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  • 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 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: 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: Ashley J. Tellis, Martha Brill Olcott, Dmitri V. Trenin, Frédéric Grare, Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Christopher Boucek, Gilles Dorronsoro, Karim Sadjadpour, Michael D. Swaine, Aroop Mukharji, Haroun Mir, Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Tiffany Ng
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Obama administration has made some decisive changes to the Afghan policy it inherited. Most significantly, in its first year it committed to a 250 percent increase in the American force on the ground (adding 51,000 troops to the 34,000 in Afghanistan when Mr. Obama took office) and lobbied hard to secure increases in non–U.S. coalition forces. It matched this large increase in force with a major reduction in the goal: from raising a democratic state in Afghanistan to the creation of a state strong enough to prevent a takeover by the Taliban, al–Qaeda, or any other radical Islamic group; and to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” al–Qaeda (which, of course, is not achievable in Afghanistan or Afghanistan and Pakistan alone). The third pillar of the policy was and is a greater emphasis on the need for a regional approach, a belief the Bush administration moved toward in its closing days.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Religion, Terrorism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, India
  • Author: Ömer Taspinar
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In what represents a remarkable departure from its policy of non-involvement, Turkey is once again becoming an important player in the Middle East. In recent years, Ankara has shown a growing willingness to mediate in the Arab– Israeli conflict; attended Arab League conferences; contributed to UN forces in Lebanon and NATO forces in Afghanistan; assumed a leadership position in the Organization of Islamic Conference and established closer ties with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Nationalism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since its revolutionary birth in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had a turbulent existence in international relations. From the US hostage crisis to the Iran-Iraq War to the current provocative development of its nuclear program, the short history of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been characterized by its volatile foreign politics. In fact, this is a feature very much resemblant of the country's tumultuous past, born from both its immense energy resources and its geo-strategic location. Regardless if Iran was under the rule of a Shah or the ultimate power of an Ayatollah, since the discovery of oil in the early 1900s, Iran's generous natural endowments have created an intimate link between itself and geopolitical competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran
  • Author: Riaz Hassan
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Using the analytical framework developed by the Berkley research programme in religion and society, this paper will report findings from a comparative study of Muslim piety of over 6000 respondents from Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. The findings show similarities as well as significant differences in patterns of religious commitments among the respondents in the study. This is probably the first attempt to compare and 'map out' Muslim religiosity in Muslim countries. The first part of the paper will report the findings and the analysis by gender, life cycle, education and social position. The second part of the paper will discuss the findings using analytical insights from Emile Durkheim and Mary Douglas' sociology of religion. In this section, the paper will also compare selected aspects of Christian and Muslim piety and offer sociological explanations of the significant differences in 'experiential religiosity' between Christians and Muslims. The Christian piety data will be drawn from primary and secondary sources. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the sociological implications of these findings for social political and religious trajectories of Muslim countries.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Egypt
  • Author: Jost Halfmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for German and European Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • Abstract: Jost Halfmann argues that fundamentalist terrorism is an extreme expression of protest against the separation of state and religion; this form of protest is motivated by a utopian vision of society as a community of the faithful. The protest against secular states arises in states with forced modernization politics (such as Iran or Egypt), but also in states which base national identity on religion (such as Israel) and in states with high popular religiosity (such as the US). The terrorist form of protest exhibits an extreme form of self-ascribed marginality. Terrorism seems to be the only expression of protest when the enemy is considered overwhelmingly powerful, the struggle must, however, not be lost. Fundamentalist terrorists view themselves as being engaged in a cosmic war enforced on them by the enemy. Terrorist assaults are, therefore, symbolic acts of violence against symbols of the enemy's power to demonstrate emporarily the enemy's weakness.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Israel, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tucked away in a handful of villages in a remote pocket of Iraqi Kurdistan, a small group of radical Islamist fighters has been accused of being the Kurdish offspring of the al-Qaeda network, and thus has become a fresh target in the international war on terrorism. To compensate for its limited reach and popularity, this group, called Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), has built on tenuous regional alliances to survive in the harsh mountainous environment above the town of Halabja in northwestern Iraq, just shy of the border with Iran. These alliances have enhanced its role as a minor spoiler in predominantly secular Kurdish politics in the Suleimaniyeh governorate.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Fiona Hill
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Before 1991, the states of Central Asia were marginal backwaters, republics of the Soviet Union that played no major role in the Cold War relationship between the USSR and the United States, or in the Soviet Union's relationship with the principal regional powers of Turkey, Iran, and China. But, in the 1990s, the dissolution of the Soviet Union coincided with the re-discovery of the energy resources of the Caspian Sea, attracting a range of international oil companies including American majors to the region. Eventually, the Caspian Basin became a point of tension in U.S.-Russian relations. In addition, Central Asia emerged as a zone of conflict. Violent clashes erupted between ethnic groups in the region's Ferghana Valley. Civil war in Tajikistan, in 1992-1997, became entangled with war in Afghanistan. Faltering political and economic reforms, and mounting social problems provided a fertile ground for the germination of radical groups, the infiltration of foreign Islamic networks, and the spawning of militant organizations like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The IMU first sought to overthrow the government of President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, later espoused greater ambitions for the creation of an Islamic caliphate (state) across Central Asia, and eventually joined forces with the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the events of September 11, 2001 and their roots in the terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, Central Asia came to the forefront of U.S. attention.
  • Topic: Cold War, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, United States, China, Europe, Iran, Central Asia, Turkey, Asia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Taliban, Soviet Union