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  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Younes Mahmoudieh
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: When I visited Iran this summer, severe panic attacks, depression, and anxiety—longstanding byproducts of post-traumatic stress disorder—caused me to seek out a trauma therapist. After weeks of contacting Iranian pharmacies, hospitals, charities, and relief organizations, my prescriptions for Zoloft, Xanax, Ativan, and Clonazepam remained unfilled. Since the United States exited the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) and imposed new sanctions, this kind of shortage has become commonplace.
  • Topic: Health, Sanctions, International Community, International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott M. Thomas, Anthony O'Mahony
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In February 2019, Pope Francis became the first pope to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Like John-Paul II before him, he has also visited Egypt, and he went to Morocco in March 2019. The pope participated in a colloquium on “human fraternity” and interreligious dialogue sponsored by the UAE-based Muslim Council of Elders—the brain-child of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the most important Sunni Muslim university in the world. The Council of Elders sponsors initiatives to engage young Muslims on Islamist ideology by promoting a more “authentic” interpretation of Islam. Islamist violence—with its beheadings and mass executions—has provoked disgust across the Muslim world and is causing young Muslims to become more distant from their imams and mosques. It is becoming clear to many Muslim intellectuals in Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon that, in order to defeat Islamism, there needs to be greater dialogue and coexistence with Christians. Pope Francis is attempting to lead the way, extending his “culture of encounter.”
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Culture, Violence, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Vatican city
  • Author: Huma Saeed
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Afghanistan’s presidential election took place on September 28, 2019, with less than 2 million people participating out of 9.7 million registered voters. Taking into consideration Afghanistan’s total population of 35 million, the turnout was a historic low—a problem further amplified by the fact that the government poured a huge amount of financial and human resources into election preparation. The main explanation for such low turnout is twofold. On the one hand, security threats such as suicide attacks or gun violence—which reached their peak during the presidential election campaigns—deterred many people from going to polling stations. On the other hand, Afghans have become wary about determining their own political fate because, for decades, regional and international powers have steered the political wheel in Afghanistan, rather the people. After four months, election results have still not been announced, leading to further speculation and anxiety among a population which has already been the victim of four decades of violent conflict in the country. This anxiety is further exacerbated by the ongoing “peace” negotiations with the Taliban. Afghan people have learned from experience that, even in the best-case scenario of the election results or peace negotiations, they cannot hope for new justice measures to heal their wounds. As demonstrated by the experience of Afghanistan and other countries, peace and security will not last without addressing the people’s demands for justice.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, Politics, Elections, Taliban, Justice
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Max Erdemandi
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Recent discussions on the Turkish state’s actions, which have devastated Kurdish people within and outside of its borders, suffer from a familiar deficiency: they neglect the historical and cultural foundations of the dynamics that placed the Kurdish people at the center of Turkey’s national security policy. Serious human rights violations and voter suppression in southeast Turkey, the massacre of Kurdish people in various parts of northern Syria, and purging of Kurdish politicians on false accusations are all extensions of Turkey’s decades-long, repeated policy mistakes, deeply rooted in its nationalist history. Unless there is a seismic shift in the drivers of Turkish security policy, especially as it pertains to the Kurdish people, Turkey is bound to repeat these mistakes. Furthermore, threat externalization with linkage to legitimacy of rule will further erode the democratic institutions of the state and other authentic aspects of Turkish identity.
  • Topic: Security, Nationalism, Ethnicity, Syrian War, Borders, Violence, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: H. Sebnem Düzgün
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Soma Mine Disaster (SMD) was the most massive mine disaster of the twenty-first century, with 301 fatalities. This was due to a mine fire in an underground coal mine. Although mine fires usually do not cause a large number of casualties in comparison with other explosions in underground coal mines, the SMD has an anomaly. The cause of the mine fire has not been precisely determined, though various groups of experts developed several hypotheses. Most of the fatalities were due to an inadequate safety culture, unstructured organizational and human performance, and improper decision-making and risk perception during the emergency management. So far, only minimal steps have been taken to improve the safety standards of the coal mines. Larger improvements are necessary to address the variety of factors that contributed to the disaster.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Science and Technology, Natural Resources, Labor Issues, Regulation, Mining
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last year’s Washington Institute forum on post-Soleimani succession suggested that the IRGC would lose a unique coordinating capability and its most important totem once he left the scene. Last April, The Washington Institute held a closed-door roundtable to discuss the potential impact if Qassem Soleimani no longer commanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. Governed by the Chatham House rule, participants discussed how succession might work in the Qods Force and what Iran would lose if Soleimani became permanently unavailable, reaching consensus on many key issues. Now that the commander is indeed gone, their conclusions can help policymakers navigate the stormy seas ahead, though some aspects of his importance remain a matter of heated debate.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously maximalist strategy. Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December, renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border, creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far. Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies. On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: Sujata Ashwarya
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown University Press
  • Abstract: Despite substantial efforts and investments in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the country is still struggling to deliver on public services. Years of destruction in conflict, as well as alleged mismanagement and neglect, have taken a heavy toll on the country’s power infrastructure. Severe power cuts and rolling blackouts are endemic in Iraq today. Between 2014 and 2018, Islamic State terrorism inflicted billions of dollars in damage on the already dilapidated electricity infrastructure, causing a cumulative potential and actual loss of a whopping 7GW in generation and transmission capacities.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Business , Conflict, Services, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Ulaş Bayraktar
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: This report has been produced in the framework of the Empowering Civil Society for a More Democratic Local Governance Project funded by the scope of Republic of Turkey and European Union supported Partnerships and Networks Grant Program. TESEV is the lead, Şişli Municipality and Association of Union of Citizen Assemblies are the co-applicants, and the Checks and Balances Network is the associate of the project. The transition from the classical management approach to the governance approach, in which private sector and non-governmental organisations take on roles in determining public policies, has been the dominant discourse of politics for more than a quarter century. Instead of a hierarchical and monolithic bureaucratic process, this approach envisions a management triangle that engages other stakeholders. However, these governance principles have not been fully put into practice in Turkey and those that have been implemented have not yielded the expected results. The present study aims to test these statements at the level of local governments and politics. Its purpose is also to open up a discussion based on the findings of interviews and roundtables conducted in ten cities in Turkey and of a comprehensive survey administered to a nationally representative sample of civil society organisations.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organization, Governance, Democracy, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Dyan Mazurana, Anastasia Marshak
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The United Nations and its partner agencies have pledged to focus on the problem and eradication of early, child, and forced marriage. On November 12, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on child, early, and forced marriage. As part of this resolution, the General Assembly highlighted the need for better data collection and disaggregation of that data for improved analysis and learning. This report is a comprehensive and user-friendly concept note for a database on child marriage in humanitarian settings, a first step in eradicating the problem. The report identifies the existing knowledge and data on child marriage in humanitarian settings, gaps in that evidence base, and provides recommendations for moving forward with the creation of a comprehensive database. The authors interviewed key stakeholders on child marriage across program, policy, and academia in combination with a comprehensive literature review. The report was commissioned and funded by Save the Children U.S.
  • Topic: Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, United Nations, Children, Basic Data, Humanitarian Intervention
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Global Focus
  • Author: Joost Jongerden
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: While Trump always advocated disengagement from Syria, Turkish mainstream opinion and political leadership have never accepted Kurdish self-rule of territory on its Syrian border, which Turkey treats as an existential threat and dismisses with the trope of “terrorism.” Thus, Turkey’s military intervention should hardly be surprising. Indeed, not only is the assault an upscaled version of last year’s intervention and occupation of Afrin—a pocket in the western part of northern Syria—but it also fits a wider pattern of Turkish military aggression. Looking back over the past four years, we see Turkey repeatedly waging war for a “strong” state construction and regional power development.
  • Topic: War, Conflict, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, State Building
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Dean Vuletic
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: After winning the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) with her song “Toy” (inspired by the #MeToo movement), Netta Barzilai issued the declaration, “Next year in Jerusalem!” By using the traditional Jewish phrase, she was suggesting that the 2019 ESC would be held in that city.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Music
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: “The category of public reputational accountability,” Keohane asserts, “is meant to apply to situations in which reputation, widely and publicly known, provides a mechanism for accountability even in the absence of other mechanisms.” The effectiveness of public reputational accountability, in particular, has floundered because of the fact that the U.S. public’s views have shifted since the inception of the torture program. Even while recognizing that enhanced interrogation techniques are now against the law, former CIA director Michael Hayden defended the Agency’s past use of the techniques in 2014, claiming that “we thought we were doing the nation’s will.” Today, though, it can be argued that the absence of public reputational accountability stems from the fact that the issue of torture has been reframed in the public imagination.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Torture, Impunity, War on Terror, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With the nomination and eventual appointment of Gina Haspel to the directorship of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), debates around the legality and the morality of the torture program undertaken during the early years of the War on Terror resurfaced. Some editorials asserted that condoning torture was now a roadmap for promotion at the CIA. Others, including former senior leaders of the CIA, argued that none could lead the Agency better than Haspel and claimed she was a person of integrity. Yet, amid the debates about her leadership of the Agency loomed two larger questions: 1) who is most responsible for the torture program, and 2) what does accountability mean? In the balancing act between the demands of justice and the imperatives of national security, how can we best ensure that the right people are held accountable for the U.S. torture program? Forceful repudiations of the program did occur through both internal agency proceedings as well as in the form of checks and balances across the federal government, but the public view of torture has changed in the almost two decades since 9/11. This shift is significant because U.S. popular opinion against the torture program a decade ago significantly contributed to pushback against it, pushback that manifested in the accountability measures detailed below. In the absence of public opposition, accountability measures will be more elusive.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Torture, War on Terror, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mohanad Hage Ali
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict has magnified threats to minorities with long-term implications both within and beyond Syria’s borders. The deployment of excessive firepower by the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime, and the concurrent rise of Islamic extremism have had both direct and indirect impacts on minorities. Local, regional, and international actors have weaponized minority groups to bolster their influence, further intensifying schisms in the Syrian social fabric and in the international community as a whole. The flow of one million Syrian refugees to Europe between 2015 and 2016 strengthened an already powerful wave of anti-immigration, nationalist populism throughout the continent and across the Atlantic. As an openly Islamophobic and, more implicitly, anti-Semitic movement, the wave has contributed to widening the scope of the Syrian conflict’s schismatic effects beyond the country’s borders.
  • Topic: Minorities, Violent Extremism, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Natalie Hilder
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The plight of Palestinian refugees was catapulted back into the spotlight last month, after a pair of events brought the issue to the forefront of international attention. While the Trump administration unveiled a new peace plan, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) received multinational pledges of $113 million in aid. Although these quick-fix efforts aimed to bring peace to, and improve living conditions for, Palestinians, they were rightfully met with widespread disenchantment.
  • Topic: United Nations, History, Foreign Aid, Refugees, International Community
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, North Africa
  • Author: Shannon Dick
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2013, the United States began a secret operation to train and equip opposition forces fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. Through the CIA, the United States facilitated the transfer of an estimated $1 billion in arms, ammunition, and training to Syrian rebel groups in hopes of influencing a negotiated end to the war. But these were not the only weapons flowing throughout Syria — Syrian government stockpiles served as a key source of armaments, and countries from around the region funneled arms into the country to support a variety of actors. In this way, the story of weapons in Syria reads as a cautionary tale about the unintended and lasting consequences of arms transfers, especially to countries in conflict.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Weapons , Arms Trade, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ayşe İrem Aycan Özer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This analysis is about the change in Israel’s security understanding. Israel is a country located in the Middle East surrounded by Arab regimes which were historically hostile to its very existence in the region. The unification of the Arab countries against Israel and the lack of an ally in the region created a constant fear in Israel. When it started having better relations with Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey, Israel ended its isolation and found partners in its immediate geography. Even when relations between Turkey and Israel took a turn for the worse, Israel continued to have Egypt and Jordan on its side.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Joseph Braude
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A new opportunity has emerged to roll back generations of antisemitic and rejectionist messaging in Arab media, mosques, and schools. It stems from the convergence of interests between Israel and Arab powers, a youthful Arab grassroots trend in favor of a “peace between peoples,” and new Israeli and American Jewish capacities to engage Arab public discussions from the outside in. But prospects for change remain severely constrained: In addition to the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, the legacy of antisemitic brainwashing endures in many Arab institutions and draws further energy from Iranian and jihadist information operations. Meanwhile, proponents of a positive shift lack coordination, planning, and adequate support. In Reclamation: A Cultural Policy for Arab-Israeli Partnership, Joseph Braude documents the opportunity as well as the obstacles, and then proposes a strategy to accelerate progress. He explains how to engage Arab allies in a coordinated communications reform effort, support independent Arab champions of civil relations with Israel and Jews, expand the “outside-in” capacities, and degrade Iranian and jihadist channels of indoctrination within the region.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Vicki Valosik, Kristin Smith
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: For Kristin Smith, MAAS alum and Cultural Affairs Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, culture and diplomacy go hand-in-hand. “My job is really using culture and art to bring people closer together,” Smith told the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star at a U.S. Embassy event celebrating the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran. “It’s not just about deepening our ties and getting to know each other on a cultural level though. If we have these similarities in [the arts], then perhaps that will lead to future cooperation in other ways.” During her time in the MA in Arab Studies program, Smith—who holds a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization from Harvard—pursued an academic concentration in Culture and Society, managed a yoga studio, and served as a Public Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. Following graduation, she joined the Foreign Service, serving in Taiwan before beginning her current position in 2017. Her portfolio as Cultural Affairs Officer covers five primary issues: arts and culture, non-formal education, academic outreach, interfaith and minority outreach, and alumni programming.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Language, Arabic
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, North America, Beirut, United States of America
  • Author: Isabel Roemer
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: A MAAS grad’s work at the intersection of diplomacy and cinematic arts is shaping American narratives and empowering storytellers around the globe. When people think about the tools of diplomatic engagement, narrative storytelling is not one that usually comes to mind. But for Rachel Gandin Mark, Program Director of the American Film Showcase (ASF)—the State Department’s film, television, and digital diplomacy program —the two go hand-in-hand. “I love thinking about how to incorporate entertainment, particularly story and character, into specific foreign policy strategies,” says Gandin Mark, who graduated from MAAS in 2003. “Some of our country’s biggest diplomatic challenges today stem from conflicting global narratives. Film and TV, when produced with authenticity and nuance, have the potential to complicate narratives and reveal a shared human experience.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Media, Film
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Skylar Benedict
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Examining the historic roots of Jordan’s water management policy. First, Jordan deals with natural water scarcity arising from the country’s arid semi-desert climate and seasonally fluctuating surface water sources. Second, Jordan currently depends on costly water projects such as the Disi Water Conveyance Project and the King Abdullah Canal to meet its municipal, agricultural, and industrial water needs. Third, the sudden influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war has led to an increased strain on water resources. While realistic, this narrative’s exclusive focus on the present hardships obscures a much longer history of water management in Jordan—one characterized by successive political conflicts and increasingly centralized and unsustainable water extraction policies—that has equally contributed to the country’s current scarcity challenges.
  • Topic: Environment, Water, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan, United States of America
  • Author: Carol Graham
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Carol Madison Graham (MAAS ’81) was the first MAAS graduate to enter the United States Foreign Service. She reflects on how the 1984 embassy bombing in Beirut inspired her current work to strengthen the Foreign Service for future generations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Violence, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, North America, United States of America
  • Author: ONG Keng Yong
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Ambassador ONG Keng Yong, who graduated from MAAS in 1983, remembers his time in Washington and sheds light on Singapore’s “price taker” approach to foreign policy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Asia, Arab Countries, Singapore, United States of America
  • Author: Aisha Al-Sarihi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Since the 2014 drop in oil prices, Gulf countries have begun to shift their attention toward renewables.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Oil, Natural Resources, Gas, Economy, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Kaylee Steck, Mohammed Alhammami
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Last fall, Congress enacted a law that indirectly led to 29 young Arab leaders losing their scholarships to U.S.-accredited universities and dealt another blow to educational and cultural exchange programming, a critical part of U.S. public diplomacy efforts.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Law, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kala Carruthers Azar
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Alum Kala Carruthers Azar, who serves as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, writes about the important role of people-to-people exchanges to American soft power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Culture, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Jordan, United States of America
  • Author: Julie A. Eadeh
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: For MAAS alum Julie Eadeh, diplomacy is all about human relationships, whether building connections with local communities or helping Americans abroad in times of crisis.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, War, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marwa Daoudy
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past few decades, a new narrative has emerged that seeks to link climate change with political and social unrest. This idea of a climate-conflict nexus is similar to the “water wars” scenario of the 1990s, in which the media and some scholars predicted that water scarcity would be the major driver of inter-state conflict in the twenty-first century. More recently, this climateconflict narrative has been applied to the Syrian case. According to this logic, climate change caused the 2006-2010 drought in Syria, the drought caused agricultural failure, agricultural failure caused poverty, and the resulting displacement and discontent culminated with the 2011 uprising. My forthcoming book, The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security (Cambridge University Press, spring 2020) questions this line of reasoning, arguing that government policies were at the heart of Syria’s vulnerabilities in the buildup to the uprising. Although global warming is real and international action is urgently needed, climate change was not what was at the forefront of the minds of Syrians in 2011. Instead, most people were focused on a moral ideal: the end of repression and injustice.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Water, Food Security, Inequality, Syrian War, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Sima Aldardari
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: This summer I had a teaching opportunity like never before. I designed and taught a course in Lebanon on international development as part of an independent study with Prof. Fida Adely. The two-and-a-half-week course aimed to offer youth in Lebanon the base knowledge necessary for understanding a wider scope of development approaches and theories and the opportunity to engage with development professionals. The local organization Chams Network provided space and marketing for the class.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Diogo Bercito
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: MAAS alum Samer Judeh built Jordan’s first windfarm and catalyzed the country’s renewable energy industry.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The 40th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) was held in Geneva between 25 February and 22 March 2019. As the primary international human rights body, the Human Rights Council has the capacity to prevent and respond to mass atrocity crimes, as systematic violations and abuses of human rights can be potential indicators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing. The summary below highlights major outcomes and relevant dialogues from the 40th session as they relate to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from such crimes. As part of the session, the Netherlands delivered a statement on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of R2P.
  • Topic: International Law, State Violence, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Palestine, United Nations, Nicaragua, Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Today, 15 March, marks eight years of deadly conflict in Syria. Since 2011 half a million people have been killed, 11.9 million have been displaced from their homes and 13 million remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance. As the conflict enters its ninth year and the prevailing media narrative is that the civil war is coming to an end, civilians in Syria still face the threat of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, International Law, Syrian War, Justice, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Sexual Violence Research Initiative
  • Abstract: Globally, recent years have seen the highest levels of displacement on record. This adds extra urgency to the need to close evidence gaps and identify how to reduce and respond to the risks of gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian settings.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, Children, Refugees, Gender Based Violence , Displacement, Child Marriage, Intimate Partner Violence
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Middle East, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Mohammad Darawshe
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: For the Arab voter, there weren’t compelling reasons to vote in the 2019 Knesset elections. In fact, a number of reasons motivated them not to. Quarrels around the issue of seat rotation plagued the Joint List and clarified for the Arab voter that the hope for unity had been lost. The Arab public therefore decided to punish the parties, taking from them the privilege it had given, returning them to their natural size in order to school them in the laws of modesty.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Arik Rudnitzky
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: This article reviews the results of the elections for the 21st Knesset in Arab and Druze communities. It also examines voting patterns in these localities by demographic characteristics (by ethnic group and geographical area) and voting patterns of Arab residents in mixed cities. The discussion then deals with two issues: (a) the question of the renewed connection between the Arab voter and Jewish parties; (b) the voting patterns of Christian voters. All data presented here were taken from the conclusions of Central Elections Committee
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Eline Rosenhart
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: On April 11, 2019, months of popular street protests led to the ouster of Sudan’s President of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir. Since April 6, the protesters in Sudan have maintained a presence in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum. The street in front of the headquarters has been transformed into a massive campground with people sleeping, eating, praying and even watching soccer and music performances. Protesters have set up roadblocks to prevent army vehicles from entering the area and volunteers are checking for weapons at the improvised checkpoints that control entry into the protesters’ campground. So far, their efforts have proven effective. The Transitional Military Council, which took over from al-Bashir, has not managed to disperse the protesters, remove the roadblocks, or impose a curfew. What were the events that led to the protest movement that removed Omar al-Bashir from power? What are the demands of the protesters? Why are they still massed in front of the military headquarters?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Yasar Aydın
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Today, it is possible to state that the bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany are perhaps the most strained that they have ever been. While there have been some signs of lessening tensions following the February 2018 release of German citizens held in Turkish prisons, points of contention still remain. These include an ongoing dispute over Fethullah Gülen’s supporters in Germany, the fate of other German citizens currently incarcerated in Turkey, and Ankara’s recent rescinding of work permits for German journalists. Meanwhile, the Ankara-Berlin relationship is further challenged by the Turkish Diaspora.[1]It is true that the transnational orientations of German citizens of Turkish origin and their communal organizations in Germany intensify the interdependencies between the two countries. However, simultaneously these transnational interconnections also increase the complexity of the bilateral relations and widen the friction between Turkey and Germany.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Recently, two trends became apparent in global oil markets. First, prices rose: the OPEC basket price reached $73.14 a barrel on 24 April 2019, a 40 percent rise over the price at the beginning of January, and 13 percent higher than the average for the year of 2018. According to the International Energy Agency, the reasons for higher prices included tighter global supplies that have prevailed due to strong compliance with OPEC’s decision in December 2018 to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day (mb/d), as well as sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, and conflict in Libya. These developments, along with the second trend of the rising US share in the global oil market discussed below, offset bearish factors including concern over the health of the global economy
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Turkay Nefes Salim
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: A well-known Turkish sociologist, Şerif Mardin, once remarked that conspiracy theories shape Turkish people’s historical perspective. Indeed, conspiratorial accounts are ubiquitous in modern Turkish politics: the Turkish government explained that the Gezi Park protests in 2013 were a foreign conspiracy meant to undermine Turkish economic progress.[1] Moreover, ever since the 1970s, various speakers in the Turkish parliament have claimed that there is a clandestine elite group determined to defend the Turkish state ideology by legal and extralegal means alike, and which is responsible for various conspiracies including, but not limited to extrajudicial assassinations.[2] In this political climate, conspiracy theories about Dönmes (Sabbateans), the followers of Sabbatai Sevi (Shabtai Tzvi), represent a major part of contemporary Turkish anti-Semitism. For example, the conspiracy theory books of Soner Yalçın became best-sellers in the Turkish book market in 2004 and 2006
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Several key questions arise with respect to China’s economic involvement in the Middle East: What are China’s interests in the Middle East? How far are they dominated by its energy needs? How are they affected by its relations with the United States? Since the reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping at the end of the 1970s, China has experienced rapid economic growth. In 2000, China’s GDP was equal to 12 percent of that of the US; by 2017 it had reached 63 percent. It’s GDP per capita rose from under 3 percent of the US level to nearly 15 percent in the same period. In real terms, China’s GDP more than quadrupled and GDP per capita rose nearly as fast.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Rina Bassist
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: On Jan. 3, 2017, thirty-three years after leaving the Organization for African Unity (OAU) over the acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SDAR) as a member state, Morocco’s bid to rejoin the African Union (AU) was approved. And while Rabat presented this as a triumph, this move reflected in effect the failure of Morocco’s ‘’empty chair’’ policy, designed to penalize its African partners for recognizing SDAR and the Polisario Frente. Morocco succeeded in persuading a large majority of AU members to vote in favor of its integration, but at the same time was forced to accept an AU which includes SDAR as a member state. Had Morocco renounced its ‘sacred cause’ of sovereignty over Western Sahara? Not in the least. But King Mohammed VI now estimates that this objective can be better achieved as a member of the AU.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Julien Lebel
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Airports in the Gulf emirates are major transit hubs in global airline networks today. Apart from their “advantageous” geographical location, their development results primarily from the ambitions of political actors seeking to maintain their power. This has led especially to the creation of the “Gulf companies”, namely Emirates Airline (Dubai), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) and Qatar Airways (Doha). However, the three emirates are not following identical strategies. Within the unstable context of the Middle East, it is important to look at the development dynamics of these companies which symbolize the global reach of small but powerful political entities on the international stage.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Business , Airline Companies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Zeynep Gülru Göker
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: A recent study published by TESEV shows that science and research is one of the areas with the lowest female participation in high level decision making.1 Among all 201 universities in Turkey, only 9% of the rectors, 10% of the vice rectors and 21% of the deans are women; and again, in Turkey, countrywide, 31% of the professors are women and 69% are men.2 This numerical inequality, as well as being a sign for a lot of other problems, is just the visible or easier-to-see tip of the iceberg. To talk about the obstacles women face in academia and the gender inequality in a wider sense, one must examine all written and non-written rules, practices and norms in every area of academic life, and establishing equality requires transformation in structural, institutional and individual levels. In this report, I will be talking about some of the obstacles women face climbing the career steps in academia and participating in high level decision making and the steps that have been taken and can be taken to ensure gender equality in academic life.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Itır Akdoğan
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: In this report, we enquire into the issue of gender equality by investigating different sectors at once to offer recommendations for improvement. In this project, which is supported by the Swedish Consulate General in İstanbul, we first examine, in light of data gathered and disseminated by European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the percentage of women high-level decision makers in Turkey’s politics, public administration, local government, civil society organizations, social partners, business, media, judiciary and education/science/research. We compare these rates in their historical transformation and with the rates of European Union countries, thus inspecting them in their wider quantitative context. Next, we conduct in-depth interviews with women (if not present, men) high-level decision makers in these areas to carry out a qualitative assessment of women’s participation in Turkey.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Gender Issues, Politics, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, European Union
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Attention to the growing number of people caught in crises characterized by extreme and often protracted levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and mortality is increasing. The information systems that track these conditions and inform humanitarian decision-making have expanded substantially in the past two decades and in many cases have reached a degree of unprecedented sophistication. These famine early warning systems have become increasingly sophisticated in the past decade, but they still tend to be based on several assumptions that are important to understand. This paper briefly describes existing famine early warning systems and outlines some of the assumptions on which they are based— both in theory and in practice. Then it gives four brief case studies of recent famine or “famine-like” events and pieces together the formal analysis process with an attempt to reconstruct events on the ground from a conflict analysis perspective—highlighting the extent to which the formal famine analysis did or did not deal with conflict analyses and the political kryptonite around the discussion of “intent.” It closes with a summary of gaps in the current system and an assessment of the risks of trying to address those gaps through famine EWS or alternative means.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, Food, Famine, Food Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Middle East, Yemen, North Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Lindsay Spainhour Baker, Jeeyon Janet Kim
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Since 2014, Yemen has been engaged in a civil war between the Houthi group and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. By the end of 2018, the UN estimated that 15.9 million people—more than half the population—were facing severe acute food insecurity and in need of immediate food assistance. This report analyzes the challenges facing famine analysis in Yemen, including the Famine Risk Monitoring system recently put in place, and the integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system, used globally. The IPC is managed by a technical working group with the support of the food security and nutrition clusters and close involvement of the Yemeni authorities. Following the analysis, the report offers recommendations for ways to improve data collection and analysis on famine and famine risk in Yemen.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, War, Food, Food Security, Refugees, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, North Africa