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  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Middle at ha een engulfed in chao. Longtanding authoritarian regime have een toppled; till other dictator have killed hundred of thouand and diplaced million in an effort to retain power. Iran’ hiite prox militia have pread throughout the region, fueling ectarianim and roadening the appeal of nihilitic unni Ilamit jihadit group. Meanwhile, audi Araia and gpt—two longtanding pillar of Wahington’ trategic architecture in the Middle at—have een haken  economic troule.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Jordan
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The administration needs to make sure that its imminent creation of a new rebel force is conducted with clear political goals, a concrete military strategy, and due consideration of likely operational contingencies.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although President Rouhani has persuaded the Supreme Leader to adjust the IRGC's economic functions, he has not challenged its role in shaping Iran's nuclear policy. President Hassan Rouhani's relationship with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a central dynamic in the country's politics and economy. As always, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ultimately determines the roles of the president and the IRGC, so Rouhani has sought to pursue his economic imperatives without crossing the Supreme Leader or the military elite on the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli leader showed himself capable of making bold policy reversals when he felt the country's welfare as a democratic Jewish state was at stake. Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, at death's door today at age eighty-five after eight years in a stroke-induced coma, incarnated many of the contradictory dimensions of his entire country: courageous, and so unavoidably controversial; steadfast in his core convictions, yet flexible, impulsive, and even unpredictable in carrying them out; supremely self-confident, yet always acutely concerned about his country's security.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sending a small number of U.S. Apache helicopters to Iraq would demonstrate increasing U.S. support, and any local or regional drawbacks could be addressed by offsetting measures. The recent seizure of Fallujah by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), al-Qaeda's main affiliate in Iraq, is a shocking development. Liberated from al-Qaeda in 2004 at a cost of 122 U.S. deaths, the city sits just twenty-five miles from Baghdad International Airport. Against the backdrop of this crisis, Iraq has once again sought to purchase an unspecified number of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States or, at minimum, to lease six of the aircraft while Congress decides the fate of a major, still-delayed arms sale. The potential benefits of sending Apaches sooner rather than later are clear, and although many have argued against such a move, their concerns are either unwarranted or readily addressable.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Low Salafist turnout for this week's constitutional referendum could signal a broad base of support for growing jihadist violence against the post-Morsi government. The January 14-15 referendum on Egypt's draft constitution is being billed as a referendum on the military's July 3 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Morsi. Yet the vote is unlikely to alter the country's short-term political trajectory: no matter the results, the military-backed government will continue repressing pro-Morsi forces, who will in turn continue resisting a process they view as illegitimate. The extent to which Salafists participate in the referendum may have longer-term implications, however. High Salafist turnout would suggest an embrace of the Nour Party's decision to participate in the post-Morsi process, whereas low turnout would reflect strong feelings of disenfranchisement that could lead more Salafists to embrace jihadism.
  • Topic: Religion, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli acquiescence to de facto alterations of the 1979 peace treaty, Egypt has deployed substantial military forces into the Sinai to combat terrorists. But Israel remains hesitant about Cairo's inclination to increase pressure on Hamas in Gaza. Over the past year, Israel and Egypt have used a little-known, legally permissible understanding -- the Agreed Activities Mechanism -- to bypass restrictions on the number and type of Egyptian forces permitted in much of the Sinai. In doing so, they have made de facto modifications to their 1979 peace treaty without resorting to the diplomatically risky procedure of "reviewing" the treaty itself. As a result, considerable Egyptian army forces are now constantly deployed in central and eastern Sinai (Areas B and C of the peninsula, respectively), in a manner and scope never envisaged by the teams that negotiated the treaty more than three decades ago. Going forward, this new reality on the ground is unlikely to be reversed and is bound to have profound consequences for Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation, Cairo's ongoing counterterrorism campaign, and the fate of Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula, Cairo
  • Author: Adel El-Adawy
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the limitations and internal divisions of Egypt's various power centers, neither the military nor any other single institution is solely in charge at the moment.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given that Assad and his backers want to gut the transition process called for in the Geneva Communique, Washington should plan to take other steps in parallel to the Geneva process.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Britain, United States, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, France, London, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Nations, Italy, Syria, Switzerland, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Assad is still standing, but he is not standing alone -- and he likely no longer makes decisions alone either.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Alon Paz
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Regional circumstances point to both the possibility and the need for enhanced Arab-Israeli efforts to address challenges in the security, energy, food/water scarcity, and public-health domains.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Maghreb
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The ongoing clashes between rival rebel factions will likely be protracted and indecisive, and the resultant diversion of effort is already working to the regime's advantage.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Concerned about the possible drift of al-Qaeda affiliates to areas adjacent to the Golan Heights border, Israel finds itself obliged to increase its assistance to local rebel militias in southern Syria.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Armed Struggle, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Obama administration seems to be understating the risks of minimalist engagement in Syria and overstating the risks of greater involvement, despite the achievable, worthwhile goals of military assistance and limited use of force.
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid the swirl of Middle East chaos, Israelis are enjoying relative calm and real prosperity. External events -- from the counterrevolution in Egypt and the deepening sectarian war in Syria to the spread of Iranian influence across the region -- should provoke deep concern, but the political class is consumed with the politics and diplomacy of negotiations with the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Joshua C. Burgess
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Obama administration should demonstrate renewed resolve to counter growing extremism in the region and build lasting stability, starting with a joint U.S.-French statement during President Francois Hollande's visit to Washington this week.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Baghdad's promising offer on oil exports and revenues could provide vital breathing room to build a permanent revenue-sharing law, and Washington should encourage the Iraqi Kurds to sign on. On February 16, the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will hold another round of negotiations on oil exports and revenue sharing, the fifth such meeting since December 25. With passage of Iraq's 2014 budget delayed by the talks, all parties have a strong interest in striking a deal. Fortunately, such an agreement now stands a better chance of sticking than ever before.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Ethnic Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If Washington is to secure an Iranian nuclear deal that is sustainable and advances American interests, it must make several adjustments to its diplomatic strategy. The Iran nuclear talks are set to resume in Vienna today, with the aim of reaching a long-term agreement to succeed the first-step "Joint Plan of Action" (JPOA). Negotiating an agreement that advances U.S. interests will require the Obama administration to deemphasize political battles in Washington and focus on the larger issues at stake, such as Iran's regional activities and the ultimate fate of the nuclear program. It should also endeavor to transform its fractious array of domestic and international allies from a weakness into a strength. Despite their tactical differences, these allies share an interest in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, as well as avoiding a military conflict and promoting regional stability and global nonproliferation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Washington
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Obama's reaffirmed pledges of assistance to Jordan are helpful, but they may not be enough to safeguard the country if the situation in Syria continues to fester. On February 14, President Obama met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Rancho Mirage, California. In the year since their previous summit, tens of thousands of Syrians have been killed and over 400,000 have registered as refugees in Jordan, bringing the total number of exiles from across the northern border to nearly 1 million. Despite the deterioration next door and the 16 percent increase in the kingdom's population, Jordan is paradoxically more stable today than when the two leaders met in March 2013. Yet the refugees still constitute a threat that will likely increase, especially given President Obama's assessment that "we don't expect to solve [the Syria crisis] anytime in the short term."
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Tehran worries about internal threats from Salafi jihadists, it may well cooperate with such groups if they attack Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, North America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite offering nominal support for Iran's nuclear negotiating team, Khamenei and his circle continue to criticize the talks and could sabotage them outright if internal dynamics go against President Rouhani.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Power Politics, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By focusing on the Syrian regime's faltering commitment to eliminate its chemical weapons, Washington can decisively push Damascus and Russia toward real progress on larger issues -- and also set the table for limited military strikes if they prove necessary.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian negotiations could lower the heat and shed some light on the clash over Jordan Valley security arrangements by promoting a public debate grounded in the facts of current and prospective Israeli deployments.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America
  • Author: Adel El-Adawy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The military chief has some strong assets and likely staying power, but he will still face great pressure if he is elected as anticipated, since the benchmark for success will be his ability to satisfy an Egyptian polity filled with unrealistically high socioeconomic expectations.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Reconstruction, Military Affairs, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Ukraine situation will affect Washington's Middle Eastern priorities, but not to such a degree that it will stymie a strong U.S. response to Russian actions, since America has the power to act in the region without Moscow if necessary. Ukraine could well make it necessary.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker, Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Cairo's possible purchase of advanced weapons systems from Russia could become another irritant in U.S.-Egyptian relations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Issues such as energy dependence, deep-rooted fears of the Russian military, and Black Sea navigation policy all offer clues to Prime Minister Erdogan's vacillating response to Russian activities in Crimea.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Far from disenfranchising certain groups, the pending legislation could spur smaller parties to form new political alliances that would likely favor the center-left opposition in future elections. As the Israeli Knesset prepares to pass a series of electoral reforms under the rubric of a new "Governance Law," one provision has drawn particularly strong criticism: the raising of the threshold required for political parties to obtain seats in the legislature to 3.25% of total votes cast. Media attention has focused on opposition concerns about the measures being "anti-democratic" and potentially disenfranchising Arab Israeli citizens. Yet close analysis of recent electoral results and political realities indicates that the new law could actually help the Israeli center and left.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The regime's recent military successes are by no means sweeping, but its incremental gains in Aleppo and Damascus belie perceptions of stalemate and could shift the war's direction in its favor. The fighting in Syria is frequently described as either a stalemate or a war of attrition -- there are few dramatic movements and no decisive actions, even though both sides repeatedly declare that they are winning and the other side is losing. And some have suggested that there is "no military solution."
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A deal to buy Israeli natural gas can help mitigate the kingdom's energy shortage and steer Amman away from problematic nuclear plans, but it risks stirring domestic opposition. In February, two private Jordanian firms signed a contract with a private U.S.-Israeli consortium to import natural gas from Israel's giant Tamar field, located under the bed of the Mediterranean Sea fifty miles offshore from Haifa. The Arab Potash Company and the Jordan Bromine Company -- both partially owned by the Jordanian government -- will pay Houston-based Noble Energy and its partners $500 million over the course of fifteen years to supply a power plant at Jordanian industrial facilities by the Dead Sea. At just $33 million per year, the deal is not financially significant, but it may set a huge precedent in terms of fostering regional economic cooperation and establishing a framework for Jordanian energy security. The political challenges are significant, however, particularly following the March 10 shooting of a Jordanian man at an Israeli-controlled West Bank crossing point.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Pollock, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington must urgently reestablish the credibility of its military threat, along with other steps, to guard against noncompliance from Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Alon Paz
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The growing capabilities of Iran's navy will enhance the country's soft power and its peacetime reach, while providing an alternative means of supplying the "axis of resistance" if traditional means of civilian transport become untenable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no guarantee that a peace deal will be reached within the current timeline, but a Palestinian return to armed struggle would be a far greater political, economic, and humanitarian disaster than any short-term frustration with the negotiations. Peace processes are rarely peaceful processes, and the current U.S.-led effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian "framework agreement" is no exception. As the tempo of negotiations between the main parties picks up speed, more radical actors have reemerged to violently oppose the process, from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Resistance Committees, to Salafi jihadist groups, to Marxist factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Many observers have focused on the sharp increase in rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past few weeks and the prospect of another Gaza war. But that issue, while crucial, has drawn media attention away from two equally troubling trends: the increase in violence across the West Bank, and new signs that some officials from the Palestinian Authority and its leading party, Fatah, may be hedging their bets and preparing for wider violence if the peace process fails.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Steven Ditto
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian elites continue to express skepticism about the International Atomic Energy Agency's verification measures, nuclear safeguards agreements, and impartiality, with some even accusing it of collusion with foreign intelligence agencies.
  • Topic: International Organization, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A number of U.S. interests could be served by expanding support to strategic Gulf partners in their efforts to curb Iranian aid to local fighters. On March 6, Bahrain's foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council that the ongoing violence in his country "is directly supported by elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran." The statement does not accurately explain all political violence in Bahrain, but not every claim of Iranian support for violence should be assumed to represent part of a government propaganda campaign. U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran is in fact providing arms and more to Bahraini and other fighters in the Arabian Peninsula, and Washington should increase support to important Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners to curb it.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Gilad Wenig
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A closer look at how the supreme military council will operate now that Field Marshal Sisi has thrown his hat into the presidential ring, including a chart illustrating the SCAF's likely new membership. Today, following months of speculation, Field Marshal Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announced his resignation as Egypt's defense minister and his candidacy for president. Sedki Sobhi, former chief of staff under Sisi, has been promoted to colonel general -- one rank below field marshal -- and appointed as the new defense minister, while Mahmoud Hegazy, former director of military intelligence, has been promoted to lieutenant general and will be the new army chief of staff. The resultant restructuring of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will likely put some of Sisi's closest allies in key positions and should provide him with a strong base of military support and influence once he wins the presidency as expected.
  • Topic: Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Olli Heinonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Iran's nuclear potential will likely dominate talks between President Obama and King Abdullah on March 29, Riyadh's own nuclear plans should also be part of the discussion. A major probable consequence of Iran achieving a nuclear weapons capability is that Saudi Arabia will seek to match it. With President Obama currently rating the chances of diplomatic success as 50-50 and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei giving a "zero" probability, this weekend's U.S.-Saudi summit will be an opportunity to check whether Saudi planning can help the diplomacy rather than hinder it.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary Kerry's visit comes amid Morocco's efforts to expand its regional influence and an upcoming vote in Algeria. Next week, Secretary of State John Kerry will head to Rabat and Algiers to reconvene the Strategic Dialogues that were postponed in November when he had to travel to Geneva for urgent Iran negotiations. While the broader themes to be discussed remain the same, certain developments in the two countries' diplomatic positioning will likewise inform the talks.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Morocco
  • Author: Habib Sayah
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Tunisia's Islamists reaffirm their cohesiveness, the country's contentious politics have worn out many voters and dulled their interest in democratic participation, making abstention the most likely winner of this year's elections. Last week, 39,000 members of Tunisia's leading Islamist faction, Ennahda, took part in an internal referendum to decide whether to postpone their next national congress, where a new party executive board is typically chosen. More than 70 percent of the members agreed to maintain the party's cohesiveness in order to focus on winning the next round of legislative elections rather than risk exposing internal divisions. In contrast, the various parties in the secular opposition remain disorganized and divided by their ambitions -- months after helping to pressure the Ennahda-led governing coalition out of office and agreeing to a transitional roadmap, they are unable to unite, whether against their Islamist adversary or around a common political project. More important, Islamists and secularists alike face an uphill battle in convincing increasingly skeptical Tunisian voters that they are serious about addressing the country's social, economic, and security concerns instead of squabbling with each other.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Power Politics, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A closer look at Palestinian views on prisoner releases, the Jewish state question, economic needs, and other issues suggests diplomatic openings are far from exhausted. As the United States works to salvage the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza is more prepared to accept various diplomatic compromises than official positions or elite attitudes would suggest. A number of new polls by different Palestinian pollsters, and in-depth discussions with Palestinian scholars and others in late March, indicate that Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has greater latitude to make a deal than is often supposed. The polls cited here are from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), both based in Ramallah, and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), based in Bethlehem.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The current impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks is buffeted by a series of profound global and regional challenges, including Ukraine, Iran, and Syria, among others. In the immediate arena, while Israel and the Palestinian Authority may have dysfunctional political and diplomatic relations, they also have reasonably effective security cooperation and economic coordination. Therefore, a principal challenge for U.S. policy and for local leaders is to find ways to preserve, even enhance, the latter even as disagreement over the former worsens.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Ukraine, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, North America
  • Author: Steven Ditto
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Islamic Republic has added to its nuclear negotiating team a law professor who has extensive experience making Iran's case in international disputes. On April 9, Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany) concluded the latest two-day round of talks on a nuclear deal, setting the next round for May 13. Earlier in the week, on April 7, Iranian media reported the appointment of Dr. Jamshid Momtaz as head of a "legal advisory group" to the Iranian negotiating team. A French-educated expert on sanctions, disarmament, and UN procedure, Momtaz has represented the Iranian government in some of its highest-profile international legal proceedings, including in claims against the U.S. government at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ). Momtaz's familiarity with the United Nations, his extensive practice in Europe, and his proven history of leveraging complex legal arguments to advance Iran's international interests indicate that in these latest rounds of P5+1 talks Tehran is likely looking for unconventional ways to "address" and "bring a satisfactory conclusion to" the UN Security Council resolutions against it, as called for in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) agreed to in Geneva last November.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Human Rights, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iran, France
  • Author: Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel has gotten few positive results from past financial measures against the PA, and both sides risk miscalculation and escalation when they employ unilateral tactics. On April 1, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas signed accession papers to fifteen international conventions, endangering the current round of peace talks and spurring the Israeli government to state that unilateral Palestinian steps would be met by unilateral steps of its own. Over the past several days, Israel has made good on this promise, instituting various economic and financial sanctions against the PA. Yet recent historical experience indicates that Israel's willingness to maintain punitive financial sanctions on the PA is limited.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington has rightfully avoided backing a candidate in next week's elections, but it should still use counterterrorism assistance and other levers to push Baghdad on pluralism and KRG oil revenue sharing during the presumably lengthy transition period. On April 30, the Iraqi public will vote in national parliamentary elections, establishing the next four-year term of the 328-seat Council of Representatives. Thereafter, an equally consequential bargaining process will commence, taking the formation of the next government out of the public's hands and cloistering it behind closed doors. The United States has repeatedly prodded Baghdad to ensure that the vote is held on time, in all districts, and in a free and fair manner. Washington's role in the government formation process could be equally constructive, but it presents a far trickier challenge. Indeed, how the U.S. government acts during the postelection process could set the tone for bilateral relations throughout the next government's term.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Ehud Yaari, Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as the deal offers short-term political benefits for both sides, it fails to resolve key issues separating them. The April 23 Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement announced in the Gaza Strip is the latest in a long line of attempts to bridge the intra-Palestinian divide. The timing of the agreement amid U.S.-brokered peace talks, as well as both parties' internal weaknesses, points to more serious intent than past efforts. However, the deal fails to address the most sensitive issues separating the two sides and likely can be explained by the political boost it offers to both leaderships. The only certainty is that the reconciliation deal severely complicates efforts to extend Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations past their April 29 deadline.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A close look at the group's military and ideological credentials seems to reveal a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance. In mid-April, web videos began to surface showing Syrian rebel unit Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement) employing U.S.-designed antitank guided missiles in Idlib province. The use of these TOW (tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided) missiles indicates that the United States and/or one of its TOW-equipped allies have provided lethal aid to the group. Videos of two other groups with TOWs have appeared, but Harakat Hazm seems to have received the most, or at least posted the most videos of them in action. Harakat Hazm has many qualities that make it a good candidate for such assistance. It appears secular in orientation, is well organized from a military perspective, has a significant inventory of heavy weapons, operates across an important area of Syria, and has an established combat record in fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime. In short, the group seems to provide at least a partial answer to longstanding questions about which rebel groups Washington should arm.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Syria, North America
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The thorny parliamentary process of selecting a new president could rekindle violence if it results in substantial delays or further sectarian friction. Last week, Lebanon's parliament convened for the first round of balloting to elect a new president. While Samir Geagea -- who leads the Christian "Lebanese Forces" party, which is aligned with the pro-Western March 14 coalition -- received the most votes, he failed to secure the requisite two-thirds parliamentary support. In the coming weeks, legislators are slated to continue meeting until a president is selected. Unlike last week's session, in which the Hezbollah-led March 8 bloc did not challenge Geagea's candidacy, the voting promises to become increasingly contentious in subsequent rounds. Perennial sectarian tensions exacerbated by the war next door in Syria have complicated the historically wrought and arcane election process. Should a compromise candidate not emerge by May 25, the term of current president Michel Suleiman will expire, leaving the post vacant. In the past, the presidency -- which by law must be held by a Christian -- was the dominant office in Lebanon's government. But the 1989 Taif Accord effectively stripped the position of its powers, delegating them to the prime minister, who must hail from the Sunni Muslim constituency. Given the post's largely symbolic nature, some might argue that the tense selection process is much ado about nothing. Yet the presidency remains an emotionally evocative issue for Lebanese Christians, and both the March 8 and March 14 blocs see a sympathetic chief executive as an important advantage worth fighting for.
  • Topic: Religion, Power Politics, Regime Change, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Haroon Ullah, Eric Trager, Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A senior State Department advisor and two Washington Institute scholars discuss what lessons can -- and cannot -- be drawn from the Islamist political experience in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and other countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington should look for small changes in Kuwait and Qatar's political and security calculus that could provide opportunities to support counter-terrorist financing measures there. On April 30, the U.S. State Department noted that private donations from Persian Gulf countries were "a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly...in Syria," calling the problem one of the most important counterterrorism issues during the previous calendar year. Groups such as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, are believed to be frequent recipients of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that wealthy citizens and others in the Gulf peninsula have been donating during the Syrian conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Syria, Qatar