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  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Ankara against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Although the PKK, based in northern Iraq, is on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, lack of action against the group by Washington and Baghdad is poisoning Turkey's relations with both. Moreover, because the group operates from an area of Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the PKK issue affects Turkey's ties with Iraqi Kurds as well. Does the MOU represent a breakthrough on any of these fronts?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A terrorist designation for the Revolutionary Guards would mark the culmination of the administration's recent campaign to highlight the IRGC's dangerous activities. Speaking in Dubai in March 2007, U.S. undersecretary of the treasury Stuart Levey warned, "When corporations do business with IRGC companies, they are doing business with organizations that are providing direct support to terrorism." In a July 2007 speech, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson focused on the Revolutionary Guards, arguing, "The IRGC is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are somehow doing business with the IRGC."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Understanding the impact of Washington's expected designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization requires knowing what role the Revolutionary Guards play in Iranian society. Apart from being a military force with naval, air, and ground components organized in parallel to the conventional Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards are the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Gerri Pozez
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 14, 2007, in a speech marking the first anniversary of the ceasefire ending the 2006 summer war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of the consequences of further conflict. Addressing a mass rally in Beirut via a video link, he said: "Zionists, if you think of launching a war on Lebanon . . . I promise you a big surprise that could change the fate of war and the fate of the region." Israel is still trying to secure the release of two soldiers kidnapped from its territory by Hizballah in July 2006 -- the incident, along with the killing of three other soldiers, that provoked the war. Meanwhile, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) -- comprising approximately 14,000 soldiers from thirty countries -- endeavors to maintain a tenuous peace.
  • Topic: United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • 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: Jake Lipton, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: July 18 marked the thirteenth anniversary of Argentina's deadliest terrorist attack: a 1994 car bombing carried out by Hizballah at Iran's behest. The attack targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community organization, killing 85 and wounding more than 200. Last week also saw the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warning of an increased likelihood that Hizballah could attack U.S. soil if it, or Iran, feels directly threatened by the United States. Washington continues to take action against the organization, but given Hizballah's impressive fundraising capabilities and Iranian support -- both highlighted recently by Argentinean officials involved in the long-running AMIA case -- the task is challenging.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Argentina, South America
  • 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: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush's July 16 address on the Middle East peace process was a mix of the old and the new, offering neither an unequivocal reaffirmation of past approaches nor a thoroughly novel direction for Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the wake of Hamas's coup in Gaza.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Directly reaching the Iranian people can be achieved in two ways: (1) supporting political opposition groups that explicitly advocate regime change, and (2) empowering human rights and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that do not directly engage in political action but support issues such as women and children's rights, labor rights, and religious freedom. Although the latter groups do not pursue political goals, the Iranian regime considers them subversive entities seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, 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: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Could Hamas members in the Gaza Strip join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could (see Jake Lipton, "The War of Words between Hamas and al-Qaeda," PolicyWatch no. 1254). Moreover, a lawless Gaza -- like Iraq's Anbar province, Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas, and Somalia -- could quickly become a safe haven for both homegrown and imported jihadists.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Jake Lipton
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 14, Hamas evicted Fatah security forces from the Gaza Strip, establishing full control over the territory. Eleven days later, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement calling on Muslims to support Hamas fighters -- the latest in an ongoing, public dialogue in which al-Qaeda and Hamas leaders have alternatively decried and praised each other's organizations. An analysis of this public exchange reveals that al-Qaeda is uncomfortable with Hamas leaders even as it fully supports the movement's militants.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's victory in Gaza last week was a military coup of Fatah's security forces -- not a Palestinian civil war involving the majority of each faction's supporters. Fatah's armed forces collapsed in the face of a long-planned, well-executed campaign targeting the headquarters and leadership of the faction's security organizations. The coup and the grisly violence that accompanied it reveal much about Hamas's politics and long-term objectives as a movement.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's success caps a forty-year evolution of the Palestinian role in the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1967, Israel's military victories rocked the armies and regimes of neighboring Arab states, energizing the previously marginal Palestinian nationalist movement and, especially, Fatah. That term, "Fatah," is a reverse Arabic acronym for "Harakat Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini," the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday's car bombing in Beirut, which killed Future Party parliamentarian Walid Eido, underscores the Syrian-backed multifront campaign to undermine stability in Lebanon. One front is the Palestinian refugee camps, particularly Nahr al-Bared, where the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are currently fighting Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affilate with ties to Syria. A second front is Beirut itself, via terrorist attacks designed to destabilize the state. The blast that killed Eido was the sixth such attack in the past month, and Lebanon's Internal Security Force (ISF) has interdicted several other ambitious terrorist conspiracies, including a plot described by the Lebanese daily as "the Lebanese September 11."
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Zeynep Eroglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 8, a day after reports that Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iranian aircraft bombed the camps of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), also in northern Iraq. PJAK, which operates in the mountains of northern Iraq and adjacent areas of Iran, has around 3,000 members. Analysts describe the group as the Iranian branch of the PKK, which has been carrying out attacks on Turkish military and civilian targets for decades and is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. PJAK insists that it is distinct from the PKK, but interviews with its leaders and members, along with a look at its history, suggest that the two groups have similar ideologies and methodologies. They also share leadership and membership, in addition to operating in overlapping areas. Given that both Turkey and Iran view PJAK as a threat, the group poses unique challenges to U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Samuel Lewis, Wendy Chamberlin
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The historical record has made it increasingly clear that in the May-June 1967 Middle East conflict, public assurances from world powers -- or the lack thereof -- greatly influenced the decisionmaking of regional leaders. Specifically, Soviet encouragement of Egypt -- both public and private -- played a large role in influencing Egyptian chief of staff and military commander Abdul Hakim Amer as he brought President Gamal Abdul Nasser to the brink of war with Israel. At the same time, however, the U.S. government under President Lyndon Johnson extended no parallel public assurances to Israel. This absence of commitment from a major foreign power or the UN in a moment of crisis affected the mindset of Israel's policymakers whenever they faced national security dilemmas thereafter, leading them to take many unilateral actions in subsequent years.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ali Koknar
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that thousands of Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Later, the AP corrected this, reporting that only a few hundred Turkish troops were involved in the incursion. Meanwhile, the White House, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari issued statements that no Turkish troop incursion had taken place in Iraqi territory.
  • Topic: Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, 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: Michael Jacobsen
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Media headlines following the April 30 release of the State Department's annual report on global terrorism developments, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, focused on the theme of increased terrorism. But the335-page document, along with its accompanying statistical assessment produced by the National Counter terrorism Center (NCTC), also contained important insights into the U.S. administration's evolving strategy to counter the terrorist threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Kimmitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What are the relative constraints of a multilateral approach versus a bilateral approach to the use of financial tools against illicit activity? Anytime we see a threat to the country through the financial system, we are going to take action immediately using the domestic authorities we have. We try to be careful, however, to make sure that those are carefully targeted to conduct and are not extra territorial. That provides a good basis for entering into discussion with friends and allies throughout the world, both on a bilateral basis with others and then on a multilateral basis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • 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: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite the public bluster of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime's behavior shows that it suffers from deep self-doubt. The arrests of visiting Iranian-born U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari (director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center) and Kian Tajbakhsh (a consultant for philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute programs) reflect Tehran's fear that political change could be easily sparked. A May 22 ABC News report that President Bush has authorized a covert CIA program against the regime will only add to Iran's suspicions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 28 meeting between the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq was mostly notable for its length -- four hours -- and the lack of anything to show for all that time together. And the very next day, Iran announced that three detained Iranian Americans visiting their homeland, including renowned scholar and women's rights advocate Haleh Esfandiari, were being formally charged with espionage -- charges that would be merely laughable if they were not so tragic.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the Egmont Group -- an international body of more than 100 national financial intelligence units (FIUs) -- is holding its annual plenary session and working group meetings in Bermuda. One of the issues on the agenda is whether to admit a Syrian FIU into the group. Although Syria may in fact technically qualify for membership despite some significant shortcomings, extending membership to a state the United States regards as a sponsor of terrorism would raise serious questions about Egmont's standards and continued efficacy in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush is in Europe this week, where his meetings -- several of which are directly linked to aspects of U.S. Middle East policy -- represent important opportunities to build diplomatic bridges. Today, he visits Prague to address a democracy promotion conference organized by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, former Israeli deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky, and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. The president's next stop is Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G8 meeting between the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. On June 8, he continues on to Poland, Italy, Albania, and Bulgaria in order to boost new democracies, cement alliances in the former Communist Bloc, and meet with the Pope.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson, David Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 10, 2007, President Bush and U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson launched an "open investment" initiative to encourage foreign investment in the U.S. economy. In a statement, the president emphasized that his administration "is committed to ensuring that the United States continues to be the most attractive place in the world to invest." Washington's focus on this issue is at least partly a reflection of the ongoing fallout from last year's Dubai Ports World (DPW) controversy. Although it is still premature to gauge the long-term economic impact of the DPW case, the process for reviewing foreign investments has already changed significantly.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Barry Rubin, Theodore Kattouf
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 30, 2007, Barry Rubin and Theodore Kattouf addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Professor Rubin, a visiting fellow at the Institute, is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and author of the just-released book The Truth about Syria (Palgrave). Mr. Kattouf, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates, is president and CEO of AMIDEAST, a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing educational links between the United States and the Middle East. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Syria
  • 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: Meral Varis Kiefer
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 30, 2007, the Turkish stock market slumped and the value of the lira dropped following a massive demonstration in Istanbul against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, coupled with a statement by the military voicing support for secularism. Previously, the comparatively healthy Turkish economy had boosted the chances that the AKP, rooted in the country's Islamist movement, would achieve further electoral victories this year. On April 24, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as his party's candidate for president -- a legislatively elected post. In the April 27 parliamentary session, however, the secular opposition boycotted the vote, and the AKP failed to muster the required two-thirds majority. The Turkish constitutional court subsequently annulled the vote, and the status of the presidential election is now uncertain. In the meantime, the parliament has moved legislative elections up from November to July 22.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Andrew Exum, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 26, 2007, Jeffrey White, Andrew Exum, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. White is the Institute's Berrie defense fellow and coauthor, with Mr. Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency . Mr. Exum, a Soref fellow at the Institute, served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2004, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Eisenstadt is director of the Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, 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: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 1-5, the seventeen Arab members of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) met in Jordan to discuss terrorism financing and money laundering in the region. Although the task force's record to date shows some promise, the organization can do far more to address these critical issues.
  • Topic: Economics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At an April 3 news conference in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad unexpectedly announced the decision to release fifteen captured British marines and sailors. In a theatrical gesture that included assailing Western policy in the Middle East and accusing the British crew of entering Iranian waters, he pardoned the detainees to mark both the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on March 30 and what he reportedly called "Christian Passover." (In Farsi, "Pesah" means Passover and "Fash" means Easter. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency report of his remarks, the president used Pesah instead of Fash.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released on March 1, offers a little-noted reference to a dubious claim: an Iranian government statement (made to the UN) that Tehran has established a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The report notes that Iran has provided no further details. Even if the Iranian claim were true, the creation of an FIU would do little to combat terrorism financing in the nation, given Tehran's official support for terrorist groups. In other countries, FIUs are an important element of effective counterterrorism policy -- though the record of key Middle Eastern nations is somewhat mixed in this regard.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Satterfield
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 27, 2007, Ambassador David Satterfield addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Satterfield's public service career has included tours as ambassador to Lebanon as well as key Middle East affairs positions with both the State Department and the National Security Council. Formerly deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he now coordinates Iraq policy at the State Department, serving as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Oren
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 9, 2007, Michael Oren addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. A historian and senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Oren authored the recent bestseller Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 23, at 10:30 a.m. local Iraqi time, fifteen British naval personnel were seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the northern Persian Gulf. The British personnel -- eight from the Royal Navy and seven from the Royal Marines -- were in two light craft returning to the frigate HMS Cornwall after successfully inspecting a merchant ship for goods being smuggled into Iraq. Iran has accused the personnel, who include one woman, of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters, and has threatened to put them on trial. The incident is a diplomatic and military embarrassment to Britain. Meanwhile, fears of escalation in the Gulf have contributed to a global surge in oil prices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 17, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the formation of a Hamas-Fatah national unity government by an 83–3 margin. This culminated a process that began in early February with the Mecca accord facilitated by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Many governments have withheld comment since that accord. One reason for their relative silence is reluctance to criticize a project associated with King Abdullah, who is emerging as a leading force in the Arab world and a linchpin of U.S. efforts to isolate Iran. Another is bated hope that the new government guidelines will be a marked improvement over those of the current Hamas government. Since Hamas's victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, the focus has been on three principles proposed by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the UN): (1) recognition of Israel, (2) disavowal of violence, and (3) adherence to past written commitments.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 8, 2007, a French court ordered the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations in Paris to pay a symbolic €1 fine in a defamation suit brought by a U.S.-designated Hamas front organization. The Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (Committee for Welfare and Aid to the Palestinians) (CBSP) charged that it had been defamed by allegations that it finances terrorism and raises funds to support the families of suicide bombers recruited by Hamas. Atlhough the French court acknowledged that the 150 exhibits submitted by the defense "indeed constituted an impressive body of evidence," it nonetheless issued a symbolic ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Paris, France
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will return to the Middle East, where she plans to meet Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for what has become a monthly trilateral session. The question is whether Rice still believes both parties can actually agree on a so-called "political horizon" -- namely, the definition of actions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The odds have slimmed to nearly nil since the idea was first discussed by Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni at a December 2006 meeting. That was prior to the Mecca accord, where the concept of a Palestinian national unity government was conceived. Meanwhile, both Fatah and Hamas have announced that they are ready to form such a government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the coming weeks, Syria will participate in two important regional conferences. On March 10, it will join Iraq's other neighbors and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Baghdad. On March 28-29, it will participate in the Arab League summit in Riyadh. Syria's detractors continue to criticize Damascus for failing to seal the border with Iraq and for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701. Of equal importance is the downturn in Syria's relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Last week's Saudi-Iranian summit has Damascus worried about its role in Lebanon and the possibility of an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a crime for which Syria is widely believed to be responsible. Will the upcoming conferences give Syria a chance to improve its regional standing, or will its isolation continue?
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Does this week's surprise U.S. declaration of a new international conference on Iraq, scheduled for March 10, represent a major shift in U.S. policy or just a minor shuffle? Why is it happening now? And will it have any more of an impact than other recent international meetings on Iraq?
  • Topic: Development, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 22, Egyptian blogger Abdul Karim Suleiman was sentenced to four years in prison for messages posted on his personal website. Suleiman, who blogs under the name Kareem Amer, was a student at Cairo's al-Azhar University when he posted comments deemed by Egyptian authorities as blaspheming Islam, inciting sedition, and insulting President Hosni Mubarak. For the first two offenses, he drew three years' imprisonment; for the third, an additional year. Among other things, Suleiman posted comments harshly critical of Muslims in his native Alexandria during their violent 2005 clashes with Coptic Christians. He also labeled his conservative religious university "the university of terrorism" and called Mubarak a "dictator."
  • Topic: Civil Society, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the Lebanese cabinet—with a Hizballah-led opposition boycott—extended the term of the UN commission investigating the February 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. While the commission's work can now continue for as long as one more year, any future decision about organizing an international tribunal to try those indicted for the murder remains hostage to a vote—requiring the opposition's assent—in the paralyzed Lebanese parliament. Meanwhile, Hizballah continues to press its demand for increased political power within a “national unity” government, threatening civil disobedience should its demands not be met.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Jihad al-Bina, Hizballah's construction company in Lebanon, effectively shutting the terrorist group's firm out of the international financial system. While the designation will not take effect at the United Nations -- sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 only target elements associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, to the exclusion of any other terrorist groups -- international lenders and donors, including financial institutions, NGOs, and governments, are unlikely to want to assume the reputational risk of working to rebuild Lebanon in partnership with Hizballah instead of the Lebanese government. Moreover -- and contrary to conventional wisdom -- the designation presents a rare public diplomacy opportunity in the battle of ideas in the war on terror.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Taliban, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian political landscape has been rather bleak over the last several years. Between 2000-2004, the second intifada brought almost unremitting terror and violence. Despite Israel's pullout from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the parliamentary victory of the rejectionist Hamas party in January 2006 contributed to this downward trend.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As recently as December, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas refused to back a proposal for a unity government offered by Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Independent Palestine list Mustafa Barghouti. That deal was based on the concept of a technocratic compromise under which Hamas officials would not have held the prime ministership or led any ministries. Yet under the terms of the February 8 Mecca accord, the current prime minister, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh, will stay on as head of the next government, and the only portfolios Hamas members specifically will not hold are the finance, foreign affairs, and interior ministries, which will be headed by independents acceptable to both sides. The key question then is why Fatah settled for a unity agreement in February that provided it far less gains than previous unity proposals rejected by Abbas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Gaza, Mecca
  • 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: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The February 11 intelligence briefing in Baghdad revealed specific information about the transfer of weapons and weapons technology to Iranian allies in Iraq. This has furthered an extensive discussion of Iran's role in Iraq, especially as it relates to violence in the region. The involvement of Iran's clerical regime in Iraq is not new, or simple. It can be measured in decades, and is multifaceted and comprehensive, demanding an equally broad response from the United States and U.S. allies.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For the past five years, U.S. Army and Marine Corps officers have been operating in highly complex combat environments in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Uniformed decisionmakers realized early on that these wars required a wide array of skill sets and areas of expertise beyond those traditionally taught to junior officers. Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has stressed the need for a new kind of Army leader skilled in governance, statesmanship, and diplomacy and able to understand and work within different cultural contexts. The question, then, is to what extent the education given to future ground component officers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis is working to produce such leaders. Specifically, to what extent are the traditional engineering-based curricula at the nations service academies producing leaders with the requisite language and cultural skills necessary to be effective officers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • Topic: Development, Education, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker, Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Violent clashes in Beirut on January 25 between students of rival political parties have overshadowed the promising news that Lebanon received pledges of $7.6 billion at the Paris III donor conference on Lebanons economy. The violence, which was largely along sectarian lines, was the latest in a series of escalating political/religious confrontations. This troubling trend raises the specter that Lebanon may once again be sliding toward civil war.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 25, Lebanon will participate in Paris III, the third international donor conference for Lebanon convened by French president Jacques Chirac since February 2001. The top agenda items are grants and soft loans for Lebanon and the economic reform plan of Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora. For Siniora and his "March 14" ruling coalition, the success of the conference -- i.e., international commitments to provide billions to Lebanon -- is exceedingly important, as the government is coming under increasing pressure from the Hizballah-led opposition. Indeed, this week, the opposition upped the ante in its continuing effort to topple the Siniora government, closing key Lebanese arteries, including the highways into Beirut and the airport road. If Paris III is broadly perceived as "successful," it will strengthen Siniora and demonstrate that the March 14 coalition can govern and advance key Lebanese interests without Hizballah participation in government. Should international donors not prove particularly generous, the momentum will shift toward the opposition.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, France
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Dennis Ross, Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There are three possibilities for the future of the troubled Hamas-Fatah relationship. The first is the default option, involving perpetual tension with progressively worsening violence—and no decisive victor. Each side mistakenly believes that it can swiftly defeat the other. Hamas believes it can win through continued rearmament and resistance, and that its political message resonates with its constituency. Its own efforts—along with Hizballah's perceived victory in summer 2006—have lent Hamas confidence in its current footing. For its part, Fatah believes it has historical claim to both power and representation, and that its rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the governmental security apparatus are ingredients of a decisive victory, regardless of the continuing arms race.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 16, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Kuwait for a meeting with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)the oil-producing states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The final stop on Rices Middle East tour, the visit was an occasion to explain President Bushs newly announced Iraq initiative and to seek the support of the regions Arab states. But an important subtextindeed, arguably an overriding priority of the tripwas to assemble a united front against Iran, as also shown by the January 17 arrival of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Gulf.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Kuwait, Qatar
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As international pressure on the Iranian government toughens, the Iranian regime is facing more fragmentation at home. In an unprecedented action against a sitting president, 150 of the 290 members of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) signed a letter blaming President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad for raging inflation and high unemployment, and criticizing his travel to Latin America at a time when he has not sent the Majlis a draft budget for the fiscal year that starts March 21. Under Iranian law, this letter constitutes the first step required if the Majlis wants to remove the president from office.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Latin America
  • Author: Martin Walker, Joe Klein
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush's plan of a troop surge coupled with counterinsurgency tactics comes too late for Iraq. Securing Baghdad is a precondition for establishing a secure Iraq. The success of U.S. counterinsurgency tactics is contingent upon a functional central government. The resources that will be devoted to securing Baghdad could be best employed in Afghanistan. Currently, the Iraqi government is a fig leaf for Shiite militias and it is doubtful that Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government will wage war on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 14, in a rare show of unity, Sunni and Shiite Arab, Turkmen, and Christian Iraqis gathered at a conference in Ankara to denounce Kurdish plans to incorporate Kirkuk, the capital of Iraqs at-Tamim province, into the Kurdish region. This comes after recent violence in Kirkuk, including a December 26 roadside bomb that killed three and wounded six. Between December 2005 and July 2006, the number of reported violent incidents in Kirkuk increased by 76 percent, ending the citys previous status as a relatively safe area. With tensions in Kirkuk rising, how can violence be countered?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the context of debate surrounding U.S. military strategy in Iraq, Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz offers this classic directive: it is essential to understand the nature of the war you are fighting. To this end, the U.S. military in Iraq no longer faces a traditional insurgency conflict -- as those the French fought in Algeria or the United States fought in Vietnam -- in which one faction seeks to undermine and supplant the national government. Instead, the strategic landscape of Iraq today bears far more resemblance to the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s and 1980s, in which various sectarian militias battled each other for control of specific parts of the country. The Iraq war has indeed become a militia war.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Vietnam, Algeria
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yagi
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Rumors of a newly formed Palestinian unity government have been ubiquitous in recent weeks, yet Hamas and Fatah appear to be closer than ever to reaching an agreement. Their unity talks survived even the tragic killing of twenty Palestinian civilians on November 8 in Beit Hanun, an incident that would ordinarily derail such negotiations. Both Hamas and Fatah understand the severity of the current political crisis and recognize they must move beyond this impasse to avoid further civil violence.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The first annual International Media Forum on the Golan Heights, held November 5-7, 2006, in the city of Quneitra on the Syria-Israel border, highlighted Syria's stated desire for the return of the entire Golan. The forum's backdrop was a litany of controversial statements made by Syrian president Bashar al-Asad about his next moves in relation to Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Dvorah Chen
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's summer war with Hizballah has again raised legal questions about the imprisonment of terrorists in Israel. From its founding, the state of Israel has been forced to confront belligerent activities by hostile states and organizations seeking to destroy it. The struggle against Palestinian terrorism has taken an enormous toll over the course of the second intifada, during which time more than one thousand Israelis have been killed and thousands more wounded. Enemy combatants are imprisoned in order to prevent them from causing further destruction. Therefore, terrorist detentions play a central role in the struggle to prevent terrorist activities, and the legal issues surrounding these detentions pose crucial concerns for the entire international community. There are two major processes for the prosecution of terrorist detainees in Israel: (1) through the normal civilian criminal track based on penal legislation, and (2) through special administrative measures under the minister of defense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The governments on both of our “hot” fronts, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, are on the verge of change, with practical, immediate implications for Israel—and unfortunately, not positive ones. Rather, the storm clouds continue to gather on the strategic horizon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Gates
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 24, 2004, Gates was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations: Gwetzmann: “Do you have any predictions as to how Iraq is going to turn out?” Gates: “No. We have the old line in the intelligence business that everything we want to know is divided into two categories: secrets and mysteries.” Gwertzman: “And Iraq is which?” Gates: “Iraq is very much the latter.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Lebanon has secured pledges for assistance roughly equal to its $3.6 billion estimate of what is required to rebuild from the recent war. Though foreign assistance will be an important element in the short-term physical reconstruction, it will do little to help Beirut contend with the longstanding structural maladies afflicting the economy—particularly $40 billion in government debt. Lebanon also faces the challenge of how to reinforce central government authority in the face of Hizballah's efficient reconstruction efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As part of the international effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel can become a sustainable ceasefire, much attention has been paid to blocking arms shipments to Hizballah, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. But another threat to peace in the region is Hizballah's potent terrorist wing. Arguably its most dangerous offensive weapon, Hizballah's terrorist wing was active throughout this recent conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • 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: David Schenker, Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recent developments related to the war in Lebanon—a warning from Damascus that Israeli forces in Lebanon should keep away from the Syrian border, the placement of Syrian forces on a heightened state of alert, the explosion of a crude improvised explosive device (IED) on the Syrian side of the Golan, President Bashar al-Asad's bellicose August 1 Army Day speech, Syrian facilitation of Iranian efforts to resupply Hizballah, and Israeli attempts to interdict these supply lines through air strikes along the Lebanon-Syria border—have prompted concerns that the fighting in Lebanon could escalate to involve Syria. Warnings from Damascus that an international stabilization force for Lebanon would be seen as an army of occupation, and therefore a legitimate target of resistance, have likewise raised the possibility that Syria might sponsor or support attacks on such a force, as it sponsored attacks against the Multi-National Force (MNF) in Beirut in 19821984.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this week, Israel began its long-anticipated ground offensive in Lebanon intended to degrade Hizballahs military apparatus, pacify Israels northern border with Lebanon, and lay the foundation for what is now frequently referred to as a sustainable ceasefire. Reaching a consensus on the precise meaning of the term sustainable will be a difficult prerequisite. But however such a ceasefire is defined beyond the presence of a robust international force, there is widespread agreement that it must include the participation of Syriaparticularly a commitment by Damascus to adhere to UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. So far, Syria has given no indication that it will agree to such a course, and, given the events of the past several weeks, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which Syrian president Bashar al-Asad might change his mind. That said, Israels new ground offensive in Lebanon represents a significant change in the status quo, one that may force Syria to reconsider.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As diplomacy to end hostilities between Israel and Lebanon intensifies at the United Nations, with a first resolution passed perhaps on Monday, conceptual gaps between the parties remain. The differences range from substantive to procedural. France has been at the center of diplomacy surrounding the passage of a UN Security Council resolution, since it is expected to lead the multinational force to southern Lebanon. From the outset of its consultations with the United States, which are at the center of UN diplomacy, France has sought two Security Council resolutions; this plan has won the backing of U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. The first resolution would declare an immediate ceasefire and establish general principles to guide the period after the ceasefire. The second resolution would, among other things, define the scope and mission of the multinational force.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, France, Lebanon
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Lebanon plunges deeper into ruin and chaos as a result of Hizballah's “gang war” tactics against Israel's expanded military campaign to degrade the power of the Islamist party, Hizballah, Syria, and its allies in Lebanon are devising plans to subvert an international agreement on a multinational force to guard the Israel-Lebanon border. They are also preparing for a political comeback in a postconflict Lebanon by riding the wave of the victory Hizballah is sure to claim whatever the outcome—a supposed triumph that in reality will be at best a Pyrrhic victory.
  • Topic: International Relations, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, 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: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With the ongoing clashes between Israel and Hizballah raging without respite and Lebanon sustaining significant human and material losses, the sociopolitical scene in Beirut is bursting with both centrifugal and centripetal forces. While these forces threaten the country with implosion, they are sparking a national debate on Lebanese national identity that may prevent Lebanon from disintegrating as a sovereign state. While many Western observers see the civilian deaths in Qana as galvanizing Lebanese support for Hizballah, national solidarity against Israeli attacks should not be mistaken for a widespread embrace of Hizballah.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The critical question of whether or not the current conflict in Lebanon will escalate to a broader regional war is being answered in two overly simple ways. One such analysis is that this is a “meltdown” with escalating violence and mounting pressures for further escalation. A second, equally simplistic view is that since no one has an interest in escalating to a regional conflict it will not happen. Both of these views do not account for the complex set of dynamics and the real possibility that accident and error can intervene.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As diplomacy to halt the violence in Lebanon slowly gathers momentum, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has endorsed the idea of an international “stabilization force” to keep the peace, seconding proposals previously put forward by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, British prime minister Tony Blair, and European Union foreign policy envoy Javier Solana. Such a force, however, is liable to face major obstacles and incur substantial risks that could jeopardize its prospects for success. For this reason it is essential to consider what past experiences in Lebanon, the Middle East, and elsewhere teach about peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations, the sort of challenges such a force could encounter, and the kind of mandate and capabilities required to meet these challenges.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a July 17 article in Kayhan, a newspaper sponsored by Iran's supreme leader, editor Hossein Shariatmadari wrote, “The Muslim nations should not let the engagement [with Israel] remain in its limited regional boundaries. The Zionists are scatted in many parts of the world and their identification is not that difficult. . . . Everywhere in the world must be made insecure for the Zionists.” Even without this exhortation from Iran, there is a real possibility that the conflict could expand beyond the borders of Lebanon and Israel. History has shown that Iran and Hizballah together have significant capabilities to conduct violent terrorist attacks anywhere in the world.
  • Topic: International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 19, 2006, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Schenker, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Schenker, a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Institute, served until 2005 as Levant country director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 10, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Makovsky and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Rana Shaab, Nicholas Ravella, Nathan Hodson, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The outbreak of hostilities after Hizballah's July 12 raid into Israel, in which it captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others, has elicited a variety of responses from government officials and other prominent figures throughout the Middle East. Though it is not surprising to see harsh statements about Israel, it is unusual to see Arab leaders criticizing Hizballah for its role in precipitating the conflict. The usually cautious Saudi authorities implicitly criticized Hizballah for adventurism; is seems that Riyadh may be wary of Iranian influence. The following is a sampling of Middle Eastern reactions, compiled from various regional and international media sources.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The capture yesterday of two Israeli soldiers (eight more were killed) in a crossborder raid by the Lebanese group Hizballah, as Israeli forces in Gaza continued to search for an Israeli soldier kidnapped last week by Hamas and to clear Qassam rocket launch sites, marked the opening of a second front in the war against Israel being waged by these two Islamist terrorist groups and their state sponsors, Syria and Iran. These developments highlight the potential for further escalation and illustrate the rising dangers posed by the emergence of an anti-Israel and anti-American military axis comprised of Hamas, Hizballah, Syria, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier today, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal held a press conference in Damascus broadcast live on al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, and Syrian state television. During the broadcast, Mashal described kidnapped Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit as a “prisoner of war,” said that prisoner exchange was the only solution to the crisis, and appeared to recommend direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The press conference was significant, not only for its content, but because it was held in a Damascus hotel: typically in the past, when Syria-based terrorist organizations took responsibility for operations, they did so from Beirut. The high profile Mashal statement from Damascus suggests that the Asad regime has changed its rules of engagement from tacit to explicit support for Hamas. The shift highlights Syria's emboldened foreign policy a year and a half after the assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Syria
  • 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: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hizballah has been deployed along the blue line, the internationally accepted border between Lebanon and Israel, since May 2000 when the Israeli army left southern Lebanon. Hizballah's fulltime strength is 500–600 well trained, combat experienced fighters, but in an emergency the organization can also call upon thousands of other fighters with elementary training. Training continues in the eastern Bekaa valley, although at a much reduced rate compared to the 1990s. At present, Hizballah uses Shebaa Farms to justify its military operations and continued weapons possession, a rationale based on the claim that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory occupied by Israel, even as the United Nations considers this territory to be Syrian.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • 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: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's pursuit of a referendum on the Palestinian National Accord has been widely interpreted by commentators and reporters as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But while the process of conducting a referendum -- the legality of which remains questionable -- would shift power away from the government and the legislature, the actual text of the document, which a group of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails negotiated, more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Moreover, Hamas has recovered from its initial surprise at the referendum initiative and has mounted an effective response, first by challenging the legality of a referendum, then by dragging Abbas into negotiations over the substance of the Accord. Despite a possible compromise that may emerge in coming days and shift the composition of the government or modify the language of the Accord, Hamas has used the internal Palestinian debate over a referendum to secure its internal legitimacy and advance many of its governing priorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Eric Edelman
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sayin arkadashlar merhaba. Hello, my good friends. It is an honor to be here today to deliver this years Turgut Ozal lecture. I would like to thank The Washington Institute, Rob Satloff, Soner Cagaptay, and in particular, Mark Parris, one of my distinguished predecessors as ambassador to Turkey, for inviting me. This institutions excellent work in promoting U.S.-Turkish relations does not go unnoticed and I am proud to be a part of it. In fact, I would argue that the Institutes work on Turkey is more important now than it has ever been. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important efforts of my successor, Ambassador Ross Wilson, who with great dedication and skill works everyday at maintaining our strong relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Acting Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat arrived in Washington June 20 for his first official visit in his new capacity. The U.S. trip comes one month after a radical Sunni Islamist organization was legalized in Lebanon, and just weeks after thousands of Shiite Hizballah supporters rioted in Beirut after the broadcast on LBC television of a comedy skit satirizing Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. These developments highlight growing tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. Unchecked, this dynamic could lead to a resumption of the type of conflict that has long plagued Lebanon and threaten the gains of the Cedar Revolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a June 4 speech marking the anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a warning to the United States in the crisis of over Iran's nuclear program. “If the Americans make a wrong move toward Iran, the shipment of energy will definitely face danger, and the Americans would not be able to protect energy supply in the region,” Khamenei said. This raises questions about the strength of the Iranian military and how the United States could counter it, using military power, alternative export routes, or a combination of both.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: William McCoy, James Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 18, 2006, Ambassador James Jeffrey and Maj. Gen. William McCoy addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Jeffrey is senior advisor to the secretary of state and coordinator for Iraq policy at the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as deputy chief of mission and charge d'affairs in Baghdad, ambassador to Albania, and deputy chief of mission in Turkey and Kuwait. General McCoy is commander of the Gulf Region Division, Army Corp of Engineers, in Baghdad, where he oversees most of the U.S. government's major infrastructure projects in Iraq. Previously, he served as assistant commandant of the U.S. Army Engineer School, held command and staff positions in various combat engineer units, and served in Saudi Arabia. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
  • 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: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 7, Lebanese Druze leader and member of parliament Walid Jumblat told reporters in Cairo that Hizballah should disarm. These comments came just four days after Jumblat offered his assistance to the Syrian opposition in establishing "a democratic and free Syria." Jumblat has always been an enigmatic and unpredictable interlocutor, and his recent statements on Syria and Hizballah typify his disregard for the conventions of the Lebanese political establishment. While many Lebanese may quietly support Jumblat's truth telling, his statements are sure to increase his list of powerful enemies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria