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  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The conflict in Syria transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. For the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father's counterinsurgency approach; however, Bashar al-Assad's campaign failed to put down the 2011 revolution and accelerated the descent into civil war. This report seeks to explain how the Assad regime lost its counterinsurgency campaign, but remains well situated to fight a protracted civil war against Syria's opposition.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Fragmentation and disorganization have plagued Syria's armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms in December 2011 and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. A lack of unity has made cooperation and coordination difficult on the battlefield and has limited the effectiveness of rebel operations. Since the summer of 2012, rebel commanders on the ground in Syria have begun to coordinate tactically in order to plan operations and combine resources. This cooperation has facilitated many important offensives and rebels have taken control of the majority of the eastern portion of the country, overrunning their first provincial capital in March 2013 with the capture of al-Raqqa city. However, rebels have been unable to capitalize on these successes, and fighting has largely stalemated along current battle fronts particularly in the key areas of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In order to overcome the current military stalemate, the opposition needs to develop an operational level headquarters that can designate campaign priorities, task units to support priority missions, and resource these units with the proper equipment to execute their missions. Recently, the opposition has established a new national military structure that may grow to serve this purpose. On December 7, 2012, rebel leaders from across Syria announced the election of a new 30-member unified command structure called the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, known as the Supreme Military Command (SMC). The Supreme Military Command improves upon previous attempts at armed opposition unification through higher integration of disparate rebel groups and enhanced communication, which suggest that it could prove to be an enduring security institution. The SMC includes all of Syria's most important opposition field commanders, and its authority is based on the power and influence of these rebel leaders. Its legitimacy is derived from the bottomup, rather than top-down, and it has no institutional legitimacy apart from the legitimacy of the commanders associated with the council. Thus, the SMC is not structurally cohesive, and its ability to enforce command and control is dependent on the cooperation of each of its members. The incorporation of rebel networks has resulted in chains of command that are not uniform across the five fronts, with each sub-unit retaining their own unique authority structures. The SMC's primary function to date has been to serve as a platform for coordination. Regardless of the limits of its current command and control, the SMC has played an important role in syncing rebel operations with several notable successes. It has allowed for greater opportunities for collaboration and coordination among the disparate rebel groups operating in Syria. As the SMC develops its institutional capacity, its ability to assert greater authority will likely depend on its transactional legitimacy and its ability to distribute critical resources to rebel-held communities. To date, disparate sources of funding have significantly handicapped the rebels' ability to unite and consolidate authority on a national level. Although private sources of funding will likely continue outside the parameters of the SMC, uniting the support channels of rebels' main state sponsors will be fundamental to ensuring the legitimacy of the new organization. The ability to provide resources and material support to its sub-units is the determining factor in whether or not the SMC will be able to unite rebel forces under its command and establish a level of command and control. The SMC has the potential to serve as a check on radicalization and help to assert a moderate authority in Syria. If the SMC can create enough incentives for moderation it will likely be able to marginalize the most radical elements within its structure. To this end, the SMC has recognized the importance of the inclusion of some of the more radical forces, while still drawing a red line at the inclusion of forces that seek the destruction of a Syrian state, such as jihadist groups like Jabhat Nusra. Ultimately, even if the SMC only serves as a mechanism for greater cooperation and coordination, it is a significant development in that it has united the efforts of rebel commanders across Syria. It is the first attempt at unity that incorporates important commanders from all Syrian provinces and has enough legitimacy on the ground to even begin the process of building a structure capable of providing a national-level chain of command. Syria's state security apparatus will collapse as the Assad regime finishes its transformation into a militia-like entity. The Supreme Military Command is currently the only organization that could serve to fill the security vacuum left by this transformation. As the Syrian opposition begins to build a transitional government, the SMC could create a framework for rebuilding Syria's security and governing institutions if properly supported. The SMC's ability to act as a basis for a national defense institution will be an important component in filling the power vacuum left by Assad's fall and will aid in a secure and stable Syria. There remain a number of critical obstacles ahead for the SMC. They include the incorporation of existing command networks, which will have an impact on command and control and resource allocation; mitigating the strength of extremist groups; and managing disparate sources of financing. Overcoming these obstacles will be difficult, especially as the nature of the conflict transforms and the sectarian polarization makes it more challenging to create a strong military institution and professional armed force. Although the SMC must do its part internally to overcome these obstacles, its success will largely depend on greater international support and access to more resources. The goal behind U.S. support to the opposition should be to build a force on the ground that is committed to building a nonsectarian, stable Syria, with a government more likely to respect American interests. Working with the SMC could enhance America's position vis-à-vis Syria's armed opposition and provide a mechanism for stability should the Assad regime fall.
  • Topic: Security, Civil War, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Today, political and military power in Iraq is highly centralized in the Prime Minister Maliki's personal office. The national unity government that was formed in the wake of the 2010 parliamentary elections has given way to a de-facto majoritarian government in which Maliki has a monopoly on the institutions of the state. This will have important implications for the future of Iraq and the trajectory and durability of its democratic transition. Maliki is the dominant force over Iraq's conventional military forces, special operations units, intelligence apparatus, and civilian ministries. Maliki began his security consolidation not long after taking office in mid-2006. Maliki's security consolidation enables the prime minister to prevent any coup attempts, to aggressively target Sunni terrorist groups, and to check political rivals through the implicit or explicit threat of force. Since 2007, Maliki has used the creation of extra-constitutional security bodies to bypass the defense and interior ministries and create an informal chain of command that runs directly from his office to the commanders in the field, allowing him to exert direct influence over the both the targeting of individuals and the conduct of operations. Chief among these are the Office of the Commander in Chief (OCINC) and provincial-level operations commands. OCINC reports directly to the prime minister and is staffed by Maliki loyalists. The extra-constitutional body has no legal framework to govern its existence and therefore no accountability or oversight, yet it has significant powers and resources. Maliki has also attached Iraq's most elite units to his military office, and has used them for political purposes. Maliki relies on the operations commands to coordinate government responses to security challenges. He maintains direct control over these headquarters through OCINC and through the appointment of trusted commanders. The lack of oversight on military appointments has allowed Maliki to choose his preferred officers (nearly all Shi'a) to head the most significant command positions in Iraq—those of the Iraqi Army Divisions and Operations Commands. Maliki has appointed these senior military officers in acting capacities to bypass requisite parliamentary approval and oversight. The individuals who benefit from these appointments become, in turn, invested in Maliki's success and continuation as prime minister. After the 2010 election, Maliki greatly expanded his control over many of Iraq's civilian institutions, including the judiciary and independent bodies such as the elections commission, central bank, and the anti-corruption watchdog. Through his consolidation of power, Maliki has subverted the system of checks and balances that was intended in the Iraqi constitution. His growing influence over and limitations on supposedly independent institutions have tarnished the legitimacy and efficacy of these bodies, particularly the judiciary and the parliament. Politicization at the national level has effectively compromised the role of the judiciary as an independent check on the other branches of government. The judiciary has been an accomplice to the centralization of power by Prime Minister Maliki through a series of controversial rulings that have empowered the executive and restrained or removed his political rivals. Maliki has used his parliamentary allies and favorable judicial rulings to remove key personnel deemed obstacles to his control of Iraq's independent bodies, the most important of which are the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), and the Integrity Commission. The prime minister has also used his influence over these bodies to check his political rivals and shield his political allies. Free and fair elections will be nearly impossible in the current political environment without an impartial and independent IHEC. Thus, Maliki's efforts to influence, if not control, IHEC are particularly concerning because it suggests his effort to subvert Iraq's electoral process. The Council of Representatives (CoR) has not been an effective check on executive authorities. The parliament's internal dysfunction, combined with Maliki's own efforts to undermine the body, has limited its oversight ability. Maliki has adopted a strategy meant to keep his parliamentary opposition fragmented and prevent the coalescing of a broad anti-Maliki bloc. This has proved largely successful, aided by the opposition's own internal divisions. Maliki's requests have prompted judicial rulings that have curbed the legislating and accountability powers of the parliament, namely by preventing the CoR from initiating legislation and limiting its ability to question ministers. Maliki uses his control over the security and civil institutions mentioned above in various ways to advance his interests. One objective is to dismantle Iraqiyya's senior leadership, while another is to expand his control over Iraq's financial institutions. Maliki has also used his control over the security forces and judiciary to defuse a federalism challenge from several Iraqi provinces. De-Ba'athification, along with accusations of terrorism and corruption, have become convenient political tools to discredit and even remove opponents. Maliki is not the only politician in Iraq to use these tools, but he has the most latitude in doing so on account of his growing executive authority. Maliki still faces some challenges to his power that he will likely have to face in the near future. The first stems from his rivalry with the Sadrists for political dominance among Iraqi Shi'a. The second comes from the growing Sunni discontent with the status quo. While the demonstrations have thus far remained largely peaceful, they have mobilized a significant number of Sunnis in opposition to the government, something that Maliki has sought to avoid. There is also the danger that Sunni discontent and the instability in Syria may translate into a resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Any security crackdown or further actions seen as disenfranchising the Sunni participation might actually exacerbate the drivers of instability that could fuel a regeneration of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Maliki will seek to keep the Sunni fragmented by alienating or removing leaders from rival political parties (such as Nujaifi, Issawi, and Allawi), while cultivating allied Sunni politicians and political groups. The promise of patronage that participation in the Maliki government affords is often a strong motivator for politicians. The upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections present an important political test for Maliki. If the status quo prevails in the coming months, Maliki will emerge from these next elections in a better political position. A strong electoral showing in the provinces would allow him to increase his number of seats in the parliament, to regain the premiership, and to make the parliament even more of a rubber stamp, ideally by installing amore pliable speaker to accelerate the move toward majoritarianism. The United States has largely stayed quiet on the issue of Maliki's consolidation. This silence gives the perception of consent, even if the United States harbors reservations about Maliki's authoritarian behaviors and intentions. U.S. engagement with Iraq in recent years has focused more on the need for preserving stability and providing Iraq with security assistance. Such assistance has ignored the political context that is helping to fuel security challenges and has only strengthened the hand of the prime minister, especially given Maliki's tight control of the security forces. Maliki—in his willingness to support the Assad regime in Syria and unwillingness to abide by U.S. sanctions on Iran—is pursuing a regional policy that is much closer to Iran's than that of the United States. The U.S. does retain leverage within Iraq, but it must use it more effectively. In light of these factors, the United States should reevaluate its relationship with Maliki and be more vocal in rejecting any actions that undermine the democratic process in Iraq. The United States should seek a better understanding of how power is exercised within the Iraqi state. Additionally, American officials should engage more broadly in the political sphere and not simply focus on security cooperation. Greater attention to the timing and means of engagement will also be necessary to break the perception of unwavering U.S. support for Maliki's actions. The United States and other international actors can play a vital role in enabling (or inhibiting) Iraq's exit from Chapter VII. A willingness to speed, slow, or stop weapons sales under the Foreign Military Sales program may also serve as a vehicle to exert influence. Supporting an authoritarian leader in the name of stability will have the opposite outcome and only exacerbate tensions and divisions within Iraq. Ultimately, the United States must recognize that stability in Iraq will only come through an inclusive, representative, and fair political system that protects the rights of all Iraqis—goals that run counter to Maliki's current aims, policies, and behaviors.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Christopher Harmer
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Iranian regime has among its strategic objectives expanding its power in the Middle East and rolling back U.S. influence in the region. Iranian leadership considers the Persian Gulf and much of Central Asia to be a "near abroad" where Iranian culture and interests should have significant influence. Recent developments confirm that Iran is committed to this ambition, has a strategy to realize this outcome, and is making significant progress towards it. Iran also clearly has ambitions to be a significant and relevant actor on the global stage, whose capabilities and intentions must be taken into consideration by superpower nations.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Reese
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The first half of 2013 has demonstrated clearly that sectarian conflict is spreading in the Middle East. This conflict is a product of developments over the course of 2012, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's consolidation of power and the development of an armed opposition movement in Syria. A turning point, however, came this year with the Syrian opposition's loss of the strategic town of al-Qusayr in early June to regime forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah. The intervention of this prominent Shi'a militant group has heightened the "sectarianization" of the conflict. Sectarian narratives provide an emotional rallying point for popular mobilization, and are easily leveraged by actors involved in the conflict to achieve their goals. The rise in sectarian violence sponsored by external actors poses an existential threat to these already-fragile states.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Karim Sadjadpour, Ali Vaez
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The covert history of Iran's nuclear program is marked by enormous financial costs, unpredictable risks, and unclear motivations.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With Yemen's National Dialogue process approaching completion, the nation is poised to move to the next stage of its transition. Now is the time for the government to address not only demands for more inclusive political participation, but also the economic aspirations of most Yemenis who have not experienced any improvement in their standard of living since the 2011 popular revolution. Without making progress on the economic front a priority, the democratic transition process risks derailment and its leadership a complete loss of credibility, which could result in renewed conflict. For too long, taking tough economic decisions has been postponed because of political uncertainty, but the status quo can no longer continue if the country is to emerge from its near failed-state status.
  • Topic: Government, Governance, Reconstruction, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Peter Engelke
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Humankind recently crossed a historic threshold: over half of all human beings now live in cities. In contrast to most of human history, cities have become the default condition for human habitation almost everywhere on earth. Urbanization is proceeding rapidly and at unprecedented scales in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These regions are poised to join Latin America, Europe, North America, and Australia as having more people living in cities than in rural areas. Between 2010 and 2050, the world's urban population is expected to grow by 3 billion people—a figure roughly equal to the world's total population in 1950—with the great majority living in developing-world cities.3 Our species, in other words, is already an urban one and will become even more so throughout this century.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Environment, Natural Resources, Urbanization, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Australia, North America
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne, Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The United States and Europe have yet to show the requisite political will or to develop sustainable strategies to help Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen in their democratic transitions more than two years after a wave of popular revolutions toppled decades-old autocracies. To be sure, deepening political, economic, and security challenges in these countries from June 2012 to August 2013, the period analyzed in this report, complicated efforts to provide support. Yet the United States and the European Union (EU) missed important opportunities to capitalize on openings where they existed or to send consistent and sustained diplomatic messages where needed. Faced with the vast amounts of cash the Gulf countries could provide rapidly to the transition countries, especially to Egypt, some in Washington and Brussels wondered if the United States and the EU even had much to offer. In the past year, fatigue and frustration more than energy and hope have characterized US and European engagement with these countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Mona El-Kouedi
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: With the situation in Syria continuing to deteriorate and a death tally of more than 70,000, the Arab League (AL) reached out to representatives of the Syrian opposition. Arab leaders offered the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) the seat of Syria in the AL's 24th Summit in Doha, which took place on 26 March 2013. In his address on that occasion, SNC leader Moaz Al-Khatib asked the US and NATO to extend "the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian North". Al-Khatib added: "We are still waiting for a decision from NATO to protect people's lives, not to fight but to protect lives". NATO was quick in responding to Al-Khatib, but gave him the answer that he least wanted to hear. The Alliance's Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen confirmed: "(W)e have no plans to change the purpose of, and coverage of the deployed Patriot missiles".
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: On April 20th, Iraq will hold its third provincial elections since 2005. There are 447 open seats nationwide, and competition for them is fierce. Previous elections illustrate that winning provincial seats can reverberate on the national level. A simple majority of seats offers the parties an opportunity to control the senior provincial posts, including the governorship and chairmanship of the councils. Control of these positions provides space for maneuvering to achieve national level objectives.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Ahmed Ali, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Escalating violence in Iraq crossed a new and very dangerous threshold this week. Al Qaeda in Iraq launched a concentrated wave of car-bomb and other attacks specifically against civilian Shi'a targets in and around Baghdad. Shi'a militias are mobilizing and have begun a round of sectarian killings facilitated by false checkpoints, a technique characteristic of the 2006-2007 period. Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki has taken a number of steps to demonstrate that he remains in control of the situation. The expansion of Shi'a militia activity, however, is likely to persuade many Iraqis that he is either not in control or is actively abetting the killings. The re-mobilization of Shi'a militias in Iraq coincides with the formal announcement by Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah of his organization's active military participation in the Syrian civil war. Al Qaeda in Iraq's sectarian mass-murder attacks coincide with the announcement by AQI's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, that attacking Hezbollah is that group's primary target henceforth. The stage appears to be set not merely for the collapse of the Iraqi state into the kind of vicious sectarian killing and sectarian cleansing that nearly destroyed it in 2006 and 2007, but also for the expansion of that sectarian warfare throughout both Mesopotamia and the Levant.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) announced "The Soldiers' Harvest," a new campaign on July 29, 2013, immediately after the Abu Ghraib prison attack. AQI then declared that event the conclusion of the "Breaking the Walls" campaign, which apparently achieved its goals: to stoke sectarian violence by targeting Shi'a communities; and to reconstitute the veteran AQI fighting force by breaking former members out of Iraq's prisons. ISW has assessed that AQI has reconstituted as a professional military force. It is therefore crucial to examine the first 60 days of the new "Soldiers' Harvest" campaign for indications of what AQI means to accomplish this year. Initial indications suggest that AQI will seek to establish control of key terrain in Iraq while targeting any Sunnis who work for the government. The campaign name, "The Soldiers' Harvest," refers in particular to the intimidation and displacement of the Iraqi Security Forces, especially through the destruction of their homes.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence, Prisons/Penal Systems
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict is a human rights catastrophe. Over the past two years, nearly 70,000 people have died, mostly civilians, including more than 3,700 children, and nearly one million refugees have fled the country. Although both sides of the conflict are responsible for atrocities, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the vast majority. The regime's security forces have used indiscriminate bombings, intentional mass killings, rape, and torture to kill and brutalize civilians. There is no end in sight.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Christian Koch, Dr. Klejda Mulaj
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: As the Middle East continues to grapple with challenging questions of continuity and change, a group of distinguished thinkers on the region's politics and society met in Gstaad, Switzerland, to analyze current political dynamics and their implications for the region and beyond. This 11th Annual Conference organized jointly by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Crown Centre for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and the Gulf Research Center (GRC) aimed to take stock of developments in the Middle East over the previous year and bring about a greater understanding of the complex problems faced by a perplexingly disordered region. Following on the 10th meeting in 2012, the primary focus of the discussion was on the Arab revolutions, their overall significance and outlook as well as their impact in the region with a specific emphasis on Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. In addition, Iran's domestic politics and its international security implications; the GCC states and their place in the broader Middle East; as well as Israeli-Palestinian relations also featured prominently. The meeting opened by looking at the broader geopolitical and regional dynamics and concluded with a session considering policy implications in relation to present regional political dynamics. This report summarizes discussions held in the course of this meeting and in the tradition of previous reports on this Conference series, no direct, personal attributions are made herein. The Conference's program is attached.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Governance, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria, Switzerland, Egypt
  • Author: Omar Shaban
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreement signed on Wednesday evening, 22nd November 2012 in Cairo between Hamas and Israel, which ended eight days of fighting between the two sides, was certainly not the first ceasefire since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and unfortunately will not be the last. There are many indicators that warn that the cycle of violence may start not after years but after months" writes Omar Shaban.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, War, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: James Chen
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: During the 9th century, Arab traders regularly plied lucrative maritime routes that connected the Persian Gulf to southern China by way of the Indian Ocean. This commercial activity, which mostly involved jade, silk, and other luxury goods, went on for centuries and became part of what is now known as the Silk Road. In some ways, the world is now witnessing a restoration of that ancient trading relationship between two civilizations—except that oil and consumer goods have replaced jade and silk.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Muhammad Faour
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The youth of the Arab world have driven much of the popular upheaval that has overtaken the region in the last year. Calling for fundamental political and economic change, they seek to remake their societies into more open, global players. But if that grassroots momentum is to be solidified, real societal reform must take place.
  • Topic: Democratization, Demographics, Economics, Education, Globalization, Regime Change, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Julie Elisabeth Pruzan-Jørgensen
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Islamic women's activism may appear a contradiction in terms to many Western audiences accustomed to presentations of Islam as counterproductive to the promotion of women's empowerment and the situation of women more generally. Yet in the Arab world (and beyond) many different groups and individuals – as scholars, as charity and welfare providers, and as religious or political activists – work to empower women based on Islamic arguments and references.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Politics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of one of Lebanon' s bloodiest battles since the end of the civil war: the deadly, three - month war pitting a jihadi group against the army in the Nahr al - Bared Palestinian refugee camp. Since then, the camp ' s displaced and resident population has suffered from slow reconstruct ion of their residences, a heavy security presence that restricts their movement and livelihood as well as the absence of a legitimate Palestinian body to represent their interests. Today, there are bigger and more urgent fish to fry, none more so than dealing with the ripple effects of Syria ' s raging internal conflict on inter - sectarian relations in Lebanon and the risk that the country once again could plunge into civil war. But it would be wrong to toss the refugee camp question aside, for here too resides a potential future flare - up.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Ebru Oğurlu
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasingly fraught with growing competition between regional players, most notably Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, signalling an apparent return of power politics in regional relations. Of all actors involved, Turkey stands out for being both an ever more influential power and a source of serious concern to other countries in the region due to its greater assertiveness and perceived hegemonic ambitions. Against the backdrop of recent regional developments and their international implications, including the dispute over drilling rights off Cyprus' coasts, Turkey's image as a constructive and dialogue-oriented country, a critical achievement pursued by a generation of Turkish politicians, diplomats and officials, risks being replaced by one of an antagonistic/assertive power. Facing the first serious challenge to its claim to embody a benign model as a secular Muslim democracy and a responsible international actor, Turkey should not indulge in emotional reactions. It should opt instead for a more moderate and balanced approach based on the assumption that only cooperation and constructive dialogue, even with rival countries, can help it realize its ambition of being the regional pivot.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Asia, Colombia, Cyprus
  • Author: Madeline Kristoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: International efforts for security sector reform (SSR) and state building more broadly, have faced major challenges in the Palestinian Territories. Donor countries struggled to overcome an unwillingness at home to use aid funding for police reform purposes, while managing Israeli obstructionism and security concerns, rivalries between Palestinian police generals and a lack of Palestinian preparedness for the technical and practical aspects of police reform. In this context, the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS) was established in 2005 as an EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission; the European Union Police Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS), the followup EU police mission, began in 2006. The role of EUPOL COPPS was to provide support to the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) for immediate operational priorities and longer-term transformational change.
  • Topic: Corruption, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egypt's tumultuous uprising of 2011 was about many things, but among the most central was a demand by legions of political activists and large crowds of mobilized citizens that public authority in the country be reconstructed to operate in a clearly accountable manner, fully governed by the rule of law. Egyptian judges might therefore be expected to look upon the post-uprising environment as a time when they can finally realize a vision that they have been articulating for a generation in the face of an imperious and impervious presidency: A state ruled by law in which they will be insulated from political pressures and private interests, providing full autonomy to individual judges and to the judiciary as a body to issue decisions that will be respected and implemented by all the agencies of the Egyptian state.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Law
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Sinan Ülgen
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Though most states that want a nuclear weapon can get one through determined effort, the fact remains that most choose not to proliferate. Turkey is no exception. Not even the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is likely to push Ankara to develop its own nuclear weapons. The only circumstance where such a scenario would acquire a degree of likelihood is a breakdown in Turkey's security relationship with the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Marina Ottaway, Danial Kaysi
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocratic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements. Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, War, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Jeffrey Ghannam
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: The Arab region is experiencing a profound media shift. The year following the start of the Arab revolutions–in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and violent uprisings in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain–was followed by continued repression and threats to the exercise of free expression online and offline. But the year also saw great strides in the numbers of Arabs across the region turning to social media platforms and the ascendancy of online engagement. This report traces and analyzes the enabling of tens of millions of individuals–as well as established news outlets–to attract wide global followings with Facebook and Twitter updates and YouTube videos about rapidly changing events. The widely diverse and pluralistic online communities in the Arab world are creating and sharing content, calling into question the future of the many state-owned or self-censored media that provide less in the way of engagement that Arab audiences have come to expect.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Science and Technology, Mass Media, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Something is brewing in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is not so much that protests have been spreading since 2011; the country has experienced these before and so far they remain relatively small. It is, rather, who is behind them and from where dissatisfaction stems. East Bankers – Jordanians who inhabited the area before the arrival of the first Palestinian refugees in 1948 – have long formed the pillar of support for a regime that played on their fears concerning the Palestinian-origin majority. That pillar is showing cracks. The authorities retain several assets: popular anxiety about instability; U.S. and Gulf Arab political and material support; and persistent intercommunal divisions within the opposition. But in a fast-changing region, they would be reckless to assume they can avoid both far-reaching change and turmoil. Ultimately, they must either undertake the former one or experience the latter.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Democratization, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Any estimate of energy risk is highly uncertain. The reality can vary sharply according to national and global economic conditions, politics, war, natural disasters, discoveries of new reserves, advances in technology, unanticipated new regulations and environmental issues, and a host of other factors.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: Three years after the global economy reached its lowest point in three-quarters of a century, the recovery remains incomplete and the outlook uncertain. On March 9th 2009, the capitalisation of Morgan Stanley\'s global stockmarket index fell to US$26trn, nearly 60% below its 2007 peak. Today, the value of the world\'s stockmarkets has yet to return to the pre-crisis level—nor has the confidence of most consumers and businesses. The excesses of the last ten years—the personal debt accumulated early in the last decade and the public debt added during the recession—have saddled many countries with weak economic foundations and little or no resilience to shocks. This has left the US economy, in particular, struggling for a third straight year to lock in faster growth. It has left debt-ravaged Europe in recession and China manoeuvring unsteadily to deflate a bubble. On the brighter side, the global economy will grow again this year and the imbalances that built up over the past decade will continue to unwind. But global growth will be slower this year than last, and a host of risks—from elevated oil prices to war in the Middle East, to the collapse of Europe\'s single currency—will weigh on confidence and reduce spending and investment.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A simmering conflict over territories and resources in north-ern Iraq is slowly coming to a boil. In early April 2012, the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) suspended its supply of oil for export through the national Iraqi pipeline, claiming Baghdad had not fully repaid operating costs to producing companies. The federal government responded by threatening to deduct what the oil would have generated in sales from the KRG's annual budget allocation, poten-tially halving it. This latest flare-up in perennially tense Erbil-Baghdad relations has highlighted the troubling fact that not only have the two sides failed to resolve their dif-ferences but also that, by striking out on unilateral courses, they have deepened them to the point that a solution appears more remote than ever. It is late already, but the best way forward is a deal between Baghdad and Erbil, centred on a federal hydrocarbons law and a compromise on dis-puted territories. International actors – the UN with its tech-nical expertise, the U.S. given its unique responsibility as well as strategic interest in keeping things on an even keel – should launch a new initiative to bring the two back to the table.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since it assumed power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been, at times, head-scratching. Extolled in the wake of the uprising as the revolution's protector, many have come to view it as an agent of the counter-revolution. It often has been obstinate, before abruptly yielding to pressure. It values its long ties with Washington, from which it receives much assistance, but seemed willing to jeopardise them by targeting U.S.-funded NGOs. Suspected by Islamists of seeking to deprive them of opportunity to govern and by non-Islamists of entering a secret pact with the Muslim Brotherhood, it finds itself in the worst of both worlds: an angry tug-of-war with liberal protesters and a high-wire contest with Islamists. It displays little interest in governing, wishing instead to protect privileges, but erratic behaviour threatens even that. On the eve of presidential elections that have become a high-stakes free-for-all, the SCAF should take a step back and, with the full range of political actors, agree on principles for a genuine and safe political transition.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: W.P.S. Sidhu (ed), Bruce Jones (ed), Colette Jaycox
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The consensus decision reached at the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East was, perhaps, the most salient outcome of the quinquennium gathering.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nadwa Al-Dawsari
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The power-sharing deal signed by Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in November 2011 mentioned presidential elections, the formation of a national unity government, and a military commission to reform the armed forces. It was at best the first step in Yemen's recovery from the protracted turmoil and instability that wracked the country for months.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Charles Schmitz
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Yemeni economy is often portrayed as a dire picture of impending disaster, as the country runs out of oil and even more devastatingly of water. Yemen's economic problems are real, but they are not caused by an absolute, irreparable shortage of resources. Rather, it is Yemen's contentious politics and its lack of institutional development that constitute the main obstacle to surmounting present economic difficulties.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Development, Economics, Poverty, Natural Resources, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Does anybody still believe in the Middle East Peace Process? Nineteen years after Oslo and thirteen years after a final settlement was supposed to be reached, prospects for a two-state solution are as dim as ever. The international community mechanically goes through the motions, with as little energy as conviction. The parties most directly concerned, the Israeli and Palestinian people, appear long ago to have lost hope. Substantive gaps are wide, and it has become a challenge to get the sides in the same room. The bad news is the U.S. presidential campaign, Arab Spring, Israel's focus on Iran and European financial woes portend a peacemaking hiatus. The good news is such a hiatus is badly needed. The expected diplomatic lull is a chance to reconsider basic pillars of the process – not to discard the two-state solution, for no other option can possibly attract mutual assent; nor to give up on negotiations, for no outcome will be imposed from outside. But to incorporate new issues and constituencies; rethink Palestinian strategy to alter the balance of power; and put in place a more effective international architecture.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Abstract: The Eighth Review Conference (RevCon) of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded on May 28, 2010 with the adoption by consensus of Conclusions and Recommendations for Follow-on Actions, which contain 64 action items across the three pillars of the NPT: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. An additional set of recommendations contained in the final document pertains to the implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. While the adoption of the “action plan” was widely and deservedly regarded as a success, its long-term impact will depend on the implementation by the NPT member states.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Peace Studies, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As political upheavals spread over much of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, regimes throughout the region were shaken and a few fell. But in both the West Bank and Gaza, a soft authoritarianism that has provoked uprisings elsewhere has only been further entrenching itself.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Education, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza, Cameroon
  • Author: Ibrahim Saif, Muhammad Abu Rumman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamist parties have gained newfound political power across the Arab world. Four parties in particular—Tunisia's Ennahda, Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party, Morocco's Justice and Development Party, and Jordan's Islamic Action Front—have either made a strong showing at the ballot box or are expected to in upcoming elections. Their successes have dredged up fears about their political and social ambitions, with worries ranging from the enforcement of sharia law to the implications for Western tourists on these countries' beaches. Meanwhile, the parties' economic platforms have largely been overlooked, despite the serious challenges that lie ahead for the economies of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Political Economy, Regime Change, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: While spared from internal turmoil, Israel and the Palestinian Territories have nonetheless been affected by the region's political transformation brought about by the Arab Spring. Reflecting what can be described as Israel's “bunker” mentality, the Israeli government has characterized the Arab revolutionary wave as a security challenge, notably given its concern about the rise of Islamist forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu has capitalized on this sense of insecurity to justify his government's lack of significant action when it comes to the peace process. On the Palestinian side, both Hamas and Fatah have lost long-standing regional backers in Egypt and Syria and have had to contend with their increasingly shaky popular legitimacy. This has spurred renewed efforts for reconciliation, which however have so far produced no significant results. Against this backdrop, the chances for a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks appear increasingly dim. An effort by the international community is needed to break the current deadlock and establish an atmosphere more conducive for talks. In this context, the EU carries special responsibility as the only external actor that still enjoys some credibility as a balanced mediator between the sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Lars Erslev Andersen
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The global balance of power is changing, and the role of the US as the only superpower is being challenged by emerging new powers and a still more powerful China. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Persian Gulf. This Working Paper by DIIS researcher Lars Erslev Andersen argues that if we are fully to understand the developments in the Persian Gulf we need to analyze the Persian Gulf as a regional security complex in its own right. The argument is developed empirically with reference to the case of Bahrain.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Middle East, Arabia, Bahrain
  • Author: Leila Stockmarr
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Changing with rapid speed, the current political geography of the occupied Palestinian territory has de facto come to undermine a two-state solution and is turning the official aim and end point of international negotiations at best into a naïve mirage for policymakers and at worst into a façade for a very different political game playing out in the occupied territory of the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem: that of Israel's ongoing territorial expansion into Palestinian land. The study shows how the settlement policies inside what are internationally-recognised Palestinian territories are not merely undermining the realisation of the two-state solution: the territorial claims put forward and pursued in practice and their anchoring in strategies of legitimisation reach far beyond international legal standards. This reveals a very different political narrative embedded at the core of the conflict from that projected by those images often appearing in the mainstream media and policy circles: a narrative of an ongoing struggle over land detached from any 'Peace Process' measures.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Joel Beinin
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Workers have long sought to bring change to the Egyptian system, yet the independent labor movement has only recently begun to find a nationwide voice. As Egypt's sole legal trade union organization and an arm of the state for nearly sixty years, the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) has had a monopoly on representing workers. Though its mission is to control workers as much as it is to represent them, ETUF has been unable to prevent the militant labor dissidence that has escalated since the late 1990s. Workers were by far the largest component of the burgeoning culture of protest in the 2000s that undermined the legitimacy of the Mubarak regime.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Insurgency, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US may not face peer threats in the near to mid term, but it faces a wide variety of lesser threats that make maintaining effective military forces, foreign aid, and other national security programs a vital national security interest. The US does need to reshape its national security planning and strategy to do a far better job of allocating resources to meet these threats. It needs to abandon theoretical and conceptual exercises in strategy that do not focus on detailed force plans, manpower plans, procurement plans, and budgets; and use its resources more wisely. The US still dominates world military spending, but it must recognize that maintaining the US economy is a vital national security interest in a world where the growth and development of other nations and regions means that the relative share the US has in the global economy will decline steadily over time, even under the best circumstances. At the same time, US dependence on the security and stability of the global economy will continue to grow indefinitely in the future. Talk of any form of “independence,” including freedom from energy imports, is a dangerous myth. The US cannot maintain and grow its economy without strong military forces and effective diplomatic and aid efforts. US military and national security spending already places a far lower burden on the US economy than during the peaceful periods of the Cold War, and existing spending plans will lower that burden in the future. National security spending is now averaging between 4% and 5% of the GDP -- in spite of the fact the US has been fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- versus 6 - 7% during the Cold War.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and Iran's future ability to arm its missiles and aircraft with such weapons, pose s critical risk s that shape every aspect of US, Arab, Israeli and other military competition with Iran . In the near term, they could trigger a major confrontation or war in the Gulf. In the mid to long - term, they could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, coupled to the search for missile defenses and an accelerated arms race to improve conventional, asymmetric, and proxy forces as well.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iraq is in an ongoing struggle to establish a new national identity, and one that can bridge across the deep sectarian divisions between its Shi'ite s and Sunnis and the ethnic division s between its Arabs and its Kurds and other minorities. At the same time, it must build a new structure of governance, economic, and social order after a period of dictatorship, war, sanctions, occupation and civil conflict that began in 1979 and has continued ever since. It must cope with a steadily growing population, and diversify an economy that is so dependent on petroleum exports that they provide some 95% of its government revenues. This struggle can still end in a new round of serious civil conflict and even in the division of the country. At the same time, Iraq does have great potential and its political divisions and ongoing low - level violence do not mean it cannot succeed in establishing stability, security, and a better life for its people.
  • Topic: Democratization, Peace Studies, War, Counterinsurgency, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: At a distance, Syria's conflict can resemble a slow, painful slog, punctuated by intermittent accelerations and apparent tipping points, influenced by international activity. Zoom in, and one can cast such impressions aside. Diplomatic manoeuvrings have ended up being little more than inertia masquerading as motion. The West used them to pretend it was doing more than it was; Russia exploited them to feign it backed the Syrian regime less than it actually did. Meanwhile, in Syria, one sees neither deadlock nor abrupt transformation; virtually everything has been changing but at a steady pace: the shape of the conflict; civil society dynamics; sectarian relations; and the very nature of the regime the opposition seeks to depose.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most threatening form of US and Iranian competition takes place in the military and security arena. The areas where this competition now gets primary attention are the nuclear and missile arena, and Iranian threats to “close the Gulf.” US and Iranian tensions over Iran's nuclear program have grown steadily over the years. They now threaten to reach the crisis point as Iran produces highly enriched uranium and develops all of the technology necessary to produce nuclear weapons, and as US, European, and UN sanctions become steadily stronger.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Any estimate of energy risk is highly uncertain. The reality can vary sharply according to national and global economic conditions, politics, war, natural disasters, discoveries of new reserves, advances in technology, unanticipated new regulations and environmental issues, and a host of other factors.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Energy Policy, Islam, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: If there is to be a war in the Middle East in the months or years ahead, it will likely involve Iran in some way. Enduring U.S.-Iranian hostility has been one of the few constants in a region that has been turned upside down in the last year by revolts and revolutions. Iran's widely presumed efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability persuade many in the United States that Iran is an enduring menace to the Middle East and to U.S. interests in the region. Meanwhile, Iran continues to see the United States as a hegemonic power that seeks to expand its own influence at the expense of Iran assuming its natural leadership role in the Middle East. Each side is arming its allies and playing for advantage while seeking to avoid triggering a strong military response from the other side. There is no issue higher on the U.S. security agenda, nor on the Iranian one.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Niamh Maria O'Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Few issues in international politics have sparked more debate this year than the events unfolding in Syria. What began 17 months ago as peaceful marches seeking reform has brought Syria to the brink of a civil war that threatens to stop the Arab Spring dead in its tracks. As the death toll rises and accusations of crimes against humanity mount against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling Ba'ath Party, many are calling for an armed intervention to put an end to the Assad regime's widespread human rights abuses. Finding the right way forward for Syria, however, is proving elusive and so we turn to philosophy and, in particular, to Just War theory for guidance. Though often criticized as a soft or unrealistic approach to foreign policy, principles like just cause and proportionality guide our way through the moral enigma that has confounded the international community since the uprising began. The answers are far from easy. As the battle for Syria rages on, the most ethical, and difficult, thing to do might just be to stay out.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Human Rights, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: With no agreement on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in sight, one-state dynamics are gaining momentum – a development that will be difficult to reverse or even contain. In the medium and long term, no one benefits from such a development. Indeed, all might lose: an ugly one-state dynamic has no happy ending, and such a solution is rejected by Palestinians and Israelis alike. Instead, the emerging one-state reality increases the potential for various kinds of conflicts and contradictory impulses. The international community too finds itself unprepared and perhaps unwilling to confront this emerging reality, but in doing so it imperils the prospects for peace in the region – the exact thing it seeks to promote.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Jacob Høigilt, Mona Christophersen, Åge A. Tiltnes
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This report investigates young Palestinians' views of their economic and political situation and their interest and level of engagement in politics with reference to two momentous political events in 2011: the Arab Spring and the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. A main question is whether the Occupied Palestinian Territories are experiencing a reinvigoration of youth activism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Demographics, Regime Change, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, United Nations
  • Author: Mariano Aguirre
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The debate about the Iranian nuclear programme has heated up over recent months, with the danger that the situation could get out of control and violence may erupt. Currently, the main threatis an escalation of violence between Iran and the U.S. Strategically, an attack will further decrease U.S. legitimacy in a region already in turmoil and will isolate Israel even further. The consequencesof these processes are both serious and unpredictable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Nicolas Pelham
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: When the West Bank and Gaza first split between two rival Palestinian governments in 2007, Western governments promised to turn the West Bank under President Mahmoud Abbas, their Fatah protégé, into a model state and reduce Gaza under its Islamist rulers, Hamas, to a pariah. Almost five years on, the tables have turned. While the West Bank slips into economic and political crisis, Gaza is fast reviving. Abbas finds himself bereft of a political horizon for achieving a two-state settlement and the state-building experiment of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has reached an impasse. Gaza's economy, by contrast, has grown strongly under Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is experiencing a wave of increasing popularity, as Hamas looks to tie the enclave ever more closely to the political economies of North Africa, where the Arab awakening is bringing affiliated Islamist movements to power. A recent agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, between Abbas and Hamas's exiled leader, Khalid Meshal, is intended to heal the split between Palestine's two halves. Under the agreement, the separate governments governing Gaza and the West Bank would be replaced by a single technocratic government under Abbas, which is a radical about-turn on the part of the exiled Hamas leadership that Hamas politicians in Gaza find difficult to swallow. For its own reasons, Israel too rejects the agreement. With so many previous attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation ending in failure and so many obstacles dogging this latest round, the prospects for the Doha agreement remain bleak, but not beyond the realm of the possible.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: André Bank, Roy Karadag
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In 2006/2007 Turkey became a regional power in the Middle East, a status it has continued to maintain in the context of the Arab Spring. To understand why Turkey only became a regional power under the Muslim AKP government and why this happened at the specific point in time that it did, the paper highlights the self-reinforcing dynamics between Turkey's domestic political-economic transformation in the first decade of this century and the advantageous regional developments in the Middle East at the same time. It concludes that this specific linkage – the “Ankara Moment” – and its regional resonance in the neighboring Middle East carries more transformative potential than the “Washington Consensus” or the “Beijing Consensus” so prominently discussed in current Global South politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Regime Change, Governance
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Martin Beck, Simone Hüser
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article deals with the Arab Spring as a process of deep political change in the Arab world, previously the only major world area where authoritarianism persisted unchallenged for decades. While in various countries of the Arab world mass protests in 2011 forced rulers to resign, other authoritarian regimes have – despite political and economic pressure – so far been able to remain in power, or have even been only insignificantly affected. This paper applies central social science approaches in order to analyze recent developments in the region – a major task of theoretically oriented social sciences in the coming years. In addition to providing an overview of the existing literature on the Arab Spring, the article examines the empirical results of political diversification in the Arab world. A two ‐ by ‐ two matrix of political rule that differentiates according to the type of rule and the degree of stability is presented and discussed. Although the analysis draws heavily on rent theory, it also applies findings from transition theory and revolution theory to illuminate the current political dynamics in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Donald J. Planty
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Arab Awakening opened the door to democratic political change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Security sector reform (SSR) is an integral component of the nascent democratic process in the region. While SSR is a long-term process, it should be a key part of institution building in the new democracies. Democracy requires security institutions that are open, professional, and responsive to public needs. The transitions to democracy are varied in nature and scope. SSR will differ by country and must be tailored to the political realities and specific circumstances of each state. The international community can foster successful SSR processes by calibrating its assistance according to the reform efforts in each country. A general or “one-size-fits-all” approach to SSR will not be successful. A sense of political powerlessness, an unresponsive bureaucracy, a general lack of opportunity, economic stagnation (including high unemployment), and repressive security forces all contributed to the Arab Awakening. As a result of the upheaval, democratic forces in several of the MENA countries are pushing for transparency and accountability in the security services. SSR must be undertaken in a holistic manner, couched within the framework of overall democratic reform and linked to other broad policies such as justice sector reform, evolution of the political process, and economic development. SSR will only be achieved if it is integrated and pursued in unison with these larger processes of democratic change. The international community, especially the United States and the European Union, need to foster democratic developments and, in particular, to support and coordinate SSR.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Economics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Rouzbeh Parsi (ed)
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: This Chaillot Paper examines recent domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It presents an in-depth assessment of the profound changes that the Iranian state and Iranian society have undergone in the past three decades, with a particular focus on the last tumultuous five years. In its exploration of this theme it not only shows the growing rift between the official discourse and self-image of the ruling elite and the society they govern, but also highlights the fact that external observers have many misperceptions about Iran.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Governance, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: War is fundamentally a clash of organizations. Organizations provide the vital mechanisms that mobilize and convert resources into combat power as well as applying that combat power against the enemy. This is true not only of conventional militaries, but also of insurgent and terrorist groups. Organizational capacity is thus a crucial determinant of success in conflict. Stephen Biddle, for example, attributes heavy causal weight for success in modern conventional military conflict to the relative capacity of military organizations to employ a set of techniques he terms “the modern system.” Philip Selznick argues that organization is equally crucial for success in political combat, where subversion of other organizations is as important as brute force.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: The possibility of Israeli military action against the Iranian nuclear program has existed since at least 2002. However, beginning in the fall of 2011, Israeli rhetoric and international concerns about military action against Iran have reached unprecedented levels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak began to proclaim that Iran was nearing a “zone of immunity” to Israeli attack and therefore Israel would have to act soon. In contrast, former heads of Israel's foreign and domestic intelligence services question the utility of such an attack.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Rune Friberg , Lyme
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Local demonstrations in the provincial town of Da'ra in March 2011 fuelled the eruption of unprecedented popular demonstrations and protests throughout Syria. The Syrian leadership's half-hearted promises of reforms were accompanied by brutal repression that propelled the conflict into escalating violence and ultimately a vicious and complex civil war. Dismayed by the unfolding events, a number of countries and regional organisations imposed sanctions on Syria with reference to the regime's grave human rights abuses from 29 April 2011 onwards. As the conflict has drawn out a substantial battery of international sanctions has been developed, most significantly by the USA, Turkey, the League of Arab States and the European Union. Aimed initially at bringing the repression to a halt and, later, to an increasing extent at weakening the Syrian regime, the sanctions have primarily targeted: equipment and material used for monitoring and repression; the Syrian oil and energy sector; the banking and financial sector; and there are also sanctions targeted at individuals believed either to be responsible for or assisting in the regime's oppression.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Olli Heinonen
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: At a time of hot debate over possible military action against Iran's nuclear program, the need for a clear understanding of the issues and the controversial science and technology behind them has never been more acute. Toward that end, scholars from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs have copublished an interactive online glossary of terms used in the discussion about Iran. The report was prepared by proliferation expert Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Covering the jargon and history behind IAEA inspections, centrifuge enrichment, basic nuclear physics, and early nuclear weapons development in Pakistan and the United States, the glossary provides an indispensable guide to an increasingly complex problem.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: U.S. policy toward the continued rule of Syrian President Bashar al- Asad is partly based on the impact his rule has had in Syria. Asad's fall might not bring improvement for the Syrian people. But the argument that Asad, odious as he may be, provides stability now looks less and less convincing. Whether Asad stays or falls, the current Syrian unrest could have profound implications on the Middle East in at least four ways: the impact on Iran, Asad's closest strategic partner; the perception of the power of the United States and its allies; the stability of neighboring states; and the impact on Israel. The more Asad falls on hard times, the more Tehran has to scramble to prevent damage to its image with the “Arab street” and to its close ally, Lebanese Hizballah. Asad's overthrow is by no means assured, and U.S. instruments to advance that objective are limited. The U.S. Government decision to call for his overthrow seems to have rested on a judgment that the prospects for success were good and the payoff in the event of success would be high.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Government, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Camilla Committeri
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis is dividing the international community like no other Arab uprising has done so far. While the United States and the European Union stand squarely against the Syrian regime, Russia remains a staunch defender of state sovereignty and the Al-Assad regime. There are three main factors that explain this position: Moscow's historical relations with Damascus; Russia's traditional opposition to US presence in the Middle East; and the surge in domestic opposition in Russia itself. This last factor, and the recent evolution of Russian domestic politics, is crucial to grasp Moscow's foreign policy towards Syria and the Middle East, a s well as towards the United States and Europe.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Arabia, Moscow, Syria
  • Author: Sally Khalifa Isaac
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kolleg-Forschergruppe "The Transformative Power of Europe"
  • Abstract: This research paper attempts to assess European responses to the Arab uprisings and, in particular, the introduced change in the EU policy towards its Southern Neighborhood. In specific terms, to what extent do security and strategic considerations still constitute the basis in the EU's “fundamental revision” of its policy in the Southern Neighborhood? And to what extent is the need to safeguard security and strategic interests undermining an authentic EU role in building deep democracy in the region? The presented analyses provide a profound scrutiny and assessment of the new version of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), an empirical evidence of persisting security considerations post-2011 in Euro-Arab relations, and a more elaborated vision of future Euro-Arab relations, attempting to balance between three considerations: security, democracy, and governance. The paper argues that the EU response to revolutionary events in the Arab region has been weak and that the new version of the ENP results hollow. Wide disagreements among European capitals on how to react to Arab uprisings, the sudden influx of illegal migrants and refugees, increased energy concerns, and the rise of political Islam, especially in radical forms, appears to be the key reasons behind this weak response. The study advocates that a proactive and agile EU role in the Arab region post-2011 should not be considered as derived from a moral stance. Rather, it is urgently required as it is in Europe's own interest. The historic events in the Arab region suggest that the EU should not merely revise its own ENP with the Southern Mediterranean. However, it should develop a comprehensive vision and an all-encompassing approach to the entire Arab region, from the West Mediterranean to the Gulf. Finally, this paper provides a number of policy recommendations, attempting to offer a frame for such a vision.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Development, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There they went again–or did they? The war between Israel and Hamas had all the hallmarks of a tragic movie watched several times too many: airstrikes pounding Gaza, leaving death and destruction in their wake; rockets launched aimlessly from the Strip, spreading terror on their path; Arab states expressing outrage at Israel's brute force; Western governments voicing understanding for its exercise of self-defence. The actors were faithful to the script: Egypt negotiated a ceasefire, the two protagonists claimed victory, civilians bore the losses.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Syria's conflict is leaking out of its borders, but in few places are risks higher than in Lebanon. This is not just a matter of history, although history bodes ill: the country seldom has been immune to the travails of its neighbour. It also is a function of recent events, of which the most dramatic was the 19 October assassination of top security official Wissam Hassan, an illustration of the country's fragility and the short-sight edness of politicians unwilling to address it. Lebanon's two principal coalitions see events in Syria in a starkly different light – as a dream come true for one; as a potentially apocalyptical night- mare for the other. It would be unrealistic to expect Lebanese actors to be passive in the face of what is unfolding next door. But it is imperative to shield the country as much as possible and resist efforts by third parties – whether allies or foes of Damascus – to drag the nation in a perilous direction. In the wake of Hassan's assassination, this almost certainly requires a new, more balanced government and commitments by local and regional actors not to use Lebanese soil as an arena in which to wage the Syrian struggle.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Megan Gleason
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: This paper, commissioned by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, analyzes current trends in United Nations peacekeeping and makes predictions about the development of UN operations over the next five years (to 2017). It covers (i) the changing global context for UN operations and efforts to enhance the organization's performance over the last five years; (ii) trends in troop and police contributions; (iii) projections about potential demand for UN forces in various regions, especially the Middle East and Africa, in the next five years and (iv) suggestions about the types of contributions European countries such as Denmark can make to reinforce UN missions in this period.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, International Relations, International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The papers included in this report relate to a conference co-hosted by the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute, the NYU Center on International Cooperation (CIC) and the Brookings Institution on 21-22 February in Abu Dhabi on “The Use of Force, Crisis Diplomacy and the Responsibilities of States.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Frank Lin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The 2012 American presidential election features two candidates, incumbent President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, with contrasting foreign policy visions for the United States, particularly with regards to the Middle East. How could these differences between the two candidates affect bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey, which—aside from Israel—is generally seen by the United States as its most stalwart ally in the Middle East? This paper will examine the recent history of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States, from the George W. Bush administration to the Obama administration, as well as current issues surrounding relations between the two countries. It will also explore how the predicted policies of each candidate could impact the future course of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Hodei Sultan, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In transitioning countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women are increasingly finding their rights limited by state and religious leaders. Cultural and national stereotypes can be quickly overcome by the shared backgrounds, accomplishments, obstacles, and aspirations of women in transitioning countries. Women living in countries in transition value opportunities to network with women from other countries in similar situations. Women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq have genuine concerns about the challenges facing women in the Arab Spring. Their valuable opinions are based on their own experiences of overcoming those challenges. It is essential that women work together and with men to further women's rights. Women must plan for a transition before it happens and have a strategy of work going into the transition process. Laws empowering and protecting women do not work if they are not enforced. International donors need a long-term view of women's programming, as much of the required work will take time. Donors should consider nonurban areas when working with women, and when possible nonelite partners, as these leaders understand the limitations of local conditions. It is possible for women's groups to find common ground with religious leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Silvia Menegazzi
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: China's assertiveness is growing. While in the past China's foreign policy kept a low profile in international affairs, global developments, prime amongst which in the Middle East, highlight China's growing influence in world politics and its ensuing role in shaping global norms. Within the liberal peace discourse, China's reinterpretation of international norms can be seen as the result of a mixture of prior local norms - sovereignty and non-interference - and changes within the international environment - namely conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. Particularly, in terms of intervention and peace-building practices, China insists that a number of preconditions - which are encapsulated in the notion of Responsible Protection (RP) - have to be met in order to consider intervention in sovereign states. This paper argues that in order to achieve a full picture of Chinese foreign policy and its normative underpinnings, it is necessary to explore the debate within non-state actors beyond the government apparatus, such as think tanks and research institutions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Emerging Markets, International Affairs, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: ees van der Pijl
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The “moderate Islam” that has developed in Turkey could play a role in shaping the outcome of the Arab revolt that began in 2011. The modern Turkish state established by Atatürk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had to find ways to integrate Islam politically. Turkey was a late-industrialising country and the Islamic political current tended to have an anti-Western, antiliberal profile on this account. Two tendencies within Turkish political Islam are distinguished: one connecting religion to economic nationalism, the other primarily cultural and willing to accommodate to neoliberalism. The 1980 military coup geared the country to neoliberalism and cleared the way for this second tendency to rise to power through the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of R.T. Erdo ˘gan. For the West and the Gulf Arab states the export of this model to the Arab countries destabilised in the popular revolt would amount to a very favourable outcome. Gulf Arab capital was already involved in the opening up of state-controlled Arab economies, including Syria. Although the situation is still in flux, by following the Turkish model Muslim Brotherhood governments could potentially embrace political loyalty to the West and neoliberal capitalism.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: In 2012 Western sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran's oil and gas industry, aimed at putting economic pressure on it to change its nuclear policy, have reached an unprecedented level. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran has been in a state of hostility with the US, and has had cool relations, at best, with most European states. Sanctions against official Iranian financial institutions, individuals associated with the Islamic Republic and organisations suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation activities have been mounting for some time. However, it is only recently that Iran's oil and gas sector has been specifically targeted by both the US and the EU in such a co-ordinated manner. Importantly, this marks the first time since the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the EU member states have collectively put in place sanctions on the export of Iranian crude oil—until now an action that, with a few exceptions, had only been taken by the US. The stakes have therefore been raised in Iran's confrontation with Western powers over the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam, Oil, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Riyadh Declaration, which was issued at the end of the GCC meeting in December 2011, calls for efforts to explore creating a “single unity” that could deal with the many challenges facing the Arab Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Bulent Aliriza, Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The partnership between the United States and Turkey, which traces its origins to the Cold War, has gone through constant adjustment since the beginning of the post–Cold War era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iraq is in an ongoing struggle to establish a new national identity, and one that can bridge across the deep sectarian divisions between its Shi'ites and Sunnis as well as the ethnic divisions between its Arabs and its Kurds and other minorities. At the same time, Iraq's leaders must try to build a new structure of governance, economics, and social order after a mix of dictatorship, war, sanctions, occupation, and civil conflict that began in the 1970s and have continued ever since.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Post Colonialism, Regime Change, Counterinsurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination at Princeton University convened a special Colloquium, “Diplomacy from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: A Holistic and Proactive Approach” in Triesenberg, Principality of Liechtenstein, April 19-22, 2012. The colloquium brought together over seventy participants, including senior representatives, experts, academics, and civil society representatives from Austria, Azerbaijan, the European Union, Germany, Georgia, France, Iran, Israel, Liechtenstein, Russia, Qatar, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Participants engaged in both plenary and working group discussions about ways to address the four key issues: crisis diploma - cy with Iran; the ongoing crisis in Syria; Afghanistan in transition; and preventing the escalation of crises in this macro region. This was the third LISD-sponsored colloquium on developments in the Mediterranean to Hindu Kush region since the Arab Spring. The colloquium was off the record according to Liechtenstein Colloquium rules, and was financially supported by LISD, The House of Liechtenstein, the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the SIBIL Stiftung in Vaduz. The Colloquium was chaired by Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, Director of LISD. This chair's summary includes an updated postscript.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, Middle East, France, Arabia, Germany, Syria, Qatar, Austria
  • Author: Mustafa Kutlay, Osman Bahadir Dinçer
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: The aim of this study is to assess Turkey's capacity as a regional power in the Middle East. Within this context, emphasis has been placed on the structural components of Turkey's growing regional influence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Political Economy, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: Türkiye'de kritik enerji altyapi unsurlari (KEAU) güvenligini mercek altina yatirarak mevcut durumu tespit etmek, bu konuda farkindalik yaratmak ve sorunlar ile çözüm önerilerini kamuoyunun ve yetkili birimlerin dikkatine sunmak amaciyla bir çalisma yapilmistir. Nitekim, "Kritik Enerji Altyapi Güvenligi Projesi" adli bu çalismanin tüm boyutlarini ve detayli sonuçlarini içeren bir rapor hazirlanmistir.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Islam, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The rebels will have to rely on external lines of supply to replenish their arms and ammunition if they are to continue eroding the regime's control. The emergence of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cells working against the regime poses risks to the United States and a challenge to those calling for material support of the armed opposition. As the militias continue to face overwhelming regime firepower the likelihood of their radicalization may increase. Moreover, the indigenous rebels may turn to al-Qaeda for high-end weaponry and spectacular tactics as the regime's escalation leaves the rebels with no proportionate response, as occurred in Iraq in 2005-2006. Developing relations with armed opposition leaders and recognizing specific rebel organizations may help to deter this dangerous trend. It is imperative that the United States distinguish between the expatriate political opposition and the armed opposition against the Assad regime on the ground in Syria. American objectives in Syria are to hasten the fall of the Assad regime; to contain the regional spillover generated by the ongoing conflict; and to gain influence over the state and armed forces that emerge in Assad's wake. Therefore, the United States must consider developing relations with critical elements of Syria's armed opposition movement in order to achieve shared objectives, and to manage the consequences should the Assad regime fall or the conflict protract.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Germany, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Policymakers must identify and understand Syria's political opposition, both in exile and on the ground, in order to develop a clear vision of their aims and a better strategy for support. Any successful U.S. policy in Syria should focus on constructing a viable alternative to Assad's government. This report provides detailed information on the diverse groupings of the Syrian political opposition in order to inform the international community's response to the conflict. It distinguishes between the expatriate political opposition and the grassroots protest movement operating on the ground in Syria. Policymakers must come to the understanding that they may not get the chance to sit across the table from a single opposition party, but rather will have to work directly with the nascent political-military structures that have formed at a local level. The key to creating an effective national opposition lies in connecting the established national coalitions with the grassroots political movement. The most well-known and widely recognized established political opposition coalition is the Syrian National Council (SNC ). The SNC is based in Istanbul and functions as a loosely-aligned umbrella organization comprised of seven different blocs: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Damascus Declaration, the National Bloc, the Local Coordination Committee (as representatives of the grassroots movement), the Kurdish Bloc, the Assyrian Bloc, and Independents. The SNC has not meaningfully engaged with local opposition forces, and is losing credibility and influence within Syria as the conflict grows more militarized. The other significant established political opposition coalition is the National Coordination Committee (NCC ). The NCC is based in Damascus and favors a negotiated political settlement and dialogue with the regime. This stance has made the NCC less popular amongst the grassroots opposition movement. The grassroots movement functions at a local and regional level through coordination between the local coordinating committees and revolutionary councils. This movement has become tactically adept, better organized, and more cohesive, developing nascent political structures. The local coordinating committees, called the tansiqiyyat, form the base unit of organization. As the movement has grown, urban centers have developed oversight councils called the revolutionary councils to manage the committees within specific districts. The revolutionary councils are the main organizational structure for the grassroots political opposition. They manage the activities of the tansiqiyyat, organize protests, and coordinate with the armed opposition. The Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC) is the largest grassroots coalition. It represents roughly seventy percent of the revolutionary councils and the majority of the local coordinating committees. armed opposition cooperates with the grassroots political opposition and a number of insurgent groups have shown a willingness to work under the guidance of the revolutionary councils. The lack of secure communications equipment has hindered the grassroots opposition's ability to coordinate above the local level because the government retains the overwhelming capacity to monitor, track and suppress greater organization at a national level. The established political coalitions such as the SNC have articulated a national vision for a post-Assad future and have received nominal support from the international community, yet they lack strong networks and popular legitimacy inside Syria. On the other hand, the grassroots political opposition has gained the support of the people, but it lacks a national vision and united front as the basis for international support. The United States must consider adopting a bottom-up strategy that provides better support to the grassroots movement operating within Syria. This entails developing better relations with critical elements of the grassroots movement and working with key individuals who have deep networks of supporters within Syria but also maintain ties to the SNC or the NCC . A bottom-up strategy would provide an avenue for U.S. support that incorporates both national and local opposition groups and encourages the emergence of a legitimate national political leadership.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the increasing effectiveness of Syria's armed opposition, explains how responsible provincial-level military structures have emerged, and considers how uncoordinated external support could compound existing fractures within the opposition.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the presence of jihadist groups within Syria, explains where various Syrian rebel groups and foreign elements operating in Syria fall along the spectrum of religious ideology, and considers their aggregate effect upon the Islamification of the Syrian opposition. The Syrian conflict began as a secular revolt against autocracy. Yet as the conflict protracts, a radical Islamist dynamic has emerged within the opposition. There is a small but growing jihadist presence inside Syria, and this presence within the opposition galvanizes Assad's support base and complicates U.S. involvement in the conflict. Internally, Assad has used the threat of jihadists within the opposition to build support for the regime among the Alawite and Christian communities. It has also served to discourage middle and upper class Sunnis from joining the opposition. Externally, Russian and Iranian leadership have consistently pointed to the presence of radical Islamists as a critical rationale for their support of the Assad regime. Compared to uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the opposition in Syria faces a much greater threat of jihadist infiltration. Many jihadi elements now operating in Syria are already familiar with the terrain, having been sponsored by the Assad regime for over three decades. These jihadi elements turned against their former regime allies in 2011 and are now cooperating with local jihadists. Moderate political Islam is not incompatible with democratic governance. However, ultraconservative Sunni Islamists, known as Salafists, envision a new world order modeled on early Islam that poses a significant threat to both democracy and the notion of statehood. Salafi-jihadists are those who commit to violent means to bring about the Salafi vision. It is difficult to distinguish between moderate Islamists and Salafi-jihadists in the context of the Syrian civil war. Assad's security solution transformed the largely peaceful uprising into an open civil war, and now even political Islamists and Syrian nationalists are engaged in violent means. Additionally, the mainstream use of jihadi iconography by non-Salafist rebel groups distorts perceptions about their ideologies and end-goals. It is significant to draw the distinction in order to understand which Islamist opposition groups are willing to work within a state system. hh The vast majority of Syrians opposing the regime are local revolutionaries still fighting against autocracy; while they are not Islamists, in the sense that their political visions do not depend upon Islamic principles, they espouse varying degrees of personal religious fervor. There are also moderate Islamists operating within the Syrian opposition, including those who comprise rebel groups like Suquor al-Sham and the Umma Brigade, who are typified by a commitment to political Islam that is compatible with democracy. hh On the more extreme end of the spectrum are groups like Ahrar al-Sham, which is comprised of conservative Islamist, and often Salafist, member units. Ahrar al-Sham's leadership espouses a political Islamist ideology, though it is clear that the group has attracted more radical and extreme elements of the opposition including many Salafi-jihadists. The brigade also has notable ties to Syria's indigenous jihadist organization, Jabhat Nusra. Al-Qaeda's direct involvement in Syria has been exaggerated in the media. However, small al-Qaeda affiliated networks are operating in the country, including elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Fatah al-Islam and Jordanian Salafi-jihadists. Rather than sending large numbers of operatives, these networks are providing operational support, including trainers and bomb makers, in order to capitalize on the instability in Syria and expand their influence in the region. Jabhat Nusra, Syria's homegrown Salafi-jihadist group, has important links to al-Qaeda affiliates and demonstrates a higher level of effectiveness than many other rebel groups. Jabhat Nusra has demonstrated sensitivity to popular perception and they are gaining support within Syria. The emergence of indigenous Salafi-jihadist groups such as Jabhat Nusra is far more dangerous to the long-term stability of the Syrian state than foreign jihadist groups because it represents a metamorphosis of a Salafi-jihadist ideology into a domestic platform that is able to achieve popular resonance. The U.S. cannot afford to support groups that will endanger Syria's future stability. However, if the U.S. chooses to limit its contact with Islamist groups altogether, it may alienate a majority of the opposition. Identifying the end goals of opposition groups will be the key to determining whether their visions for Syrian governance are compatible with U.S. interests. The U.S. Government has cited concern over arming jihadists as a reason for limiting support to the Syrian opposition. However, U.S. allies are already providing material support to the Syrian opposition, and competing sources of funding threaten Syria's future stability by enhancing the influence of more radical elements. The confluence of jihadist interest with that of the Gulf states raises the possibility that these states may leverage jihadists for their own strategic purposes, while simultaneously limiting Western influence. In order to counter this effect, the U.S. should seek to channel this support in a way that bolsters responsible groups and players while ensuring that Salafi-jihadist organizations such as Jabhat Nusra are unable to hijack the opposition movement. If the U.S. hopes to counter this threat and stem the growing popularity of more radical groups, it must clearly identify secular and moderate Islamist opposition groups and encourage the international community to focus resources in support of those groups alone. Such focused support would increase the influence of moderate opposition groups and undercut the appeal of Salafism in Syria.
  • Topic: Islam, International Security, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the political, religious, and military resurgence of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, identifying the group's key actors, their present disposition and strategy, and their regional expansion. AAH is an Iranian-backed Shi'a militant group that split from Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in 2006. Since that time, AAH has conducted thousands of lethal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, targeted kidnappings of Westerners, rocket and mortar attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the murder of American soldiers, and the assassination of Iraqi officials.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Rosa Balfour, Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The 2011 wave of uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa has prompted policymakers to rethink their approach and bring outdated policies up to speed with a rapidly changing region. To respond to short-term, immediate needs, the United States and EU have made pledges of financial assistance and political support for the Arab countries in transition to stem economic collapse, capitalize on democratic openings and opportunities for growth, and provide incentives to guard against backsliding on reforms.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Ramzy Mardini
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani will be visiting the White House on April 4 and meeting with President Barack Obama. Discussions are likely to involve Kurdish concerns about Iraq's prime minister, but may largely focus on defining what Vice President Joseph Biden termed as a "special relationship" between the U.S. and Kurds during his visit to Arbil last December. Relations between the governments of the United States and Kurdish Region have grown and deepened considerably since the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq. The Kurds continued to be staunch proponents of the American presence and ongoing engagement in Iraq.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Opponents of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have been pushing for his removal from power for much of his second term in office. In recent months, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and leaders from the Iraqiyya list have turned to an effort to withdraw confidence in Maliki as prime minister. Iraq's Shi'ite parties, though concerned about Maliki's accumulation of power, have largely abstained from the no-confidence push. Yet the anti-Maliki effort gained new life in mid-April when the powerful Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr intensified his opposition to Maliki and voiced his intention to remove the premier. Sadr's push for a no-confidence vote is an important inflection not only in his own posture towards Maliki, but also in the ongoing political crisis in Iraq. It has prompted a backlash from Iran, which has supported Maliki by seeking to restrain Sadr and to prevent a vote of no confidence. This backgrounder explores the possible calculus and responses of Sadr, Iran, and Maliki as Iraq's governmental stalemate continues to drag on.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Regional Cooperation, Governance, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Eight years after NATO initiated its engagement with Gulf countries through the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), the results have been modest, not to say disappointing. True, some recent achievements are worth mentioning: the participation in 2011 of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in Operation Unified Protector in Libya, or the appointment, the same year, of the first UAE Ambassador to NATO, which represented an unprecedented and innovative way to strengthen the partnership.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: On Sunday, Iraqs Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death by hanging after he and his son-in-law were convicted of organizing the murders of a security official and a lawyer. All told, Hashemi is subject to more than 150 charges of terrorism based upon allegations that he used death squads to target his political opponents. The verdict carries distressing implications for short-term domestic security in Iraq and for diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey, where Hashemi currently resides and has been based since his trial began. While some observers view the case against Hashemi in purely sectarian terms, the targeting of a Sunni politician in a Shiite-led state, the sentence in fact highlights the pernicious nature of personal rivalries within Iraqi politics. Further, it demonstrates the politicization of the Iraqi judicial system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has commandeered Iraq's legal institutions in order to consolidate power around his inner circle.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq in December 2011, the rate and lethality of attacks against civilian targets have steadily risen. Most notably, there have been seven major attack waves, defined here as a series of simultaneous and coordinated attacks that target at least 10 cities within one day. The attacks targeted a combination of security posts, government facilities, and Shi'ite shrines and neighborhoods. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella organization formed in 2006 for many Sunni insurgency groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), has claimed credit for a large majority of these attacks.3 This summer has seen a further alarming development with the announcement of ISI's "Destroying the Walls" campaign.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: In its brutal crackdown on civilians, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria has committed mass atrocities. These crimes are not only a human rights catastrophe but also, as the Obama Administration says, a threat to U.S. national security. Yet American diplomatic efforts have failed to curb the violence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Human Rights, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The attacks of September 11, 2001 spawned a decade of al Qaeda inspired radicalization of disaffected Middle Eastern and North African youth and a handful of young Western men. Ten years later, foreign fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other jihadi battlefields appear to be declining while in contrast analysts have pointed to an uptick in United States (U.S.) based “homegrown extremism” - terrorism advocated or committed by U.S. residents or citizens.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is a common place in the literature that the Muslim Brotherhood (jama'a al-ikhwan al-muslimin) is - after its re-emergence on the political scene back in the seventies - the main (if not the only) real, organised and mass-based opposition force in Egypt. Events in Egypt in January 2011 have recast attention on this question. This paper aims to evaluate, inasmuch as it is possible, the state of health of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) today, after forty years of coexistence with the Egyptian (neo)-authoritarian regime. Has the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood represented a real alternative to the incumbent regime? Or it is more correct to speak today in terms of an almost 'functional' opposition, tamed by recurring political repression and limited freedom of action? To what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood been able to shape or at least to influence the Egyptian political and social agenda, both with respect to the regime and to other opposition forces?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Virginie Collombier
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Even before the current uprising began in Egypt, major changes in the political system had begun to threaten the stability of the Mubarak regime as the presidential succession became imminent. Constitutional reforms and electoral fraud could have resulted in a political deadlock in 2011. At the same time, the relative openness and freedom of expression that has emerged in Egypt since 2005 had laid the ground for new political movements to emerge and develop. Events in Tunisia, combined with a severe degradation of economic and social conditions in Egypt, and the growing perception that its citizens would have no say in the coming presidential succession, have created a favourable context for the unprecedented mobilization in Tahrir square.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Bruce K. Rutherford
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As protests continued in Cairo, questions intensified about when and how President Hosni Mubarak would step aside and what kind of transitional government might replace him. The "key actor" at this time is Egypt's military leadership, which is concerned about growing violence, economic damage, and continued instability, says Bruce K. Rutherford, author of Egypt After Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World. "If they want these demonstrations to end, they can either intervene and use force to disperse the demonstrators or they can ask President Mubarak to leave," he says, which would indicate the army's belief that Mubarak's continued presence is destabilizing. Rutherford says the opposition has organized a ten-person leadership group headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, but that Egyptians are skeptical about the government's offer to open discussions with the opposition because in the past, such dialogues haven't led to any change. He says a possible successor to Mubarak may be former foreign minister Amr Moussa, currently head of the Arab League.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is early days, and the true measure of what the Egyptian people have accomplished has yet to fully sink in. Some achievements are as clear as they are stunning. Over a period of less than three weeks, they challenged conventional chestnuts about Arab lethargy; transformed national politics; opened up the political space to new actors; massively reinforced protests throughout the region; and called into question fundamental pillars of the Middle East order. They did this without foreign help and, indeed, with much of the world timidly watching and waffling according to shifting daily predictions of their allies' fortunes. The challenge now is to translate street activism into inclusive, democratic institutional politics so that a popular protest that culminated in a military coup does not end there. The backdrop to the uprising has a familiar ring. Egypt suffered from decades of authoritarian rule, a lifeless political environment virtually monopolised by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); widespread corruption, cronyism and glaring inequities; and a pattern of abuse at the hands of unaccountable security forces. For years, agitation against the regime spread and, without any credible mechanism to express or channel public discontent, increasingly took the shape of protest movements and labour unrest.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza have sought to strengthen their respective Palestinian Authority Security Force (PASF) sectors in recent years, they have adopted very different approaches. The Fayyad government in the West Bank largely relies on financial and training support from the West, while the Haniah government of Hamas in Gaza, lacking significant outside help, has been forced to streamline its operations.
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Foreign Aid, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Trond Bakkevig
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Many political conflicts have a religious dimension, as religion is at the heart of the identities of those involved. Thus, religious dialogue may be a key to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts. Nowhere is this more true than the Holy Land. But how can such a dialogue be initiated and sustained, what problems does it face, and what is the character and role of a facilitator in the process? Here, Rev. Dr. and Canon Trond Bakkevig addresses these questions by drawing on his long experience of working in the area of religious dialogue between religious leaders of Israel and Palestine.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine