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  • Author: Shahram Chubin
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: In the past fifty years five US President's from Truman to Clinton have directly or indirectly, affirmed US interests in the Middle East. The 'doctrines' in the case of Carter (1979) and Reagan (1981) specifically addressed the security of the Persian Gulf. The same period has seen the withdrawal of imperial powers. Three decades ago Britain managed the security of the Persian Gulf. Two decades ago France had the largest naval force in the Indian Ocean. The contraction of these commitments was encouraged by the US, which was unwilling to be associated with colonialism and its evils. Yet since Britain's withdrawal from the Gulf which occasioned the Nixon doctrine, the US has been grappling with how best to assure security. Reliance on regional states ("twin pillars") was upset by the Iranian revolution. In the 1980's the long Iran-Iraq war underscored the need for a Western role, but neither its shape nor its duration were clear. Local forces were reluctant to envisage any thing beyond an "over the horizon presence."
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Middle East, France
  • Author: Francois Heisbourg
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Kosovo air war was an eye-opener for many Europeans, particularly for those who normally follow defence issues at a distance. There was no escaping the realisation that close to three-quarters of the aircraft and more than four-fifths of the ordnance released against Serbian targets were American. America's massive dominance in C31 was similarly spectacular, with media commentators using the over-simplified but effective equation: "Fifty U.S. military satellites, a single European satellite". Under such circumstances U.S. influence on all strategic and operational aspects of the war could only be overwhelming, for better or for worse, a situation summarised by the syllogism "no capability-no responsibility". Despite deep strategic flaws, questionable tactics and occasional rank incompetence (the Apache episode, the China Embassy bombing), the U.S. edge is so great that it can afford even serious blunders.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Stuart Johnson
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The United States and its NATO allies have engaged in two high intensity conflicts in this decade, Desert Storm in the Gulf and Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia. Both campaigns were characterized by a strong, and successful, effort to maintain broad coalition participation and cohesion. But the story is more complex than the press releases from NATO Headquarters, Washington, and other NATO capitals would have us believe. Both operations revealed differences in US and European allies' capabilities and styles of prosecuting warfare. These forced the commanders to adopt an ad-hoc, inefficient division of labor in what, to the public, was presented as a seamless coalition operation.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Persian Gulf is one of the few regions whose importance to the United States is obvious. The flow of Gulf oil will continue to be crucial to the economic well–being of the industrialized world for the foreseeable future; developments in the Gulf will have a critical impact on issues ranging from Arab–Israeli relations and religious extremism to terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation. Every president since Richard Nixon has recognized that ensuring Persian Gulf security and stability is a vital U.S. interest.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Barnett Rubin
  • Publication Date: 10-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On August 8, 1998, the Taliban (Islamic student) movement of Afghanistan took control of Mazar-i Sharif, the last city remaining outside their control. 2 In their campaign in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban succeeded in gaining control of nearly all the parts of the country's territory that had remained outside their power since they marched into Kabul on September 26, 1996. Just as the Taliban prepared to campaign for international diplomatic recognition, however, the United States on August 20, 1998, launched a cruise missile attack against camps in Afghanistan that it charged contained the terrorist infrastructure of a movement led by Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi exile. The United States claimed to have strong evidence implicating bin Laden and his network of exiled Islamists in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7. The United States also raided a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, said to be manufacturing precursors of chemical weapons substances. The Taliban's continued defense of bin Laden and their denunciation of the U.S. raid ruled out any dialogue between the Taliban and the United States that perhaps would lead to U.S. diplomatic recognition and construction of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan. The Taliban's behavior complicated their relations with regional states as well. Saudi Arabia, one of only three states that recognized the Taliban's government, expelled their diplomatic representative on September 22 in reprisal for the Taliban's continued harboring of Osama bin Laden. Most dramatically, the Taliban's killing of nine Iranian diplomats during their takeover of Mazar-i Sharif has led to an extended confrontation with Tehran. War, or at least military action, cannot be ruled out. During the more than 20 years since the “Sawr Revolution” of April 27, 1978, brought a communist party to power, Afghanistan had moved from one stage to another of civil war and political disintegration, without seeming to get any closer toward peace, political order, or sustainable development. The combination of an inimical regional environment, characterized by unstable strategic and economic competition, with the destruction of much of the country's elites, institutions, and infrastructure, has assured the continuation of war among forces based in different regions of the divided country. The victory of the Taliban may put an end to open warfare, but it is likely to result in continued guerrilla or commando activities. The emergence of an assertive Islamic traditionalism in the form of the Taliban has also placed new obstacles in the way of international humanitarian and peacemaking programs. 3 The division of control over the country had remained relatively stable since the summer of 1997. The Taliban movement, originally based in the southern city of Qandahar, the heartland of Pashtun traditionalism and the homeland of Afghanistan's old royal clan, had conquered the Persian-speaking city of Herat, near the Iranian border, in September 1995. A year later, in September 1996, the Taliban swept into the eastern Pashtun city of Jalalabad and Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul, driving out the Tajik-dominated government of the “Islamic State of Afghanistan” that was led by President Burhanuddin Rabbani and Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. At the end of May 1997, the Taliban took advantage of divisions within the mainly Uzbek National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (NIMA) to take temporary control of Mazar-i Sharif. This northern city on the border of Uzbekistan was the only major urban center still not controlled by them. The Shia in the city, however, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group, resisted the Taliban attempt to disarm them and drove the conquerors out in bloody battles that killed thousands and may also have led to the subsequent massacre of prisoners. A Taliban attempt to recapture Mazar-i Sharif in September 1997 also failed, largely because of a major resupply effort mounted by Iran. While the Taliban failed in their first two attempts to control the entire North from this urban center, they managed to establish a long-term presence in the area. They gained the support of many of the ethnic Pashtuns who had been settled in the North by the Afghan monarchy and established a political and military base in Kunduz, which was supplied by air from Kabul and, according to some reports, Pakistan. Despite intermittent activity on several front lines (north of Kabul, around Kunduz, northeast of Herat, on the borders of Hazarajat), the lines of control remained relatively stable until the Taliban's new offensive in July 1998. 4 The Taliban have constituted a governmental structure that they call the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Da Afghanistano Islami Amarat). Before the summer 1998 offensive, they controlled the entire Pashtun belt, from Jalalabad in the East, through Qandahar in the South, and on through the Southwest. They also controlled the ethnically mixed, primarily Persian-speaking cities of Herat and Kabul, which border on the Pashtun areas. Finally, they controlled a pocket of territory in the North centered around Kunduz. They thus controlled the highways connecting Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, nearly all the Pakistani border, the entire Iranian border, and about half of the border with Turkmenistan. They also appeared to control part of the border with Tajikistan, including the port of Sher Khan Bandar. These areas included all the country's major customs posts except for Hairatan, north of Mazar-i Sharif, which the Taliban briefly held in May 1997. They also controlled the areas estimated to produce 90 percent of Afghanistan's opium poppies, the country's most profitable crop. Taxes on this crop are an important source of revenue for the Taliban, though they strictly prohibit its consumption. The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan and the surrounding region produce slightly more than half the world's supply of this drug. 5 The opposition to the Taliban, known generically as the “United Front,” consisted of several groups controlling different portions of the remaining parts of the country, which are largely inhabited by Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras. After the main Taliban offensive, elements of these groups controlled only a few mountainous areas home to ethnic minorities: Badakhshan and the Panjsher Valley, inhabited by Tajiks, and the Hazarajat, home to the Shia Muslim Hazara ethnic group. Before the Taliban's July-August offensive, the opposition groups had controlled most of the northern tier of provinces from Faryab to Badakhshan (except for Kunduz) as well as the Hazarajat. They controlled the main highway leading to Uzbekistan and the railhead at Hairatan that connects to the former Soviet rail system with links to Asia and Europe. Hairatan is the only major customs post in their region. These territories included about half of Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan, the short but logistically and economically important border with Uzbekistan, nearly the entire border with Tajikistan, and a remote, mountainous, and largely inaccessible part of the border with Pakistan (including Pakistan-controlled Kashmir). Even before the offensive, the Taliban appeared to control at least two-thirds of Afghanistan's territory; their own estimates ranged as high as 85 percent. Much of that territory, however, was uninhabited desert, especially in the Southwest. The areas under Taliban control at that time included probably slightly more than half the country's population, which is currently estimated at nearly 24 million. 6 The two largest population centers then under Taliban rule, Herat and Kabul, were largely hostile to them, and the requirements of controlling these areas probably make them more of a drain on Taliban personnel than a source of recruits. These market centers provided significant income, however. The Taliban's main advantage was that they controlled the territory and population in the regions they ruled through a unitary structure, while the opposition remained split and riven by feuds. The opposition was divided into several groups, and each group was further divided into feuding factions. Furthermore, both sides depended to a great extent (though precise data are lacking) on foreign military, technical, and financial assistance. The Taliban are supported and were to some extent organized by Pakistan, with financial support from both official and unofficial sources in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, while the northern groups have received aid from Iran, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Taliban thus controlled the borders and highways leading not only to their own main supporter, Pakistan, but also to the opposition's main supporter, Iran. Supplying the Taliban was thus easier and less expensive than supplying the northern groups. By late August, the Taliban had control of virtually all the country's airfields except for two in Hazarajat. This effectively stopped aid to any other region. The regional competition results from the reconfiguration of the region after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Iran, Pakistan, and Russia are competing for control over the routes by which Central Asia's oil and gas resources will reach outside markets, which in turn will largely determine what power becomes predominant in the area. 7 The decision by India, followed by Pakistan, to test nuclear weapons has raised the stakes in the region and complicated peacemaking efforts. The independence of ethno-national states in Central Asia has given new prominence to ethnic identities, affecting co-ethnics across borders. And the increasing politicization of Islamic identity has increased the salience of Sunni/Shia sectarian differences. Perhaps the best-known fact about the Taliban is the restrictions they have imposed on women. These restrictions require that women be fully veiled, forbid them most education and employment, and impose strict limitations on their access to public services, including health care. The Taliban have also required men to grow full, untrimmed beards, cut their hair short, and attend mosque. They forbid any social mingling or communication among men and women outside the family. These rules (and others) have led to a series of confrontations with the representatives of the international community, largely the U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) present in Afghanistan. 8 Despite these rules, until the summer of 1998 these international organizations continued to work in Taliban areas; they did not work in most areas controlled by the northern groups. All agencies withdrew from Mazar-i Sharif after their offices, property, and storehouses (including food intended for destitute or famine-stricken areas) were thoroughly looted for the second time in September 1997 (they had been looted previously in May). The United Nations continued to work in Hazarajat, however. Western NGOs left Kabul in July 1998 when the Taliban refused to withdraw a requirement that all the NGOs move to the Polytechnic, a ruined Soviet-built campus in northern Kabul. More Westerners left in response to U.S. warnings about dangers to non-Muslim foreigners during the preparation for the August 20 raids. The Taliban resent the fact that although they have provided security for U.N. and NGO staff and property, the opposition, which has failed to do so, continues to be recognized as the government of Afghanistan by most countries and to occupy Afghanistan's U.N. seat. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Opposition to the Taliban's gender policies accounts for much of the resistance to either recognizing them or vacating Afghanistan's U.N. seat. Indeed, a significant movement has developed in Europe and North America in opposition to the Taliban's gender policies, and this movement, as much as the interest in gas and oil pipelines, has placed Afghanistan back on the international radar screen. The Taliban's harboring of bin Laden and his network provides yet another even more prominent reason.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Taliban, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Barnett Rubin
  • Publication Date: 10-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Mr. Chairman, thank you for this invitation, and thank you for your continuing work to focus attention on Afghanistan. I have brought a written submission for the record providing background information on recent events in Afghanistan. In my statement I will concentrate on policy challenges posed by Afghanistan to the United States and the international community.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Bjørn Moller
  • Publication Date: 03-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The paper is introduced by an analysis of the concept of region, followed by an application of this analytical framework to the Persian Gulf region. Several problems in this region are identified, including a seemingly open-ended arms race and a significant risk of war. As a possible remedy to these problems, the author proposes a policy of Common Security, intended to satisfy the legitimate security problems of all states in the region. As a consequence, he recommends efforts to ensure the strictly defensive nature of the military postures of regional states, to be implemented unilaterally as well as by means of arms control negotiations and regulations of the international arms trade. The paper concludes with a Postscript on the Iraqi crisis of 1997/98.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Persia
  • Author: Thomas Risse, Sarah Mendelson, Neil Fligstein, Jan Kubik, Jeffrey T. Checkel, Consuelo Cruz, Kathleen McNamara, Sheri Berman, Frank Dobbin, Mark Blyth, Ken Pollack, George Steinmetz, Daniel Philpott, Gideon Rose, Martha Finnemore, Kathryn Skikkink, Marie Gottschalk, John Kurt Jacobsen, Anna Seleny
  • Publication Date: 05-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Social Science Research Council
  • Abstract: The last decade or so has witnessed a resurgence in scholarship employing ideational and cultural factors in the analysis of political life. This scholarship has addressed political phenomena across a variety of national and international settings, with studies of European politics being particularly well represented. For example, the work of scholars like Peter Hall (1993), Peter Katzenstein (1996), Ronald Inglehart (1997), Robert Putnam (1994) and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (1995) has improved our understandings of European polities, societies and economies. Yet despite a recent rise in interest, ideational and cultural explanations still meet with skepticism in many quarters of the discipline. Some scholars doubt whether non-material factors like ideas or culture have independent causal effects, and others, who accept that such factors might matter, despair of devising viable ways of analyzing their impact on political life.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Democratization, Economics, Government, Human Rights, International Cooperation, Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, France, Latin America
  • Author: Gerald M. Steinberg
  • Publication Date: 07-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the atomic age in 1945, the possession and deployment of nuclear weapons has become the dominant factor in the international system. Those countries that acquired nuclear weapons have become (or maintained their status as) primary world powers, but as the number of such countries grew, the potential for the use of nuclear weapons also increased. In the early 1960s, President Kennedy warned that unless immediate and significant action was taken, within a decade there would be as many as 20 nuclear powers. The process of proliferation was seen as one of the most dangerous and destabilizing aspects of the nuclear era.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Author: Mark Roberts
  • Publication Date: 01-1996
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In her book, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (1979), revolutionary authority and sociologist Theda Skocpol states: The repressive state organizations of the prerevolutionary regime have to be weakened before mass revolutionary action can succeed, or even emerge. Indeed, historically, mass rebellious action has not been able, in itself, to overcome state repression. Instead, military pressures from abroad … have been necessary to undermine repression.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Law, Nuclear Weapons, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, France
  • Author: M.E. Ahrari, James Beal
  • Publication Date: 01-1996
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The dismantlement of the Soviet Union also brought about the liberation of six Central Asian Muslim republics—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (figure 1). Although Azerbaijan is part of the Caucasus region, it is included in this study because: The independence of that country, like that of the Central Asian states, was brought about as a result of the dismantlement of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan, like its Central Asian counterparts, is a Muslim state, and faces similar politico-economic problems. Azerbaijan's conflict with Armenia involving Nagorno-Karabkh reminds one of a number of conflicts in the Central Asian region. These include a seething ethnic conflict in Kazakhstan (involving the Khazaks and the Slavs), the ongoing civil war in Tajikistan "along ethnic, national, and religious lines (since the Russian forces are "also involved in this civil war), and the ethnic conflict in the Fargana valley that cuts across the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Like the economies of its Central Asian neighbors, the Azeri economy was largely dependent on the economy of the former Soviet Union. Consequently, like its other neighbors, Azerbaijan is also busy establishing economic self-sufficiency, along with strengthening its religious political, linguistic, and ethnic identities.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Law, Nuclear Weapons, Religion
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Soviet Union
  • Author: Yagil Levy
  • Publication Date: 12-1995
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Studies of Social Change
  • Abstract: Observation of state-military relations in Israel reveals an apparent paradox: Within a period of about seventy years, the more the militarization of Israeli society and politics gradually increased, the more politicians were successful in institutionalizing effective control over the Israel Defence Forces (IDF, and the pre-state organizations). Militarization passed through three main stages: (1) accepting the use of force as a legitimate political instrument during the pre-state period (1920-1948), subsequent to confrontation between pacifism and activism; (2) giving this instrument priority over political-diplomatic means in the state's first years up to the point in which (3) military discursive patterns gradually dominated political discourse after the 1967 War. At the same time, political control over the IDF was tightened, going from the inculcation of the principle of the armed forces' subordination to the political level during the pre-state period to the construction of arrangements working to restrain the military leverage for autonomous action.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel