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  • Author: Alexander De Juan
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Institutions can contribute to regulating interethnic conflict; however, in many cases they fail to bring about lasting peace. The paper argues that their negligence of intraethnic factors accounts for some of this failure. Ethnic groups are often treated as unitary actors even though most consist of various linguistic, tribal or religious subgroups. This internal heterogeneity is often obscured by overarching collective ethnic identities that are fostered by interethnic conflict. However, when such interethnic conflict is settled, these subgroup differences may come back to the fore. This “resurgence” can lead to subgroup conflict about the political and economic resources provided through intergroup institutional settlements. Such conflict can in turn undermine the peace-making effect of intergroup arrangements. Different subgroup identity constellations make such destructive effects more or less likely. The paper focuses on self-government provisions in the aftermath of violent interethnic conflict and argues that lasting intergroup arrangements are especially challenging when they involve “contested” ethnic groups.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • 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: Patrick Gaughen
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Even as U.S. operations to co-opt large elements of the Sunni insurgency and target irreconciliable al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters resulted in lower levels of violence during the summer, U.S. forces have simultaneously pursued rogue elements of Muqtada as-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM). These operations, often in collaboration with Iraqi Security Forces friendly to Sadr's main Shi'a rival, the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), took place within the broader context of a violent struggle between ISCI and the Sadrist Trend for supremacy within the Shi'a community, the lucrative income from control of the Shi'a shrines, and control of southern oil fields. This struggle has increasingly centered on the city of Diwaniyah, located in southern Iraq, approximately halfway between the capital of Baghdad and the southern port city of Basrah.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bomb attack on a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006 and subsequent reprisals against Sunni mosques and killings of Sunni Arabs is only the latest and bloodiest indication that Iraq is teetering on the threshold of wholesale disaster. Over the past year, social and political tensions evident since the removal of the Baathist regime have turned into deep rifts. Iraq's mosaic of communities has begun to fragment along ethnic, confessional and tribal lines, bringing in stability and violence to many areas, especially those with mixed populations. The most urgent of these incipient conflicts is a Sunni-Shiite schism that threatens to tear the country apart. Its most visible manifestation is a dirty war being fought between a small group of insurgents bent on fomenting sectarian strife by killing Shiites and certain government commando units carrying out reprisals against the Sunni Arab community in whose midst the insurgency continues to thrive. Iraqi political actors and the international community must act urgently to prevent a low-intensity conflict from escalating into an all-out civil war that could lead to Iraq's disintegration and destabilise the entire region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • 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: George Adams
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in countless other hotspots around the world, religion has been a major factor in matters of war and peace. Since religion often plays a significant role in conflicts, it also needs to be one of the factors addressed in mediating conflicts. Yet, because the United States separates religion from political matters to a greater degree than many other areas of the world, Americans frequently have difficulty understanding the crucial role religion can play in conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Christoph Marcinkowski
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Recent political events surrounding the Iranian “nuclear crisis”, as well as the still unsettled fate of Iraq have resulted in a renewed interest in the Shi'ite dimension of Islam among political observers. This paper attempts to present an outline of some of the “essential features” of Twelver Shi'ite Islam as it distinguishes itself today from majority Sunnism. In particular, the different approaches of Sunnite and Shi'ite Muslims towards the issue of religious and political authority - resulting in history often in violent clashes - have been highlighted. Moreover, throughout their history, Shi'ites had put high emphasis on intellectual pursuit and reasoning, on philosophy and science. Although the paper focuses of the “Twelver Shi'ites” (today numerically and politically the strongest Shi'ite group), the today rather un-political Isma'ilis or “Sevener” Shi'ites, too, shall be referred to briefly, as they have also some pockets in Singapore among the Indian Muslim community. Of special interest to the political observer of contemporary Islam shall be the status of Shi'ite clerics (Arab. 'ulama') vis-à-vis their Sunnite colleagues.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: A. Rashied Omar
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Abstract: In the Spring of 2006 an Afghan citizen, Abdul Rahman, who had converted from Islam to Christianity was arrested under local shari`ah law which mandates the death penalty for apostasy. As a result of international pressure Abdul Rahman was released and given asylum in Italy. This widely publicized incident highlighted the urgent need for Muslims to seriously reexamine the restrictive shari`ah laws on apostasy. It is unfortunate, however, that this case took place in the war ravaged context of Afghanistan, where relief aid for the victims of war is dispensed by Christian agencies some with a primarily evangelistic agenda. A similar program of aid evangelism has been undertaken in wartorn Iraq. The activities of such groups have reinvigorated the debate over whether it is ethical for philanthropical activities and humanitarian service to be undertaken with the primary intent to proselytize. The legitimacy of religious conversion and the ethics of mission are challenging issues. But they are also pertinent issues that should form part of an honest dialogical encounter between Christians and Muslims, since they have important implications for conflict transformation and interreligious peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Crime, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: Reidar Visser
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the two prevailing interpretations of the political attitudes of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq today. It is argued that neither the traditional "quietist" paradigm nor more recent Machiavellian interpretations can satisfactorily explain Sistani's actions. An alternative interpretation is offered which highlights Sistani's historical oscillation between passive and activist positions. It is suggested that, after an activist intermezzo from June 2003 to December 2004, Sistani has reverted to a more secluded role, again showing an increasing reluctance to fulfil the wishes of his many wooers in Iraqi politics, and limiting his interference to matters directly connected with the Shiite faith and its institutions. It is concluded that Sistani's professional interests as a cleric – rather than any constant desire on his part to control and manipulate domestic politics – may be the key to understanding any future intervention in the political process in Iraq. Scepticism is also expressed toward the notion of Sistani as a guarantor for a "moderate" or "secular" Iraqi political system that would supposedly be fundamentally different from that of Iran – an idea that has featured prominently in policy-making circles in the United States and in other Western countries currently involved in Iraq.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: From Saudi Arabia's establishment in 1932, its minority Shiite population has been subject to discrimination and sectarian incitement. Beginning in the early 1990s, with then Crown Prince Abdullah's active support, the government took steps to improve inter-sectarian relations. But the measures were modest, and tensions are rising. The war in Iraq has had a notable effect, strengthening Shiite aspirations and Sunni suspicions and generally deepening confessional divisions throughout the region. King Abdullah needs to act resolutely to improve the lot of the two-million strong Shiite community and rein in domestic expressions of anti-Shiite hostility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Reidar Visser
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This paper deals with non-conformist ideas among Iraqi Shi'is about the territorial integrity of the modern state of Iraq. Two findings are presented. First, new Internet communications technology has enabled radical Shi'is outside the main clerical, intellectual and political establishments to propagate visions of an independent Shi'i state for the areas south of Baghdad, a scheme that runs counter to a robust and long-standing anti-separatist tradition among wider sections of the Shi'i community. Secondly, by choosing the Internet as their primary modus operandi, the Shi'i separatists also expose their relative weakness vis-à-vis other and less radical trends in Iraqi Shi'i society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Judith S. Yaphe
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: One year after liberation, most Iraqis are impatient with the military occupation of their country. Although grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein's cruel and repressive regime, many assumed the United States and its coalition members would soon go home and leave them to sort out their political, economic, and military fate. The war, after all, had been fought to liberate Iraqis from political tyranny, not to defeat the Iraqi people. Both U.S. and Iraqi expectations were high that the transition from oppression to democracy would be smooth and quick and that Iraqi political elites would move swiftly to ensure democratic rule.
  • Topic: Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, 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: 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: Geraldine Chatelard
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper describes and analyses the case of Iraqis who, in the 1990s, have arrived in Jordan as forced migrants, and have continued to Western Europe or Australia as asylum migrants. The argument put forth is that trends of asylum migration cannot be fully understood without looking at a set of interrelated issues in the countries of first reception of the forced migrants: reception standards, the migrants' poor socioeconomic conditions, further violations of their human rights, but also the functioning of the migrants' social networks and of human smuggling rings.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Australia, Jordan, Western Europe
  • Author: Aleksandar D. Jovovic
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: The Institute for the Study of Diplomacy hosted the fall 2001 meetings of the Schlesinger Working Group on the topic of Turkey. Our selection of Turkey is a reflection of the daunting choices and challenges that face this country, as well as its inherent importance. Turkey is at a crossroads not only due to its strategic geographic location, but also because of the key internal economic, social and political problems it must resolve. It faces difficult dilemmas on the question of Cyprus, its relations with Greece, and its cooperation with Israel. It has been forced to accept open-ended delays on EU membership, and it may have to yield some influence on the issue of European defense. Turkey walks a fine line between firm support for the Iraqi containment scheme and tacit admission of its dependence on the resulting smuggling business. On the home front, its tendency to ban pro-Islamist parties and its treatment of the Kurdish question may be unsustainable, while serious structural problems and rigidities in the economic system threaten to derail the impressive economic gains of past decades. And finally, the political system itself, rife with corruption and sustained by a bloated bureaucracy and entrenched party politics, is under growing strain.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Cyprus
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: The Commission considerably broadened its activities in its second full year, monitoring religious-freedom violations worldwide and increasing the number of countries it would study in depth. In July, the Commission wrote to the Secretary of State to recommend that Laos, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan be added to the list of “countries of particular concern” as provided for in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). It also recommended that Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, the Milosevic regime in Serbia and the Taliban in Afghanistan remain on the list. In addition, it wrote that India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam are serious violators of religious freedom deserving careful State Department monitoring; it also expressed concerns about sectarian violence in Indonesia and Nigeria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Taliban, Vietnam