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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