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  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report offers a set of general and country-specific findings and recommendations to assist the Obama administration in its efforts to tackle escalating security challenges while sustaining diplomatic, institutional and economic support for democracy and human rights in the Greater Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's March 2010 elections delivered a surprising virtual tie in the ethnically mixed and strategically important province of Kirkuk, making it an opportune time for fresh thinking on how to address persistent disputes over its status.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Semira Nikou
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has subsidized petroleum products, basic foodstuffs, medical goods and utilities since 1980, first to manage hardships during the eight-year war with Iraq, and then to prevent political and economic challenges after the war. Since the 1990s, three presidents have tried to cut back subsidies that are now estimated to cost Iran between $70 billion and $100 billion annually. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won parliamentary approval for a controversial plan to phase out subsides by 2015. Under the plan, universal price controls are to be replaced with small cash payments to families and direct support of industries. Some economists are concerned that lifting price controls will trigger dramatic rises in inflation and unemployment. The cutbacks come at a time the government already faces serious economic troubles and tougher international sanctions. For the public, the change is likely to produce the most economic disruption since the revolution. Economic reforms have triggered unrest in the past. If reform succeeds, however, the program could help reduce waste, shrink state outlays and enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Tara Nesvaderani
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has the most politically active youth among the 57 nations of the Islamic world. As the most restive segment of their society, Iranian youth also represent one of the greatest longterm threats to the current form of theocratic rule. Young activists have heavily influenced the Islamic Republic's political agenda over the past 13 years. After the 2009 presidential election, youth and women were the two biggest blocs behind the region's first sustained “people power” movement for democratic change, creating a new political model in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic has forcibly regained control over the most rebellious sector of society through mass detentions of young activists, expulsions from universities and widening the powers of its own young paramilitary forces. Nevertheless, the demands from young people have not changed over the past year, and their anger is boiling just beneath the surface. The regime also remains vulnerable because it has failed to address basic socioeconomic problems among youth. The impact of Iran's youth on the political, economic and social agenda of the country over the next 25 years is important for U.S. policymakers to consider when facing complex decisions in balancing Iran's nuclear program and its internal political turmoil.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: USIP recently hosted Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh, official spokesman for the Iraqi government, He unveiled a far-reaching regional initiative to increase economic and strategic cooperation in the Middle East. The initiative represents a new level of consciousness and independence in Iraqi foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Alistair Harris
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Last week's international donor conference to address the question of humanitarian assistance to Gaza underscores the myriad challenges confronting the process. Namely, how should the international community respond to the complex issues surrounding assistance in post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, particularly when several key donors reject any contact with Hamas, the governing authority on the ground? By any estimation, the Gaza reconstruction process will face several perplexing issues: How can billions of US dollars be effectively, transparently and accountably dispersed in a coordinated way, when several key donors and the Government of Israel reject any moves that will bolster the fortunes of Hamas, who m they classify as a terrorist organisation? What impact will an emerging Palestinian National Unity Government have on the mechanisms for overcoming many donors' reluctance to deal directly with Hamas? What opportunities and challenges does the reconstruction of Gaza pose for a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah? Who will lead the reconstruction process and how will meaningful activity take place in the face of severe restrictions on access and movement? With Hamas in power in Gaza and Israel ref using to consider opening their common borders until kidnapped Israeli Defence Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit is released by Hamas, how is meaningful recovery and reconstruction even possible? In the absence of a credible political process, what use is reconstruction anyway if it merely returns the population of Gaza to their pre-conflict socio-economic imperilment? Lebanon faced a similar situation following the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Humanitarian Aid, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza, Lebanon
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Sam Parker
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Baghdad in May 2009, senior Iraqi leaders indicated how they interpret January's provincial election results, expressed concerns about the recent downturn in security, lamented the tremendous financial pressure the government is feeling due to the decline in oil prices, and projected their hopes for national elections slated for 30 January 2010. The Iraq is, numbering about 20, represented the highest level of nearly all of the main Iraqi political factions, including leaders in the Council of Representatives (COR), members of the presidency, and top officials in the government.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia
  • Author: Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The widely discussed Syrian-Israeli peace park concept is rooted in the assumption that Syrian and Israeli "good will" for cooperation is sufficient to mobilize a long-lasting, firm peace treaty between the two countries. The current discussions on a layout for a peace park provide a description of the mechanisms that will control and maintain the park, but fail to provide the insights for how to keep these mechanisms functioning in one, five or ten years into the future. This paper argues that given the lack of stabilizing factors in an Israeli-Syrian partnership, even if negotiations succeed and an agreement is signed, the probability of failure during implementation is high.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: A. Heather Coyne, Barbara Zasloff, Adina Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama declared in his June 4thaddress at Cairo University that “all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” His emphasis throughout the speech on the importance of educational initiatives reflects the central role that education can play in preparing communities for change. This is particularly relevant in regard to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Education can be an important component of fostering positive change in social values, attitudes and skills that are necessary to overcome the pain of conflict and to cope with the frustrations involved in a peace process. Alternatively, education can reinforce conflict-producing myths and stereotypes, serving as a battleground where social groups are demonized, and different communities compete over history and the society's narratives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, South Africa, Arabia, Germany, North Ireland