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  • Author: Karim Emile Bitar
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Writing in September 2011, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley pointed out that the Arab awakening was "a tale of three battles rolled into one: people against regimes; people against people and regimes against other regimes." Nowhere is this more evident than in Syria where all three dimensions are forcefully present, simultaneously making Syria arguably the most complex of all Arab revolutions. The Syrian revolution started in March 2011 as an inevitable, spontaneous, legitimate and overwhelmingly non-violent movement, much akin to the Arab Spring revolutions that had taken place in Tunisia and Egypt. While the underlying political, economic and demographic causes of the Syrian uprising were quite similar to those which triggered the earlier revolutions, the regime's brutal reaction, Syria's geostrategic positioning and its sectarian heterogeneity, as well as the political agendas of regional and international powers led the revolution to morph into a bloody civil war.
  • Topic: Security, Demographics, Economics, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Vicken Cheterian
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Arab revolt that started in Tunisia and over¬threw the reign of Zein El-Abedeen Ben Ali is taking the form of a huge wave. The regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the central state of the Arab World, followed suit. Uprising in Libya continues, in spite of attempts by the Kaddhafi regime to kill it in blood and fire. Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen declared that he will not seek a new mandate, a concession which only emboldened both opposition and youth revolt. King Abdallah of Jordan sacked the unpopular government of Samir Rifai, and named Maruf Bakhit as the new prime minister and asked him to bring “true political reforms”. In a word, the entire Arab World is facing an unprecedented wave of revolt.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Economics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (“Tandhim Al Qaeda fi Bilad Al Maghrib Al Islami”, commonly referred to by its French acronym AQMI) is a reformed version of an Algerian terrorist group formed in September 1998, Al Jama'a Al Salafiya lil Da'wa wal Qital (Salafist Group for Predication and Combat, GSPC). Born in the context of the waning Algerian civil war that had raged in that country between 1992 and 1998, with an estimated 150,000 dead, the GSPC carried with it three consequential elements: the violent legacy of the civil war and its heavy toll on Algerian society; an entrenched radical Islamist identity prone to armed violence; and a design on the part of this group to not disarm and perpetuate its armed insurrection.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Algeria, North Africa
  • Author: Julian Lindley-French
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: With British and French aircraft undertaking most of the air operations over Libya and some fiftyfive years on from the Suez debacle, historical irony abounds. On November 2 2010, London and Paris agreed the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty1 (see box below). On the face of it the accord is by and large military-technical: to develop co-operation between British and French Armed Forces, to promote the sharing and pooling of materials and equipment including through mutual interdependence, and leading to the building of joint facilities. This it is hoped will promote mutual access to each other's defence markets, through the promotion of industrial and technological co-operation. But what has the treaty to do with the European Union (EU) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)? Does the treaty mark the first step on the road to regalvanising Europe's strategic defence or is it simply the strategic pretence of two aging, failing powers unable to accept a world that has moved on?
  • Topic: NATO, Democratization, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Britain, France, Libya, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Walter Feichtinger
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The revolts in Tunisia and Egypt were effective in ousting the regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak, bringing rumor and protests to Yemen, Syria and other places and starting a violent revolution against Muammar Gaddafi – but it remains to be seen whether the abrupt achieved cohesion among the protesters will overcome the political transformation and bridge long existing gaps between the various groups and factions in these countries. Demonstrations in Tunisia, and also in Egypt, indicate that there is limited cohesion and tolerance within politics and civil society when it comes to tackling daily problems and finding lasting solutions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Graeme P. Herd
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Beyond noting the fluidity, ambiguity and ambivalence associated with the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, there is little consensus on causes and likely consequences. Do these geopolitical earthquakes constitute an “Arab Spring” leading to transition democratization, akin to 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe? Or should we look to 1979 in Iran, and the prospect of Sunni rather than Shia theocracy taking hold? Might the wider Muslim world – Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey – provide alternative potential governance models for the MENA region, given indigenous variants appear exhausted and no longer able to self-reproduce? What are the lessons which other MENA incumbent regimes and the international community will identify? How might those lessons be learned?
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Antti Kaski
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The purpose of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty was to enhance the unity of the member states' foreign policies and the coherence of the external action of the European Union (EU). As manifested recently by the lack of unity and delayed action in the wake of the Arab revolutions, the EU still has considerable work to do before it can claim to have become a global heavyweight in foreign and security policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia, Lisbon
  • Author: Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The 2010 Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference reaffirmed “the importance of the Resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference”, which had been “an essential element of […] the basis on which the Treaty was indefinitely extended”. Indeed, Arab countries had joined consensus in exchange for a call on “all States in the Middle East” (including Israel) “to take practical steps […] aimed at making progress towards […] an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of [WMD] and their delivery systems”, and on “all States party to the [NPT], and in particular the nuclear-weapon States […] with a view to ensuring the early establishment by regional parties of [such a zone]”. Fifteen years later, the 2010 Review Conference could understandably “regre[t] that little progress ha[d] been achieved”.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia