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  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech and Secretary Clinton's 2012 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace persuasively argued for policies that promote international religious freedom (IRF), including links to national security, economic development, and democracy promotion, and as an antidote to religious extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, current IRF policy--in place since 1998 and largely built around the threat of economic sanctions which no administration has been willing to use--is not up to the challenges or the opportunities that President Obama and Secretary Clinton so eloquently identified. To correct that, the White House needs to embrace a leadership role, building an infrastructure and providing the necessary resources for a reinvigorated policy of new tools and strategies to thrive. The need is pressing.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Paul Wee
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria currently faces a three-pronged crisis involving Muslim-Christian relations, the Niger Delta region, and presidential term limits. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held a public workshop in March 2006 for the purpose of assessing the situation in Nigeria and considering ways in which the international community might respond.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Cecile Zwiebach
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While U.S. and coalition forces—and increasingly the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)—struggle to defeat the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, they are also dealing with a range of armed groups that complicate the security scenario. Militias and ad hoc units with different levels of government sanction are growing in strength, and the training of the ISF is progressing unevenly. While it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive survey of both independent groups and ISF units, a sampling of less publicized units illustrates how diffuse military power in Iraq has become.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Acting Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat arrived in Washington June 20 for his first official visit in his new capacity. The U.S. trip comes one month after a radical Sunni Islamist organization was legalized in Lebanon, and just weeks after thousands of Shiite Hizballah supporters rioted in Beirut after the broadcast on LBC television of a comedy skit satirizing Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. These developments highlight growing tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. Unchecked, this dynamic could lead to a resumption of the type of conflict that has long plagued Lebanon and threaten the gains of the Cedar Revolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Before any significant political reform can take place in the Arab world, the United States and Europe need to begin engaging moderate Islamists, an action less thorny than it might seem because Islamists have embraced democratic procedures and have shown a strong commitment to the rule of law. For a long time Arab regimes have frightened the United States and Europe into supporting regimes' repressive measures toward Islamist movements by invoking the nightmare of anti-Western fanatics taking power through the ballot box. However, today's moderate Islamists—while illiberal in many important respects—no longer match the nightmare. Excluding them from the political sphere weakens the chances of democratic reform and increases the likelihood that eventually they will resort to violence.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Steven F. Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Growing evangelical interest in environmental issues has made news headlines in recent months. This Outlook reflects on the inherent difficulties of this dialogue and speculates on what environmentalists and evangelical Christians can learn from each other.
  • Topic: Environment, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the U.S. and British governments have offered gestures of mutual diplomatic support and apparent political agreement in the aftermath of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London, such efforts mask the wide differences between their approaches to the increasing threat of al-Qaeda terrorism. On July 15, President George W. Bush, speaking in North Carolina about the bombings, stated, “The killers . . . did not care about their religion. . . . These people will not be stopped by negotiations. . . . There is only one course of action. We will take the fight to the enemy, and we will stay in this fight until this enemy is defeated.” The next day, Prime Minister Tony Blair, stated, “The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat we are dealing with. . . . [N]o sane person would negotiate. . . . It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion.” The similarity in language was probably intentional. Yet, Washington's apparent preference for military force contrasts with Blair's categorization of Britain's strategy: “In the end, it is the power of argument, debate, true religious faith, and true legitimate politics that will defeat this threat.”
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Washington, London
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I have spent the past month in Jerusalem, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians here, in Ramallah, and in Gaza City. In my years of dealing with both sides, I cannot recall a time when emotion in general, and frustration in particular, have so clearly shaped their outlook. Given the death of Yasser Arafat, the emergence of Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza, this should be a time of hope and opportunity. Instead, there is less a sense of possibility than of foreboding. It may not yet be too late to use the withdrawal as a platform on which to build a different future. Yet, much of what could have been done to prepare the ground for disengagement has not been done—and that may explain the unease that pervades both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House Thursday with an unprecedented shower of diplomatic, political, and financial support. Most media attention has focused on two high-profile signs of U.S. backing of Abbas -- Bush's bold characterization of his guest as a "man of courage" and the dispatch of $50 million in direct assistance to the PA. As constructive as these messages were in bolstering the new Palestinian leader, little attention has been given to several other surprising messages Bush delivered -- both by omission and commission -- that could rebound against the administration's twin objectives of strengthening Palestinian democracy and advancing the vision of "two states living side by side in peace and security."
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Herzog, Dennis Rose
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 7, 2005, Dennis Ross, Michael Herzog, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Ross is the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004). Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Brig.-Gen. Herzog, a visiting military fellow at the Institute, was formerly the senior military aide to the defense minister and a peace negotiator. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks; David Makovsky's remarks served as the basis for PeaceWatch no. 498.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The March 8 mass rally in Beirut, organized by Hizballah to counter the popular Lebanese opposition movement, serves as a reminder that establishing genuine freedom and democracy in Lebanon will require more than a Syrian withdrawal. Whereas the opposition, backed by strong international and regional sentiment, focuses on rejecting Syria's occupation, Hizballah focuses on rejecting international interference in Lebanese affairs. Yet, if Iran and Hizballah are permitted to fill the void created by a Syrian departure, Lebanon will continue to be subjected to such foreign interference. Such a development would also increase the potential for escalation on the Lebanese-Israeli front, with possible regional spillover. Accordingly, while encouraging the ongoing historic events in Lebanon and pushing for an end to Syrian domination, the international community should not neglect two other key implications of UN Security Council Resolution 1559: ending the Iranian presence and disarming Hizballah.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Avi Jorisch
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Seeking to prevent terror propaganda and incitement to terror in America, the U.S. government added al-Manar (Arabic for "the beacon"), the official television mouthpiece of Hizballah, or the Lebanese Party of God, to the Terrorism Exclusion List (TEL). By designating the network as a terrorist organization the government will effectively take Hizballah television off the air in the United States by denying entry to its employees and to anyone who supports the network.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As European and Iranian officials began negotiations December 14 on whether to make permanent Iran's temporary suspension of uranium enrichment, eight former Western foreign ministers issued a joint statement calling on Washington to support the European efforts by engaging with Iran. There is a growing chorus claiming that Iran will keep its nuclear program suspended only if offered significant incentives by the United States, such as security guarantees, an end to hostility, or at least normal relations.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Libya, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The December 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which killed five non-American staff members, was a worrisome display of al-Qaeda's careful planning, detailed timing, and audaciousness. Worse still, the assault contradicts Riyadh's claims that it has contained the threat of terrorism. The incident, which comes at a time of persistent high oil prices, has only exacerbated concerns about some of the most senior members of the ruling al-Saud family with regard to their health and ability to govern.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Orhan Babaoglu
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 23, 2004, Gen. James Jones, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, praised Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) for its role on the war on terror. OAE is NATO's post-September 11 answer to the question of naval security in the Mediterranean Sea. With the threat of terrorism on the open waters gaining increasing attention, especially in the aftermath of the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen and the September 11 attacks, the Mediterranean basin (including the Black Sea) has become a new focal point for policymakers. The basin lies between three dangerous conflict areas -- the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. Moreover, as a passageway between developed and underdeveloped nations, with access to three strategically important sea passages -- Gibraltar in the west, the Suez Canal in the south, and the Turkish Straits in the north -- the Mediterranean gives terrorists, human traffickers, and drug and arms smugglers easy access to the long and difficult to patrol coastlines of Europe. Is the West doing an adequate job of confronting the new threats in the Mediterranean? What role does the U.S.-Turkish alliance play in this enterprise?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Caucasus, Middle East, Yemen, Arab Countries, Balkans
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After an extended absence from public view, Osama bin Laden reappeared in video excerpts aired on al-Jazeera several days before the November 2 election, issuing warnings to the U.S. public about al-Qaeda's intention to continue striking the United States. The incident raises new questions about the extent to which bin Laden is directing terrorist operatives and operations. In recent months, many experts have opined that he is no longer in complete control, and that the groups affiliated with al-Qaeda are operating more independently, with bin Laden's organization serving predominately as a source of inspiration.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Coalition and Iraqi government forces are moving to retake Falluja from insurgents who have held the city since April 2004. On the evening of November 8, U.S. troops with large-scale air support began to penetrate at several points, encountering some resistance. The coalition and the Iraqi government are gambling that they can break the insurgents hold on the city with acceptable losses and without a protracted battle. The insurgents are hoping to avoid annihilation, inflict embarrassing losses, create an image of wanton destruction by the coalition and government forces, and force an inconclusive end to the fighting. Indeed, Falluja has become a kind of "Stalingrad on the Euphrates" -- a city imbued with political, military, and symbolic consequence, and a battle whose outcome will have long-term implications.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries