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  • Author: Raymond Tanter
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Throughout summer 2008, Iraqi politicians tied to Tehran have put increasing political pressure on the U.S. government to allow Baghdad to control Camp Ashraf, the base housing Iran's main opposition -- the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK). Options regarding Iraqi-based MEK members are limited, but include the following: sending them to the United States; allowing them to stay in Iraq under Iraqi control; dispersing them to surrounding countries, including Iran; or maintaining the status quo with the continued protection of the U.S. military. Since each option is problematic, finding a solution is neither easy nor simple.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that he will not compete in his party's September primary and will resign as premier once a new leader is elected. The move ends Olmert's two and half years as Israeli premier, a post he took up after Ariel Sharon's debilitating stroke in January 2006. High-profile allegations of financial wrongdoing have cast a shadow over his administration in past months, and until recently, he pledged he would only leave if there were a formal indictment. His announcement comes at a critical time for Israel and will certainly lead to sense of uncertainty about the future.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Jasmine El-Gamal
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Saudi Arabia is organizing a global interfaith conference in Madrid, with more than 200 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders from 54 countries expected to attend. The conference, in the words of its main organizer, the Mecca-based Muslim World League, will "focus on common human values." Many in the West, however, will likely judge the conference as a Saudi public relations effort to emphasize its leadership of the Islamic world, and to ward off criticism, especially from the United States, that Saudi Arabia bears continuing responsibility for political and financial backing of Sunni extremists across the Middle East.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This weekend, Saudi Arabia will attempt to counter accusations that it has not done enough to stop rising oil prices by hosting an international energy summit of government and oil-company officials. Invitations were sent after the kingdom -- the world's top oil exporter, home to nearly a quarter of known reserves -- was pressured to take action on prices that have increased 40 percent so far this year. Unless Saudi pricing policy changes, however, the meeting is unlikely to bring any relief to consumers.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While experts negotiate the technical aspects of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) -- an arrangement that would govern future security relations between Iraq and the United States -- Iraqi politicians are engaged in a rhetorical campaign against such an agreement, making it nearly impossible to finalize a deal by this summer. Meanwhile, the escalating debate now includes Iraq's neighbors, with top Iranian officials expressing their opposition to any kind of security arrangement.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 4, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas marked the anniversary of the 1967 War by making a surprise call for dialogue with Hamas. In response to multiple challenges to his authority -- impasse on the peace process, ongoing dissent within Fatah, and regional pressure to resolve the internal Palestinian conflict -- Abbas has abandoned his demands for Hamas to return Gaza to its pre-June 2007 condition and apologize for its violent coup. However, a gulf remains between Hamas and Fatah, and it is unlikely that renewed dialogue can bridge the gap. Abbas's move may be an effort to pressure the United States to become more involved, and to maintain a fallback position if peace is not achieved. Accordingly, his call to Hamas should be seen as tactical, rather than a strategic, turning point toward Palestinian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In late May, an official close to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad publicly accused more than forty high-ranking government officials -- including some of the country's most powerful clerics -- of economic corruption. These unprecedented revelations may signal the start of a significant power struggle inside the Iranian government, one likely to intensify between now and the May 2009 presidential election.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Katrib
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 25 election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's twelfth president was a central element of the Qatari-brokered compromise between the March 14 coalition and the Hizballah-led opposition. The agreement was greeted with relief in Washington and other international capitals, allaying fears that Lebanon was once again heading toward civil war. Now that Fouad Siniora has been re-designated as prime minister, the Doha agreement's remaining elements include the difficult task of establishing a "national unity government" and holding parliamentary elections in 2009. The new law governing those elections will determine whether Lebanon will have a solid future foundation or if the day of final reckoning has been merely postponed.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 14, the Iranian government arrested six prominent Bahai leaders and accused them of "endangering national security." The timing of the arrests has led some to speculate that the Iranian government is trying to link these leaders to the April explosion at a religious center in Shiraz that killed fourteen people. Considering Iran's clerical establishment believes the existence of religious minorities undermines official Shiite orthodoxy, these latest arrests are just another black mark on Iran's long and dismal record of protecting individual human rights and religious freedom.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Erdal Tatli
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In June 2007, Turkey decided to turn its back on European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) after a long series of negotiations with the EU. Although the Cyprus issue has always complicated Turkey's involvement in ESDP, Turkey has been an important actor in Western security architecture for decades, and its withdrawal from the force has profound implications for the United States, Europe, and Western security institutions, including NATO.
  • Topic: NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 21, after five days of mediation, Qatari officials announced a compromise solution to the Lebanese crisis between the pro-Western government and Hizballah-led opposition backed by Iran and Syria. According to preliminary reports, the negotiations centered on presidential elections and electoral reform, yet avoided the critical issue of Hizballah's weapons. Although details are still emerging, the broad outline of the agreement suggests that Hizballah has translated, at least temporarily, its May 7 military victory into a political victory. But given the potential outcome of the 2009 parliamentary elections, the Shiite group's victory may be short lived.
  • Topic: Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, Kuwait's nearly 400,000 voters -- more than half of them women -- will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The incoming body will replace the 2006 parliament that was dissolved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, for failing to work together with the cabinet. Kuwait's parliament is relatively powerful compared to others in the region, but tension with the royal family has often produced only deadlock. Still, the elections are an important and interesting exercise in Arab democracy and may even produce a more constructive political environment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush returns to the Middle East this week for the second time in 2008. Initially planned to mark Israel's sixtieth anniversary, his itinerary has expanded to include meetings with top officials from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Saudi Arabia. Except for a trip to Riyadh, these meetings will be held at a World Economic Forum conference in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt. This lineup prompted National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to say the trip has "both symbolism and substance" and, considering the urgency of the issues, something of substance may actually emerge.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the democratically elected, pro-Western Lebanese government took the bold and unprecedented decision to confront Hizballah. Since its election in 2005, the government had avoided direct conflict with the well-armed Shiite militant political party, but several of the organization's activities -- including apparent preparations for yet another war with Israel -- led the government to provoke a showdown. In response to a May 8 cabinet statement that focused on Hizballah's "attack on the sovereignty of the state," the Shiite organization took to the streets. In the ensuing violence -- the most intense since Lebanon's civil war -- Hizballah began occupying parts of Beirut, leaving the future of Lebanon in doubt.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Zalman Shoval, Aaron David Miller
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite having been practically stillborn, the Annapolis peace process is not dead and has recently shown artificially induced signs of life. It has been continually retooled in order to maintain a chance of producing something by the end of President Bush's term.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Antonia Ruiz Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In February 2008, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed two constitutional amendments that intend to lift the ban on Islamic headscarves on college campuses. Although it is still unclear how the legislation will be implemented, the new laws are likely to have a negative impact on how the European Union sees Turkey. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan states that the amendments protect individual and religious freedom -- two rights that are guaranteed under the EU's common legislative body. However, as the controversy surrounding the issue continues, the legal ambiguity created by the case could alienate Europe, making Turkey's EU accession bid even more difficult.
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When the UN Security Council approved the third round of sanctions against Iran by adopting Resolution 1803 in March 2008, U.S. policymakers anticipated that the European Union would follow past practice and enact additional punitive measures. Almost two months later, however, Europeans are still at loggerheads on how best to implement the resolution, with several countries -- mostly the ones with strong commercial interests in Iran -- still adamant that the EU should not go beyond the text of the resolution. The EU could resolve this internal dispute by refocusing its sanctions debate on Iran's human rights record, an issue on which it is often easier to build consensus in Europe.
  • Topic: United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Antonia Ruiz Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In February 2007, the Austrian government became the latest member of the European Union to propose a referendum on Turkish accession, citing "differences in values and standards" between Turkey and the EU. Recent data, however, reveals that these cultural differences are not so pronounced. And at a time when Turkey's EU accession faces challenges, highlighting shared Turkish and European values could greatly enhance the prospect for Turkey's membership.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Austria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 25, a second round of voting will determine the remaining eighty-eight seats of the Iranian Majlis. The first round, held on March 14, decided 202 seats and was considered a defeat for both the reformists and President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. His reaction to the setback -- the dismissal of Interior Minister Mustafa Pur-Muhammadi, responsible for conducting the election -- is indicative of the difficult times ahead for the president and his allies, whose public and official support is steadily diminishing.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The recent military offensive in Basra was the first sizeable operation in which Iraqi government forces took the initiative to pursue armed groups in one of the country's most politically charged regions. Although the operation was a military success, its political aftermath will be crucial for the survival of both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and Muqtada al-Sadr's militia.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This weekend, the much-anticipated annual Arab Summit will convene in Damascus. The run-up to the twentieth summit -- the first ever held in Damascus -- has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Syria's role in undermining Lebanon's presidential elections. And Damascus has exacerbated regional concerns by inviting Iran to attend the summit. As a result of these developments, several Arab states have downgraded their planned level of representation at the meeting, dashing for now Syria's hopes of improving its tarnished image in the Arab world. Given these tensions, it is likely that this summit -- like so many of its predecessors -- will fail to make good on its ambitious agenda.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 19, Kuwaiti emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah dissolved the country's parliament and called for new elections to be held on May 17. This drastic step reflects two distinct sets of tensions, both of which Kuwait has overcome in the past: tensions between the executive branch and parliament, and tensions between fundamentalists from the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority. The conjunction of these divisions is unusual and poses a serious political test for this small but strategically vital state -- a nation that borders Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, pumps more oil than Iraq, and quietly hosts about 70,000 U.S. troops at any given moment. The political troubles have become all the more sensitive because many Kuwaitis suspect Iran of fomenting new sectarian strife within their borders.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver, Hale Arifagaoglu
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 14, Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, filed a case with the country's Constitutional Court asking it to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ban seventy-one of its members from seeking elected office for five years. He accused the party of spearheading "anti-secular activities" in violation of the Turkish constitution. Although the court's disposition is uncertain, the case is likely to strengthen the AKP regardless of the outcome.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 16, Vice President Cheney departs on a Middle East trip that will take him to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank, and Turkey. Coming less than two months after President Bush's trip to the region, the vice president's itinerary is intriguing. His undisclosed agenda with "key partners," in the words of the White House announcement, is likely to include the peace process, the price of oil, Iraq, and Iran. And among those issues, Iran will likely be the most mentioned, especially given this week's controversial resignation of Adm. William Fallon as the top U.S. commander in the Middle East -- a move attributed in part to differences on Iran between him and the White House.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Margaret Weiss
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Qassam rockets -- unsophisticated weapons manufactured in garages and backroom laboratories -- have transformed the strategic equation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These crude rockets give Palestinian terrorist organizations the capability to strike deep into Israeli territory, throwing the security assumptions behind future peace negotiations into doubt.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, it is widely believed that Syria is obstructing the election of a new Lebanese president. Amid this crisis, many are beginning to doubt whether the next Arab League summit, scheduled to open in Damascus at month's end, will take place at all.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, two important developments have broken months of gridlock on the Iranian nuclear issue: a third round of UN sanctions and a new warning by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Although both measures are positive, their ultimate impact will depend on how aggressively and effectively key governments implement them.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Sunnis in Anbar and other western Iraqi provinces have struggled to develop a coherent and representative political leadership. The recently formed Iraqi Awakening Convention (IAC) -- a collective of so-called "Awakening council" leaders -- could represent the next step in that evolution and, if nurtured, make a significant contribution to broader political reconciliation. It will also mean, however, that current elected leaders will have to give way to new local leaders or compete politically with them, since it is pointless to compete violently given the asymmetry of the current power balance.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In response to the February 12 assassination of chief of operations Imad Mughniyeh, Hizballah has ratcheted up its threats, warnings, and saber rattling. In turn, Israel has locked down its foreign missions, put its military on heightened alert, and deployed Patriot missiles near Haifa. And in Washington, the FBI issued a bulletin to its field offices warning of possible attacks on U.S. soil.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay, Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 21, Turkish ground forces crossed the Iraqi border in an attempt to dismantle Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist camps, following weeks of periodic aerial bombardment that began in mid-December. The incursion was partly the product of a November 5 agreement between Turkey and the United States to share intelligence in fighting the PKK, a group that the U.S. State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization. On February 22, the White House backed the operation: "The United States agrees with Turkey that the PKK is a terrorist organization, and . . . an enemy of Turkey, Iraq, and the United States."
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the past several years, Iran's nuclear activities have commanded the attention of the international community. But the recent assassination of Hizballah foreign operations chief Imad Mughniyeh is a reminder that Iran has been -- and continues to be -- a key player in global terrorism, as its explicit sponsorship of Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) demonstrates. Moreover, a recent terrorism case in Bahrain suggests that Iran's assistance to al-Qaeda operatives may still be continuing today, echoing the regime's implicit support of the group in the past.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Palestine, Bahrain
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 13, Frank Urbancic, deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, told CNN-Turk, "The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is like the mafia all over Europe." He added that in addition to its terrorist presence in Europe, the PKK has an "octopus-like structure carrying out criminal activity, including drug and people smuggling" to raise funds, as well as "fronts that provide cover to the organization's criminal and terror activities."
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 9, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed two constitutional amendments legalizing a specific women's headscarf on college campuses. The Turkish turban -- not to be confused with the South Asian male turban -- first emerged in the country in the 1980s and has long represented an extremely divisive political issue. Turkey's European-style secularism, which keeps religion and its symbols out of government and education, considers the headwear a political symbol -- a sentiment with which AKP prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to agree in public remarks he made on January 15. For nearly two decades, the secular view had led Turkish courts to ban the turban in certain public contexts. Now that the headwear is permitted on campuses, what will happen next in Turkey? And what implications might this legislation hold for the United States?
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Iran's March 14 parliamentary elections approach, the prospects for the reformist/technocratic coalition are predictably bleak. Yet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad is expected to lose ground as well. Although his conservative critics are likely to pick up a significant number of seats, the big winner will be Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose role as arbiter and decisionmaker will be reinforced even more.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a six-week delay following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis will go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new National Assembly. Pakistan and Afghanistan are "where many of our most important interests intersect," as Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5. Accordingly, the election results could affect the position of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror -- the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday's assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was welcome news in Washington, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, and, albeit quietly, Beirut and Baghdad. For Hizballah and Damascus, however, the loss of Mughniyeh -- who was a brilliant military tactician, a key contact to Tehran, and a successful political leader -- is a severe blow to their ongoing activities and operations.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Tehran, Baghdad, Lebanon, Syria, Beirut
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 30, retired Israeli judge Eliyahu Winograd released his much-anticipated second report on government decisionmaking during the summer 2006 Lebanon war. It did not issue a deathblow to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, but instead described the breakdown in U.S.-Israeli strategic coordination as the principal rationale for Olmert's decision to invade Lebanon just hours before a UN ceasefire was to be implemented. This analysis has considerable ramifications for the future conduct of U.S.-Israeli relations.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egypt has been scrambling to formulate a new policy toward the Gaza Strip this week after being challenged by Hamas, which opened more than eleven crossings along the Israeli-constructed wall that serves as the Egypt-Gaza border. Up to 750,000 Palestinians have flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula since January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local markets, while tens of thousands of Egyptians took advantage of the lack of immigration, customs, and security controls to cross into Gaza. This massive movement of people caught many by surprise and may have serious ramifications for Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the past week, Beirut has been rocked by violence yet again. On January 25, a Lebanese Internal Security Forces officer working with the UN investigation into Rafiq Hariri's assassination was killed by a car bomb. And on January 27, seven Shiite antigovernment demonstrators were killed by the Lebanese army. These incidents come only two months after pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud vacated his office, leaving a power vacuum in his wake. Despite vigorous Arab League mediation efforts, the prospects for electing a replacement appear bleak. And with no end in sight, Lebanon's security situation is likely to deteriorate further.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Away from the headlines, Sunnis and Shiites are testing the waters of reconciliation in the Iraqi parliament with an agreement that may come at the expense of country's Kurdish population. The Kurdish political reaction to such an agreement could potentially exacerbate anti-Kurdish sentiment among many Arab parliamentarians, costing the Kurds some of the hard-earned political ground they have gained thus far.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 26, Hussein Shariatmadari -- the publisher of Iran's most influential newspaper and a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei -- stated that attacks on "Zionists, Americans, and European countries that support Israel," as well as on compliant regional rulers, were both morally permissible and easily carried out. Indeed, Iran's hardliners engage in not only heated rhetoric, but also heated action -- from funding terrorists to ignoring international nuclear mandates. Accordingly, while the UN Security Council attempts to set the agenda with a new round of sanctions, the hardliners may forgo passivity and go on the offensive.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock, Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 16, the UN Security Council's "Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee" designated three Kuwaiti nationals for providing support to al-Qaeda. Although the UN measure is a welcome step forward, it is unlikely to have much impact without aggressive implementation by Kuwait. Given the Kuwaiti government's mixed record in cracking down on terrorism financing, there is reason to be skeptical that it will take strong action. At the same time, the UN blacklisting already appears to have affected Kuwaiti counterterrorism efforts in a way that previous requests from the United States alone could not accomplish.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Prior to President Bush's trip to the Middle East last week, many pundits expected him to focus little, if at all, on his longstanding "freedom agenda." Instead, he adopted a nuanced approach that managed to restate the key elements of his policy and to press, however gently, for further political and economic reform. Speaking before the trip, a senior State Department official summed up the approach: the president would not "beat up on anyone" but would press privately for stronger reform efforts at each stop and give praise where it was due. Indeed, the president's reiteration of the freedom agenda signaled that the United States remains engaged on certain policy issues that many governments hoped would disappear altogether. At the same time, however, these issues were clearly the trip's third priority (after Arab-Israeli peace and regional security), confirming that the freedom agenda has become a tertiary concern for the Bush administration.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At each stop on his recent Middle East tour, President Bush centered his foreign policy agenda on the growing threat from Iran. But inside the Islamic Republic, domestic policies -- and not the international issues that Bush highlighted -- are at the center of political debate.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Most of President Bush's eight-day trip to the Middle East was spent in the Persian Gulf, visiting Kuwait, Bahrain, the two leading sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. As long-term allies of the United States, these Gulf Arab states still look to Washington as their ultimate security guarantor in what remains a dangerous region. In return for security, the United States asks for a reasonable world price for oil, support for its efforts to secure peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and cooperation in countering the threat of a potentially nuclear-armed Iran. The success of the trip may be judged by future progress on these policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush's recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories came six weeks after the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis. That parley marked the first time the United States did not mandate a purely sequential approach to the peace process. Instead, Washington now wants issues to be solved in parallel, with the implementation of past obligations occurring simultaneously with final agreement on the core issues of Jerusalem, refugees, and security. Bush's reiteration of this policy approach during his trip suggests that he has adopted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's peacemaking approach as his own.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, questions are being raised as to whether sanctions and financial pressure remain a viable approach to changing Tehran's decisionmaking on its nuclear program. As evidence of this strategy's demise, critics point to the foundering attempts to negotiate a third round of UN sanctions against Iran -- sanctions that appeared imminent before the NIE's publication. While additional punitive measures by the UN are important and necessary, better enforcement of the various sanctions regimes already in place could have an equally significant impact.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Grace
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past several months, Syrian authorities have engaged in a harsh campaign of repression against leading dissidents and human rights activists. The crackdown, overshadowed by developments elsewhere in the region, has received scant media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. To shed light on recent developments in the Syrian political scene, USIP recently convened a public discussion on human rights in Syria, featuring the Institute's Radwan Ziadeh, Mona Yacoubian, and Steven Heydemann, and Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes their presentations and the subsequent discussion.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • 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: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) was confronted by corruption, infiltrated by militia and unable to control the Iraqi police. In July 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Iraq's MOI had become a "federation of oligarchs" where various floors of the building were controlled by rival militia groups and organized criminal gangs. The report described the MOI as an eleven-story powder keg of factions where power struggles were settled by assassinations in the parking lot. In its September 2007 report, the congressionally mandated Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq described Iraq's MOI as a ministry in name only, dysfunctional, sectarian and suffering from ineffective leadership. Even Iraq's Interior Minister, Jawad al-Boulani, has called for the comprehensive reform of his ministry.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Alistair Harris
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On the surface, peace has broken out in Lebanon, bringing to an end the 18-month political impasse between the governing March 14th coalition and opposition March 8th parties. Following a week of sectarian violence in Beirut, Tripoli and the Chouf mountains—the worst since the end of Lebanon's 15-year civil war in 1990—the opposing sides agreed to undertake talks in Qatar to resolve their longstanding political stalemate. The Qatari-sponsored Doha Accord that broke the logjam paved the way for the May 25 election of former Army Commander Michel Suleiman as a consensus president, to be closely followed by the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a revised election law. The re-invigoration of Lebanon's political institutions, the opening of parliament and ending of the presidential vacuum are welcome signs of a return to what passes for normalcy among Lebanon's confessional elites; they are not however a return to the status quo ante. For many months Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa, like French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, had tried to cajole the Lebanese belligerents into a compromise deal based on the much-vaunted concept of "no victor, no vanquished". These efforts failed. The fact that Doha succeeded where others did not is a clear indicator that there were indeed winners and losers. Therein lies the potential for future conflict.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing, summarizing remarks from a former commander for detainee operations in Iraq, discusses recent successes in improving the conditions of insurgent detainees in the country.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nasuhi Gungor
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This article considers the August 2008 visit to Turkey by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and analyzes relations between Turkey and Iran in general. The tensions and crises that followed the 1979 Iranian Revolution are briefly presented in order to provide a better understanding of the present state of relations. Then we draw a picture of the situation after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, bringing widespread changes to Turkish foreign policy. We also call attention to Turkey's changing role in the regional balance of power, and to the significance of that role both in Turkey's relations with Iran and with the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Fatih Ozbay, Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Georgian-Russian crisis, the political and economic alienation of Armenia in the Caucasus, Turkey's new project to establish the Caucasus Stability Platform, and the Turkish and Armenian administrations' willingness to normalize relations have created a suitable atmosphere in which to put an end to the problems between Turkey and Armenia. Turkish President Abdullah Gul accepted the invitation of his counterpart, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, to watch the World Cup-qualifying football match between Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan. This visit was considered an important symbolic move. It will be a matter of time to see whether this 'football diplomacy' will pave the way for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Armenia, Georgia
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The government's decision to withdraw Australian combat elements from southern Iraq by the middle of 2008 has the potential to consign the Arabian Gulf region 1 to the periphery of Australian policy interests. There is a consequent temptation to focus our security policy on Australia's immediate region, or within West Asia only on Afghanistan where our combat forces will likely be operating for some time to come. To do so, however, flies in the face of our substantial, diverse and growing economic interests in the Gulf (including an upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade agreement), our interests in counterterrorism and counter-proliferation, and our record of regularly deploying Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements into the region over the last 20 years. These factors, along with the government's recognition that '...the challenges (that) Australia faces will require us to be more internationally active, not less' 2 mean that, in an uncertain world where our strategic horizon extends beyond Southeast Asia, it is prudent to maintain and consider enhancing the diplomatic and security connections we have built up in the Gulf, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, over nearly two decades.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Australia, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Neither Iran nor the United States can achieve all it wants in the current nuclear standoff. Iran has demonstrated its unwillingness to comply with IAEA and UN Security Council demands to cease its enrichment activities or to negotiate seriously toward that end. The United States and other interlocutors should offer Iran a last chance to negotiate a suspension of its enrichment program until the IAEA can resolve outstanding issues in return for substantial incentives. If that package were rejected, the P-5 plus Germany should withdraw the incentives and commit to maintaining sanctions as long as Iran does not comply with IAEA demands. Simultaneously, the U.S. should take force “off the table” as long as Iran is not newly found to be seeking nuclear weapons or committing aggression.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Organization, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967. The current situation in Gaza is man-made, completely avoidable and, with the necessary political will, can also be reversed.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The State Department is counseling Turkey to make political concessions to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the terrorist organization that launched an attack in Turkey in October. Michael Rubin argues that this would be a mistake and urges the United States to stand by its long-time NATO ally in its fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Jason Gluck
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On February 13, 2008 the Iraqi parliament simultaneously passed a law that sets forth the relationship between the central and provincial governments, an amnesty law and the 2008 national budget. The passage of these laws was the result of months of negotiation and last-minute substantive and procedural compromises that could portend a shift away from merely ethnic and sectarian-based alliances to inter-ethnic and sectarian issue-based politics. At the same time, Iraqi lawmakers may have discovered a strategy of simultaneous consideration of multiple matters that could increase the likelihood of consensus and resolution—a sharp contrast to what has until now been an issue-by-issue approach that has often resulted in impasses and political gridlock.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In January 2007, President Bush announced that the U.S. would double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq as part of his plan for a "New Way Forward." PRTs are small, civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments to govern more effectively and deliver essential services. These new PRTs would be embedded with Brigade (Army) and Regimental (Marine) Combat Teams (B/RCTs) participating in the "surge" of U.S. forces into Baghdad, Anbar and Erbil provinces. The new ePRTs would begin as four person interagency teams, but would expand to include civilian experts in a broad range of specialties. These new PRTs were staffed with Defense Department civilians and members of the National Guard and Army Reserve until funds became available to the State Department to hire civilian contractors. The process of deploying civilian experts is now underway, but the B/RCTs to which they are being assigned will return to the United States by August 2008.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the third anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri approaches, Lebanon is witnessing its worst crisis since the 15-year civil war. Hariri's February 14th assassination—widely suspected to have been orchestrated by Syria—enraged the Lebanese who took to the streets one month later, demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops. Dubbed the Cedar Revolution, this mass protest movement succeeded in ending nearly 30 years of Syrian military occupation. It was to have ushered in a new era of democracy. Instead, Lebanon has suffered through bombings, assassinations, war between Hezbollah and Israel, and bouts of sectarian violence.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Beirut and Baghdad in mid-January 2008, a high-ranking and broad cross-section of the Iraqi political spectrum expressed views on the current political situation, main priorities for the next year, prospects for moving forward on key issues, and the American military presence in Iraq. The Iraqis, numbering about 40, included parliamentary leaders, members of the presidency and their staffs, top government officials and leaders in both the Anbar and Baghdad "Awakenings" (tribal groups prepared to fight Al Qaeda and guard their own neighborhoods.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On October 3, 2008, six prominent Iraqis resident in the U.S. offered advice on Iraq policy to the incoming U.S. administration at an event convened by USIP. The panelists were: Qubad Talabani, U.S. representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government; Nesreen Barwari, former Iraqi minister of municipalities and public works (2003-2006);Raid Juhi al-Saedi, Middle East fellow, Cornell University School of Law, Clark Center for International and Comparative Legal Study, and former USIP Jennings Randolph Fellow; Feisal Istrabadi, visiting professor, Indiana University School of Law and former deputy permanent representative of the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations(2004-2007);Ghassan Atiyyah, visiting fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy;Karim Almusawi, U.S. representative of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the event's main themes of discussion. Despite a few sharp disagreements, the speakers agreed that the next U.S. administration should support Iraq in its transition by 1) maintaining security while respecting Iraqi sovereignty; 2) strengthening institutions; 3) ensuring free and fair elections; and 4) encouraging positive regional engagement.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The looting of Iraq's museums and archaeological sites is an overlooked consequence of the 2003 invasion. The loss of such precious history would be tragic for any nation or culture. As Iraqis struggle to redefine a sense of nationhood after five years of war, they will need to draw on that common heritage to reconstruct their communities. In the words of Donny George Youkhanna, former director general of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, “The oil will finish one day, but the antiquities will always be there.” The most immediate priorities are to secure Iraq's existing heritage sites, recover stolen artifacts, and develop an infrastructure for their conservation. The question should also be asked: what can be done to prevent such looting in future conflicts?
  • Topic: Crime, International Cooperation, International Organization, Arts
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Julie Montgomery
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The dramatic improvement in security in Iraq has changed the U.S. policy debate. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are taking a bigger role, the Maliki government's capacity is improving and the U.S. is gradually stepping aside.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Jordan's minister of information publicly confirmed that senior Jordanian officials have been meeting with Hamas in an effort to "solve pending security issues." These talks represent a significant shift for Amman, since relations between Jordan and the Palestinian group had been frozen for two years, following the arrest of three Hamas members in the kingdom on terrorism and weapons charges. Although the decision to renew contacts with Hamas suggests that Amman remains concerned with Hamas-related activities in the kingdom, the timing also highlights domestic and regional pressures on King Abdullah and the Jordanian government.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Almost a decade after expelling Hamas from its territory, Jordan is in the process of reassessing its ties with the militant Palestinian group, an organization dedicated to undermining the two-state solution. Although Jordanian officials repeatedly have stated their aversion to dealing with non-state actors, recent discussions with Hamas suggest that Jordanian policy is driven more by pragmatism than principle. Current realities, including the growing strength of Hamas and the waning prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, are propelling Amman to engage in tactical shifts in its foreign policy to protect its national interests. How this will affect the peace process and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last month, Tehran announced it was building maritime offices on the Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa, reigniting the long-standing territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Since 1970, the disagreement over the island and the neighboring Greater and Lesser Tunbs has been mired in legal uncertainty and historical claims and counterclaims, hindering diplomatic relations between Iran and the Gulf Arab states. The recent diplomatic intensity surrounding the issue, however, including the UAE's August 21 formal protest to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, is a significant break from the past, and may be a forerunner to a future escalation. Considering the importance of the islands -- all three are strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz, where 20 percent of the world's oil passes daily -- the dispute's outcome is deeply tied to the interests of the United States and the international community.
  • Topic: Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Arabia, Island, United Arab Emirates, Persia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's narrow Kadima party victory over Shaul Mofaz last week, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday night. The following day, Israeli president Shimon Peres asked Livni to form a new governing coalition, but if she is unable to do so in the next six weeks, Israel will head for new elections. Regardless of the coalition's makeup, prospects remain bleak in the short term for a breakthrough on either the Palestinian or Syrian track.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, al-Qaeda affiliates attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, leaving seventeen dead, including one American woman. The attack highlights the ongoing problem of terrorism in Yemen, where the United States has struggled to achieve an adequate level of counterterrorism cooperation. The challenge for U.S. policymakers is to achieve greater leverage over the Yemeni government, strengthen that government's capacity to counter terrorism, and simultaneously support much-needed political and economic reforms in the country.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, the Iraqi parliament belatedly passed a provincial elections law, ending a long and costly deadlock. Parliament ratified the initial version of the law on July 22, but it was later vetoed by two members of Iraq's presidency council. This time it is likely that the bill will survive council scrutiny because of the compromises and concessions made in the long negotiation process. Nevertheless, passing the law marks only the beginning of a vital political transition that could lead to either a unified democratic state or a fractured sectarian country prone to foreign influence.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This past Monday, a Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) transport was targeted by a car bomb that killed five soldiers and wounded twenty-five others. The strike was the third on the LAF since June and occurred in increasingly violent northern Lebanon. In fact, violence in and around Tripoli, the largest city in the north, is now becoming routine. This explosive situation threatens the country's already fragile stability, while providing Syria with an opportunity to loosen the pro-Western ruling coalition's tenuous hold on power.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman met with President Bush at the White House -- the first visit by a Lebanese head of state since 1996 -- and reportedly pressed for a continued U.S. commitment to the bilateral military assistance program. Since the program's revitalization after the election of the pro-West March 14 coalition in 2005, the administration has provided nearly $400 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to Beirut, making Lebanon the second largest per capita recipient of U.S. military assistance after Israel. While Washington continues to back Beirut (the administration has requested $60 million in military assistance for Lebanon for 2009), Hizballah's recent political gains and lingering questions about the future disposition of the Lebanese government will likely prevent the administration from expanding either the quantity or quality of the military requests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has decided to skip the Forum for the Future in Abu Dhabi this weekend, a move that will deepen concerns surrounding the Bush administration's Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative. Although Deputy Secretary John Negroponte will attend the forum -- an annual meeting of G-8 and Middle East foreign ministers -- Rice's absence will signal waning American interest in the region's political and economic reform, and will probably cause other ministers to stay home. Additionally, her absence may fuel ongoing speculation that the initiative will not survive this administration. Rather than letting the initiative fall into disuse, the next president needs to reinvent and reinvigorate this multilateral effort to accelerate badly needed reform. This endeavor will be especially important for countries trying to survive the revisionist challenge from Iran and its proxies.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Oded Eran
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the first in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Marine barracks bombing by Hizballah in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Nicholas Blanford
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the second in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the third in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meet in Vienna to discuss a possible production cut. Originally planned for November, the meeting was brought forward because of falling oil prices. With the perilous state of world financial markets, seldom has an OPEC meeting been so critical for both itself and the world. Although hard hit by falling revenues, oil market conditions give Saudi Arabia the opportunity to show strong leadership, most likely by limiting any production cut. But the oil-consuming nations would prefer no cut at all, so any reduction would discomfit relations between Washington and Riyadh. The kingdom was unhelpful as prices rose above $100 per barrel months ago, and both presidential candidates have called for independence from foreign -- implying Saudi -- oil.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although recognized as a political flashpoint, the Iraqi province of Kirkuk is suffering from a largely overlooked security crisis that has improved little since the beginning of the 2007 U.S. military "surge." The decline in reported insurgent attacks in Kirkuk has been relatively small, dropping from a monthly average of 169 violent incidents in 2007 to 122 in 2008. This 28 percent decline compares with 91 percent in Baghdad during the same period, and the per capita number of attacks in Kirkuk city is actually twice that of Baghdad. Considering these statistics, providing security support for the political process in the tense months and years to come has become a critical priority.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The next U.S. president will be a wartime president. Developments in the Middle East almost ensure that either John McCain or Barack Obama will have to manage one or more wars involving the United States or its allies in the region.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Barack Obama assumes office on January 20, 2009, the president-elect will face many pressing issues. The strategic case for careful and active management of Iraq policy, however, remains strong. Iraq has at least 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (9.3 percent of the world total) and borders Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. This vital Middle Eastern country could become a terrorist thoroughfare and the scene of future regional wars or it could become a stable and prosperous U.S. ally. What matters now is not how U.S. presence in Iraq started, but how it will change in the next four years. It may be far more economical to finish stabilizing Iraq under the relatively favorable present conditions compared to the unknown and potentially unfavorable situation of the future. Iraq retains the potential to contribute to U.S. policy objectives in the Persian Gulf region and the broader Islamic world. It could yet emerge as a strong democratic state at the center of the Middle East.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Saudi king Abdullah is in the United States this week to discuss issues of considerable interest to both countries. Tomorrow and Thursday, he is in New York City for an interfaith meeting he is sponsoring and which President Bush will be attending. On Friday and Saturday, the Saudi monarch will be at the White House, where he will be the sole Islamic or Arab representative at a summit of major economic powers discussing the world financial crisis. In a separate meeting with President Bush, he is expected to report on Saudi mediation efforts with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Despite some common interest in all these areas, perspectives differ significantly on issues such as radical Islam and the price of oil. The United States, particularly during a time of presidential transition, should be careful not to concede ground on continuing points of disagreement.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad's congratulatory letter to U.S. president-elect Barack Obama was the first of its kind in the history of the Islamic Republic. In his letter, Ahmadinezhad expressed his hope for fundamental change in U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Although some observers speculate that the letter suggests a transformation in the mindset of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about normalizing relations between Iran and the United States, this is unlikely. Majlis speaker Ali Larijani expressed the widespread attitude of Iranian leaders on November 9, saying, "Whoever thinks that Obama will change the U.S. foreign policy is naive."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Yoram Cohen
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel, including the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Despite this breach of the tahdiya, or ceasefire, both Hamas and Israeli leaders have stressed their desire to deescalate the situation. But considering Hamas's history of violence against Israel, the organization's commitment to the tahdiya is open to serious question.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 10, Israelis head to their first national election in nearly three years. With the exception of the 1977 election, this will be the only Israeli campaign in which no incumbent has run for the office of prime minister. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leads the Kadima party, which is neck and neck with Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party; each is expected to garner approximately 30 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Since their views on the peace process differ, the election's outcome will directly affect U.S. regional policy and the future of the Annapolis process.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Clashes, rocket fire, and threats of escalation challenge Gaza's five-month-old ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. In the past two weeks, Israeli forces have reportedly killed 17 Palestinian fighters, while militant groups in Gaza have fired over 140 rockets into Israel. Despite the ceasefire's benefits -- for Israel, the end of cyclical clashes, rocket attacks, and civilian casualties, and for Hamas, a reprieve from Israel's intense military and economic pressure -- there is no guarantee it will hold. As such, it is worth considering how the ceasefire might end, what renewed conflict might look like, and what this means for Israel's long-term confrontation with Hamas.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Schenker, Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: High on the agenda of the November 27-28 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors (BOG) will be the November 19 report from Director General Mohammed ElBaradei about Syria. How the IAEA responds to the Syrian challenge may determine whether future urgent proliferation concerns are taken to the IAEA and UN Security Council or resolved through military force, such as Israel's airstrike last year on Syria's Dayr al-Zor site.
  • Topic: Security, International Organization, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Becca Wasser
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Thirteen years after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli security officials are expressing heightened concern that a new wave of violent extremism among fringe elements in the Jewish settler movement threatens not only Palestinian civilians, but also Israeli national security and the future of any potential peace diplomacy.
  • Topic: Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The current reconciliation process between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) is a continuation of their struggle through other means. The goals pursued by the two movements are domestic and regional legitimacy, together with consolidation of territorial control – not national unity. This is understandable. At this stage, both parties see greater cost than reward in a compromise that would entail loss of Gaza for one and an uncomfortable partnership coupled with an Islamist foothold in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the other. Regionally, Syria – still under pressure from Washington and others in the Arab world – has little incentive today to press Hamas to compromise, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are tilting more pointedly toward Fatah. It will take significant shifts in domestic, regional and international attitudes for this to change. Palestine's political-territorial division, now over a year old, is set to endure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Obama administration will face a Middle East where the problems are enormous, U.S. interests have shifted eastward, and solutions are elusive. Major conflicts appear deadlocked: the peace process, political reconciliation in Iraq, and negotiations with Iran. The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is deteriorating rapidly. The new administration promises to bring to all these issues a welcome change from its predecessor's attitudes: during the election campaign, President-elect Barack Obama made it clear that he would resuscitate the idea that diplomacy, not force, is the weapon of first resort, and that diplomatic progress requires a willingness to talk to hostile, even rogue, regimes. While this promised return to diplomatic normality is encouraging, it will not be enough. The United States cannot break the deadlock on most issues without the help of countries of the region, sharing with them the burden and the responsibility. This would not be abdicating the United States' great power role, but rather recognizing changing realities in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Paul Salem
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Peace between Syria and Israel is a real possibility—it was almost achieved twice before in 1995–1996 and 1999–2000. Both sides have indicated their interest through indirect talks hosted by Turkey. Syrian–Israeli peace would have positive effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iraq, and other tracks of the Arab–Israeli peace process. The downsides of U.S. mediation are limited. The two sides cannot and will not reach a peace treaty without U.S. leadership. The Obama administration should develop an integrated policy including pressure, incentives, and robust diplomacy to make this possibility a reality. The pressure would be to keep Syria out of Lebanon and Iraq. This would mean continued support for UN Security Council resolutions on Lebanon and the International Hariri Tribunal, as well as continued U.S. sanctions as long as Syria violates its neighbors' sovereignty. The incentives should include the return of the Golan Heights, ending Syria's political isolation, U.S. help in securing World Trade Organization accession, and encouraging foreign direct investment.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Karim Sadjadpour
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Although Tehran and Washington appear hopelessly divided, issues of broad mutual concern reveal important overlapping interests. The United States can more effectively support democracy and human rights in Iran with policies that facilitate, rather than impede, Iran's modernization and reintegration in the global economy. The next U.S. president should not immediately seek comprehensive engagement with Tehran, as this might enhance Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chances of reelection in Iran's June 2009 presidential elections. The United States must deal with those who hold power in Tehran, namely Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given the widespread mutual mistrust between Washington and Tehran, confidence should be built with negotiations on areas of common interest, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than those of little or no common interest, such as the Palestinian–Israeli conflict or the nuclear issue. When it comes to U.S.–Iranian interaction, the record shows that “secret” or “private” discussions out of public earshot have a greater success rate. Building confidence in the public realm will be difficult, as politicians on both sides will likely feel the need to use harsh rhetoric to maintain appearances. It is imperative that Washington maintain a multilateral approach toward Iran, especially regarding the nuclear issue. Tehran is highly adept at exploiting rifts in the international community and diplomatic efforts to check Iran's nuclear ambitions will unravel if key countries approach Iran with divergent redlines. Powerful spoilers—both within Iran and among Iran's Arab allies—have entrenched economic and political interests in preventing U.S.–Iranian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine
  • Author: Ginny Hill
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Yemen presents a potent combination of problems for policy-makers confronting the prospect of state failure in this strategically important Red Sea country. It is the poorest state in the Arab world, with high levels of unemployment, rapid population growth and dwindling water resources. President Saleh faces an intermittent civil war in the north, a southern separatist movement and resurgent terrorist groups. Yemen's jihadi networks appear to be growing as operating conditions in Iraq and Saudi Arabia become more difficult. The underlying drivers for future instability are economic. The state budget is heavily dependent on revenue from dwindling oil supplies. Yemen's window of opportunity to shape its own future and create a post-oil economy is narrowing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Sam Parker, Rusty Barber
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since their 2005 inception in Iraq, PRTs have struggled to fully define their mission, overcome structural problems, learn to work alongside their military counterparts and assist Iraqis down the path to self-governance and stability so that U.S. forces can withdraw. While the concept was born in the Afghan conflict, PRTs in Iraq bear little resemblance to their Afghan cousins, which are led and largely staffed by military officers. PRTs in Iraq are largely civilian-led and are required to address a host of issues including local governance, economic and women's development, health, agriculture, rule of law and education. In this respect, they resemble mini development task forces, harnessing civilian expertise sourced from the U.S. and augmented by military civil affairs officers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Economics, Health, Terrorism, War, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The following U.S. interests underlie any U.S. consideration of policy toward Iraq and should guide the Obama administration: Restore U.S. credibility, prestige and capacity to act worldwide. Improve regional stability. Limit and redirect Iranian influence. Maintain an independent Iraq as a single state. Prevent Iraq from becoming a haven or platform for international terrorists. These interests cannot be fully achieved without continued U.S. engagement, even as the level of American forces needed to maintain security declines. Iraq is important to the U.S. Ignoring or hastily abandoning Iraq could risk a collapse with catastrophic humanitarian and political consequences that the new Administration would not be able to ignore.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
498. Panic
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The credit crisis that followed the collapse of the housing bubble turned into a financial panic on Wednesday, September 17, 2008. There was a run by households out of money-market funds and into safe Treasury bills, pushing their yields to zero for the first time since the Great Depression. There was a liquidity trap in the interbank market, in which banks that are supposed to lend to each other hoarded cash for fear of runs by their depositors and the insolvency of other banks. Financial markets simply froze in the midst of chaos.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: At The Carter Center, we know sustainable, positive change is not often achieved in the short term. But our commitments to the people we help have no expiration date, nor do they lessen as situations evolve or worsen.
  • Topic: Democratization, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After several political and military setbacks, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have waged an effective campaign against Hamas's political, economic, and military position in the West Bank. And as long as Israeli security forces remain in the West Bank, a Hamas seizure of power there is effectively impossible. Although this is an important positive development, Hamas is an adaptive opponent that should not be counted out in the long-term power struggle in the Palestinian territories.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia