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  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Attacking the finances of the so-called Islamic State (IS) with limited collateral damage will be orders of magnitude more difficult than attacking its military factions The group has thoroughly embedded itself into local and regional economies in Syria and Iraq, and damaging its finances while not devastating civilian populations will be as difficult as it is necessary IS oil revenues might be the easiest to disrupt but such action comes with significant collateral economic damage, while taxes, tolls, extortion, and food sales generate more income while remaining highly resistant to external forces In the areas under its control, IS has been providing social services as well as delivering levels of fuel, electricity, and food to populations utterly without recourse, meaning the group needs to be replaced and not simply removed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While there is understandable concern that an unknown percentage of foreign fighters fighting for the so-called Islamic State (IS) might return to their home countries intent on continuing the fight, IS appears intent on using them in suicide attacks in both Iraq and Syria IS goes to great length to publicize the foreign fighters who die in suicide attacks, which greatly enhances the group in the eyes of unstable people looking for martyrdom, creating a feedback loop of death A recent statement by IS showed that 80% of the suicide attacks in Iraq between September and early October were committed by foreign fighters; this continues a trend of IS using their foreign fighters in suicide attacks while Iraqi fighters take on the role of traditional soldiers Along with Saudi nationals, who conducted 60% of the suicide attacks referenced above, fighters from North Africa consistently feature prominently in IS suicide attacks, which closely matches the suicide bombing statistics from the 2003 Iraq war, though now there are more suicide operatives from western Europe
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Maissaa Almustafa, Evan Cinq-Mars, Matthew Redding
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Since its endorsement in 2005, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has become central to how the global community responds to genocide and mass atrocities. The norm presently faces the “risk of relevance” as a result of the interventions in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire and the deadlock over the situation in Syria. The recommendations in this brief will strengthen preventive capacities, maximize the protection afforded to civilians and ensure the norm's future relevance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Genocide, Human Rights, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Joseph Bahout
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: When the Arab revolutions reached Syria, the Sunni-Shia cleavage in Lebanon was already well in the making. Syria's turmoil only added fuel to an existing fire in Lebanon. Syria's crisis is intensifying Sunni-Shia tensions in Lebanon on two levels, symbolic and identity-based on the one hand, and geopolitical or interest based, on the other hand. The shift toward identity-based or symbolic forms of sectarianism can probably be explained by the existential character the struggle in the Levant is taking, whereby both “communities,” however imagined or over-constructed, are coming to perceive themselves as defending not only their share of resources or power, but their very survival. Lebanon's minority communities – including Christian and Druze – are increasingly anxious about the changing regional environment. Lebanon and Syria must face the difficult equation of sectarian diversity and national unity.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Melani Cammett
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis has had a negative impact on Lebanon's political scene, including the dynamics among political factions within and across the country's major sectarian communities. The political fragmentation of the Sunni community has implications for the growing trend toward political violence triggered by the Syrian conflict. The rise of challengers and the decline of centralized authority within the Sunni community further increase the probability of violence perpetrated by in-group factions. Despite the pressures from the Syrian conflict, mounting sectarian tensions will not inexorably spark another all-out civil war. If Lebanon does not move past the current political deadlock and stagnation, the spillover from the Syrian crisis stands to undermine the country's stability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Persian Gulf states of Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have largely been immune to the rising tide of sectarianism that has rocked the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. The three monarchies have successfully integrated their Shi'ite minority populations into their countries' sociopolitical and economic spheres, giving those populations little reason to engage in violence or seek political guidance from Iran or Iraq. Omani, Qatari, and Emirati Shi'ites strongly identify themselves as citizens of their respective countries and remain loyal to their ruling regimes. However, the spillover effects of the Syrian civil war—a sectarian conflict between the Shi'ite Iran-Hezbollah-Assad axis and the opposition groups backed by regional Sunni governments—are threatening Sunni-Shi'ite stability in the UAE, Qatar, and to a lesser degree, Oman. The United States should help maintain harmony in these states by reaching out to independent Shi'ite business communities and by working with regional leaders to ensure equal citizenship, political rights, and religious freedom among minority populations.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Post Colonialism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Yun Sun
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: China's joint veto along with Russia of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) on Syria has provoked fierce international criticism. Labeled as “responsible for Syria's genocide,” Beijing's international image has struck a new low. China's decision to cast the unpopular vote was apparently well thought-out, as evidenced by its consistent diplomatic rhetoric and actions, both before and after the veto. However, in analyzing China's motivation, many analysts seemed to have missed an important point. That is, China's experience concerning Libya in 2011 had a direct impact on its actions regarding Syria this time around.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Insurgency, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: Jean-Paul Marthoz
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Online media, global TV and social networks played a significant role in the Arab Spring and will be important factors in determining the direction of these “revolutions”.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Science and Technology, Mass Media, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Gardner
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The reign of Arab strongmen supported by the West is drawing to an end. Europe has the duty and the opportunity to get on the right side of history, and to assist in reform and reconstruction, if and when requested. The economic dimension is about more than aid and trade, and will turn importantly on ideas and debate. Policy should be driven by a blatant bias towards democracy and its defenders, the support of competitive politics and open societies, education and the building of institutions, law-based regimes and the empowerment of women – everything many Arabs still find attractive about Western society.
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: "Seldom in the history of the Middle East and North Africa have so many changes taken place so dramatically, so quickly, and at the same time." This observation, made by a participant at the International Peace Institute's 2012 Vienna Seminar, helps explain the world's current focus on the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. The purpose of the forty-second annual Vienna Seminar was to make sense of these changes and see what steps can be taken to encourage the positive trends, and to promote peace and security in the region.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Vienna
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following sampling of comments by Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt explains the group's position in the current crisis and its attitudes towards the United States, Israel, and the rest of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Daniel Green
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 2, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, declared that he would not press for a constitutional amendment allowing him to seek another term during the next election, currently scheduled for 2013. He also pledged that he would not pass power to his son, Ahmed, head of the country's Republican Guard. His remarks were apparently intended to preempt a "day of rage" in the capital, Sana, scheduled by opposition groups for February 3. In addition to parallels with Tunisia and Egypt, Washington will be watching with great attention given Yemen's reputation as a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and its supporters.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Inspired by events in Tunisia, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on January 25 in major cities from Alexandria to Cairo, the largest demonstrations to hit the country since the bread riots of the 1970s. The government, which did not initially confront demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square, finally took forceful action to remove them late last night. Today, January 26, the Interior Ministry announced that public gatherings and protests will no longer be tolerated; there were further clashes in Cairo and Suez. More protests are anticipated after Friday prayers (January 28). Will the government's tactics quell the demonstrations or cause them to spread? And what approach should Washington take?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Cairo
  • Author: Vicken Cheterian
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Arab revolt that started in Tunisia and over¬threw the reign of Zein El-Abedeen Ben Ali is taking the form of a huge wave. The regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the central state of the Arab World, followed suit. Uprising in Libya continues, in spite of attempts by the Kaddhafi regime to kill it in blood and fire. Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen declared that he will not seek a new mandate, a concession which only emboldened both opposition and youth revolt. King Abdallah of Jordan sacked the unpopular government of Samir Rifai, and named Maruf Bakhit as the new prime minister and asked him to bring “true political reforms”. In a word, the entire Arab World is facing an unprecedented wave of revolt.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Economics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Raymond Gilpin, Amal A. Kandeel, Paul Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Limited opportunities for economic progress and political expression helped force Egypt's youthful population on the streets and precipitated the demise of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. Prospects for stability are linked to the government's ability to address youth employment—a core demand of the protesters. The January/February 2011 protests could be the tip of the iceberg. Robust and sustained action is needed to improve human security, starting with employment and income generation opportunities. An effective economic transition in Egypt need not be a zero-sum game. Done correctly, employment-based economic restructuring that focuses on the most vulnerable (and volatile) segments of the population could lay the foundation for a stronger, stable and more peaceful Egypt. The next steps in Egypt's revolution will tackle the difficult task of expanding economic opportunity and providing space for more representative, accountable and participatory governance. Fundamentally, this would require the Egyptian government and military to progressively cede control of the levers of economic power. Employment creation that focuses on the youth is not a silver bullet and will not guarantee success on its own. It will, however, broaden the constituency for reform by making Egypt's youth bulge more involved in shaping the destiny of the country's 82 million citizens.
  • Topic: Demographics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Twenty years ago, at the close of the 1991 Gulf War, the imposition of a UN-mandated no-fly zone contributed to the formation of a safe haven for Iraqi Kurds, resulting in the liberation of nearly three million people from Baathist dictatorship a full decade before the rest of Iraq. In 1992, new UN-mandated no-fly and no-drive zones were established in southern Iraq and the Balkans to contain rogue regimes and protect civilians from government repression. Given the current developments in Libya, it is natural to consider employing such options once again. Yet history shows that exclusion zones are particularly tricky operations. If not configured properly, they can be worse than useless, signaling fecklessness instead of resolve while providing little real protective value to civilians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, United Nations, Balkans, North Africa
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The uprising in Libya has evolved into a significant military struggle. The Qadhafi regime and, to a lesser extent, its opponents are employing substantial levels of violence, including the use of heavy weapons. Thousands have been killed and wounded.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt caught Israel by surprise. Awe-inspiring as they are to Israel's government and people, these revolutions and the ongoing troubles in Bahrain and Libya are also of immense concern to Israel because of their potential strategic ramifications. Going forward, developments in Egypt will be particularly important given Cairo's traditional role in the region and the special nature of its diplomatic, security, and economic relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Timo Behr, Mika Aaltola
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have been triggered by a combination of deteriorating living standards and growing inequality (an economic deficit), a lack of political freedoms and public accountability (a political deficit), and the alienation of the demographically dominant age cohorts from the political order (a dignity deficit). While similar conditions exist in a number of Arab countries, socio-economic indicators suggest that the intensity of these deficits varies considerably across the Arab world. As a result, the nature and shape of protests across the region might differ. However, protests across the region have also been driven by a powerful “contagion effect” working on an ideational and emotional level. This contagion has been facilitated by satellite broadcasters, mobile phones, the internet, and new social media tools that elude government control and helped create new cleavages and loyalties. The outcome of the mass protests is likely to vary in accordance with the nature and level of cohesion of the incumbent regimes and their ability to maintain their monopoly on the use of force. While in some cases this might lead to a democratic transition from the bottom up, in other cases the outcome may be more gradual top-down reforms, a government crackdown on protestors or even a disintegration of the state. On a systemic level, the Arab uprising will create a new political and economic reality in the Middle East and transform the regional balance of power. While Western influence in the region will inevitably decline as a result, the Arab revolutions also have an undeniable potential to enhance regional cooperation, reduce the appeal of terrorism and help break the current deadlock in the peace process.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Insurgency, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Gautam Adhikari
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: After being wondrously jolted by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the world watches Libya anxiously. Its neighbors on either side have carried out the once unthinkable. They have toppled sturdy old Arab dictatorships in weeks flat through, by and large, nonviolent civil disobedience. Is it now Libya's drive on the same road?
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia