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  • Author: Emmanuel Comolet
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Jordan is in the eye of the Arab cyclone. It remains stable while surrounded by chaotic political situations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan has not experienced the massive demonstrations aimed at regime change that have been seen elsewhere in the region, and its relative stability has enabled it to cash in on the geo-political services it provides. These services include: hosting refugees from Palestine, Iraq or Syria; remaining a reliable ally for many international powers; featuring a strong army that plays a stabilizing role in the region; serving as an intermediary when neighboring countries need a host or a dealmaker; and providing qualified Jordanian workers to fill open vacancies for companies and countries, especially in the Gulf. The current stability in Jordan matches well its historic capacity to resist and adapt to shocks. However, the contemporary situation of the labor market reveals that the weaknesses observed in the countries having experienced revolutions (e.g., Tunisia and Egypt) are also present in Jordan; labor market participation is low with very few women active, and the unemployment rate of educated young people is worrisome. Both the number of Jordanians working abroad and the number of migrant workers in Jordan show the discrepancy between demand and supply of labor in Jordan. This could become problematic, since the economic situation has been worsening, notably with fewer public jobs available. Hence there is a need for international donors to keep supporting Jordan in a difficult regional environment, for the government of Jordan to wittily manage the balance between Transjordanians and West Bankers in the near future and for new workers to alter their expectations in searching for opportunities outside the public sector.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: For 7 years now, the border area between Israel and Lebanon has witnessed calm and stability. At first sight, this has all the appearances of a paradox. The 2006 war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah, was followed neither by a peace agreement nor by a mere diplomatic process. Both sides prepared their forces to wage the next war and additionally have been confronted in past years to major changes in the distribution of power in the Middle East in the midst of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The self-styled Islamic State is an accident of history, emerging from multiple social, political and economic tensions in the Middle East and beyond. It has challenged the territorial divisions imposed on the region following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire by carving out for itself a large area of territory. But ultimately, its impact will flow as much from its challenge to established concepts of government, national sovereignty, and national identity. The Islamic State is most notable for the violence with which it asserts control, but its ruthless tactics will likely prevent the group from ruling effectively and building broader support beyond the front line fighters who protect its security and the authoritarian killers who patrol its streets.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Security and Cooperation
  • Abstract: This testimony explores the future of jihadism, in part because the past and present are already quite well described in the literature and partly because there has been considerable debate among experts in recent years about al-Qaida's future. Peter Bergen has literally declared the group “defeated”, while a book by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross sets out to explain “why we are still losing the war on terror.” Earlier this year, former CIA officials Paul Pillar and Bruce Riedel published op-eds on the very same day making diametrically opposing arguments about the future of al-Qaida. With this testimony I weigh in on this debate and deliberately engage in some qualified speculation about al-Qaida's future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Daniel Dewit
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last active US combat forces left Iraq in August 2010, marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. Some 49,000 advisory troops, four advisor assistance brigades, and a limited number of special operations forces (SOF) remained to train, advise, and assist Iraq's security forces after that date, including the military, intelligence, and police. Until the end, these US troops continued to serve a number of other important security functions: carrying out kinetic operations against Iranian-backed and other militant groups; providing training to the ISF; taking part in joint patrols along the borders of the Kurdish provinces and helping integrate ISF and Kurdish forces; and acting as a deterrent to Iraq's neighbors–in particular Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • 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
  • Author: Gretchen Peters
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The purpose of this report is to understand and outline the financial architecture that sustains the Haqqani faction of the Afghan insurgency. The Haqqani network (hereafter “the network” or “the Haqqan is”) is widely recognized as a semi-autonomous component of the Taliban and as the deadliest and most globally focused faction of that latter group. What gets far less attention is the fact that the Haqqan is also appear to be the most sophisticated and diversified from a financial standpoint. This report will illustrate that the Haqqani business portfolio mirrors a mafia operation, and illustrate why an understanding of the illicit business side of the network is critical to enriching our understanding of the group. In addition to raising funds from ideologically like minded donors, an activity the Haqqan is have engaged in since the 1980s, information collected for this report indicates that over the past three decades they have penetrated key business sectors, including import-export, transport, real estate and construction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Gulf and beyond. The Haqqan is employ violence and intimidation to extort legal firms and prominent community members, and engage in kidnap for ransom schemes. According to investigators, they protect and engage in the trafficking of narcotics and the precursor chemicals used to process heroin (although to a much lesser degree than other factions of the Afghan Taliban). The Haqqan is also appear to operate their own front companies, many of which appear to be directed at laundering illicit proceeds. The broad range of business activities in which the Haqqan is engage suggests that the pursuit of wealth and power may be just as important to net work leaders as the Islamist and nationalistic ideals for which the Haqqan is claim to fight.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taliban, Arabia
  • 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: Nicolas Pelham
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The August 5th 2012 attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the nexus where Gaza, Egypt and Israel meet has spurred Egypt's greatest effort to reassert its authority over the Sinai since recovering the territory from Israel in 1982. Nevertheless, armed Bedouin groups backed by jihadi allies continue to confound their efforts. Only the integration of Sinai's Bedouin into Egypt's security, political and economic fabric will restore the buy-in of the indigenous population that is vital for both the success of the country's military campaign and the stabilisation of this strategic corridor linking Asia to Africa – and of post-revolutionary Egypt itself. The identities of the attackers have yet to be made public. Most were likely Sinai Bedouin, with perhaps some Palestinian support. But the fact that this attack is not an isolated incident and has been succeeded and preceded by many others suggests that North Sinai has become an environment for the killing of Egyptian soldiers and the destruction of Egyptian installations. This report examines the causes of the prevailing anti-government temperament in North Sinai, which is home to approximately 75% of Sinai's half a million people; tracks the development of quasi self-rule since the fall of Mubarak; and offers a few suggestions for the stabilisation of Sinai within a future regional economic and security framework.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula