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  • Author: Jeffrey White, Ryan Phillips
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Muqtada al-Sadr represents a serious long-term political and military challenge to the coalition and the new Iraqi government. Open warfare between Sadr and the coalition first emerged on April 4, 2004, with "uprisings" by his militia, the so-called Mahdi Army, in Baghdad and across southern Iraq. Although Sadr has not achieved his objective of a broad-based Shi'i rebellion, coalition forces have not been able to bring him to justice or dissolve his militia. Both sides are now playing a high-stakes game. The coalition is betting that it can eliminate or reduce Sadr as a political force without causing a serious breach with the larger Shi'i community. Sadr is gambling that he can persist, even prosper, in the face of the coalition. Indeed, he has long-term political goals and is positioning himself for the upcoming elections. The prospects that the coalition can bring him under control at acceptable cost and risk remain uncertain.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In late October 2004, the Israeli parliament will debate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for "disengagement" from Gaza and the northern West Bank. This plan was born of Israel's experience over the course of the four-year-old Palestinian intifada. Understanding the rationale for disengagement requires a review of the lessons that Israel has learned from this conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 4, 2004, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Peter Hansen unapologetically admitted to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that the UN employs members of Hamas. "Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll," Hansen stated, "and I don't see that as a crime." The fact that Palestinian terrorist groups have increasingly used civilian cover to facilitate their activities remains undisputed (notwithstanding the recent spat between Israel and the UN over drone reconnaissance pictures depicting what Israeli officials claimed were Hamas operatives transporting Qassam missiles in a UN ambulance, but which now appear to have been merely stretchers). In several documented cases, Palestinian terrorists have exploited employment with UN and other agencies to support their groups' activities.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian intifada against Israel, this week entering its fifth year, has wreaked havoc on both Israelis and Palestinians. In Palestinian quarters, it has provoked considerable soul-searching about the wisdom of resorting to terrorism as a tool in the confrontation with Israel. Yasser Arafat remains the Palestinians' paramount political leader, though his standing is diminished at home and abroad. Israel managed to considerably reduce the level and volume of terror against it, but also decided to disengage from Gaza.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 10, 2004, Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. As secretary of state, Albright was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. Currently, she is chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and founder and principal of the Albright Group. Ambassador Ross, counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute, is author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004). From 1989 to 2000, he served as the chief U.S. envoy to the Middle East. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite being rebuffed again by the Likud Party two weeks ago, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been undeterred in pursuing disengagement. In publicly broadcast remarks, he informed his fractious parliamentary faction that he was planning to accelerate the timing of his plan for withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements by holding a cabinet vote not in March 2005, as had been expected, but on October 24 of this year. The actual removal of settlements would follow once the measure passed the Knesset. Having just returned from Israel and the West Bank, I came away with a distinct set of impressions regarding Sharon's motivations, the political levers he believes he has at his disposal in dealing with opponents inside and outside Likud, and the coalition configurations that he is weighing as he pursues his strategy to make disengagement a reality.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, federal authorities in Chicago indicted three senior Hamas members—two of whom were arrested in the United States, while the third remains at large in Syria—on charges of racketeering and (in the case of one defendant) providing material support to terrorists. The indictment marks a watershed in the prosecution of terrorists raising funds and plotting attacks from the United States. It also raises reason for concern: might Hamas now target Western interests?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Chicago
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Julie Sawyer
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In 1995, Jewish extremist Yigal Amir caught Israeli society off guard when he assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in an effort to derail the Labor government's pursuit of a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Today, Israeli society is coming to terms with a similarly acute Jewish extremist threat to the life of a prime minister; this time, however, the target is the Likud Party's hawkish Ariel Sharon. Although the prospect of right-wing Jewish elements targeting a right-wing politician may surprise some, Jewish extremist violence has actually been on the rise over the past several years.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (a.k.a. Abu Ala) rescinding his recent resignation without gaining any meaningful control over disparate security forces, PA Chairman Yasir Arafat can claim to have won the latest round in the power struggle taking place inside the West Bank and Gaza. Arafat's success is partly attributable to his ability to use a variety of methods to outmaneuver his opponents, as he has done in the past. In addition to intimidating foes and mollifying allies, Arafat has skillfully used his iconic status as a symbol of Palestinian nationalism to retain unquestioned political preeminence. Yet, the more Palestinians are able to distinguish between Arafat the symbol and Arafat the leader, the harder it will be for him to divert criticism.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: One of the most serious implications of four years of incessant violence and terrorism is the fragmentation of Palestinian society. Notwithstanding the debate over the impact of the Israeli presence in the territories, Palestinian quality of life cannot improve without radical reform in the structure of the Palestinian Authority (PA), its leadership, and its methods of governance. Indeed, PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei cited chaos as the reason for his recent resignation (which he subsequently rescinded). Similarly, on July 21, PA minister in charge of municipal governance Saeb Erekat, stated, "If we can't restore public order and law . . . this will bring the greatest damage to the Palestinian people and their cause. . . . It's the whole social fabric that is collapsing now." According to a June 2004 poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, 88.6 percent of Palestinians believe that their government is corrupt, with most respondents stating that this corruption is widespread.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat is facing a serious challenge to his authority, perhaps the most serious since he arrived in the territories from Tunis a decade ago this month. Yesterday, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) voted by a 43-4 margin to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (a.k.a. Abu Ala), who earlier this week warned he would quit due to the lack of reform in the PA and the lack of authority granted him to halt chaos in the West Bank and Gaza. In doing so, the PLC called for the formation of a new reform-oriented government, a move that could actually serve to strengthen Qurei's position in a power struggle with Arafat. The resignation marks the second time in ten months that a Palestinian prime minister has resigned due to complaints about lack of authority.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Wendy Sherman
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is absolutely determined to carry out disengagement despite the political problems within his own party. The demographic issue of ensuring a long-term Jewish democratic majority in Israel and the associated political pressure has fueled his determination to proceed with disengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The International Court of Justice is expected to rule this Friday, July 9, on the legality of Israel's security fence. The Palestinians strongly oppose the security fence, claiming that the fence negatively affects them. Israel is now seeking to address their concerns through a variety of means relating to the route of the fence and to the creation of a humanitarian office to minimize the impact of the fence on the Palestinians. At the same time, it is indisputable that the fence is succeeding in its main objective of minimizing the risk of infiltration to Israel by suicide bombers in the northern West Bank. The entire fence is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hizballah realized that it had to change direction somewhat, primarily because it had lost its avowed justification (and any hint of international legitimacy) for carrying out attacks from Lebanon. Accordingly, Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah, the group's secretary-general, instantly changed his rhetoric, focusing less on Lebanon and more on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In one speech, for example, he told Palestinians that it took Hizballah eighteen years to force Israel out of Lebanon, and that they could accomplish the same feat in even less time through armed struggle and suicide bombings.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Zalman Shoval
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 6, the Israeli government approved a plan for unilateral separation by a 14 to 7 vote. The plan includes complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (with the exception of the so-called "Philadelphi Corridor" on the Egypt-Gaza border) and from certain West Bank settlements. It is scheduled to be implemented beginning in March 2005 and should be completed by the end of that year.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 6, 2004, the Israeli cabinet authorized (by a 14-7 margin) preparations for a possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The authorization called for a final decision to be made about the Gaza settlements by March 2005. In the meantime, Israeli national security advisor Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland is heading a ministerial panel to discuss different aspects of withdrawal. The cabinet vote has triggered changes in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government. On the eve of the vote, Sharon fired two ministers from the National Union Party (NU) for opposing the plan. That move led the staunchly pro-settler NU to withdraw entirely from Sharon's government, decreasing his coalition's 68-seat Knesset majority by 7 seats. Following the cabinet vote, a minister and a deputy minister from the pro-settler National Religious Party (NRP) resigned, and both have stated that they would individually leave Sharon's coalition as well. If they do so, Sharon would for the first time preside over a minority coalition of 59 in the 120-member Knesset.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Yosef (Tommy) Lapid
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, 2004, Israeli justice minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Lapid became head of the Shinui Party in 2000. Under his leadership, Shinui has rapidly grown in popularity and is now the third-largest faction in the 120-member Knesset and the second-largest in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. Recent polls show that 70 to 80 percent of Israelis support Sharon's Gaza withdrawal initiative. Therefore, they are unlikely to accept the Likud Party referendum of May 2, 2004, rejecting this initiative. At the same time, Israel cannot afford to allow a post-withdrawal vacuum to emerge in the territories, which the Iranians could potentially fill (Tehran supports Hizballah, which in turn supplies Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]). Therefore, the withdrawal initiative must be altered somewhat from its original concept. Such a change would allow Sharon to say that he is accepting the ruling of his party while nevertheless moving forward with disengagement. His Gaza plan may turn out to be a three-stage process that is acceptable to Shinui. In any case, if an alternative formula is not proposed soon, Shinui will be forced to reconsider its participation in the government. We cannot sit idly and hope that Washington holds out on Israel's behalf against the interventionist tendencies—or so-called "goodwill"—of the Quartet. Shinui's formula for conflict management differs from that of both Sharon and the Israeli left, coming as it does from the center of the Israeli political spectrum. Shinui is well aware of the Roadmap's stipulation that measures must be taken against terrorism. Although Israel should indeed resume the reciprocal processes outlined in the Roadmap, it must also recognize that Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Abu Ala cannot dismantle Hamas and PIJ under the current circumstances without causing a civil war. Yasir Arafat does not want to make peace. Hence, Abu Ala must unite the PA's sixteen security organizations under one entity, which he should then head rather than allowing these forces to remain under Arafat's leadership. In the past, Shinui opposed talking to Abu Ala until he put a stop to terrorism, but the party has changed its stance for the time being. When Likud rejected Sharon's initiative, Shinui realized that the right was attempting to create a stalemate. Shinui cannot subscribe to any such policy. If these delay tactics continue, international parties may attempt to enter the arena both politically and physically. Israelis must therefore take the initiative to speak with Abu Ala based on the acknowledgment that he is unable to wage a comprehensive fight against terrorist organizations. If Likud does manage to move forward with disengagement in the near term, however, Shinui will rethink its policy toward Abu Ala.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Pemra Hazbay
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Following Israel's recent raid in Rafah, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's actions as "state terrorism" while Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul hinted that strains had emerged in the Turkish-Israeli relationship. In general, Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lately adopted an alarmingly critical attitude toward Israel. Will Turkey seek to alter its ties with Israel? From an economic point of view, such a development would seem highly unlikely; Turkey ranks thirteenth on Israel's list of trading partners, while Israel ranks ninth among Turkey's trading partners. Yet, the question remains: do the deep economic ties between Turkey and Israel (which also share close political and military relations) provide a reason for optimism that economic initiatives can help improve political relations elsewhere in the region?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Ben Thein
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid anticipation that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon will soon get his Gaza withdrawal plan back on track, it is important to examine the only other instance of Israeli settlement evacuation—namely, Israel's withdrawal from Sinai in the wake of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. How was evacuation handled at that time? Where did the settlers go? What were their options? Moreover, in light of the Sinai withdrawal, what role, if any, might the international community play in a Gaza withdrawal? What legal factors will the Israeli government face in its efforts to move settlers from their homes?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Nabil Amr
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 13, 2004, Nabil Amr addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Amr, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, served in previous Palestinian Authority cabinets as minister of information and minister for parliamentary affairs. A former member of the Palestinian delegation to peace talks with Israel, he is currently a visiting fellow at the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine, Arabia