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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: 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: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: On the occasion of the Annual Summit of the Strategic Studies Network (Bangkok, 23-25 February 2014), several EuroMeSCo researchers participated in the kick off meeting of the Working Group “The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective”. This group, lead by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) will involve over 20 EuroMeSCo researchers, who will work throughout the year with the aim of publishing a joint volume on comparative perspectives of the transitions in the Arab world. The Working Group is structured around two main blocks: “Internal changes in transition processes: What priorities?” and “External actors and regional integration”. It consists of a total of 6 working packages, each of them lead by two EuroMeSCo researchers. The topics to be explored are: State building processes and reforms, security sector reform, the role of religion in transitional processes, socio-economic reforms, the role of the European Union in supporting democratic transitions in the Southern Mediterranean and regional integration.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Economies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The workshop "Democracies in the Making: Egypt at the Center of Arab Transitions" focused on the analysis of the current phase of the democractic transition in Egypt, dominated by a high level of polarisation. It was organised by EuroMeSco, the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). This was the last of a series of four workshops organised in the framework of a programme to strengthen the capacities of think tanks and research institutes in Mediterranean countries, mainly in light of the current democratisation processes and regional transformations.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Trond Bakkevig
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Many political conflicts have a religious dimension, as religion is at the heart of the identities of those involved. Thus, religious dialogue may be a key to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts. Nowhere is this more true than the Holy Land. But how can such a dialogue be initiated and sustained, what problems does it face, and what is the character and role of a facilitator in the process? Here, Rev. Dr. and Canon Trond Bakkevig addresses these questions by drawing on his long experience of working in the area of religious dialogue between religious leaders of Israel and Palestine.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Sarah Grebowski, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recognition by Egypt's leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu is in a bind. Israel is facing arguably unprecedented pressure to halt all settlement activity, led by a new and surprisingly determined U.S. administration. But the prime minister also heads a distinctly right-wing coalition and faces intense domestic pressure from settlers and their allies. However important, what will emerge from current discussions between Washington and Jerusalem will only be step one in a long process designed to achieve a settlement freeze, settlement evacuation and a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians. Understanding how Israel might deal with these challenges requires understanding a key yet often ignored constituency - its growing and increasingly powerful religious right.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • 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: Omayma Abdel-Latif
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In September 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt released its first political party platform draft. Among the heavily criticized clauses was one that denied women (and Copts) the right to be head of state. “Duties and responsibilities assumed by the head of state, such as army commanding, are in contradiction with the socially acceptable roles for women,” the draft stated. In previous Brotherhood documents there was no specific mention of the position of head of state; rather, they declared that women were allowed to occupy all posts except for al-imama alkubra, the position of caliph, which is the equivalent of a head of state in modern times. Many were surprised that despite several progressive moves the Brotherhood had made in previous years to empower women, it ruled out women's right to the country's top position.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • 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
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Muhammad-Sodiq Muhammad-Yusuf (also known as Mamamsodiq Mamayusupov), the former mufti of the Muslim Spiritual Administration of Central Asia, Uzbekistan's first mufti after independence, and the most prominent theologian in the country, is a figure worthy of attention by anyone interested in the political role that Islam might play in Uzbekistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), founded in 1991, is a relatively new political actor in Kuwait. Yet by the standards of regional Islamist movements, it is one of the most experienced in parliamentary and electoral politics. The ICM can claim some real electoral and programmatic successes, but any move beyond marginal or incremental achievements rests largely on its ability to build on the success of an ad hoc and diverse coalition of Islamist, liberal, and populist political forces. In short, if the ICM navigates difficult waters, it may be able to achieve many of its goals while demonstrating the broader potential of an Islamist electoral movement as part of a coalition pressing for liberalizing political reform. Kuwaiti political history suggests strong reasons for skepticism-the opposition has never been able to maintain a united front for long, and the Kuwaiti government has tools at its disposal to disperse, placate, and even exclude dissenters. But the opportunities beckoning the movement and other opposition political forces are stronger than they have ever been.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Robert Springborg
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The social, political and economic power of moderate Middle East and North African Islamist movements has been growing for a generation or so. The question of how to deal with Islamists who reject violence, embrace democracy and outperform their competitors at the polls has therefore become a central concern not only of incumbent Middle East elites, but also of interested foreign actors such as the EU and US. Robert Springborg sees the need for the EU to clarify its policies towards the MENA region and Muslim democrats within it. The present lack of EU policies on engaging with moderate Islamists leads them to be at best curious about the EU and at worse to be suspicious of it. Engagement might itself help to contribute to policy formation in this important area, and serve as a vehicle to disseminate information about relevant EU policies.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Dina Bishara
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2006 Lebanon war has had a profound effect on Islamist movements that have chosen to compete as legal parties in the political systems of their countries, testing their relationship with the ruling regimes as well as their respect for pluralism and tolerance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recent election results in several Arab countries have transformed formerly theoretical questions into pressing policy concerns: Can Islamist political parties operate within the boundaries of a democratic system? Will participation breed moderation? Strong showings by Hizbollah in Lebanon and by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have made these questions seem less speculative. And the victory of Hamas in the first election it contested has made the questions impossible to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan, Mumbai
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In today's Arab world, Islamists have assumed the role once played by national liberation movements and leftist parties. They are the mass movements of the twenty-first century. They are well embedded in the social fabric, understand the importance of good organization, and are thus able to mobilize considerable constituencies. Their ideology prescribes a simple solution to the persistent crises of contemporary Arab societies—a return to the fundamentals, or true spirit, of Islam. Indeed, “Islam is the solution” has been the longtime slogan of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Like all successful movements, Islamists have been able to distill a long, complex philosophical tradition into simple slogans that have quickly supplanted the Pan-Arabism and socialism that dominated the region until the 1970s. As a result, in most countries Islamists represent the only viable opposition forces to existing undemocratic regimes.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Frédéric Grare
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Thirty years after a bloody conflict that official sources estimate caused more than five thousand deaths among the rebels and almost three thousand among the Pakistan Army, Baluchistan seems to be heading toward another armed insurrection. During the summer of 2004, there were numerous attacks against the army and the paramilitary forces as well as repeated sabotage of oil pipelines. Since the rape of a female doctor by a group of soldiers on January 2, 2005, in the hospital in Sui, the principal gas-producing center in Baluchistan, assaults have multiplied, culminating in a pitched battle between the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary unit, and the local Bugtis, one of the largest Baluch tribes. According to the Pakistani daily, The Nation, approximately 1,568 “terrorist” attacks occurred through April 3, 2005. These attacks have not been confined only to tribal areas but have targeted Pakistani armed forces and Chinese nationals working on major regional projects all over the province.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, Middle East
  • Author: Julianne Smith, Aidan Kirby, Daniel Benjamin
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The second phase of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Transatlantic Dialogue on Terror took place against a backdrop of rapid change. When the first conference in this series took place in Berlin in the spring of 2005, scholars and practitioners were still absorbing the details of the previous year's attacks against the Madrid light rail system, the murder of Dutch artist Theo van Gogh and a host of other attacks and foiled plots. Global radicalism continued to be shaped by the deepening insurgency in Iraq, in which radical Islamists from inside and outside that country play a pivotal role. In the months following the Berlin meeting, the bombing of the London Underground, the attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh and Amman, and a stream of revelations about radical Islamist activity from Europe to the Middle East to South Asia and Australia — where a group of conspirators were arrested for plotting an attack against that country's sole nuclear facility — had also to be taken into account.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Asia, Middle East, London, Australia
  • 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: 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: 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
  • Author: Claudia Baumgart
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Abstract: Israel's disengagement from the Gaza strip in 2005 marked a momentous turning point in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. After 37 years of occupation, Israel has pulled out from this densely populated strip of land at the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, but it still keeps its military control over all access to the Gaza strip via land, sea, and air. The new government of Ehud Olmert is now debating the next step: to retreat from large parts of the West Bank. While presenting the concept of unilateral disengagement as a necessary step towards peace with the Palestinians, Ariel Sharon and his successor Ehud Olmert made it very clear that, on the other hand, Israel intends to keep and even expand the major Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Olmert's convergence plan reflects these intentions by openly announcing that the settlement blocs would remain a part of the State of Israel forever. But for a certain portion of the Israeli population, this is not enough. In the run-up to the Gaza disengagement, Israel was flooded with Orange – the colour that the disengagement opponents chose to mark their fierce protest against the evacuation of Jewish settlements. Settlers in orange T-Shirts gathered in mass demonstrations, waved Israeli flags with orange ribbons, blocked main roads in the midst of rush hour, quarrelled with security forces and tried to convince soldiers to refuse orders during evacuation. A small minority even threatened to violently resist the evacuation of their homes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ghazi Ahmad Hamad
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: Prior to the Palestinian elections of 25 January 2006, Hamas had not been expecting at all that it would suddenly find itself in a position to govern. Until the last moment, the movement had anticipated to gain only some 25 seats. It had not hoped for more, but simply to become a strong opposition force in the new PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council). As such, it wanted to push political and administrative reforms.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • 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: Umej Bhatia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Egyptian Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) is a founding figure of modern Sunni militancy. The West knows Sayyid Qutb through the prism of his Milestones, the 1964 manifesto urging a Qur'anic revolution against illegitimate Muslim regimes. However, it was Qutb's commanding Qur'anic interpretation, In the Shade of the Qur'an, which provided the rich lodestone for Milestones. In the Muslim world, moderates and militants alike have found sanctuary In the Shade of the Qur'an, making it a unique work that cannot be ignored. Offered below is a detailed analysis of Qutb's work, focused primarily on juz amma (the last thirtieth) of the Qur'an, which is considered the key entree for Muslims who seek a return to faith. Sensitive yet uncompromising, In the Shade of the Qur'an adroitly rehearses at a personal and political level the combat between a pristine Islam and all other profane systems, with the final objective of establishing a supreme Islamic order.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Ali Riaz
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the wake of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, discussions on ties between Islamic religious educational institutions, namely Madrassahs, and radical militant groups have featured prominently in the western media. However, in the frenzied coverage of events, a vital question has been overlooked: why have Islamic educational institutions whose traditions date back thousands of years been transformed so drastically? This paper attempts to seek an answer to this question through an examination of Madrassahs in Pakistan, the second most populous Musim country of the world. Pakistan has seen a phenomenal increase in Islamic religious schools since its independence. The paper argues that while encouragements from successive regimes, an unremitting flow of foreign funds (especially from Saudi Arabia), and the absence of governmental oversigt are the principal factors in the dramatic rise in numbers, the transformation of Madrassahs into schools of militancy and the recruiting ground of 'global Jihadists' is instrinsically linked to the sectarianism prevalent in Pakistan. Sectarianism has been encouraged by various regimes over the last three decades and received substantial support from outside since 1979. The menace of sectarianism has not only made the country ungovernable but also increasingly turned it into a breeding ground for transnational terrorists.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East
  • Author: Aarish Ullah Khan
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Terrorists manipulate fear through the use of violence to achieve their objectives. An understanding of what motivates terrorists to employ mindless violence against civilian or non-combatant targets is essential for assessing the phenomenon. The current discussion of 'root causes' often focuses on finding the causes of antagonism towards civilization in the mind of a fanatic terrorist at the individual level. The debate about what motivates a terrorist, however, overlooks the factors that enable a terrorist to conduct terrorist activities. As argued by Walter Laqueur, even if better control can be achieved over the extremist motivation for terrorism, there will still be a few isolated individuals for whom the temptation to employ terrorism—if the opportunity remains—will be hard to resist.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East
  • Author: Marcus Noland, Howard Pack
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Middle East is a demographic time bomb. According to the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Arab Human Development Report 2002, the population of the Arab region is expected to increase by around 25 percent between 2000 and 2010 and by 50 to 60 percent by 2020— or by perhaps 150 million people, a figure equivalent to more than two Egypts. Even under the UNDP's more conservative scenario, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates will be the only Arab countries in 2020 with median ages above 30.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Globalization, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • 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: Theodoros Koutroubas
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The paper discusses the relation between religion and politics in the Southern Mediterranean and its consequences for the democratisation and peaceful co-existence of the different confessional communities of the region. Its aims are to draw attention to the mechanisms responsible for the perpetuation of an "umbilical cord" between religious and political discourse in the region, to highlight the dangers this could mean for Europe's multicultural society model and to propose secularisation and inter-religious dialogue as a tool for the acceleration of the democratisation process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Shibley Telhami
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Under the sponsorship of the Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, Shibley Telhami prepared a public opinion survey for Zogby International, which interviewed 2,620 men and women in Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. The survey was conducted between February 19 and March 11. It focuses on perceptions of the United States in specific political scenarios and on views of United States policy abroad. Previous polls done by Shibley Telhami and by Zogby International in the Middle East showed that neither United States policy nor the United States was viewed favorably.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The third consultation in the 'Living with the Megapower: Implications of the war on terrorism' series explored the role of religion and ideology in the causes behind the events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent reaction to these events. The importance of public opinion and the impact of the media were also examined in the day-long session. Were old theses like Samuel P Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' now more relevant or do we need new concepts and approaches to better understand the growing importance of religion and ideology in the language, culture and politics of the current 'war on terrorism'?
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Bechir Chourou
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The emergence of a political ideology based on Islam is commonly attributed to Jamal Eddine al-Afghani (1838-1898) of Afghanistan, Mohammad Abduh (1849-1905) of Egypt and Abdurrahman al-Kawakibi (1849-1902) of Syria. These early Muslim intellectuals are called "reformers," because they advocated a reversal of what they perceived in their era as a slow but inexorable decline of Islam. In their views, this could be accomplished only through a purification of the faith and a return to strict observance of the word of Allah (i.e. the Koran) and imitation of His prophet's behaviour (i.e. the Sunna). But at the same time, those thinkers believed that Muslims should not shun science and knowledge even if they came from non-Muslims. Thus saved from decay and decadence, the reformed and renovated Islam could inaugurate a period of renaissance (nahdha) that would allow it to join and participate in the economic and social transformations that were under-way in the West.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nermeen Shaikh
  • Publication Date: 12-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Talal Asad has conducted extensive research on the phenomenon of religion (and secularism), particularly the religious revival in the Middle East. Professor Asad is the author of Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993). His new book, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity will be published by Stanford University Press in February 2003. Professor Asad is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.
  • Topic: Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Abdelwahab El-Affendi
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster
  • Abstract: Sudan – Africa's largest country (area: 2.5 million square kilometres; population: 36 million) – has been described as a microcosm of the continent, as it embodies the continent's characteristic ethnic and religious diversity. The majority of its inhabitants (70 per cent) are Muslim. The rest adhere to traditional African beliefs (25 per cent) or various Christian denominations (5 per cent). The majority of Muslims are Arabic speaking (though not all are ethnically Arab), and Arabic is both the official language and the lingua franca. However, over 500 ethnic groups live in Sudan, and some 75 languages are spoken in the country. The bulk of the Arabic-speaking Muslims live in the north, while the south is inhabited by a predominantly non-Arab and non-Muslim population.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Religion
  • Political Geography: Sudan, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: This series on U.S. public diplomacy in the Islamic world was introduced by Casimir Yost, Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: Project Director Marjorie Ransom explained that the three-panel series will analyze the image of the United States in the Muslim world and consider how the U.S. can promote favorable opinions of the U.S. and understanding and support for U.S. policy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: Dwyer emphasized two things: the event of 9/11, and the response—both diplomatic and personal—that the State Department has taken in the last several months.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East
  • Author: Charles V. Peña
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: To prosecute the war on terrorism, President Bush has assembled a diverse coalition of countries for political, diplomatic, and military support. Some of those countries are long-standing friends and allies of the United States. Others have new or changing relationships with the United States. Although there may be a price for their support, America should not pay an excessive price—one that could be detrimental to longer-term U.S. national security interests. And though it may be necessary to provide a certain amount of immediate aid (directly or indirectly) as a quid pro quo for the support of other nations in our war on terrorism, the United States needs to avoid longer-term entanglements, open-ended commitments, and the potential for an extreme anti-American backlash.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • 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
  • Author: Eleanor Doumato, Andrew Porter, Samir Khalaf, Reeva Simon, Elizabeth Thompson, Carolyn Goffman, Hans-Lukas Kieser, Jeremy Salt, Ruth Kark, Paul Sedra, Michael Zirinsky, Mahmoud Haddad, Linda Herrera, Eleanor H. Tejirian
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Institute, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The Western missionary enterprise in the Middle East, while in theory altruistic, has generally been considered part and parcel of Western imperialism and colonialism as it evolved in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, deconstruction of this enterprise reveals that it was by no means monolithic, nor was it necessarily directly related to or supportive of Western imperial ambitions. This project, of which a conference at the Rockefeller Foundation Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, in August 2000 is a part, seeks to examine all aspects of the Western missionary enterprise in the Middle East, focusing on its political and social impact on the region as well as on its entanglement with the political and social currents of the Western countries from which it came. Furthermore, the premise of the project is that the missionary enterprise was also the forerunner of the activities of Western nongovernmental organizations in the region, setting the agenda and establishing the categories of these activities in areas including human rights, education, and economic development.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organization, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East