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  • 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: Michael Jacobson, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: According to recent U.S. government reports and senior U.S. counterterrorism officials, contesting al-Qaeda's message is no less important than capturing or killing the group's operatives. And as the administration prioritizes its agenda for the last eight months in office, recognizing the need for a refocused communication plan to highlight the bankruptcy of al-Qaeda's ideology is a critical -- albeit overdue -- part of a reengineered counterterrorism strategy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list has a set of criteria for designating groups, there is little clarity in practice about the process for revocation. Even after organizations have renounced terrorism for many years, their designations persist without a clear explanation, and are based on the assumption that historical violence indicates future potential.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 8, Egypt held elections for nearly 53,000 municipal representatives. Not surprisingly, participation was abysmal: Egypt's ruling faction, the National Democratic Party (NDP), ran unopposed for more than 80 percent of the seats, while the Muslim Brotherhood -- the country's only real opposition party -- boycotted the contest in response to government harassment. Although the White House issued a statement expressing concern about "widespread electoral violations," these issues represent only a fraction of Egypt's domestic problems, which also include food shortages, labor unrest, and increasing Islamist social and political penetration. Complicating matters, these crises coincide with the first political transition in decades -- the impeding retirement of eighty-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981. Taken together, these developments raise the specter of instability for a key U.S. ally.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Egypt
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, Europol -- the European Union law enforcement agency that handles criminal intelligence -- released its annual Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, part of which addresses the European criminal activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The release comes on the heels of a March 29 German report outlining considerable details about PKK activities in Germany. Although these reports help illustrate the extent of the group's European infrastructure, many European governments have still not taken serious steps to counter the threat, despite the PKK's presence on the EU's terrorism list.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain visits the White House for talks and a working lunch with President Bush. The meeting promises to cover much more than the usual diplomatic pleasantries. The island state of Bahrain headquarters the U.S. Fifth Fleet and is therefore key to U.S. strategy in the Persian Gulf. The stability of this relationship faces challenges, however, given increasing divisions in the royal family, simmering discontent among the majority Shiite population, and perceived threats from Iran. Each of these issues -- particularly Iran -- will likely play a prominent role on the president's agenda tomorrow.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A month after visiting Washington, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad continues to face significant political, economic, and security challenges to his reform plan. Fatah, the ruling political party in the West Bank, has resisted many aspects of his agenda and is critical of his cabinet's composition and performance. And although Fayad has spearheaded several important initiatives, his plan is in jeopardy, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is still far from representing a compelling alternative to Hamas. To make matters worse, the PA has received just $260 million out of the $7.7 billion pledged during the December international donors conference in Paris, leaving the prime minister with month-to-month uncertainty about fulfilling the PA's salary commitments.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • 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: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 11, 2008, a Boston federal court convicted Emadeddin Muntasser, Samir Almonla, and Muhammad Mubayid of conspiring to defraud and conceal information from the U.S. government. Prosecutors proved the defendants fraudulently used the charity they ran -- Care International -- "to solicit and obtain tax deductible donations for the purpose of supporting and promoting the mujahedin (Muslim holy warriors) and jihad (violent armed conflict)." The defendants concealed from U.S. authorities the fact that Care was an outgrowth of and successor to the al-Kifah Refugee Center, and engaged in non-charitable activities such as the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support violent jihad.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: 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: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In early September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) -- the highest court in the European Union -- ruled that the EU's application of UN sanctions against Yasin Qadi and the al-Barakaat International Foundation infringed their basic rights, and declared the action illegal under EU law. Although the judgment applies only to these two parties, the ruling has far-reaching consequences, for not only the EU but also the entire UN system of targeted sanctions.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Taliban
  • 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: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After months of rigorous debate, U.S. and Iraqi negotiators submitted a draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to Iraq's cabinet and political leadership last week. Since then, many Iraqi politicians have publicly expressed reservations, while others have distanced themselves from the draft in an attempt to deflect blame and avoid the electorate's censure in the upcoming provincial elections. Despite the opposition, approving the SOFA is essential not only for maintaining Iraq's fragile security gains, but also for supporting the struggle against regional forces that want to reshape the Middle East to the detriment of U.S. and Iraqi interests.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael Rolince
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 3, the Department of Justice published the revised Attorney General Guidelines (AGG), which govern all Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) activities, including those involving international terrorism. The AGG comes into effect on December 1, 2008, and will consolidate procedures controlling the FBI's various investigative programs. Although members of Congress, civil rights groups, and the media have criticized the AGG, the revision is a necessary and important step for the FBI's counterterrorism investigations as well as all of the Bureau's investigative programs. Justice Department and FBI officials, however, will have to exert strong leadership to ensure the appropriate and effective implementation of the guidelines.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Dana Moss
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Nearly twenty years ago, on December 21, 1988, PanAm Flight 103 from London to New York exploded in midair over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 259 people on board. Last weekend, according to an unconfirmed report in the International Herald Tribune, Musa Kusa, the Libyan intelligence chief widely believed to have planned the terror attack, visited Washington for talks with intelligence and military officials. The same week saw a telephone conversation between President Bush and Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, a meeting at the State Department between Qadhafi's eldest son Saif al-Islam and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the Senate confirmation of the first American ambassador to Libya in thirty-six years. This new chapter offers areas of cooperation, but the United States must proceed with caution.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Libya, London
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the past few weeks, Hamas's international financial support network suffered a series of setbacks, most notably the U.S. federal court conviction of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five of its leaders on charges of providing material support to Hamas. Despite these convictions and the broad sanctions in place against Hamas, however, the group remains capable of raising substantial funds, through both traditional and innovative means.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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
  • Author: Larisa Baste
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 1, President-elect Obama announced his nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. The following are her remarks on key Middle East issues made during the course of the Democratic presidential primary campaign.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 14, the European Union is slated to initial an association agreement with Syria. The pact had been on hold since 2004 because the EU "deemed that political circumstances were so far not right for its signature and ratification." These "circumstances" mostly concerned Damascus's pernicious policies in Lebanon, including its presumed role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. In recent months, however, Syria has rehabilitated its image in Europe, helping the pariah state end a lengthy period of international isolation. If it is signed, the agreement would be the latest in a series of cost-free diplomatic gains for Damascus in Europe.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the first in a two-part series examining the situation in Gaza as the December 19 expiration date of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire approaches. The first focused on the challenges the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would face in undertaking any large-scale action; the second looks at the IDF's choices, and their implications, regarding the scope and duration of a potential incursion.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Walter B. Slocombe, Montgomery C. Meigs, J. D. Crouch II
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 10, 2008, Walter B. Slocombe, J. D. Crouch II, and Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs (Ret.) addressed a Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to launch a new strategic report entitled Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Mr. Slocombe, currently an attorney at Caplin Drysdale, served as undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration and worked in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Mr. Crouch, former deputy national security advisor and assistant secretary of defense, is currently a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy. General Meigs served in the U.S. army for thirty-five years, including two tours in Bosnia commanding NATO forces; he is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the second in a two-part series examining the situation in Gaza as the December 19 expiration date of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire approaches. The first part focused on the challenges the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would face in undertaking any large-scale action; the second looks at the IDF's choices, and their implications, regarding the scope and duration of a potential incursion.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's current Gaza operation represents the strongest attack on Hamas since summer 2006, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are creating the conditions for broader military action. Although it is unclear how far the IDF will take the current operation, its attacks are already posing a significant challenge to Hamas. The Palestinian group has no means of defending against Israel's air raids and can take measures only to reduce the effects. Similarly, Hamas's offensive options, while potentially painful for Israel, cannot prevent the destructive air attacks. Although Operation Cast Lead may not aim directly at toppling Hamas, it will certain weaken the organization's military and police capability and hence its capacity to enforce its rule in Gaza.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Responding to the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, the Lebanese Shiite militia cum political party Hizballah denounced the Jewish state and organized large rallies. Hizballah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to call for a popular insurrection against the pro-West regime in Egypt, whose stance was not deemed sufficiently supportive of Hamas. Despite the strong rhetorical response, however, four days into the Israeli operation the organization had still not fired a single rocket into Israel in defense of the Palestinians. Absent a dramatic change of conditions on the ground, Hizballah is unlikely to participate in this round of hostilities.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The legacy of Israel's inconclusive thirty-four-day war with Hizballah in 2006 hovers over Israel's current military operations in Gaza. Israel believes its deterrence was lost in that war, and Israel's current campaign against Hamas should be seen as an effort to regain that deterrence. Israeli military officials believe that if Hamas feared Israel, they would not be firing rockets at Israeli towns but would have instead renewed the six-month ceasefire.
  • Topic: Islam, Treaties and Agreements, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two main topics in Turkey today are the booming economy and worries about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The political stability provided by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002, has resulted in a notably strong economic growth. As a result, Turkey now benefits from an improved European-style infrastructure, a dynamic private sector, and a vibrant middle class. The country's major businesses, most of which are secular, have benefited significantly from the economic growth and are generally supportive of the AKP, although some seem to disagree with the party's social and cultural agenda.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Makovsky, Michael Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 17, a donor conference will convene in Paris with the goal of bolstering Palestinian governance in the West Bank -- the first such meeting since the 2006 Stockholm conference. Current Middle East envoy Tony Blair has expressed optimism that the international community will support President Mahmoud Abbas and technocratic prime minister Salam Fayad. A sum of $5.6 billion is needed for the 2008-2010 period, and with the price of oil close to $100 per barrel, that target could be reached easily with contributions from the Gulf. But how much are the Gulf Arab states actually prepared to contribute to an issue that would seem to rank as one of their great political priorities?
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During last month's elections in Jordan, the Islamists suffered an unprecedented defeat. Previously, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- Jordan's largest political party -- controlled an impressive bloc of 17 of 110 seats. But the IAF ran only twenty-two candidates in the latest contest and won just six seats. This stunning defeat has generated recrimination among the Islamists, providing insight into the internal politics of this secretive party. The following is an analysis of the dynamics within the IAF and Jordanian society that caused this electoral collapse, and the implications of these developments for the kingdom's Islamist trend.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Judith Miller, Ruth Wedgwood
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 15, 2007, The Washington Institute held a Policy Forum with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller and Ruth Wedgwood, the Edward B. Burling professor of international law and diplomacy and director of the International Law and Organizations Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 3-4, Arab leaders representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman met in the Qatari capital, Doha, for their annual Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) summit, which for the first time was attended by an Iranian president. In November, the UAE set a precedent by impounding an Iranian-bound shipment of undisclosed material banned by UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 because of its potential use for nuclear weapons or missile programs. All of this came against the background of the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which assessed that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The just-released National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," is about weaponization, not the enrichment and fuel cycle issues that have been the focus of multiple UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear program. The NIE only suggests that Tehran has changed its sequence -- something that does not slow the country's progress toward a nuclear weapon by a single day. Therefore, it is not clear how this report affects the current thrust of U.S. policy: to stem Iran's nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Annapolis summit featured an impressive display of international support for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Beyond the headlines and photo-ops, the most significant aspect of the event was that President Bush offered little sign he plans to devote the final months of his administration to a high-stakes personal quest for a permanent peace treaty between the two parties.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, the Palestinian Authority (PA) shut down several Islamic charity committees in the West Bank, stating that Hamas was using them as a means to transfer funds to the group's activists there. Meanwhile, on October 22, the U.S. federal trial of the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and several of its officers -- accused of financing Hamas (a U.S.-designated terrorist group) by funding some of these same charities -- ended in mistrial.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the end of the Lebanese presidential term neared and then passed on November 23, domestic and international forces have ratcheted up their involvement in electing the country's new president. But the political focus of the presidential elections has shifted from democratic and constitutional ideals to concerns about preventing civil strife -- a potential reality if no consensus on a candidate is reached between the two major Lebanese camps, the pro-Western March 14 alliance and the Hizballah-led opposition.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, the United States has reduced expectations that the upcoming Annapolis peace conference will culminate in a diplomatic breakthrough for all parties after almost seven years of terror, violence, and non-engagement. Instead, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seeks to revive the moribund 2003 Roadmap, and introduce a new dual-track approach. She wants the parties to implement the first phase of the Roadmap, which deals with modifying the behavior of both sides, while simultaneously -- rather than sequentially according to the 2003 plan -- negotiate the third phase, which deals with the final status issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, borders, and security.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The purpose of the Annapolis summit now is to launch negotiations within the framework of the Roadmap to Middle East peace, the dormant and often maligned plan that provides neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians a setting to establish a "political horizon" for a future Palestinian state. With lowering expectations over the past few weeks, the event itself is -- almost by definition -- doomed to succeed. Only a few days remain before the conference begins, but the following critical questions remain unanswered.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: James Lindsay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Former British prime minister Tony Blair, now the Quartet's special Middle East envoy, has announced that he will soon determine the first set of projects meant to improve economic conditions in the West Bank, specifically mentioning projects around the town of Jericho. Although Blair will no doubt ignore calls from Hamas supporters to bolster their Gaza regime, it remains to be seen which projects in the West Bank he believes are worthy of funding. Regardless of what he decides, there are a few considerations he should take into account in trying to ensure West Bank stability at a time when new peace initiatives are unfolding.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The huge turnout of an estimated 250,000 Fatah supporters at a November 12 Gaza rally commemorating the third anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death reflects not only the worsening economic conditions since Hamas's June takeover, but also the factional rivalry over who is authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians at the upcoming Annapolis peace meeting. Since it is unable to provide services to Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas is using the meeting to delegitimize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), threaten the delicate security situation in the West Bank, and solidify its own domination of Gaza. Meanwhile, Fatah seeks to restore its influence in Gaza, challenge Hamas's claims of authority, and protect its control of the West Bank.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • 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: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 22, a U.S. government case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and five of its officials -- accused of financing Hamas -- ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked on nearly all of the 197 counts. A week later, Spanish judges acquitted a number of defendants charged with involvement in the 2004 Madrid train attacks. These are only the latest examples of the difficulties Western countries have faced in prosecuting terrorist suspects since September 11. Efforts to handle terrorism suspects outside of the criminal justice system have also encountered significant obstacles, making clear that there are no easy answers for how to treat suspected terrorists.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Public remarks by top U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian officials this week indicate that the character of the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis has changed. First, instead of the expected pre-conference declaration of final status -- principles and conceptual tradeoffs on core issues such as Jerusalem, borders, security, and refugees -- Annapolis will only mark the beginning of negotiations on these issues. Second, the November conference will attempt to revive the moribund Quartet Roadmap laid out by the United States, UN, European Union, and Russia in 2003, with particular focus on the plan's first phase: cooperative on-the-ground action by both sides to improve Palestinian security performance and curb Israeli settlement activity, among other issues. Finally, the United States will seek to use Annapolis as a means of galvanizing international support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 3, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, putting at risk, despite claims to the contrary, the upcoming January elections. Musharraf justified his move by citing an increase in "the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks." The action was taken despite recent pleas from U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, as well as Admiral William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, who visited Musharraf on November 2. Instead of political stability in Pakistan, U.S. policymakers are now confronted with a more difficult battle against al-Qaeda in neighboring Afghanistan, a perhaps less secure Pakistani nuclear weapons arsenal, and a postponed democratic revival of the world's second most populous Muslim state.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the next few days, oil is likely to break the $100 per barrel mark -- a price that will further raise U.S. consumer costs and conflict with economic measures such as the October 31 interest rate cut. Ironically, good news, such as predictions of greater economic growth, is just as likely to push oil prices above $100 as bad news. In either case, the price spike means both continuing danger and new opportunities for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 31, Saad Hariri, leader of the "March 14" majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament, met with opposition leader Michel Aoun, head of the Hizballah-allied Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the largest Maronite Christian party in Lebanon. Discussions focused on the September 25-November 25 presidential elections, which will decide whether Lebanon's next chief executive will align with the pro-Western, reform-minded March 14 coalition or follow the path of current president Emile Lahoud and align with Syria. Despite increasing pressures on the March 14 forces -- including an apparent Syrian-orchestrated assassination campaign -- a breakthrough agreement between the majority and the opposition remains unlikely. Meanwhile, Hizballah has warned the March 14 bloc that if it does not compromise on the choice of president, the opposition will adopt a "more direct" approach.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, the State and Treasury Departments announced a new package of sweeping unilateral sanctions targeting multiple entities in Iran, including three banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Qods Force, the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, several IRGC-affiliated companies, and eight individuals. Can such sanctions be effective in halting Iran's nuclear program? If they are used as part of a comprehensive strategy to create diplomatic leverage, absolutely. Absent this leverage, however, policymakers will eventually be left with the unenviable task of deciding between using military force and tolerating a nuclear Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East