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  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Never has the cause of political reform in the Arab world received as strong verbal support— on both the international and domestic political levels—as it did in Palestine between 2002 and 2006. And while much of the Palestinian reform agenda remained unrealized, Palestinian governance changed in fundamental ways during the reform wave. But international backers of reform in particular had a remarkably short-term focus, a highly personalized view of the process, and a very instrumental view of reform, leading them to turn harshly against the achievements of the Palestinian reform movement when it brought unexpected results. What can this combination of success and disillusioned failure teach us about the cause of Arab political reform?
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Dina Bishara
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2006 Lebanon war has had a profound effect on Islamist movements that have chosen to compete as legal parties in the political systems of their countries, testing their relationship with the ruling regimes as well as their respect for pluralism and tolerance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recent election results in several Arab countries have transformed formerly theoretical questions into pressing policy concerns: Can Islamist political parties operate within the boundaries of a democratic system? Will participation breed moderation? Strong showings by Hizbollah in Lebanon and by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have made these questions seem less speculative. And the victory of Hamas in the first election it contested has made the questions impossible to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan, Mumbai
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In today's Arab world, Islamists have assumed the role once played by national liberation movements and leftist parties. They are the mass movements of the twenty-first century. They are well embedded in the social fabric, understand the importance of good organization, and are thus able to mobilize considerable constituencies. Their ideology prescribes a simple solution to the persistent crises of contemporary Arab societies—a return to the fundamentals, or true spirit, of Islam. Indeed, “Islam is the solution” has been the longtime slogan of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Like all successful movements, Islamists have been able to distill a long, complex philosophical tradition into simple slogans that have quickly supplanted the Pan-Arabism and socialism that dominated the region until the 1970s. As a result, in most countries Islamists represent the only viable opposition forces to existing undemocratic regimes.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Julia Choucair
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanon is arguably the most democratic Arab state. Under parliamentary rule since becoming independent in 1943, it has regular elections, numerous political parties, and relatively free and lively news media. Lebanon also has one of the most complex political systems in the Middle East, based on the premise that a careful balance in all aspects of political life must be maintained among the seventeen recognized religious communities. While this confessional system has spared Lebanon the authoritarianism experienced by many Arab regimes in the twentieth century, paradoxically it has also prevented the transition to a truly democratic state. Nor has the confessional system eliminated the factional strife it was designed to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: David M. Mednicoff
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE IN RULE-OF-LAW PROMOTION, above all the basic question of whether Western rule-of-law aid programs are on the right track to help build the rule of law in recipient countries, is especially acute in the Arab world. Arab states generally share two features that render external rule-of-law aid particularly difficult—long-standing nondemocratic governments, and legal systems that graft Ottoman, European, and contemporary sources onto Islamic norms. We cannot presume that U.S. common-law practitioners can build the rule of law by transporting or transplanting their technocratic techniques into such different legal soil. Indeed, the very idea that people in Arab societies would be receptive to American guidance in legal reform is dubious in the current climate of broad, popular mistrust of the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: IN PALESTINE, CITIZENS HAVE RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH and free assembly. The most independent judiciary in the Arab world adjudicates their disputes. Palestinians select their leaders freely in competitive elections overseen by an independent electoral commission. A representative assembly monitors the executive, granting and withholding confidence from ministers and reviewing the state budget in detailed public discussions. Elected councils manage local governments that are fiscally autonomous of the center.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: This short paper launches the second set of studies in the Carnegie Papers Middle East Series. The first set, now also published as a book under the title Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East, examined the most important issues concerning democracy promotion and democratic change in the Middle East. One of the conclusions that emerged from those studies is that the Middle East still offers a rather discouraging political picture. There are some liberalized autocracies but no democratic countries in the region. The link between economic and political reform remains weak. Democratic reformers have failed to build strong constituencies, and the organizations with strong constituencies are Islamist rather than democratic. The integration of Islamists in the reform process remains poor. And the United States, now championing democracy in the region, has little credibility in Arab eyes, and still has not consistently integrated democracy promotion in its policy toward the area. Yet, despite all these problems, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a ferment of reform in the Middle East. But how significant is it?
  • Topic: Development, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: IN THE THREE YEARS SINCE THE TERRORIST ATTACKS of September 11, 2001, the question of Arab reform not only has become closely linked in the minds of Western policy makers to the fight against Al Qaeda, but also has become a dominant theme of discussion in the region itself. Arab satellite television stations broadcast talk shows featuring vigorous discussions about the persistence of authoritarian rule in Arab countries and the incompetence of incumbent regimes. The opinion pages of Arab newspapers are replete with articles championing democratic reform as the only way to strengthen the region against Western control, or, conversely, to connect it with globalization and “modernity.” Civil society groups, political parties, and even business organizations are promulgating reform manifestos with increasing regularity. Political reform is also the focus of heated debates in unexpected circles such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi royal family. All Arab governments have acknowledged the need for reform in principle (some have even talked of democracy), and many have announced their own reform initiatives.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: BETWEEN 2002 AND 2004, THE UNITED STATES ACCORDED new prominence to political and economic reform and democratization as policy goals in the Middle East. Continuing that trend and translating rhetoric into effective strategies both depend on whether reform and democratization become fully integrated into the U.S. policy agenda in the region. Can the United States promote change at the risk of instability in the region while it remains dependent on petroleum from Arab countries? Can it pursue Arab–Israeli peace and democratization at the same time? Can the United States still secure needed military and counterterrorism cooperation if it antagonizes friendly regimes by promoting democratization as well? Is it feasible for the United States to promote democratization effectively amid widespread grievances against the war in Iraq and serious questions about U.S. human rights practices there and in Afghanistan?
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Graham E. Fuller
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: ARE ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY COMPATIBLE? And are Islamists willing to accept a democratic order and work within it? Debate has swirled around these two grand questions for decades and has produced a broad variety of responses, often quite polarized. Whatever we may think about Islamists, the topic matters vitally because in the Middle East today they have few serious ideological rivals in leading opposition movements against a failing status quo. These Islamist movements are characterized by rapid growth, evolution, change, and diversification. In the Arab world the only ideological competition comes from Arab nationalism, the left, and liberal democracy, in diminishing order of size and importance. More significantly, since the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, and the declaration of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, Arab nationalists and the left increasingly share a common cause with the Islamists in the face of growing political confrontation with the United States. This rising hostility shows no abatement as yet and permits political Islam (Islamism) to gain ever greater ground.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: George Perkovich, Joseph Cirincione, Jessica T. Mathews, Alexis Orton
  • Publication Date: 01-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: If history is any guide, the war and subsequent occupation and reconstruction of Iraq will shape U.S. relations with the Arab world—and perhaps with the whole Muslim world—for decades, just as prior military occupations altered U.S. relations with Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. What happens in Iraq is also likely to profoundly affect whether and with what degree of effort and success states choose to work together to constrain the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The war and its aftermath will affect U.S. foreign relations, influence U.S. policies regarding future armed interventions, and alter the international struggle against terrorism. It is a massive understatement, then, to say that a great deal is at stake, on the ground in Iraq, around the world, and in the lessons for the future that will be drawn here at home.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Arabia, Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: Daniel Brumberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: No American administration has talked more about democracy in the Middle East than the Bush administration. The president and his advisors have spoken optimistically about a post-Saddam democracy in Iraq, one that might eventually become a veritable light to other Arab nations. This grand vision assumes that sooner or later, advocates of democracy throughout the Middle East will demand the same freedoms and rights that Iraqis are now claiming. Yet, however inspiring this vision appears, the actual reform plan that the administration has thus far set out is unlikely to produce radical changes in the Arab world. Regardless of how dramatic the change in Baghdad is, when it comes to our friends in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Yemen, the administration's reform plan points to evolution rather than revolution.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Marina Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since early last year, the Bush administration has paid unaccustomed attention to the issue of democracy in the Middle East. Following September 11, many U. S. officials have worried that the authoritarianism of most Arab regimes has bred frustration in their countries, and this frustration has in turn favored the growth of terrorist organizations. U.S. discussions about the need for democracy in the Middle East have triggered a strong negative reaction by Arab commentators and journalists, including in discussions of democracy in the Arab press. However, very little of this writing has dealt with the problem of democracy in the real sense—that is, with the issue of how Arab governments relate to their citizens now and how they should relate to their citizens in the future. Instead, Arab commentators have treated democracy as a foreign policy issue, asking why the United States is suddenly discussing democracy in the Arab world and what true intentions it is trying to hide behind the smoke screen of democracy talk. The debate in the Arab press reveals some of the obstacles that the United States faces as it attempts to define its new pro-democracy role in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia