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  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The Arab uprisings triggered a fierce regional countermobilization by threatened regimes and the elites who benefited from the status quo. This resurgent autocracy did simply restore the old order, however. It created new forms of populist mobilization and established new relationships among civil and military state institution. In May 2016, the Project on Middle East Political Science and Oxford University’s Middle East Center convened a workshop to dig deeply into the new regional politics generated by the authoritarian reconstruction.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The barriers to women’s political participation in the Middle East have long preoccupied scholars and analysts. The Arab uprisings of early 2011 disrupted virtually every dimension of Arab politics and societies, forcing a systematic re-evaluation of many long-held political science theories and assumptions. The place of women in politics and the public sphere were no exception.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ivo Daalder, Michèle Flournoy, John Herbst, Jan Lodal, Steve Pifer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: This report is the result of collaboration among scholars and former practitioners from the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, the Center for a New American Security, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It is informed by and reflects mid-January discussions with senior NATO and US officials in Brussels and senior Ukrainian civilian and military officials in Kyiv and at the Ukrainian “anti-terror operation” headquarters in Kramatorsk. The report outlines the background to the crisis over Ukraine, describes why the United States and NATO need to engage more actively and urgently, summarizes what the authors heard in discussions at NATO and in Ukraine, and offers specific recommendations for steps that Washington and NATO should take to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses and thereby enhance its ability to deter further Russian aggression.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Ukraine
  • Author: Manata Hashemi
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Disproportionate levels of youth unemployment and economic marginalization in the Middle East have prompted many regional observers to conclude that socioeconomically disadvantaged Middle Eastern youth are more prone to radicalization and thereby constitute a threat to national and international security. The general consensus in these accounts is that low levels of occupational opportunities leave poor youth more disposed to frustration and fatalism, which in turn are strongly linked to radical politics. Alternatively, scholars in the language of rational choice argue that these young people engage in a deliberate calculation of means and ends in order to attain the power and wealth necessary for upward mobility. These scholars posit poor youth as rational, autonomous agents whose goals are defined by individual interests and preferences. However, these respective theories are unable to account for 1) the absence of political radicalism among poor youth in many countries of the Middle East, and 2) the presence of seemingly irrational acts among these youth that neither maximize self-interest, nor necessarily reflect individual preferences. Given the shortcomings of each of these prevailing theories, this paper, instead, synthesizes these two approaches and assesses the social conduct of poor youth in the Middle East from the perspective of aspirations-bounded rationality. From this vantage point, the behaviors of poor youth are not determined by individual economic interests or by pure emotion, but by aspirations. This paper proposes that these youth struggle and create strategies to improve their lives that are conditioned by experience and observation of those who inform their social worlds.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Employment
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dina Smeltz
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: As talks over the future of Iran’s nuclear program enter a critical stage, the 2014 Chicago Council Survey reveals that the American negotiators come to the table backed by the US public: majorities of Americans favor the interim agreement and support a diplomatic approach, but they are prepared to use military force if necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Dina Smeltz
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The 69‎th session of UN General Assembly is being held against the backdrop of international crises that include the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, ISIS military gains in Iraq and Syria, and continuing negotiations with Iran. According to the recently released 2014 Chicago Council Survey of American opinion on foreign policy, majorities are confident in the UN’s ability to carry out humanitarian efforts and peacekeeping. They are more skeptical, however, of the UN’s effectiveness when it comes to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, resolving international conflicts, and sanctioning countries that violate international law.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura, Liz Deadrick
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: As President Obama prepares to address the nation tomorrow night regarding the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Chicago Council Survey results from May 2014 show that the Americans remain concerned about the threat of international terrorism, though less intensely now than in the past. Still, combating terrorism remains a top foreign policy goal for the US public, and one of the few situations where majorities of Americans say they are willing to support the use of US troops. That support is reflected in recent polls from CNN/ORC International and ABC News/Washington Post, which find majorities of Americans in favor of conducting airstrikes against ISIS.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Fred H. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: By the autumn of 2013, the Middle Eastern regional security complex (RSC) had taken on a new configuration, which was substantially different from—and much more explosive than—the one that existed prior to the large-scale popular uprisings that broke out across the Arab world in the winter of 2010-11. Foreign policies adopted between 2000 and 2010 by the Ba‘thi regime in Damascus, the leaderships of Hizbullah and HAMAS, and the Israeli government to parry overlapping internal and external threats created an unprecedented patchwork of strategic rivalries and alignments. Large-scale popular unrest in Iraq and Egypt in early 2011, along with the outbreak of full-scale civil war in Syria later that same year, generated an even more intricate web of interstate security dynamics. The reconfigured RSC that emerged out of the “Winter of Arab Discontent” is only beginning to be explicated, and can best be addressed by tracing the connection between domestic political conflicts and shifts in external belligerence and alignment across the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Manochehr Dorraj, Nader Entessar
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes Iran’s evolving interest and geopolitical challenges to its foreign policy in Central Eurasia. Historically, Iran, Turkey, and Russia have wielded the greatest influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. Therefore, it is not surprising that these three countries reemerged as principal actors in the region during the first decade of the post-Soviet era. Since the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, Iran performed a balancing act. That is, it aspired to develop closer relations with a region with which it shared significant historical and cultural ties. At the same time, Russia regards Central Eurasia as its sphere of influence and would like to keep the “intruders” at bay. Hence, the United States’ expanding presence in the region has added a new twist to Iran’s geopolitical calculations in how to define its policy toward the region. Turkish-Iranian cooperation and competition in the region is yet another piece in the strategic triangle that molds Iranian regional political posture. The looming impact of these three countries aside, as an emerging regional power with its own political agenda, perception, and calculus of its interests, Iran uses identity politics and shared cultural and religious values, where appropriate, to forge closer relations with Central Eurasian countries. Beyond this motif in Iran’s foreign policy, this paper concentrates on political, economic, and strategic variables affecting Iran’s foreign policy decisions in Central Eurasia. Islamic factors are treated as variables within the broader context of sociocultural factors that have played a role in shaping Iran’s foreign policy in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Michael Driessen
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Much of the recent literature on the evolution of political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa has debated the extent to which Islamist political parties have become “secularized” in their political goals and rhetoric. In these studies, a comparison between the political secularization of Islamism and Christian Democracy is often alluded to, but rarely explored in depth. The two political religious movements share much in common with regards to their historical encounter with political liberalism and their intuitions about an ideal religious society. An uncritical comparison, however, obscures significant differences in the relationship of either movement to democratic institutions, traditional sources of religious authority, and the religious citizens of their nations. This paper qualifies the historical, institutional, and theological similarities of political Islam and political Catholicism. In doing so, it emphasizes the importance of the legacies of Catholic Christendom and Muslim Dar al-Islam as transnational, pre-Westphalian religious political orders and the idea of religious authority found in either. After articulating these bases of comparison, the paper considers how these religious legacies remain present in the transition to Christian or Muslim Democracies by exploring the rhetoric of Catholic civilization or Muslim civilization found in Pope Pius XII and Rachid Ghannouchi’s discourses on democracy.
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East