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  • 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
  • Author: Aitemad Muhanna
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Women's participation in the Arab uprisings has been inspired by the expansion of an Islamist-based model of Arab women's activism and a gradual shrinking of secular liberal women's activism. The uprisings have provided outcomes that prove the possibility of combining Islam with democracy through the political success of Islamist parties in the post-uprisings era, like in Tunisia and Egypt. Although this new de facto political map of the region has largely frightened liberal women, the victory of moderate Islamist voices may also be promising, especially when they are in a position to provide a state governance model. The determining factor in combining Islam with democracy is the willingness of the two major players – Islamist parties and the international community – to ensure that the main debatable issues – religion, gender and human rights – are not discriminated against in the name of either religion or Western democracy. However, the actual practice and outcomes of moderate Islamist discourse remains under experimentation, and it is a space for Islamist and secular women's and human rights organisations to co-operate, monitor, negotiate and strategise, to ensure that gender issues are engaged in policy discussions and formulations as a substantial issue for real democratisation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Joe Stork
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Human rights conditions in the five smaller Gulf states are quite poor overall. Political and economic power is the monopoly of hereditary ruling families. There is little respect for core civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and association. Peaceful dissent typically faces harsh repression. The administration of justice is highly personalised, with limited due process protections, especially in political and security-related cases. The right to participate in public affairs by way of election to offices with some authority is extremely limited; the only exception is Kuwait.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: This overview paper examines the challenges facing regional security co-operation in the five smaller Gulf States. It demonstrates the resilience and durability of intra-regional differences, particularly scepticism of Saudi Arabia's greater size and regional objectives. With the notable exception of Bahrain, differences of outlook have continued into the post-Arab Spring period as Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman hold significant reservations about moving toward a closer Gulf union. The Arab Spring has injected urgent new domestic considerations into a regional security complex hitherto marked by external instability. Yet the bold political action and longer-term planning that is needed to address these issues is lacking, because ruling elites prioritise short-term policies designed to ensure regime security in a narrower sense. This means that security remains defined in hard, “traditional” terms and has not evolved to include the security of individuals and communities rather than rulers and states. The future of regional security co-operation is therefore uncertain and bleak, and the closing of ranks may yet herald a closer Gulf union as rulers come together to deal with the pressures generated by the Arab Spring.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: Dr. Cengi Günay
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The “January 25 Revolution” was not a classic revolution. President Mubarak's fall did not entail the overthrow of the regime, neither alter the elites or destroy their institutions, nor reverse the social situation. Although power structures and economic patterns were not removed, Mubarak's fall set an end to exclusive authoritarian despotism and initiated a process of power sharing; a so called passive revolution characterised by the absorption of the “enemies' elites” into the system. From this perspective, legalisation has been only a further step in the Islamists' long and rocky road of integration through moderation. Initially based on tactical considerations, shifts in methods and behaviour usually also evoke a shift in emphasis from ideological conceptions to political pragmatism. The absorption of the Islamist elites supported a process of embourgeoisement and de-­â€ ideologization. This did not entail a departure from Islamic tenets, but rather from ideological conceptions which seemed more and more unrealistic in a globalized world. The integration of de-­â€radicalised and moderated socially conservative Islamist groups with market economy and parliamentary democracy promises not only the prevention of political and economic turmoil, but also guarantees the reinforcement of the existing patterns of domination.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Daniel Tavana
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief analyzes Egypt's electoral framework in light of legal and political changes following the popular revolt that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Over the course of a three and a half month period, Egyptians will elect representatives to lower and upper houses of Parliament: the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, respectively. Once both houses convene in March 2012, a 100-member constituent assembly will be selected to draft a new constitution.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The paper is intended for all policy analysts interested in Tunisia, but it could be especially helpful for members of the NCA and the legal advisory committee, chaired by Yadh Ben Achour, that was recently established to advise the NCA on constitutional law and drafting procedure. The National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (NCA) will act as the constitutional convention and transitional legislature of Tunisia and was elected on 23 October 2011.1 Decree No. 582, released on 20 May 2011, extends a one-year mandate to the NCA to write a new constitution for the republic. This commitment was also reflected in a September 18 agreement signed by Tunisia's largest political parties. Drawing from recent cases and academic literature, this paper explores key procedural questions that will confront the NCA in its first month in office.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU needs to place a stronger emphasis on promoting democracy in its Eastern neighbourhood. A new approach should combine limited, focused conditionality with increased openness and multi-level linkages. Conditionality is often effective in promoting faster and better reforms where the home-grown will to democratise is present (as in Moldova, for example). It is not likely to work as a transformative policy, bringing about change from authoritarianism to democracy in the neighbourhood. The goal of tying neighbours to Europe should prevail over the principle of political conditionality. Economic integration and visa freedom have to be pursued with all neighbouring countries. This makes democratisation more likely to occur in the longer term. Engagement, providing it is not limited to political leaders, can be a successful strategy to push for democratic change. Cooperation with (semi-)authoritarian governments has to be accompanied by strong support for civil society and multiple links with the populations. Ukraine is a test case of the EU's ability to use association agreements as a tool for democracy promotion. The involvement of neighbours in the negotiation process offers a possibility to shape their domestic agendas. At the same time, there must be 'red lines': the EU should emphasize that it will not sign the agreements with countries having major problems with democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia
  • 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: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) is perhaps the key actor in the current crisis. Although it has largely remained aloof from the struggle in the streets and has yet to show its hand regarding the fate of the regime, many are counting on it to act in the nation's interest, force President Hosni Mubarak from power, and facilitate a smooth transition to a successor government. This places a great deal of responsibility on the EAF and makes understanding its role in the process essential. Observers inside and outside Egypt should not take for granted that the military will either do "the right thing" or act monolithically. It is an actor with many faces and capacities, and one whose internal motivations and processes can be seen only dimly at the moment.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt