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  • Author: Rovert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, this week witnessed a series of events occurring at such breakneck speed that it is important not to lose the significance of each: On Thursday, President Bush issued an unprecedented statement calling on Chairman Yasir Arafat to "stop the violence," a statement that could lay down a marker by which the administration judges the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and which could determine the direction of the U.S.–Palestinian relationship under the new administration. On Wednesday, Israel's national unity government launched retaliatory attacks against Arafat's personal guard, Force 17, underscoring Israel's intent to hold the chairman personally responsible for the terrorism emanating from within his close circle. On Monday and Tuesday, bombs went off inside the heart of Israel — responsibility for which was claimed by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, suggesting that Tehran is eager to tap pro-Hizballah sympathy and compete with the Tanzim and other Fatah elements for the pacesetter's role in the Palestinian uprising. Also on Tuesday, the PA chose an all-or-nothing option at the United Nations, demanding a Security Council vote on a resolution that the United States had no trouble vetoing — one calling for an international protection force for Palestinians — rather than pursuing diplomacy to bring to a vote a watered-down, but still problematic, resolution on which Washington was prepared to compromise. And on Sunday, Israel's Likud-led government issued a communique affirming its intent to seek the full implementation of signed agreements with the Palestinians, specifically citing its willingness to fulfill the requirement for a third "further redeployment" — territorial withdrawal in the West Bank — in the context of full compliance with the Wye River Memorandum. Each of these items alone has significant ramifications for the direction of Arab–Israeli relations, the Palestinian uprising, and U.S. policy toward the peace process. Taken together, they suggest a situation in great flux with emerging trends that are both ominous (e.g., Iran's deepening role) and positive (e.g., Bush's forthrightness on violence, Israel's balance of diplomacy and force).
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Reuven Paz
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Arab leaders gather in Amman for the first regular Arab summit in a decade, non-Arab Iran is keenly watching to see whether Arab heads-of-state once again make grandiose promises to support the Palestinians. If Arab leaders fail to deliver on these promises, as has been the case with Arab financial commitments to the Palestinians, it would open the door for Tehran to build on Hizballah's success in Lebanon and to deepen its already worrisome role in the Israeli–Palestinian arena.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While the main purpose of Secretary of State Colin Powell's first foray into the Middle East was to discuss Iraq, he also visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority and injected a dose of what some would call "evenhandedness" — giving each both something to be pleased about and something to be unnerved about.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The deadline has now passed for Ehud Barak to step aside in favor of rival Shimon Peres in Israel's prime ministerial face-off next Tuesday, February 6, against Likud leader MK Ariel Sharon. Analysts have already written off this election for Barak, as Sharon's lead in the polls has barely budged from a 16 to 20 point margin over the last two months. Given that Barak won a landslide victory by a 12.1 percent margin less than two years ago, the scope of his probable defeat is striking — perhaps the most lopsided electoral debacle since Menachem Begin's Herut lost to the Labor forerunner Mapai in 1959 by a margin of 24.7 percent. Barak's electoral free-fall is especially remarkable given that his opponent is someone long regarded as unelectable, due to his advanced age, right-wing political views, checkered past, and evident discomfort with the new media age. Nevertheless, Barak has pressed on, insisting that the real campaign has only just begun. His decision to stay in the race has heightened speculation that he may plan on joining a Sharon-led "national unity government," despite carefully worded protestations to the contrary.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Dore Gold
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: February marks ten years since the end of the Gulf War. The situation in the Middle East today is vastly more dangerous than in 1991. The favorable regional conditions in 1991 that allowed the current peace process to begin have been reversed. Three key trends are the following: After Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, it was placed under UN monitoring and extensive sanctions, thereby removing a major threat from Israel's calculus. Today, the situation is drastically different, with the absence of UN inspections for more than two years and the deterioration of sanctions against Iraq. In 1991, Iran was still recovering from its exhaustive war with Iraq and could not fully participate in regional, specifically Arab–Israeli, affairs. By contrast, Iran is currently testing intermediate-range missiles and is expressing its strategic weight in places like Lebanon, where it has increased its support to Hizballah. In 1991, the USSR was crumbling before its eventual collapse and was no longer in a position to offer strategic and military support to the enemies of Israel, while its successor — the Russian Federation — has more or less acquiesced to U.S. positions on the Middle East. Since 1996, however, Russia has taken a contrary approach to many U.S. policies and leadership in the region, in particular with regard to Iraqi sanctions and weapons inspections and the transfer of missile technology to Iran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Jeffrey Boutwell
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  • Abstract: In 1995, the Pugwash Conferences and one of its cofounders, the physicist Sir Joseph Rotblat, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their decades-long work to reduce the threat of nuclear war and ultimately abolish nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Beginning with its first international conference in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957, the Pugwash Conferences have brought together influential scientists, scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems.
  • Topic: International Relations, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece focuses on The changing nature of US foreign assistance priorities in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. There will be broad support for a rapid expansion of foreign aid designed to counter the terrorism threat and to support key coalition partners. Whether that support is sustainable in the future depends, at least in part, on the programme's success in enhancing US 'homeland security'. If the anti-terrorism foreign aid programme is shown to serve US interests, help erode poverty, promote democracy and stabilise the political positions of coalition partners, public opinion may in future support more robust programmes. However, if a large portion of assistance is mismanaged or abused, and/or accountability and impact are marginal, enthusiasm for foreign aid is likely to be undermined still further.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Israel last week launched an air raid against a Syrian radar station in Lebanon. The air raid has raised the stakes in the low-level military confrontation between Hizbollah and Israel. It has also exacerbated Lebanese internal divisions and exposed the lack of a national consensus on Hizbollah's cross-border operations. The Israeli raid has set a precedent and raised the stakes in Tel Aviv's confrontation with Hizbollah along the Lebanese border. Although neither Syria nor Israel is interested in a military confrontation, there are no guarantees that the situation will not spin out of control and lead to a limited regional conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: China said yesterday it would release the crew of the US EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was forced to land in Hainan Island on April 8, following a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter. The Bush administration will welcome resolution of the dispute, especially as opinion polls released yesterday showed that a majority of US citizens regarded the crew as 'hostages'. Had the 24 crew members not been released before the Easter holiday, the crisis would have become far more significant for the White House, and inflamed anti-China sentiment in Congress. In the short term, resolution of the crisis will result in a scaling down of the criticism of some conservatives that the White House has been unduly accommodating towards China. However, in the longer-term, the episode will strengthen the conservative 'anti-China' lobby in Washington, which could hamper Bush's future attempts to improve relations with Beijing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Beijing
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In what has been described as its most important vote this year, the U.S. Congress will soon decide whether to provide permanent normal trade relations to China. A vote is required because, after 14 years of negotiations, China is poised to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). Assuming China concludes its bilateral negotiations with the European Union by June or July, entry is likely before the end of the year. The cornerstone principle of the World Trade Organization is that members provide each other unconditional Most Favored Nation trade status, now called Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in U.S. trade law. Current U.S. law precludes granting PNTR to China; as a result President Clinton has asked Congress to amend the law. A negative vote would have no bearing on China's entry into the World Trade Organization, but it would mean that U.S. companies would not benefit from the most important commitments China has made to become a member. Gaining the full range of benefits is particularly important in light of the large and growing deficit the United States faces in its trade with China (Figure 1). A positive vote would give U.S. companies the same advantages that would accrue to companies from Europe, Japan, and all other WTO member states when China enters the World Trade Organization. It would also provide an important boost to China's leadership, that is taking significant economic and political risks in order to meet the demands of the international community for substantial additional economic reforms as a condition for its WTO membership. A positive vote would strengthen bilateral economic relations more generally. That may help place a floor on the broader bilateral relationship, which continues to face critical challenges on security issues, stemming largely from tensions between China and Taiwan, and on human rights issues.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia