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  • 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
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The October 20 announcement of Ali Larijani's resignation as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has intensified pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. Faced with criticism over the resignation, Tehran ensured that Larijani attended the Iran-European Union (EU) nuclear talks in Rome on October 23. His continued presence in the negotiations raises serious questions about who is in charge of Iran's nuclear policy and other key issues, making the regime's intentions even more of an enigma to the Europeans. As EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana stated after the Rome meeting, "I found the same Larijani I had met before, and he had the role of chief negotiator."
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Rome
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The FBI recently announced that it is engaged in a comprehensive realignment of its counterterrorism division -- the largest such reorganization since the September 11 attacks. Although the proposed reorganization is unlikely to achieve the desired fundamental transformation, it should improve the bureau's ability to combat the increasingly complex threat posed by transnational terrorist networks.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli bombing of a presumed North Korean-supplied nuclear weapons facility in Syria highlights the ongoing policy challenge posed by Damascus. More than three years after President Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA), Syria continues to support terrorism, destabilize Iraq, meddle in Lebanon, and develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems. This week's headlines tell the story: on September 19, yet another anti-Syrian parliamentarian was assassinated in Lebanon; the same day, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that a July 2007 chemical weapons accident in Syria -- involving mustard gas and VX and sarin nerve agents -- killed fifteen Syrian officers and dozens of Iranian engineers.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently visited Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to get personal briefings from each leader regarding their sensitive discussions on peace. Such briefings are designed so that Rice can identify the existing gaps between the parties and fashion U.S. strategy in advance of a planned November meeting in Washington. These gaps will likely determine the scope of her potential shuttle diplomacy during her next visit to the region in the coming weeks. They will also become increasingly clear as Israeli and Palestinian delegations meet and begin drafting a potential declaration of principles (DOP) within ten days time, as a senior Israeli official has reported.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli airstrike in northeastern Syria has produced intense speculation. According to the New York Times, Israeli intelligence believes the target was part of a clandestine Syrian nuclear weapons program aided by North Korea. This raises broader questions about the status of Syria's strategic weapons programs, which would likely play a crucial role in any future confrontation with Israel.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: New York, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A series of congressional hearings and media interviews by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker this week offered insights into the U.S. strategy in Iraq, and several yardsticks by which future progress there may be evaluated.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the first eighteen months following its January 2006 electoral victories, Hamas took an incremental approach toward official integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Since its takeover of Gaza in June 2007, however, Hamas has changed tactics and imposed an independent, authoritarian regime. After an initial period of calm, there are increasing signs of public discontent over the faction's nascent rule. Yet, Hamas has a near monopoly on the means of force -- its disciplined and well-organized security forces have managed to control Fatah-led disturbances. The group will continue to consolidate its rule in Gaza unless PA officials in the West Bank initiate a clear strategy aimed at the long-term restoration of authority there. Without such an effort, Hamas will further undermine the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, limiting their mandate to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians at the planned international peace conference this fall.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 3, 550 British troops evacuated one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, retreating to Basra airport, the last British base in Iraq. Britain remains responsible for security in the city and for the major supply route from Kuwait, fifty miles to the south. But there is an increasing presumption that British forces will soon withdraw completely, and that U.S. forces will have to replace them.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Emma Hayward
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 7, Morocco will hold its first parliamentary election since 2002. That election ended with the Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist faction, just eight seats short of becoming the largest party in parliament. Despite several years of significant political and social reform -- or perhaps because of those reforms -- the PJD has a chance of emerging even stronger after this week's vote.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two intriguing developments have unfolded in Iran over the past week: the election of a new Assembly of Experts Speaker on September 4 and the appointment of a new Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in chief on September 1. Both suggest the growing power of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a powerful politician who is openly critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and his policies.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In December 2005, the 9-11 Commission's Public Discourse Project issued its final report card on the U.S. government's progress in the war on terror. Overall, the grades were dismal except for the "A-minus" awarded to the efforts against terrorism financing. Nearly two years later, and six years after the September 11 attacks, these efforts remain one of the few areas of government success, though serious challenges have emerged.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Nick Francona
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's June 2007 victory over Fatah was more than a political achievement -- it was a military bonanza. From its capture of Fatah's security headquarters, Hamas acquired stockpiles of American-made small arms and ammunition as well as a wide range of military equipment and vehicles originally transferred to bolster Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, increased smuggling activity since June has reportedly provided Hamas with Russian-made weapons, including antitank and antiaircraft missiles. Israel's Shin Bet estimates that forty tons of explosives entered Gaza in the two months following Hamas's takeover, along with 150 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers in August alone. In all, according to Israeli public security minister Avi Dichter, it would have taken Hamas approximately one year to obtain the amount of weaponry seized during the Gaza takeover through smuggling or other means.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Foreign aid is an important and effective tool for buttressing allies, alleviating poverty and suffering, supporting key foreign policy objectives, and promoting the image and ideals of the United States abroad. Indeed, as its own website attests, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) "plays a vital role in promoting U.S. national security, foreign policy, and the War on Terrorism." Toward these goals -- and considering that several agency-approved aid recipients have been linked to terrorist groups in recent years -- USAID's proposed new partner-vetting system (PVS) is a welcome and overdue development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 14, the anniversary of the end of last summer's Lebanon war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of a "big surprise" if it initiated a new conflict in the South. Analysts immediately began speculating over the nature of the promised surprise. But what is most important to note is that Hizballah, a year after its last war, is making serious preparations for the next one.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Ankara against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Although the PKK, based in northern Iraq, is on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, lack of action against the group by Washington and Baghdad is poisoning Turkey's relations with both. Moreover, because the group operates from an area of Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the PKK issue affects Turkey's ties with Iraqi Kurds as well. Does the MOU represent a breakthrough on any of these fronts?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A terrorist designation for the Revolutionary Guards would mark the culmination of the administration's recent campaign to highlight the IRGC's dangerous activities. Speaking in Dubai in March 2007, U.S. undersecretary of the treasury Stuart Levey warned, "When corporations do business with IRGC companies, they are doing business with organizations that are providing direct support to terrorism." In a July 2007 speech, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson focused on the Revolutionary Guards, arguing, "The IRGC is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are somehow doing business with the IRGC."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Understanding the impact of Washington's expected designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization requires knowing what role the Revolutionary Guards play in Iranian society. Apart from being a military force with naval, air, and ground components organized in parallel to the conventional Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards are the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Gerri Pozez
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 14, 2007, in a speech marking the first anniversary of the ceasefire ending the 2006 summer war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of the consequences of further conflict. Addressing a mass rally in Beirut via a video link, he said: "Zionists, if you think of launching a war on Lebanon . . . I promise you a big surprise that could change the fate of war and the fate of the region." Israel is still trying to secure the release of two soldiers kidnapped from its territory by Hizballah in July 2006 -- the incident, along with the killing of three other soldiers, that provoked the war. Meanwhile, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) -- comprising approximately 14,000 soldiers from thirty countries -- endeavors to maintain a tenuous peace.
  • Topic: United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 9, the Turkish parliament elected Koksal Toptan, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its speaker. The AKP, which won 46 percent of the vote in July 22 parliamentary elections, controls 341 seats in the 550-member Turkish parliament. Thus has Turkey begun a very busy political season, with serious issues put off since the April constitutional crisis over the AKP's attempt to appoint its foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, as president.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a terrorist organization one of the largest Hamas charities in Gaza, the al-Salah Society, along with its director, Ahmed al-Kurd, a well-known Hamas activist. The organization was outlawed by Israel in 2002 and temporarily shut down by Palestinian security services in 2003. The new U.S. designation criminalizes American donations to al-Salah and officially informs banks and donors of the organization's ties to and activities on behalf of Hamas.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, in a contest widely seen as a tune-up for November's parliamentary balloting, Jordanians went to the polls for municipal elections. Amman had hoped these would showcase Jordan's relatively advanced style of representative democracy in the Middle East. Instead, in a surprise development, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- the political party of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood -- withdrew hours into the voting, claiming that government-sponsored fraud had "overstepped the bounds." Subsequently, independent and progovernment candidates swept the elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Jake Lipton, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: July 18 marked the thirteenth anniversary of Argentina's deadliest terrorist attack: a 1994 car bombing carried out by Hizballah at Iran's behest. The attack targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community organization, killing 85 and wounding more than 200. Last week also saw the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warning of an increased likelihood that Hizballah could attack U.S. soil if it, or Iran, feels directly threatened by the United States. Washington continues to take action against the organization, but given Hizballah's impressive fundraising capabilities and Iranian support -- both highlighted recently by Argentinean officials involved in the long-running AMIA case -- the task is challenging.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Argentina, South America
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29-30, just over a month after taking over from Tony Blair, new British prime minister Gordon Brown will meet with President Bush at Camp David. It will be the first opportunity for direct, substantive discussions between the two leaders and is widely expected to be a difficult summit. Brown is seen as wanting to establish a very different -- and cooler -- relationship with Bush. Although the effect of this public distancing on longstanding U.S.-British cooperation is uncertain at the moment, the change in substance and style will no doubt have implications for current policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the way the two leaders relate in the event of future crises.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 17, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell released declassified key judgments from a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland." According to the NIE -- which represents the intelligence community's collective view on a given issue -- al-Qaeda still has both the capability and intent to conduct an attack inside the United States and will increase its efforts to place operatives in the country. Terrorists coming from Europe pose a particularly serious risk. Yet, in addition to remaining a major threat to the United States, al-Qaeda has made clear through recent statements and actions that it poses a serious threat to many U.S. allies as well -- and that its definition of success is no longer limited to an attack on U.S. soil.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Reports that Ayatollah Ali Meshkini has either died or is on the brink of death shed light on the nature of power in Iran. Meshkini is speaker of the Assembly of Experts -- a body that, despite its traditionally minor role in Iranian politics, is constitutionally empowered to not only elect a new Supreme Leader if the post becomes vacant, but also to dismiss a sitting leader. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cannot be pleased that this body may now be headed by deputy speaker Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president known to be a wily comeback artist. Although Khamenei has taken full advantage of the constitution to make the Supreme Leader the ultimate arbiter of Iranian politics, that could change depending on his health and Rafsanjani's scheming.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush's July 16 address on the Middle East peace process was a mix of the old and the new, offering neither an unequivocal reaffirmation of past approaches nor a thoroughly novel direction for Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the wake of Hamas's coup in Gaza.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: British police have been praised for their speedy and effective efforts in thwarting terrorist attacks this month in London and Glasgow, as well as for the arrest and subsequent prosecution of four men who attempted to bomb the London transport network on July 21, 2005. Today, those bombers were each sentenced to a minimum of forty years in prison. (Two alleged accomplices, on whose guilt the jury could not agree, face a retrial.) But details of the cases and official comments suggest that Britain's vulnerabilities to al-Qaeda-style terrorism remain acute and could lead to tension with the United States.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, London
  • Author: Gabe Scheinmann
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will appoint a commander for the newly created U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Set to launch sometime this fall and become fully operational with 1,000 American personnel by September 2008, AFRICOM will be responsible for all African countries except Egypt. Although no African state poses a direct threat to the United States, Washington is concerned about the growth of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups throughout the continent. Africa has the fastest population growth rate in the world, and several of its countries, such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, and Sudan, are important sources of crude oil.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Population
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan, Libya, Angola
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Directly reaching the Iranian people can be achieved in two ways: (1) supporting political opposition groups that explicitly advocate regime change, and (2) empowering human rights and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that do not directly engage in political action but support issues such as women and children's rights, labor rights, and religious freedom. Although the latter groups do not pursue political goals, the Iranian regime considers them subversive entities seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 19, the Turkish Supreme Elections Board, an independent body that monitors the elections process, finalized the candidate lists for the July 22 early parliamentary polls. The outcome at the polls should be easier to estimate now that the electorate can judge the parties as well as their candidates. Will the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) win? How will the other major parties fare? And what issues will dominate, among them the Constitutional Court's decision yesterday to overturn President Ahmet Sezer's veto of the AKP's proposal for direct presidential elections?
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There are fast-moving developments in the British hunt for the terrorist cell that tried to set off two car bombs in central London on June 29. Two men were arrested after they tried to crash a vehicle loaded with flammable material into a Glasgow airport terminal on June 30. And a man and woman were arrested yesterday when their vehicle was stopped on the major highway between London and Scotland. Houses have been searched in several parts of Britain, and the number detained rose to eight today, including one in an undisclosed foreign country.
  • Topic: Government, Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom, Europe, Scotland
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Could Hamas members in the Gaza Strip join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could (see Jake Lipton, "The War of Words between Hamas and al-Qaeda," PolicyWatch no. 1254). Moreover, a lawless Gaza -- like Iraq's Anbar province, Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas, and Somalia -- could quickly become a safe haven for both homegrown and imported jihadists.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Jake Lipton
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 14, Hamas evicted Fatah security forces from the Gaza Strip, establishing full control over the territory. Eleven days later, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement calling on Muslims to support Hamas fighters -- the latest in an ongoing, public dialogue in which al-Qaeda and Hamas leaders have alternatively decried and praised each other's organizations. An analysis of this public exchange reveals that al-Qaeda is uncomfortable with Hamas leaders even as it fully supports the movement's militants.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 29, 2007, the Bush administration unveiled a long-anticipated package of sanctions against Sudan, designating thirty Sudanese companies for their ties to the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, as well as two government officials, a rebel leader, and a transportation company for their role in the Darfur genocide. In announcing the targeted companies and individuals, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stated that Washington was "calling attention to their horrific acts" and attempting to "further isolate them from the international community." Although these sanctions do not impose significant additional legal restrictions on business dealings with Sudan, they could nevertheless have some impact if they are effectively implemented.
  • Topic: Genocide, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Washington, Sudan
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's military takeover of Gaza is the sort of clarifying act of violence that should trigger, among all relevant parties, a period of reassessment. So far, however, it is not apparent that the Bush administration has taken a critical look at the policies that failed -- in the pre-Hamas period -- to help develop the Palestinian Authority (PA) into a truly effective, accountable, transparent government, or -- in recent months -- to impede Hamas's rise or strengthen the forces arrayed against it. Before Washington proceeds too far down the path of propping up President Mahmoud Abbas and resuscitating Fatah without reflecting on how U.S. action (or inaction) contributed to the current situation, the administration should revisit the basic principles underlying U.S. relations with the PA.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's victory in Gaza last week was a military coup of Fatah's security forces -- not a Palestinian civil war involving the majority of each faction's supporters. Fatah's armed forces collapsed in the face of a long-planned, well-executed campaign targeting the headquarters and leadership of the faction's security organizations. The coup and the grisly violence that accompanied it reveal much about Hamas's politics and long-term objectives as a movement.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's success caps a forty-year evolution of the Palestinian role in the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1967, Israel's military victories rocked the armies and regimes of neighboring Arab states, energizing the previously marginal Palestinian nationalist movement and, especially, Fatah. That term, "Fatah," is a reverse Arabic acronym for "Harakat Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini," the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday's car bombing in Beirut, which killed Future Party parliamentarian Walid Eido, underscores the Syrian-backed multifront campaign to undermine stability in Lebanon. One front is the Palestinian refugee camps, particularly Nahr al-Bared, where the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are currently fighting Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affilate with ties to Syria. A second front is Beirut itself, via terrorist attacks designed to destabilize the state. The blast that killed Eido was the sixth such attack in the past month, and Lebanon's Internal Security Force (ISF) has interdicted several other ambitious terrorist conspiracies, including a plot described by the Lebanese daily as "the Lebanese September 11."
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Zeynep Eroglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 8, a day after reports that Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iranian aircraft bombed the camps of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), also in northern Iraq. PJAK, which operates in the mountains of northern Iraq and adjacent areas of Iran, has around 3,000 members. Analysts describe the group as the Iranian branch of the PKK, which has been carrying out attacks on Turkish military and civilian targets for decades and is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. PJAK insists that it is distinct from the PKK, but interviews with its leaders and members, along with a look at its history, suggest that the two groups have similar ideologies and methodologies. They also share leadership and membership, in addition to operating in overlapping areas. Given that both Turkey and Iran view PJAK as a threat, the group poses unique challenges to U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Samuel Lewis, Wendy Chamberlin
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The historical record has made it increasingly clear that in the May-June 1967 Middle East conflict, public assurances from world powers -- or the lack thereof -- greatly influenced the decisionmaking of regional leaders. Specifically, Soviet encouragement of Egypt -- both public and private -- played a large role in influencing Egyptian chief of staff and military commander Abdul Hakim Amer as he brought President Gamal Abdul Nasser to the brink of war with Israel. At the same time, however, the U.S. government under President Lyndon Johnson extended no parallel public assurances to Israel. This absence of commitment from a major foreign power or the UN in a moment of crisis affected the mindset of Israel's policymakers whenever they faced national security dilemmas thereafter, leading them to take many unilateral actions in subsequent years.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ali Koknar
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that thousands of Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Later, the AP corrected this, reporting that only a few hundred Turkish troops were involved in the incursion. Meanwhile, the White House, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari issued statements that no Turkish troop incursion had taken place in Iraqi territory.
  • Topic: Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Can Israel live with an Iranian nuclear bomb? If the Iranians continue to do three things simultaneously -- namely, develop nuclear weapons, be a center of terror, and be fanatical in their ambition to run the entire Middle East -- eventually the three will mix and nuclear bombs may fall into the irresponsible hands of terrorists. Then it will be a problem for the rest of the world. The world cannot live with terrorists obtaining nuclear capacity, and sooner or later the world will take action. However, I do not believe that Israel has to be a volunteer or pioneer in that endeavor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Wafa' Abdel Rahman, Owen Kirby
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Democratic development in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at the top of the Bush administration's priorities. While the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006 were democratic, democratic elections by themselves do not constitute a democratic system. The current situation in the West Bank and Gaza cannot be called democratic by international norms. Respect for the rule of law and human rights and observation of individual rights and freedoms do not currently prevail in the PA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobsen
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Media headlines following the April 30 release of the State Department's annual report on global terrorism developments, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, focused on the theme of increased terrorism. But the335-page document, along with its accompanying statistical assessment produced by the National Counter terrorism Center (NCTC), also contained important insights into the U.S. administration's evolving strategy to counter the terrorist threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Kimmitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What are the relative constraints of a multilateral approach versus a bilateral approach to the use of financial tools against illicit activity? Anytime we see a threat to the country through the financial system, we are going to take action immediately using the domestic authorities we have. We try to be careful, however, to make sure that those are carefully targeted to conduct and are not extra territorial. That provides a good basis for entering into discussion with friends and allies throughout the world, both on a bilateral basis with others and then on a multilateral basis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: 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: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite the public bluster of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime's behavior shows that it suffers from deep self-doubt. The arrests of visiting Iranian-born U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari (director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center) and Kian Tajbakhsh (a consultant for philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute programs) reflect Tehran's fear that political change could be easily sparked. A May 22 ABC News report that President Bush has authorized a covert CIA program against the regime will only add to Iran's suspicions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 28 meeting between the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq was mostly notable for its length -- four hours -- and the lack of anything to show for all that time together. And the very next day, Iran announced that three detained Iranian Americans visiting their homeland, including renowned scholar and women's rights advocate Haleh Esfandiari, were being formally charged with espionage -- charges that would be merely laughable if they were not so tragic.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the Egmont Group -- an international body of more than 100 national financial intelligence units (FIUs) -- is holding its annual plenary session and working group meetings in Bermuda. One of the issues on the agenda is whether to admit a Syrian FIU into the group. Although Syria may in fact technically qualify for membership despite some significant shortcomings, extending membership to a state the United States regards as a sponsor of terrorism would raise serious questions about Egmont's standards and continued efficacy in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East