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  • 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: Jason Gluck, Scott Worden, Colette Rausch, Vivienne O'Connor
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa are demanding justice, security, and accountability— defining features of the rule of law. Constitutional reform is a priority, but it must be done by legitimate representatives of the people, not hangovers from the past. Principles of inclusivity, transparency, and participation must be at the heart of the process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Law
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kosovo, Nepal, North Africa
  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The political situation in Baghdad is still blocked almost four months after the national elections signaled change while denying any one of the four main coalitions a clear mandate to govern. The complications are real, but so too is a political culture that is increasingly appealing to democratic norms and factors to sort out the difficulties.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Sam Parker
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Baghdad in May 2009, senior Iraqi leaders indicated how they interpret January's provincial election results, expressed concerns about the recent downturn in security, lamented the tremendous financial pressure the government is feeling due to the decline in oil prices, and projected their hopes for national elections slated for 30 January 2010. The Iraq is, numbering about 20, represented the highest level of nearly all of the main Iraqi political factions, including leaders in the Council of Representatives (COR), members of the presidency, and top officials in the government.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued the provisional results of last month's presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. The election outcome -- the traditionally entrenched political bloc losing ground to a newly formed party -- has exposed an opening in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Consequently, the region has taken a step away from a fully "managed democracy" toward a more fluid and unpredictable political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Kurdistan
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 25, Iraqi Kurds go to the polls to vote in a joint parliamentary and presidential election. Although a heated competition in January produced massive change at the provincial level throughout the rest of Iraq, the electoral system produced by the incumbent Iraqi Kurdistan parliament prevents such sweeping changes in the north. Both the current coalition governing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the current KRG president, Masoud Barzani, will most likely be reelected. Despite the lack of change, the postelection period will create an opportunity for Baghdad, Washington, and the KRG to resolve outstanding issues that cause increased tension between Arabs and Kurds. Resolution can occur only if all parties take advantage of new political openings, however narrow.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) was confronted by corruption, infiltrated by militia and unable to control the Iraqi police. In July 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Iraq's MOI had become a "federation of oligarchs" where various floors of the building were controlled by rival militia groups and organized criminal gangs. The report described the MOI as an eleven-story powder keg of factions where power struggles were settled by assassinations in the parking lot. In its September 2007 report, the congressionally mandated Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq described Iraq's MOI as a ministry in name only, dysfunctional, sectarian and suffering from ineffective leadership. Even Iraq's Interior Minister, Jawad al-Boulani, has called for the comprehensive reform of his ministry.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Beirut and Baghdad in mid-January 2008, a high-ranking and broad cross-section of the Iraqi political spectrum expressed views on the current political situation, main priorities for the next year, prospects for moving forward on key issues, and the American military presence in Iraq. The Iraqis, numbering about 40, included parliamentary leaders, members of the presidency and their staffs, top government officials and leaders in both the Anbar and Baghdad "Awakenings" (tribal groups prepared to fight Al Qaeda and guard their own neighborhoods.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In an age of war on terror, Turkey pursues its own war against the escalating PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) terror. The dynamics that led to a parliamentary motion for a cross border operation into Northern Iraq will have implications for Turkey's relations with Washington, Baghdad and other capitals in the region. The Expanded Meeting of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq held in Istanbul on 2-3 November 2007 coincided with Turkey's intensive regional diplomacy. There are serious challenges to ending PKK terrorism and finding a lasting solution to the Kurdish problem. The Erdogan Government must fight terrorism in a way that will not jeopardize the process of democratization and political reforms in Turkey.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Baghdad
  • 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: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Even as the United States is preoccupied with how to stabilize and withdraw from Iraq, it risks missing another important opportunity to promote democracy in the Middle East. Among Arab countries Egypt is uniquely positioned to make a transition from authoritarian rule to a more liberal system and eventually to democracy. A looming presidential succession in Egypt makes such changes more feasible. But after several years of modest reforms, the Egyptian government is now backtracking and enshrining illiberal measures in its revised constitution. The United States faces a critical decision about whether to pursue reform seriously with Egypt or to abandon the project of promoting Arab democracy, at least for now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Neil Kritz
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: U.S. and Iraqi politicians and analysts consistently agree on one central point concerning Iraq: serious political reconciliation amongst Iraqi groups is needed to reduce the violence and create a viable government. Centrifugal forces fueled by armed conflict, competition for power and resources, and the intervention of foreign powers and neighbors has stalemated the political process in Baghdad for months.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: War in Iraq has lasted more than four years. It has required far greater resources than anticipated. The longer-term goals are still far from realization. The price the United States and Iraq are paying in blood and treasure continues to mount. The time has come to chart a clearer path forward, taking into account the regional and global contexts. Americans want an approach that protects U.S. vital interests and can therefore be supported across a wide range of the political spectrum. As Washington prepares for a critical debate in Congress this fall on what should be done in Iraq, the United States Institute of Peace convened over the summer a group of experts with many different political affiliations to consider next steps over a three-year time horizon. This USIPeace Briefing, prepared by Daniel Serwer, USIP vice president for peace and stability operations, describes their main conclusions. Areas of serious disagreement are noted. Those participants in the discussions wishing to be identified are listed at the end. This USIPeace Briefing does not represent the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take positions on policy issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With stepped-up U.S.-led raids against Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, Jaysh al-Mahdi, and media allegations of the militia's responsibility for widespread and particularly horrendous sectarian killings in Baghdad on 9 July, the Shiite leader and his movement have become more central than ever. The war in Iraq radically reshuffled the country's political deck, bringing to the fore new actors and social forces, none more surprising and enigmatic, and few as critical to Iraq's stability, as Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist movement he embodies. Largely unknown prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and bereft of resources Shiites typically must possess to assert their authority, Muqtada al-Sadr at first was dismissed as a marginal rabble-rouser, excluded from the political process and, after he flexed his muscles, decreed wanted “dead or alive” by the U.S.-led coalition. Learning the hard way, the U.S. and its allies have had to recognise the reality of the Sadrists' strength.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The approval of the Iraqi constitution in the October 15 referendum does not put Iraq on the path to stability and democracy but pushes it toward division into largely autonomous regions. And this new momentum is probably irreversible. Whether it will lead to a catastrophic descent into greater violence or even ethnic cleansing, or to a managed transformation into a loose federation of regions enjoying extreme autonomy, depends on whether it becomes possible for Sunni Arabs to form their own region, as Kurds already have and Shias are bound to do once the constitution is in effect. The central thrust of U.S. policy in Iraq must now be to help Sunnis organize an autonomous region and to convince Shias and Kurds that it is in their interest to make this possible. Paradoxically, announcing now a timetable for the inevitable withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq could give Washington additional leverage in influencing all sides to accept the necessary compromises.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The elections were a success, but they do not ensure that Iraqis can now agree on a constitutional formula that accommodates the demands of all groups and keeps the country together. Democracy as separation of powers, checks and balances, and protection of individual rights has not proven enough to avoid conflict in other deeply divided societies. Iraqis will have to confront their differences and negotiate a solution. If they fail, the United States will be faced with a choice of whether to keep the country together by force or get out—and it is better to find out sooner rather than later.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although the mistakes of the past two years in relations between the United States and Turkey cannot be undone, Washington and Ankara stand to lose a great deal if relations continue to deteriorate. If differences can be overcome, however, this partnership could help to resolve important regional issues such as the status of Kirkuk and Iraqi constitutional debates, and to ensure Iraqi stability and Turkish security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey
  • Author: Reuel Marc Gerecht
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Iraqi election demonstrated for the first time in Arab history that national sovereignty can be achieved without tyranny. The pictures of courageous Iraqi voters and of the images to follow of the incipient democratic government of Iraq can inspire popular desire to open up regimes throughout the Arab world.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Millions of Iraqis went to the polls on January 30 and demonstrated, under extreme duress, that they are prepared for freedom and for the responsibility of transforming their nation from tyranny to democracy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Economics, National Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq