines targeting them.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's surprise May 25 announcement that he would call for a national referendum should Palestinian factions fail to reach agreement during their national dialogue was wrongly interpreted as a peace plan by many in the press. The document Abbas threatened to put to a popular vote is intended to quell the daily gun battles, kidnappings, and assassination attempts among rival armed groups in Gaza. However, since each party will interpret the document to affirm its own interests, the vague language on relations with Israel could be interpreted either as advocating a one-state solution that would eliminate prospects for peace or as recognizing a two-state solution. Abbas and Fatah may view the “national accord,” negotiated earlier in May among prominent prisoners in Israeli jails, as a means of forcing Hamas into a corner on negotiating with Israel, but the text of the document much more closely resembles Hamas's own political program. (Read an English translation of the national accord in PDF format).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Efraim Halevy
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the current global circumstances, the role of intelligence gathering and analysis in policymaking has become increasingly important. As a result, intelligence leaders have ever more influence in the policymaking process. This is particularly the case in Israel, where some of the political leadership's most significant decisions came on the heels of Mossad and Military Intelligence initiatives and assessments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ehud Olmert is proposing a plan to withdraw 60,000 settlers from the West Bank and consolidate Israel's borders. His reasoning is that these settlers have been in limbo for thirty-nine years. He does not want their presence in the West Bank to jeopardize Israel's democratic nature, nor to use them as human bargaining chips in negotiations. He is looking at the issue from the perspective of security instead of ideology.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 22, leaders from across the Lebanese political spectrum completed another round of the ongoing National Dialogue. The talks, which started earlier this month, have touched on some of the more salient topics in Lebanese politics. Conspicuously absent from the agenda, however, has been a discussion of disarming militias, such as Hizballah, a key element of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The indefinite postponement of this critical issue will make it difficult for the United States to continue to actively support its democratic allies in post-Syria Lebanon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Yaaron Deckel
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 16, 2006, Yaron Deckel and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Deckel is a leading political analyst in Israel and Washington correspondent for Israel Television and Israel Radio. Mr. Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. Mr. Makovsky's remarks were released in PolicyWatch no. 1086, “The Shape of Israel's Election Race.” The following is a rapporteur's summary of Mr. Deckel's remarks. In several recent interviews with the press, Israeli acting prime minister Ehud Olmert articulated a specific agenda for disengagement and the evacuation of thousands of additional settlers from the West Bank, distinguishing his campaign from the vague promises that have characterized past Israeli elections. Ariel Sharon campaigned in 2003 on eventual “deep and painful” future concessions, but did not specifically address disengagement until after the elections. It is therefore important to evaluate the prospect that Kadima will head the next government and what policies it would likely follow if in power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a surprise move prior to Israel's March 28 election, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled a proposal that Israeli settlers be consolidated into West Bank settlement blocs largely adjacent to the Green Line. A week after the announcement, Israeli public reaction suggests his gamble seems to have paid off. According to a Yediot Ahronot poll released on March 17, Israelis favor Olmert's unilateralist proposal by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent. Moreover, Olmert's poll standing was not negatively impacted by the proposal, despite the fact that it could mean the removal of an estimated 60,000 settlers from dozens of settlements scattered across the larger part of the West Bank outside Israel's security barrier. (Inside the Israeli security barrier, there are approximately 193,000 settlers, mostly in blocs, in the 8 percent of the West Bank largely adjacent to the pre-1967 boundaries. By comparison, President Clinton's final proposal in 2000 involved Israel keeping 5 percent of the land.) An Olmert security advisor and former Shin Bet head, Avi Dichter, says the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not be withdrawn from the West Bank. Olmert was able to use his commanding lead to answer critics who say that the new party leader lacks Ariel Sharon's track record and therefore the authority to ask the public to trust his decisions. In the March 17 poll, Olmert's Kadima stood to win 39 seats in the 120-seat Knesset; Labor was polling at 19 seats and Likud, 15 seats. Olmert's standing was undoubtedly assisted by Israel's March 15 operation to seize from a Jericho prison the assassins of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. Olmert hopes the operation will burnish his security credentials and undercut Netanyahu's argument that he is uniquely tough enough to challenge Hamas. (Olmert needs to be concerned about the 22 percent of Israelis who are undecided—the equivalent of twenty-five Knesset seats.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Patrick Clawson, Marc Otte
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 3, 2006, Marc Otte, Patrick Clawson, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Otte is the European Union's special representative for the Middle East peace process. Dr. Clawson, The Washington Institute's deputy director for research, is author with Zoe Danon Gedal of the Institute monograph Dollars and Diplomacy: The Impact of U.S. Economic Initiatives on Arab-Israeli Negotiations. Mr. Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Khalid Mishal, a Hamas leader currently residing in Damascus, visited Ankara today. Despite fierce debate in the Turkish press and objections from the secular-minded foreign policy elite, Mishal's visit went ahead with backing from Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. From the American perspective, the visit is important for three reasons. First, it could potentially hurt Turkey's longstanding role as an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Second, it serves as yet another foreign policy breech between Turkey and the West. Third, the visit is a telltale sign of the AKP's policy of “strategic depth” toward the Middle East, a policy that Washington needs to understand given U.S. objectives in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 8, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon served until June 2005 as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The following is a transcript of his remarks. “Hamas's recent victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections challenges all those actors currently invested in promoting change in the Middle East. These include Israel, Western nations, Arab democrats, and Palestinian moderates. Adding to this challenge is the perception of radical Islamists—Sunni and Shiite alike—that Hamas's victory is a defeat for U.S. policy in the region, a blow to democratization, and a victory for Islamist fundamentalism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the eve of the Palestinian legislative elections, Fatah maintains only the slightest of leads over Hamas, a scenario which would have been unimaginable one year ago. Since Yasser Arafat's death in November 2004, Hamas has increased its strength by 40 percent, while in the same period Fatah has only increased its support by 10 percent.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, January 25, Palestinian voters will elect a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the first time since the initial PLC was elected ten years ago. The participation of Hamas in the elections marks a turning point in Palestinian politics; the group boycotted the original 1996 ballots as part of its rejection of the Oslo process. Ensuring a smooth transition from elections to the seating of the new PLC will require passing several hurdles, not the least of which is protecting balloting and vote-counting from violent disruptions. Assuming election day proceeds without incident—no small matter given the level of domestic lawlessness over the last several weeks—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will then face the challenge of selecting a prime minister to form the next government. What remains unknown is precisely how well Hamas will finish in relation to Abbas' own Fatah party, and whether a tight race will lead Abbas to include Hamas as an active partner in the next Palestinian government—or, indeed, whether a poor Fatah showing might prompt Abbas to resign.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With just over two weeks left before January 25 Palestinian legislative elections, the mainstream Fatah movement remains bitterly divided, with some of its key factions advocating the postponement of elections and others demanding that voting be held as scheduled. Having publicly aired its internal problems over the last weeks rather than developing a clear campaign message, Fatah is unlikely to win more than 40 percent of the seats in the next Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Even though the question of Israel allowing voting in East Jerusalem now seems resolved, it remains to be seen whether elections will take place. If they do proceed, Fatah is certain to lose its monopoly on the Palestinian Authority and will require a coalition to form the next government.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: November 9 marks the start of legislative elections in Egypt. These are the first elections to be contested after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak pledged to implement political reforms during his presidential campaign in September. The political opposition maintains that the legislative elections will not reflect the true will of the Egyptian people and that the political environment is still not conducive to truly democratic politics.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Khairi Abaza, Mark Nakhla
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee is due to consider a Canadian resolution condemning Iran for human rights violations. A similar resolution was approved by the General Assembly in 2004 by a vote of 71-54 with fifty-five abstentions. Iran's human rights violations have recently worsened, and the Iranian government is becoming less concerned about international complaints on the matter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Canada, North Africa
  • Author: Khairi Abaza, Mark Nakhla
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the third week of October, Egypt saw some of its most significant sectarian clashes in the last five years. Violence broke out as police forces protected a church in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria against Muslims protesting a play that was staged inside the church and that they considered offensive to Islam. Sporadic tensions are an expression of Egypt's general political malaise.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The long-awaited report by the international commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was released on October 21. Overseen by UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis, the report concluded, "Given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge." The dynamics engendered by the report, coupled with the political atmosphere of gloom pervading Syria, confront the Bashar al-Asad regime with a bitter choice: accept international demands or go down the self-destructive path of continuing with its old political mindset and flawed one party rule.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Samer Abu Libdah
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: King Abdullah II's latest domestic reform initiative for Jordan — the National Agenda Committee — will soon release a series of major political recommendations. These proposals will provide the Jordanian government with a detailed framework to guide the reform process in coming years.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Warnings by Sunni politicians of even greater violence if Sunni Arab concerns are not addressed in the draft Iraqi constitution raise the question: could the insurgency get worse? The answer can be found by examining the insurgency's demographic dimension.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 20, the Saudi foreign ministry announced that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the long-serving Saudi ambassador to the United States, was stepping down, and that "the process of nominating" Prince Turki al-Faisal, the current Saudi ambassador in London, to replace him had begun. When the widely anticipated death of the recently hospitalized, eighty-four-year-old King Fahd occurs, both Prince Turki and Prince Bandar, as senior "next generation" princes, could be crucial players.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: R. Nicholas Burns
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 18, 2005, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns addressed The Washington Institute's Seventh Turgut Ozal Memorial Lecture. Undersecretary Burns's prepared remarks were delivered by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried. The following are excerpts from the speech followed by a summary of the subsequent question-and-answer session. "Today, we have all gathered to honor Turgut Ozal, a strong leader with a clear vision of Turkey's future. Ozal — who we as Americans are proud to call a close friend — sought tirelessly to advance Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's legacy, his dream of a modern, democratic Turkey anchored in the West....
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 20, 2005, Kuwait's first female cabinet minister, Massouma al-Mubarak, was sworn in, taking responsibility for the planning portfolio. Six months earlier, a woman was appointed minister of economy and planning in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Women have assumed ministerial posts in Bahrain and Oman as well. And in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, women now have the right to vote. Indeed, women's political rights, previously nonexistent in the conservative Arab Gulf states, have undergone extraordinary growth in recent years. Yet, how much progress has there really been, given that women's representation in this region is still poor even compared with the rest of the Arab world? In particular, can the United States, which actively encourages enhanced rights for women, do anything about Saudi Arabia's anomalous lack of such progress?
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman
  • Author: Naysan Rafati
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranians will head back to the polls on June 24 to decide an unprecedented presidential runoff pitting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad, mayor of Tehran, defied pre-election forecasts by reportedly finishing with 5,710,354 (19.5 percent) of the 29,317,042 ballots cast in the original election on June 17. Rafsanjani, president from 1989 to 1997 and current chairman of the Expediency Council, reportedly received 6,159,452 votes (21 percent). The following is a survey of each candidate's recent statements on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. It should be noted that their past statements on some of these issues may differ with what they have said in the past few weeks.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Former Israeli prime minister and recently resigned finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the Likud leadership primary on December 19, beating the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent. Netanyahu returns to the leadership of Likud, which he vacated after his loss in the 1999 election. Netanyahu's victory comes a day after Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered what his doctors called a mild stroke; he was released from the hospital within forty-eight hours. At seventy-seven, Sharon already shares the record for the oldest Israeli prime minister; David Ben-Gurion was seventy-seven when he resigned in 1963. Sharon turns seventy-eight in February.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a relatively calm first round of Fatah primaries in five of the West Bank's eleven electoral districts, a second round of primaries in five additional districts—four in the West Bank and one in Gaza—held between November 28 and December 3 have caused increased tensions within the movement. Where the victories by the younger generation of Fatah leaders in the primaries could have represented a watershed moment in Fatah's evolution, they have been marred by a haphazard system of voting and numerous accusations of fraud. Moreover, repeated incidents of violence at polling stations demonstrate Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's difficulty in enforcing his principle of One Authority, One Gun even within his own movement. Rather than unifying Fatah, the primaries have highlighted the party's disorganization and divisions. The old guard represented by Fatah's Central Committee, which dominates a committee of the wise tasked to determine Fatah's final electoral lists, will now have greater leverage in that process to place its own members high on Fatah's national list of candidates in Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections scheduled for January 2006.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In preparation for January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian faction that dominates the current council, held its first ever primaries on November 25.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amir Peretz's decision to pull the Labor Party he leads out of its national unity government with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set Israel's new political calendar and precipitated Sharon's decision to bolt the Likud Party and consent to elections in March 2006. Peretz is a veteran labor union leader who won the leadership of the Labor Party on November 10, defeating Shimon Peres, a dominant force in the party since 1974.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Monday, November 21, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon announced that he is bolting the Likud Party and forming a new National Responsibility Party. The Knesset took a preliminary vote to dissolve itself. While wrangling may continue, a final date will soon be set for elections in March 2006. Sharon remains prime minister during the interregnum.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the leadup to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's October 20 visit to Washington, the Bush administration urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to tighten rules enacted in 1995 and change the law governing upcoming Palestinian legislative elections to make it clear that candidates, even those backed by Hamas or other militant groups, could not incite violence or keep ties with militias. However, the PA seems unlikely to adopt this approach, in part because the administration reportedly backed away from its position. What alternative strategies exist for limiting Hamas's political influence?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 4, 2005, Dennis Ross, Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, has just returned from a month in the region. General Herzog of the Israel Defense Force is a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute. Formerly the senior military aide to the minister of defense, he was also an Israeli peace negotiator. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and the director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Ammar Abdulhamid
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When discussing the topic of "minority rule," it is worth remembering that all dictatorships in fact are a form of minority rule, whether it be ethnic, religious, or bureaucratic. Once a minority establishes control over a nation, a crisis of legitimacy for the government will naturally arise. However, after the initial crisis fades, the main objective of those rulers is to establish representative coalitions that function under their control and rules. The norm is that nearly everybody is eventually represented within a system of parochial interests. In order to democratize one cannot champion the cause of the majority, but must instead champion the cause of civic education and citizenship -- otherwise, the country will fall into the trap of sectarian politics.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria