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  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: There hasn't been a lasting and successful end to an armed conflict in the Middle East in decades, and the newest fighting in Yemen can be seen through a lens of deep regional frustration over countless issues that seem to defy solutions The entire region is frustrated with the worsening status quo, but the consensus and creativity to meaningfully address the challenges is lacking, even with the newly announced Arab 'rapid response force' to an extremist problem that has been openly growing for a decade The only actors not frustrated are non-state actors, who fill the ever-widening chasm between what regional governments can deliver and what their populations demand.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Algeria
  • Author: Rafat Al-Akhali
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The 2011 protests against corruption, lack of accountability, limited access to basic services, and the extreme centralization of power transformed Yemen. In November of that year, the main political parties signed a transition plan, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which provided the framework and process to achieve a peaceful transfer of power. Two of the key steps agreed upon in the transition plan were the convening of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), followed by drafting a new constitution based on the outcomes of the National Dialogue.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: Women played a key role in Yemen's 2011 popular uprising, but almost a year on they are still waiting for change. Four out of five women consulted by Oxfam in a series of focus group discussions say that their lives have worsened over the last 12 months. Although a transition towards democracy is under way, women's hopes for a better life are wearing thin. A quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are acutely malnourished. Deepening humanitarian crisis and conflict are limiting women's role in shaping Yemen's future. Women have told Oxfam that they need better access to food, jobs, and physical safety. The Government of Yemen and the international community should adequately support the humanitarian response and help ensure women can play their part in building a peaceful and just society.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism. The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks. What remains to be seen is if the dispersion of the global jihadist threat from the heart of the Middle East to South Asia and Africa foreshadows organizational decline or revival for al-Qaeda itself and the radical jihadist ideology it espouses. How governments and civil society alike organize to contend with the changing threat will be central to this determination. The bad news is that governments and civil society remain woefully ineffective at reducing the spread and appeal of radical Islamist extremism.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For nearly two weeks, the Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has experienced near-daily disturbances following government arrests of opposition activists from the majority Shiite community. The timing of the arrests seemed geared toward preempting trouble in advance of the scheduled October 23 parliamentary and municipal elections, which minority Sunni parties and candidates are currently projected to win. The street violence and other incidents are of particular concern to the United States because Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, whose mission is to "deter and counter disruptive countries" -- a wording likely aimed at Iran, which claimed the island as its territory prior to 1970.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 19, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad submitted his list of cabinet nominees to the Majlis (Iran's parliament). The president's choice of individuals clearly shows his preference for loyalty over efficiency, as he fired every minister who, while strongly supportive of him on most issues, opposed him recently on his controversial decision to appoint a family relative as first vice president. Ahmadinezhad's drive to install loyalists involves placing members of the military and intelligence community in the cabinet, as well as in other important government positions. Despite the president's positioning, Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains in firm control of the country's vital ministries.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 10, Fatah concluded its sixth congress, the first in twenty years. Although media attention has focused on some of the summit's disturbing pronouncements, significant political developments have occurred. Over the span of seven days, Fatah leaders discussed the key issues and challenges facing the party, including organizational and political issues affecting its unity, the role of its power centers, the peace process, and the group's relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian government. Whether Fatah is now able to overcome its organizational deficits and restore its popularity and leadership among the Palestinian people remains to be seen. But Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly emerged stronger, competing powers within Fatah seem to have accepted coexistence, and the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is expected to escalate.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Widespread reports suggest that Sadeq Larijani, a young and inexperienced cleric with close ties to Iran's military and intelligence agencies, will officially replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as head of the Iranian judiciary on August 16. This appointment is particularly significant, since the judiciary in Iran wields considerable power -- albeit through the approval of Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- and has a great deal of latitude to make decisions without reference to law or Islamic concepts, especially when "safeguarding the interests of the regime" is deemed necessary.
  • Topic: Government, Power Politics, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Six weeks after the pro-West March 14 coalition defeated the Hizballah-led alliance in Lebanon's parliamentary elections, no new government has been formed in Beirut. Although March 14 leader Saad Hariri was given a mandate back in early June to become prime minister and form a cabinet, he has still not completed the sensitive and contentious negotiations with the opposition. Hariri's difficulties in allocating seats among his coalition allies and political adversaries were anticipated, and to a certain extent are routine for Lebanon. But the calm that followed the free and fair elections is eroding, as Hizballah and its allies in Damascus press for more political concessions from Hariri. These developments, coupled with the apparent failure of Saudi-Syrian reconciliation efforts, are elevating tensions, threatening a banner tourism season, and raising the possibility of a return to violence in Beirut.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Robert Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 13, 2009, Ambassador Robert Jordan and Simon Henderson addressed a special Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to discuss succession in Saudi Arabia and the challenges it could pose for the United States. Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. His most recent Policy Focus, After King Abdullah: Succession in Saudi Arabia, will be released this month. Robert Jordan is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he was posted shortly after the September 11 terror attacks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Islam, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mustafa Şentop
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Female students with headscarf are currently prevented to enter the university in Turkey although there is no legal ground for such a ban. The ongoing controversy about the type of clothing for female students at the higher education institutions has become more intensified since the recent constitutional change in February 2008 to lift the de facto headscarf ban. The debate over this question revolves around whether headscarf is a religious attire or a political symbol, whether it should be banned to protect the secular foundations of the state or conversely allowed on the basis of individual freedom of religion as a corollary of secularism. The solution lies in the implementation of constitutional amendments without a further delay.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Education, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Saban Kardas
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Turkish Constitutional Court's verdict annulling the Parliament's amendments to Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution disregards popular will, legalizes arbitrary restrictions on the right to equal access to education, and erodes the separation of powers by permitting itself to act outside of the legal order. The emergence of a new precedent of judicial activism is now the biggest threat to the future of Turkish democracy. Turkey cannot afford an unaccountable judiciary exercising substantial powers of governance through judicialization of politics. The Parliament must reassert its authority and reconfigure the Court's competences and composition to bring it into line with liberal-democratic principles as part of a comprehensive constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Aylin S. Gorener
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Perhaps the most consequential and drastic decision in Turkish foreign policy in recent months was to engage in direct negotiations with Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. This is significant because, since the onset of Iraq War in 2003, Turkey has sought to ignore or marginalize Iraqi Kurds, and has refrained from all acts that could be viewed as concessions or de facto recognition. Although the Iraqi Kurdish leadership has received red-carpet ceremony in Ankara in the1990s, Turkish foreign policy toward northern Iraq, since the war, has been stymied by anxiety and emotional rhetoric. Indeed, the fear of Iraq's disintegration and the rise of an independent Kurdish enclave in the north, inspiring or even assisting separatist sentiments in Turkey, have appeared to cloud the possibility of rational evaluation of the pros and cons of policy alternatives. As a result, the policy of projecting illegitimacy to the Kurdish Regional Government has cost Turkey a significant loss of clout not only in northern Iraq but also in the wider Iraqi political affairs, as Kurds have come to occupy significant positions in the central government as well.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Ihsan D. Dagi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Constitutional Court ruled not to close down the AK Party, relieving Turkey from an unprecedented level of political uncertainty, social and economic turmoil, and potential chaos. Instead, the court chose to keep the ruling party under close scrutiny by declaring it “a focal point of anti-secular activities,” and imposing financial measures.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The government's decision to withdraw Australian combat elements from southern Iraq by the middle of 2008 has the potential to consign the Arabian Gulf region 1 to the periphery of Australian policy interests. There is a consequent temptation to focus our security policy on Australia's immediate region, or within West Asia only on Afghanistan where our combat forces will likely be operating for some time to come. To do so, however, flies in the face of our substantial, diverse and growing economic interests in the Gulf (including an upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade agreement), our interests in counterterrorism and counter-proliferation, and our record of regularly deploying Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements into the region over the last 20 years. These factors, along with the government's recognition that '...the challenges (that) Australia faces will require us to be more internationally active, not less' 2 mean that, in an uncertain world where our strategic horizon extends beyond Southeast Asia, it is prudent to maintain and consider enhancing the diplomatic and security connections we have built up in the Gulf, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, over nearly two decades.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Australia, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, the Iraqi parliament went on summer recess after failing to pass a critical election law, delaying the country's provincial elections until sometime next year. The failure comes after the parliament successfully passed the law on July 22, only to be vetoed by the Iraqi Presidency Council in less than thirty-six hours. The core dispute involves the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is currently witnessing an alarming escalation of demonstrations and politically motivated attacks. This forced Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to send his defense minister and an Iraqi brigade to the region in an attempt to deter further problems. As a result of Baghdad's political squabbling, the desperately needed provincial elections may seem unattainable.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad recently appealed to the World Bank in an effort to bridge the current budget gap preventing the Palestinian Authority (PA) from paying government salaries this month. Despite a three-year $7.5 billion assistance pledge from the 2007 Paris donor conference, the PA remains in a financial crisis, with a projected shortfall of $400 million for the second half of 2008, as reported by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in May. Since Fayad's technocratic government has no independent political base, its legitimacy stems from the PA's financial solvency. He has survived ongoing attacks from rival Fatah leaders only because Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recognizes him as the linchpin to Western donor assistance. If the financial crisis persists, however, Fayad's political future is in doubt.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, Financial Crisis, World Bank
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 4, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas marked the anniversary of the 1967 War by making a surprise call for dialogue with Hamas. In response to multiple challenges to his authority -- impasse on the peace process, ongoing dissent within Fatah, and regional pressure to resolve the internal Palestinian conflict -- Abbas has abandoned his demands for Hamas to return Gaza to its pre-June 2007 condition and apologize for its violent coup. However, a gulf remains between Hamas and Fatah, and it is unlikely that renewed dialogue can bridge the gap. Abbas's move may be an effort to pressure the United States to become more involved, and to maintain a fallback position if peace is not achieved. Accordingly, his call to Hamas should be seen as tactical, rather than a strategic, turning point toward Palestinian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel