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  • Author: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s projection of its military presence in the Middle East has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Hayder al-Khoei, Ellie Geranmayeh, Mattia Toaldo
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ISIS has suffered significant setbacks in both Iraq and Libya with the battles for Mosul and Sirte representing potential turning-points. • Without a clear political strategy to guide post- ISIS efforts, these military gains could quickly be lost. Both countries could again become breeding grounds for conflict and extremism, exacerbating European security and migration challenges. This risk is especially high for Iraq given the conflict in neighbouring Syria. • The new US administration is likely to invest less energy than its predecessors in strengthening political orders which provide stability. European states must step up their own efforts
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the importance of western Mosul to all parties in the conflict: the Iraqi forces and their allies, on the one hand, and the Islamic State’s forces, on the other, and the obstacles to any of these parties resolving the conflict. It also touches on the extent of their forces and the clear dominance of the offensive forces, and it discusses the military strategies for the battle and potential outcomes in addition to the available options for the Islamic State (IS). It anticipates an end to the fight in favour of the Iraqi forces within a few weeks if the battle and its results progress at a similar pace to that of its first week. This will depend on any unaccounted for variables during the battle that would change the equation on the ground. It concludes by discussing the available options for IS after the battle ends, with the expectation that IS will fight until the end; while its commanders will inevitability lose the battle, this will not eliminate threats to security and stability in Iraq in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adel Bakawan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Iraqi Kurdistan, previously known as a secure and stable region amidst the chaotic and shaken Middle East, was struck by a wave of attacks in 2016. Between September and December of that year, there were five recorded terrorist operations led by 249 Kurdish jihadists rallied by the Islamic State (ISIS) or Daesh, of which 47 were killed and 43 were arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In fact, Iraqi Kurdistan, with a population of five million inhabitants, has supplied ISIS with 2,000 jihadists. Since the launch of the Mosul offensive on 17th October 2016, Kurdistan has been preparing itself, like many other countries in the region and a number of European countries, to face its worst nightmare: the Kurdish jihadists’ return to the country. Although a series of threats weigh upon the leaders of the KRG, such as social and economic crises, political division between rival parties; Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the prospect of a new civil war, and the intervention of neighbouring countries – the return of the Kurds of Daesh is currently the most troublesome.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: EU policy towards its Southern Neighbour- hood aims to ensure the security of Member States and is underpinned by an assumption of a shared interest in democracy, security, and prosperity through economic liberalisation. It sees the main way of achieving these aims as promoting Western-style liberal democracy as a political system capable of providing peace and stability. Evidence from public opinion survey research shows this ambition is supported by citizens of Arab countries, where public opinion polls for over a decade report strong support for democracy. However, these citizens do not share the EU’s procedural conception of democracy, a conception in which civil and political rights are decoupled from – and prioritised over – social and economic rights. The Arab Transformations survey carried out in 2014 in six Arab states (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq) suggests few people demanded this brand of democracy. Furthermore, most people thought the EU has not done a good job of supporting transitions to democracy, nor did they have much appetite for EU involvement in the domestic politics of their countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott, Munqith Dagher
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: With ISIS' influence declining, Iraq faces the challenge of rebuilding both its economy and its political system. • Amidst the devastation left by conflict, Iraq's political leaders have the opportunity to address the internal divisions which made ISIS possible. • Any post-conflict settlement must take into account the population's concerns and priorities. • Sectarian identity is less influential than commonly assumed in shaping people's political priorities: often more important are local conditions, particularly regarding security, the economy, and migration. • Ignoring popular priorities risks undermining post-ISIS attempts to build a stable country, with knock-on effects at a regional level.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: Data from the Arab Transformations public opinion survey provides strong indications about the nature of population movements from Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. As such they are crucial in designing responsive, evidence-based policy. ArabTrans data shows those who have considered migrating tend to be young, male, and with higher levels of education (the notable exception being Libya). In all countries surveyed, young people are more likely to have considered migrating; in nearly all countries the economy is the main driver of migration; and although a substantial portion of those considering migration think of a permanent move, large proportions are considering only temporary migration. This underscores the importance of economic policies which actually deliver inclusive growth and social cohesion. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this data: first, that the economic causes and strong temporary dimension of migration provide EU Member states with opportunities to reap the benefits of migration, both to the economy as a whole and to welfare systems in particular; second, that MENA countries of origin present significant internal differentiation suggesting policy should reflect specific national circumstances. The single major obstacle to public discussion and designing evidence-based policies which maximise the benefits of migration to both host countries and countries of origin is a political context which conflates and securitizes refugees and migrants. Paradoxically, the tone of this debate and the way policy is designed and implemented may have much to do with any socio-political polarisation of migrants in host countries
  • Topic: Migration, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Nearly two years since the north side of Shingal was liberated from the Islamic State, most of the Yazidi population is still displaced. Yazidis are trapped between millstones of the competition of exogenous actors, such as the KDP, the PKK-linked forces, and Baghdad, over the control of the strategically important disputed territory of Shingal.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O’Driscoll, Dave van Zoonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This paper lays out three administrative options for the post-Islamic State governance of Nineveh and analyses the benefits and drawbacks related to each option. Despite minorities and international lobbying groups tied to the minorities favouring separate minority provinces, this paper argues against the formation of a Nineveh Plain province. A separate province would prevent efforts for reconciliation, is likely to induce new conflicts, and will ultimately not benefit minorities in the ways proponents of the plan claim. Similarly, the paper highlights that although decentralisation to the province through Law 21 could address a number of important issues, it would leave minorities in Nineveh too vulnerable to being marginalised and politically dominated by Sunnis. The main argument, and thus recommendation, of the paper is that the best available option for all components of Nineveh is the creation of a Nineveh federal region with entrenched power sharing and decentralisation within the region. This will provide the components of Nineveh with a political arena in which to address and overcome differences, while protecting minorities as well as Sunnis from being marginalised. Moreover, the creation of a region for Nineveh will have a stabilising effect on the wider Iraqi political system.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This report is a contribution to the public debate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) about crucial aspects of the current economic crisis and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) immediate response. In addition, it looks at the impact of four different policy options, such as a.) independence b.) rapprochement with Baghdad c.) macro-financing from International Stakeholders and d.) macro-financial assistance from Regional Stakeholders, may have in averting an economic meltdown in the short-term, on the assumption that the oil prices will remain suppressed for the foreseeable future. This report argues that it is only when the economic meltdown is averted in the short-term that the KRG will be able to proceed with deep structural reforms in the public sector and start working on the diversification of the economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Aram Mahmood
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The current policy of salary reductions might have been the only available emergency measure for the KRG to counter its empty treasury. However, continuing the current policy, focusing on a single sector of the economy is an unsuitable response to the on-going financial crisis and is likely to significantly dampen and delay recovery.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East