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  • 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: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The results of Iran's March 14, 2008 parliamentary elections-a 70 percent victory for conservatives within Iran-came as little surprise. The ruling elite disqualified approximately 1,700 reformist candidates before the elections, minimizing the risk of a conservative defeat. However, the results revealed a growing divide between conservatives allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a "third way" movement led by pragmatic conservatives who, though loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, are critical of Ahmadinejad's economic policies and confrontational rhetoric with the West. The surprising electoral success of these pragmatic conservatives may pose a significant challenge to Ahmadinejad in Iran's 2009 presidential elections.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's elections, scheduled to take place by July 2009, are a major milestone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Domestic and international institutions are already planning for the elections, although many legal and logistical issues must be resolved before they take place. The U.S. Institute of Peace convened a meeting of the Sudan Peace Forum on July 13, 2007 to discuss the major tasks remaining in the organization of elections. The following USIPeace Briefing summarizes the status of electoral preparations and identifies critical conditions to ensure their timely organization.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East
  • Author: Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the second in a series of USIPeace Briefings written by Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian of USIP's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. It is based on discussions at a recent seminar. The views expressed do not reflect those of USIP, which does not take policy positions. One year after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and facing mounting international pressure, the Syrian regime is consolidating its hold on power and adopting a more defiant stance, both in the region and toward the West. On December 12, Lebanese journalist Gibran Tueni—who had been staunchly opposed to Syrian involvement in Lebanon—was killed by a car bomb in Beirut. The attack occurred amidst continued Syrian intimidation of key witnesses as well as an orchestrated Syrian campaign to discredit the UN's Hariri investigation. Then, in a late December interview on al-Arabiya, former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam accused the Syrian regime of directly threatening Hariri just before his death. Khaddam is now openly calling for regime change, even reaching out to exiled leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. In February 2006, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the Syrian government for encouraging violence and inflaming popular anger over the Danish cartoon controversy.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Imad Harb
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past year and a half, Lebanon has witnessed tremendous political upheaval. In September 2004, Parliament extended the term of the country's president, Emile Lahoud, for three years after heavy-handed Syrian interference. Attempts were made on the lives of several public figures; among those killed was former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A popular uprising forced Syria to withdraw the troops it had deployed in Lebanon since 1976. New parliamentary elections were held in May and June, 2005, and resulted in a new majority coalition of reform-minded, albeit sectarian, leaders who promised an overhaul of Lebanese politics.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian, Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing , written by Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian of the Institute's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, is based on discussions at a recent seminar. The views expressed do not reflect those of the Institute, which does not take policy positions. Syria is facing unprecedented pressure from the international community on issues ranging from Syrian meddling in Lebanon to its support for terrorist groups. The United Nations investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will release its second report in mid- December 2005. The current crisis has increased speculation about prospects for political change in Syria. The opacity of Syrian politics means there are more questions than answers. Nonetheless, a number of key indicators suggest a changing political environment, in a country where political development has essentially been frozen for thirty-five years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Courtney Rusin
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq will elect a new parliament on December 15th. The new government—whatever its composition—will then be in a race to build a democratic order before the insurgency creates enough chaos to break it down. Whether or not the government succeeds depends on how political events of the past two years have set the stage for the December elections—and on the prospects of creating a national narrative that encompasses all of Iraq's main political and ethno-sectarian groups.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East