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  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The removal of the Ba'ath regime in 2003 opened a Pandora's box of long-suppressed aspirations, none as potentially explosive as the Kurds' demand, expressed publicly and with growing impatience, for wide-ranging autonomy in a region of their own, including the oil- rich governorate of Kirkuk. If mismanaged, the Kurdish question could fatally undermine the political transition and lead to renewed violence. Kurdish leaders need to speak more candidly with their followers about the compromises they privately acknowledge are required, and the international community needs to work more proactively to help seal the historic deal.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia, Kirkuk
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Iraq war, Washington and Damascus have been locked in a dialogue of the deaf. U.S. policy has been reduced to a series of demands and threats. Syrian policy, with President Bashar still struggling to formulate and implement a coherent strategy, has been mainly wait-and-see – offering a few concessions and hoping to weather the storm while refusing to relinquish what it sees as trump cards (support for Hizbollah and radical Palestinian groups) so long as the conflict with Israel continues. Despite the current deadlock, however, the current regional situation presents an opportunity for an intensive, U.S.-led diplomatic effort to revive the Israeli-Syrian peace process and thereby achieve significant changes in Syrian policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Israel, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bashar al-Assad's presidency has failed to live up to the hopes for far-reaching domestic reform that greeted it in 2000. After a brief opening, Syria clamped down on dissent, and economic change remains painfully slow. Many who once viewed Bashar as a potential partner, open-minded, and Western-oriented, now perceive him as, if anything, more ideological than and just as tied to the Baathist regime as his father. Both assessments are overly simplistic and poor guides to dealing with a Syria that is at a crossroads. Syrian officials hint at significant steps in mid-2004, including possible changes in the Baath Party hierarchy and doctrine and moves toward a more open and inclusive political system. Scepticism is in order, as such pledges have repeatedly been made in the past only to be ignored. But with reform now a strategic imperative, Syria should turn hints into reality and the international community should find ways to encourage and to assist it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations resume, a key stumbling block is likely to be the Palestinian refugee question. The plight of the refugees and the demand that their right of return be recognised has been central to the Palestinian struggle since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Palestinians warn that a dissatisfied, angry refugee community whose core demands remain unmet could undermine any peace agreement. For their part, Israelis reject any significant return of refugees, which would spell the end of the Jewish state. They suggest that the issue has been kept artificially alive by the Palestinian leadership and Arab states; improvements in the desultory living conditions of camp refugees coupled with substantial resettlement plans in host or third countries could, they argue, dilute the intensity of the demand for return.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 01-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The escalating cycle of Israeli-Palestinian military confrontation since September 2000, the breakdown in mutual trust and continued suicide bombings by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) – the most recent on 14 January 2004 – have returned the problem of how to deal with Hamas to the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian political and diplomatic equation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S. and revelations that the al-Qaeda network made extensive use of charitable institutions to raise funds for its operations, have reinforced concerns about the relationship between Islamic social welfare activism and terrorism. The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which has conducted a series of devastating armed attacks during the current conflict, particularly against Israeli civilian targets, and which supports an extensive network of social welfare organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has come in for particular scrutiny.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Assuming the U.S.-led military operation to topple Saddam Hussein proceeds, the threat is very great of large-scale violence, centred on Kirkuk, erupting in Northern Iraq between Kurds and Turks. If that is to be averted, the United States must urgently take three important steps: get its own forces to Kirkuk first, ensure that Turkey exercises restraint, and simultaneously persuade the Iraqi Kurds to take no action that will risk provoking Turkey.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Arabia, Kirkuk
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The success or failure of Iraq's post-war transition will chiefly depend on whether domestic realities and dynamics are accurately understood and can be translated into a form of governance that is accepted as legitimate by core Iraqi constituencies. Ultimately, the international community's task will be to navigate competing claims to power and influence, ensuring a level playing field and not anointing any pretender until a process can be constructed to give voice to the mass of Iraqis who have been disenfranchised by three decades of authoritarian Baathist rule.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Politics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The impassioned controversy that surrounded the decision to invade Iraq had the unfortunate consequence of impeding coordination of humanitarian relief operations. Now that the war has begun, it is important to deal with the urgent task of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. That will require steps by those who were opposed to the war, in particular European governments and NGOs, to agree to work in close coordination with the United States and put their plans and their funding on the table. And it will require steps by the United States to eschew a dominant role in the post-conflict humanitarian effort and hand coordination over to the United Nations.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Human Welfare, Non-Governmental Organization, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Europe, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The policy dilemmas posed by the Iraqi crisis are much more acute, and the issues much more finely balanced, than most of those publicly supporting or opposing war are prepared to acknowledge. There is still broad international agreement about the objectives to be pursued: ensuring that Iraq does not constitute a threat, disarming it of the weapons of mass destruction it still retains (as demanded by Security Council Resolution 1441), and improving the condition of the Iraqi people (as demanded both by common decency and the Iraqi people themselves). But following the inspectors' reports to the UN Security Council on 14 February 2003 and the extraordinary scale of the worldwide anti-war demonstrations over the following days, achieving international consensus on how to achieve these objectives appears as difficult as ever.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For the foreseeable future, Iraq's security will be in the hands of Coalition forces. As a result, how the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) chose to deal with the country's former military and how it is now going about starting up a new army may not have immediate security implications. But both courses have decisive political implications, and both appear, at a minimum, to have been poorly thought out and recklessly implemented. They heighten the risk that the Sunni population will be further alienated, that the military will be perceived as a prolongation of, rather than a substitute for, the occupation and that, far from helping to forge a new collective national identity, it will become an arena for renewed internal political, sectarian and ethnic conflict. A significant course correction is required in order to lay the foundations for a stable, and stabilising, indigenous security structure.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Politics, Sovereignty, Population
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As attacks against the occupying forces and suicide bombs against civilian targets intensify, the need for a new political formula that will increase the powers, legitimacy and representative quality of Iraqi governing institutions is becoming more urgent than ever. The response to date, reflected in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511, has been to tie the transfer of the exercise of sovereignty to the drafting of an Iraqi constitution, its adoption in a referendum and ensuing national elections.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Politics, Religion, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: We conducted a survey on behalf of the International Crisis Group and the Baker Institute to gauge support among Israelis and Palestinians for a proposed peace accord.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Navigating the treacherous shoals of the Iraq conflict with a steady hand, Jordan appears to have emerged unscathed from the turbulent months just past. The Hashemite Kingdom adjusted its rhetoric to fit the public mood while backing U.S. policy in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, managed to overcome its principal weaknesses and now faces the post-war world with renewed confidence and authority.
  • Topic: Democratization, Demographics, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi, a courageous human rights lawyer, has focused renewed attention on the deep divisions and tensions within Iran. How these work out, and how Iran defines its role in the world, will have a critical impact on a range of wider security issues, from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the future of nuclear non-proliferation.
  • Topic: Security, Demographics, Development, Economics, Politics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The announcement on 21 October 2003 of an agreement between Iran on the one hand and Britain, France and Germany on the other, is an important and welcome step in resolving the controversy surrounding Tehran's nuclear program. But it would be wrong to assume that it ends it. The challenge now is to use the breathing space provided by the agreement to tackle the questions – about its implementation, the future of Iran's uranium enrichment activities and Iran's own security concerns – that, for the time being, it has deferred.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Government, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: Britain, Iran, France, Arabia, Germany
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The massive car bomb in Najaf on 29 August 2003, which took the lives of over 90 Iraqis, including the prominent cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, has put renewed focus on the fate of the country's Shiites. The attack comes in the wake of the attempted killing of other prominent clerics, including Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Saed Al-Tabatab'i al-Hakim, al-Hakim's uncle. Although it is too soon to assign blame, it is not too soon to assess potential consequences: a heightened sense of insecurity; anger, directed both at the former regime and at the current occupiers; intensified intra-Shiite rivalry; and a growing risk of sectarian conflict as militias loyal to different groups vie for control.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The horrific bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 has focused renewed attention on the question of who, if anyone, is capable of governing Iraq in the current highly volatile environment and, in particular, on what ought to be the respective roles, during the occupation period, of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the Interim Governing Council and the United Nations. This report proposes a new distribution of authority between the three - potentially acceptable to the United States, the wider international community and the majority of Iraqis - which would enable Iraq's transitional problems, including the critical issue of security, to be much more effectively addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Baghdad, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Settlement expansion in the Palestinian occupied territories is endangering the viability of the Roadmap and, most importantly, of the two-state solution it contemplates and which forms the core of President Bush's stated vision. Freezing settlements is not the Roadmap's only requirement and, to Israelis, may not appear as the central one. But unless action is urgently taken, there is a serious risk that Israeli steps will jeopardise any realistic prospect of a fair and sustainable territorial solution. The seriousness of President Bush and the wider international community about the objective of achieving a two-state solution must be matched by an equal commitment to halting the settlement enterprise that is jeopardising it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Few political actors in the Middle East have seen their environment as thoroughly affected by recent events in the region as Hizbollah, the Lebanese political-military organisation that first came on the scene in the mid-1980s. In U.S. political circles, calls for action against Hizbollah, which is accused of global terrorist activity, are heard increasingly. With the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime, the U.S. has upped its pressure on Syria and Iran - Hizbollah's two most powerful patrons. Meanwhile, Israel has made clear it will not tolerate indefinitely the organisation's armed presence on its northern border. Within Lebanon itself, weariness with Hizbollah and questions about its future role are being raised with surprising candour.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria