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  • 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: 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: 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: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 5, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deputy chief of military staff Gen. Ergin Saygun visited President Bush in Washington to discuss the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The composition of the Turkish delegation was symbolically important and demonstrates a new political stability based on the working relationship between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Turkish military. Yet the newfound weight of the PKK issue may prove problematic for the United States -- and, in the long term, for Turkey as well.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Yuksel Sezgin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 20, thousands of secular Turks demonstrated in the Black Sea port city of Samsun against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has an Islamist pedigree. It was the most recent display of protest in a power struggle between the AKP and its opponents over determining a replacement for outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In addition to the protestors and Sezer, the courts and the Turkish military have weighed in against the AKP. Far from backing down, as Turkey's Islamists would have done in the past, the AKP has stepped up the pressure by introducing a constitutional amendment package that calls for direct presidential elections to replace the current system of voting in parliament. President Sezer could decide the fate of this package, but the political crisis will continue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Jihad al-Bina, Hizballah's construction company in Lebanon, effectively shutting the terrorist group's firm out of the international financial system. While the designation will not take effect at the United Nations -- sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 only target elements associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, to the exclusion of any other terrorist groups -- international lenders and donors, including financial institutions, NGOs, and governments, are unlikely to want to assume the reputational risk of working to rebuild Lebanon in partnership with Hizballah instead of the Lebanese government. Moreover -- and contrary to conventional wisdom -- the designation presents a rare public diplomacy opportunity in the battle of ideas in the war on terror.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Taliban, Lebanon
  • 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: Mohammad Yaghi, Dennis Ross, Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There are three possibilities for the future of the troubled Hamas-Fatah relationship. The first is the default option, involving perpetual tension with progressively worsening violence—and no decisive victor. Each side mistakenly believes that it can swiftly defeat the other. Hamas believes it can win through continued rearmament and resistance, and that its political message resonates with its constituency. Its own efforts—along with Hizballah's perceived victory in summer 2006—have lent Hamas confidence in its current footing. For its part, Fatah believes it has historical claim to both power and representation, and that its rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the governmental security apparatus are ingredients of a decisive victory, regardless of the continuing arms race.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 14, in a rare show of unity, Sunni and Shiite Arab, Turkmen, and Christian Iraqis gathered at a conference in Ankara to denounce Kurdish plans to incorporate Kirkuk, the capital of Iraqs at-Tamim province, into the Kurdish region. This comes after recent violence in Kirkuk, including a December 26 roadside bomb that killed three and wounded six. Between December 2005 and July 2006, the number of reported violent incidents in Kirkuk increased by 76 percent, ending the citys previous status as a relatively safe area. With tensions in Kirkuk rising, how can violence be countered?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With the ongoing clashes between Israel and Hizballah raging without respite and Lebanon sustaining significant human and material losses, the sociopolitical scene in Beirut is bursting with both centrifugal and centripetal forces. While these forces threaten the country with implosion, they are sparking a national debate on Lebanese national identity that may prevent Lebanon from disintegrating as a sovereign state. While many Western observers see the civilian deaths in Qana as galvanizing Lebanese support for Hizballah, national solidarity against Israeli attacks should not be mistaken for a widespread embrace of Hizballah.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • 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: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, a gunman chanting Islamist slogans attacked the Turkish Council of State (the Danistay, or high court for administrative affairs) in Ankara. The gunman killed one judge and wounded four others who were sitting in the Council's second chamber, which has recently upheld Turkey's ban on “turbans” in schools. In accordance with the European and Turkish notion of secularism (laïcité in French) as freedom from religious symbols in the public sphere, Turkey bans public officials and school students wearing turbans—a specific style of women's headcover that emerged in the mid 1980s and that the courts consider an Islamist political symbol. (Turbans are distinct from traditional headscarves, which are not banned.) Photographs of the judges had earlier been published in Islamist newspapers with headlines targeting them.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 18, the Jordanian government announced it had discovered a cache of weapons -- including rockets, C-4 explosives, and small arms -- in a northern Jordanian town. Jordanian authorities said the weapons belonged to Hamas and had entered Jordan from Syria. Subsequently, Jordan arrested ten Hamas militants and cancelled a scheduled visit by Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader. While the discovery of these weapons underscores Hamas's continuing efforts to prepare for terrorist acts even while it proclaims a tahdiya (period of calm), it also has important implications for internal Jordanian politics and the rising influence of Jordan's own Islamist movement.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Michael Young
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Shiite ministers recently “suspended” their participation in the Lebanese cabinet, though without resigning, it highlighted an increasingly apparent reality in post-Syria Lebanon: Two powerful camps coexist today. One, led by Hizballah, in alliance with the Amal movement, sits atop a Shiite community generally, though not unanimously, supporting their positions. The other reflects a cross-communal parliamentary majority, the cornerstone of which is the Sunni-led Future Movement of Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, January 25, Palestinian voters will elect a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the first time since the initial PLC was elected ten years ago. The participation of Hamas in the elections marks a turning point in Palestinian politics; the group boycotted the original 1996 ballots as part of its rejection of the Oslo process. Ensuring a smooth transition from elections to the seating of the new PLC will require passing several hurdles, not the least of which is protecting balloting and vote-counting from violent disruptions. Assuming election day proceeds without incident—no small matter given the level of domestic lawlessness over the last several weeks—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will then face the challenge of selecting a prime minister to form the next government. What remains unknown is precisely how well Hamas will finish in relation to Abbas' own Fatah party, and whether a tight race will lead Abbas to include Hamas as an active partner in the next Palestinian government—or, indeed, whether a poor Fatah showing might prompt Abbas to resign.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, Iraq's Defense Ministry appealed to junior officers from Saddam Hussein's disbanded army to return to service. The decision to include these soldiers is part of an ongoing strategy to minimize support for terrorism by reintegrating Sunnis into the political fabric of the new Iraq. This latest effort comes as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group steps up targeting of Shiite civilians in an effort to spark retaliatory attacks against Sunnis. But as Zarqawi's attacks on Shiites exact growing toll among civilians, his tactics may be causing a divide within the ranks of the resistance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohsen Sazegara
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Mohsen Sazegara, recently a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute and now at Yale University, posted on several Persian-language websites (including gooya.com) a long open letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Hossein Khamenei. Below are translated extracts from that letter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Düden Yegenoglu, Ekim Alptekin
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey opened accession talks with the European Union (EU) on October 3. In the aftermath of the March 2004 Madrid bombings, the November 2004 murder of film director Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, and the July 2005 London bombings, all committed by radical Islamists, some people in Europe wonder whether Islam is compatible with European values and, accordingly, whether letting the predominantly Muslim Turkey join the EU is a good idea. Will Turkey's EU accession compound Europe's problem with radical Islam, or is Turkey's version of Islam a panacea for Europe's Islamist problem?
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Warnings by Sunni politicians of even greater violence if Sunni Arab concerns are not addressed in the draft Iraqi constitution raise the question: could the insurgency get worse? The answer can be found by examining the insurgency's demographic dimension.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jamie Chosak, Julie Sawyer
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, 2005, Abbas al-Sayyid was convicted of masterminding two Hamas suicide bombings: the March 27, 2002, attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya and the May 18, 2001, shopping mall bombing that killed five and injured one hundred. The Park Hotel bombing, considered the terror group's most devastating attack since the outbreak of the second intifada, had implications extending far beyond the murder of thirty innocent civilians. The attack prompted Israel to launch Operation Defensive Shield, the reoccupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the bombing highlighted Hamas's program of radicalization and recruitment in Palestinian universities and the group's experimentation with chemical and biological agents.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli authorities on September 27 announced the arrest of an Israeli-Arab Hamas activist who played central militant, political, and financing roles for the group in coordination with what Israeli authorities described as a “Hamas command in Saudi Arabia.” The arrest is just the latest evidence that support for Hamas in particular and Islamic extremism in general continues to emanate from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A key issue in the runup to January's Palestinian parliamentary elections is whether the radical Islamist party Hamas will be allowed to participate and under what conditions. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom have insisted that the group disarm, disavow terror, and end its call for Israel's destruction before it is permitted to run in elections. Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has favored an unconditional acceptance of Hamas's electoral participation, believing that it could coopt Hamas within the Palestinian political fold. However, he said in a Washington Post interview published on September 11, 2005, "A political party plus a militia is unacceptable," but he did not elaborate specific plans that would prevent Hamas from participating in elections as both party and militia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank settlements has left in its wake three important crises for the religious Zionist movement that spearheaded settlements in Israel. These crises involve the settlers' future relationships with the Israeli public, the Israeli state, and the political secular right. For settlers, these three relationships are now colored by a sense of betrayal, raising the question of whether disengagement will radicalize the ideological settlers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • 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: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 21 meeting between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas highlighted the widening expectations gap between the two parties. Less than two months before Israel commences its pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the security situation is worsening, while the PA appears largely unprepared to assume effective security control over these areas. Without an urgent predisengagement "crash program" to improve security, the opportunity afforded by Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene and Israel's departure from Gaza will be lost.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Minda Lee Arrow
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the challenges facing the Israeli government in the weeks before the Gaza disengagement commences are relocating evacuated settlers and determining the future of settlement assets. This Peace Watch will examine the former issue; a future Peace Watch will address the latter.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • 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: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 18, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is scheduled to debate the law governing the legislative elections scheduled for July 17, the first such elections since the inaugural polls of 1996. The issues under contention underscore the larger divisions in Palestinian politics, particularly the dominant Fatah PartyÕs internal factionalism and its fear of an increasingly popular Hamas.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: 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: Isaac Herzog
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 4, 2005, Isaac Herzog addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Herzog was recently named Israel's minister of housing and construction when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broadened his government to include the Labor Party. Heading a ministry that was key in backing past settlement activity, Mr. Herzog has called for a thorough ministerial review of Israel's settlement policy. A Labor member of the Knesset since 2001, Mr. Herzog previously served as cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 11, 2005, President George W. Bush will host Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The meeting comes at a key juncture, given Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Mr. Makovsky, who recently returned from a ten-day trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan, discussed the upcoming summit at The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum on April 7. This PeaceWatch is based on his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Czech Republic
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 24, 2005, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the new cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Often described as technocratic and progressive, the cabinet is widely seen as fitting the Bush administration's requirement of being "untainted by terror." Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the new cabinet as one of the "important steps" the Palestinian Authority (PA) had taken toward reform and described this week's London conference, held in support of the PA, as an opportunity to express "international support for their extremely important reform movement." Yet, one cabinet appointment gives reason for concern: the new minister of economy, Mazen Sunuqrut, has close, longstanding ties to Hamas.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Anna Hartman
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, the Israeli cabinet approved modified routing of the security fence, the first officially sanctioned changes since the cabinet approved construction in October 2003. The modifications, prompted by an Israeli supreme court decision last summer made to avert Palestinian hardship, are characterized by four major adjustments: (1) revised routing in several areas that will bring the fence closer to the Green Line (pre-1967 boundaries); (2) the elimination of all fence routes that create Palestinian enclaves or "double fences" (areas where Palestinians would have been completely encircled by the security fence); (3) the addition—for the first time on any official Israeli map—of fence around the Maale Adumim settlement bloc; and (4) final authorization of fence routing and construction near the Etzion bloc.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 1, British prime minister Tony Blair will host a conference in London dedicated to garnering support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The summit is intended to help the new Palestinian leadership strengthen PA institutions, with a special focus on facilitating economic development, encouraging donor pledges, and identifying investment opportunities. Israel will not be participating, but Saudi Arabia and several other oil-rich Arab countries will attend. These countries reaped unexpectedly high government revenues in 2004 due to increased oil prices—excluding Iraq, the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) saw $45 billion in additional revenue compared to 2003. How much of this windfall is offered to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be seen, at least in Washington, as a key indicator of the willingness of the Arab world to secure a settlement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 24, 2005, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the new cabinet presented by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei by a vote of fifty-four to ten, with four abstentions, establishing the first official government appointed after the January election of President Mahmoud Abbas. After a week of political infighting over the makeup of the cabinet, Qurei yielded to pressure from the Fatah bloc and offered a list composed almost exclusively of technocrats with professional expertise in the fields of their respective ministries. Nearly all of Yasser Arafat's political appointees from the old guard were removed. The reformers within Fatah who led the opposition to Qurei compromised as well by agreeing that no sitting member of the council (other than the prime minister and the new deputy prime minister, Nabil Shaath) could be in the cabinet, thereby keeping the most prominent political proponents of reform outside the executive branch.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire announced on February 8 in Sharm al-Sheikh created a window of opportunity that will slam shut quickly if terrorists resume attacks against Israel. After four-and-half years of incessant terrorist activity, Israeli tolerance for negotiating peace in the face of ongoing attacks is nil. The entire project, therefore, is premised on the assumption that the ceasefire will hold. But will it? Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have so far dismissed it, and previously negotiated ceasefires have all failed. Moreover, Iran and Hizballah are more proactively involved in recruiting, training, and financing Palestinian suicide bombers than ever before.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Khalil Shikaki, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If new Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is to succeed, he must deal with the issue of violence. Over the past year, positive changes have emerged in all areas of Palestinian public opinion except one: the role of violence. In the eyes of the public, violence pays. Three-fourths of Palestinians perceive the disengagement as a victory for violence. To be sure, more than two-thirds of Palestinians believe that Abbas should negotiate with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Yet, the public views Israel's unilateral moves as a threat, not an asset. They see only settlements, closures, checkpoints, and humiliation. These perceptions are responsible for their anger. Abbas must help remove dynamics that encourage the public to believe in the utility of violence; otherwise, the issue will continue to impede his ability to govern effectively.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The newly announced ceasefire provides an opportunity for progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, especially with the newly elected Palestinian leadership and the new Israeli coalition government. The time has come for both Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) to roll up their sleeves and, with international support, get down to the formidable tasks facing them in the coming months: stabilization of the security situation, Palestinian institution-building, Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank, and Israeli-Palestinian reengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky, Kenneth Stein
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is widely expected to win the presidential elections scheduled for January 9. The media has focused on statements he has made on the campaign trail; below is a survey of his statements on a variety of policy issues over the past several years.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Iran nuclear issue will be on the international agenda in the coming months. The often-postponed visit to Tehran by the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (Minatom) Alexander Rumyantsev to sign an agreement on the delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant is now set for January. Meanwhile, early January will see the second round of negotiations between the Europeans and Iran, which is insisting it will end its voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment unless there is significant progress within the three-month timeframe set in the November 15 Paris Accords. That is no easy matter, given that in response to Iran's demands that the negotiations cover a wide range of security and economic issues, the initial European position evidently was to raise the full set of concerns which led to suspension of EU-Iran talks about a Trade Cooperation Agreement, namely, terrorism (such as al-Qaeda), Middle East peace, human rights, and all of Iran's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Martin Kramer
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The usual Western assumption is that "minority rule" is illegitimate and an inversion of natural order. This is, however, a very modern and European idea. Minority rule has a long tradition in the Middle East, where it has never had the same stigma that the modern West attaches to it.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Adil Abd al-Mahdi
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Iraqi elections rapidly approach despite an entrenched and violent insurgency, the country's economic challenges are extensive. The government is faced with the momentous task of transforming a war torn, state-dominated economy into a transparent, investment-friendly institution, all during the course of daily political violence.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ammar Abdulhamid
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When discussing the topic of "minority rule," it is worth remembering that all dictatorships in fact are a form of minority rule, whether it be ethnic, religious, or bureaucratic. Once a minority establishes control over a nation, a crisis of legitimacy for the government will naturally arise. However, after the initial crisis fades, the main objective of those rulers is to establish representative coalitions that function under their control and rules. The norm is that nearly everybody is eventually represented within a system of parochial interests. In order to democratize one cannot champion the cause of the majority, but must instead champion the cause of civic education and citizenship -- otherwise, the country will fall into the trap of sectarian politics.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Todd Orenstein, Max Sicherman
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Attacks by insurgents on Iraqi police officers and facilities have become a major feature of this stage of the insurgency in Iraq. Hundreds of police personnel have been killed, the police in some areas have been routed by insurgent forces, and police have been penetrated and subverted by the insurgents. Deployed widely and to the neighborhood level in towns and cities, they have become a prime target for the insurgents.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The announcement Sunday that Israel would release 170 Palestinian prisoners as a "gesture of goodwill, friendship, and gratitude" to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the latest in a series of events, statements, and diplomatic activity over the past several weeks that has signaled a warming in Egyptian-Israeli relations. While it is too early to tell whether this thaw can be transformed into a fully constructive relationship, after the death of Yasser Arafat both sides are attempting to work together more closely, at least for now.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • 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: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, President George W. Bush will sign the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), which represents the most dramatic and fundamental changes to the U.S. intelligence community since 1947, when the CIA was created. While public and media attention has been focused on the establishment of a director of national intelligence and a National Counterterrorism Center, other equally important aspects of IRTPA have received far less attention. Perhaps of greatest significance, IRTPA will improve the FBI and Justice Department's ability to combat international terrorism in a variety of ways.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: 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