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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Far too much of the analysis of Iran's search for nuclear weapons treats it in terms of arms control or focuses on the potential threat to Israel. In reality, Iran's mix of asymmetric warfare, conventional warfare, and conventionally armed missile forces have critical weaknesses that make Iran anything but the hegemon of the Gulf. Iran's public focus on Israel also disguises the reality that its primary strategic focus is to deter and intimidate its Gulf neighbors and the United States – not Israel. It has made major progress in creating naval forces for asymmetric warfare and developing naval missiles, but it has very limited air-sea and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (IS) capabilities. It lacks modern conventional land, air, air defense and sea power, has fallen far behind the Arab Gulf states in modern aircraft and ships, and its land forces are filled with obsolete and mediocre weapons that lack maneuver capability and sustainability outside Iran. Iran needs nuclear weapons to offset these facts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II, Omar Mohamed
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen is the most troubled state in the Arabian Peninsula. It remains in a low - level state of civil war, and is deeply divided on a sectarian, tribal, and regional level. A largely Shi'ite Houthi rebellion still affects much of the northwest border area and has serious influence in the capital of Sana and along parts of the Red Sea coast. Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) poses a threat in central Yemen, along with other elements of violent Sunni extremism, there are serious tensions between the northern and southern parts of Yemen, and power struggles continue between key elements of the military ruling elite in the capital and outside it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Frédéric Mérand, Nicola Contessi, Jérémie Cornut, Dominika Kunertova
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales
  • Abstract: Over the next 20 years, the empowerment of individuals and new information and communication technology will reverberate in the security field with implications such as the growth of cyber-terrorism and the spread of nuclear technology to non-state actors. Power will be diffused among states and from states to informal networks, leading to a less Western-centric globalization. Demographic patterns and a growing demand for resources will have adverse consequences on defence spending and energy security. Among Euro-Atlantic states, there is broad agreement on the nature of future threats: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, regional conflicts, and cyber attacks. Russia is alone in identifying a Europe-specific phenomenon, the expansion of NATO to the East, as one of the main external military threats to its national security. While no major new conflict is predicted to arise in the Euro-Atlantic area, there will be no shortage of crises originating from outside this area, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa, requiring a response from Euro-Atlantic organizations. In the Euro-Atlantic area, it is expected that Russia will reclaim its traditional sphere of influence by intensifying efforts to strengthen regional organizations, sometimes in cooperation with China or smaller states. The Arctic may become one of the new geostrategic hotspots. A relatively cohesive club, NATO remains the most successful military alliance in contemporary history. As an inclusive, regional, and crosscutting organization, the OSCE is less central to key Canadian interests, but it provides a fairly low-cost means to establish a diplomatic foothold and contribute to building a security community in Eurasia. While NATO and the OSCE are expected to remain the pillars of the Euro-Atlantic order, one important question that underlies this report is why Euro-Atlantic-based organizations are necessary to deal with global risks. NATO's civil-military focus is likely to become more central as future multinational interventions place increasing demands on NATO capabilities. Predictions for the OSCE are more difficult to make given its protracted impasse, but the need for confidence building among disagreeing powers remains present. While Canada should not reconsider its membership in these organizations, it should support planned reforms and initiatives that will make them more relevant. Both NATO and the OSCE are moving in the right directions by taking seriously transnational, including cyber-threats. Applying lessons learned, they are likely to continue to improve coordination of civilian and military capabilities to address new risks. Energy security is also likely to move up the agenda of both organizations. To address the shift in global power, and in particular the renewed assurance of Russia, the OSCE must renew its original focus on confidence building, including through multi-track initiatives. Eschewing enlargement for the time being, NATO would be well-advised to nurture its relationship both with Russia and with new partners through political and technical cooperation. In times of austerity, both organizations will have to do more with less. Administrative reforms such as results-based management should be encouraged. At NATO, Smart Defence provides interesting opportunities for Canada to streamline defence procurement and optimize capabilities.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Canada, North Africa
  • Author: John W. Parker, Michael Kofman
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Russia's institution of a ban on American adoptions of Russian orphans, an appalling response by the Duma to U.S. sanctions against officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case,1 was a clear indicator that bilateral relations will assume a lower priority in the next 4 years for both capitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the measure despite open misgivings by some of his own key aides and against the opposition of most of Russia's civil society. The Russian Internet response was scathing, producing an instant winner for best sick joke of 2012: “An educated American family has decided to adopt a developmentally disabled Duma deputy.”.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Fatih Özgür Yeni
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Energy security is one of the hot topics on the European energy agenda. The EU's Southern Energy Corridor initiative is an attempt to reduce dependence on Russian supplies by tapping into Caspian and Middle-Eastern natural gas resources. Turkey, who aspires to be a regional energy hub, has emerged as the key country in the Southern Corridor. Although the TAP project in its current state satisfies neither Turkey's energy hub ambitions nor the EU's resource diversification efforts, it may serve as the first building block of the Southern Corridor. There are promising developments in the region that can increase volumes and add new routes to the initiative. Private companies have already shown their interest in developing a pipeline infrastructure for possible South-East Mediterranean and Northern Iraq natural gas exports but complex geopolitical issues pose the greatest threat to the way ahead. Thanks to its unique location, Turkey is destined to be one of the key players in the Southern Corridor. The convergence of Turkey's energy hub ambitions and the EU's energy security objectives present mutual gains, but also demand sustained collaboration between the two in light of several technical, legal and political hurdles.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Christina Bennett
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Though the violent conflict in Syria shows few signs of abating and scenarios for any post conflict solution are numerous and vague, renewed interest in peace talks presents an important opportunity to discuss the parameters of peace and reconstruction in Syria.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold, Chloe Coughlin-Schulte
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: US and Iranian strategic competition is heavily drive by four key factors–the success or failure of sanctions, the im0pact of that competition on the flow of Gulf energy exports, the success or failure of efforts to limit Iran's nuclear options and the broader prospect for arms control, and the prospects for accommodation of regime change. In recent years, the key variable has been ways in which sanctions on Iran have changed US and Iranian competition since the fall of 2011, and helped lead to a tentative set of Iranian agreements with the UN's P5+1--the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany--in November 2013.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Oil, Regime Change, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom, Iran, Middle East, France, Germany
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has long emphasized the desirability of working with allies and partners to meet pressing security challenges. Indeed, many of our most vexing security challenges-such as terrorism, threats to freedom of the seas and air, and cyber threats-are best met with multilateral action. At a time when the United States and many of its allies and partners are reluctant to increase defense and security investments, working together is of increasing importance. This is perhaps most evident in the Middle East and Asia, where real and potential threats to U.S. and partner security are high and our interests great.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Daniel Dewit
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last active US combat forces left Iraq in August 2010, marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. Some 49,000 advisory troops, four advisor assistance brigades, and a limited number of special operations forces (SOF) remained to train, advise, and assist Iraq's security forces after that date, including the military, intelligence, and police. Until the end, these US troops continued to serve a number of other important security functions: carrying out kinetic operations against Iranian-backed and other militant groups; providing training to the ISF; taking part in joint patrols along the borders of the Kurdish provinces and helping integrate ISF and Kurdish forces; and acting as a deterrent to Iraq's neighbors–in particular Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No single aspect of US and Iranian military competition is potentially more dangerous than the missile and nuclear dimensions, and the possibility Iran will deploy long-range, nuclear-armed missiles.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sema Karaca, Mehmet Güçer, O. Bahadir Dinçer
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: The rage ofthe 26-year-old Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in front of the municipal building in broad daylight on 17December 2010, soon spread among the youth and triggered the Arab Spring.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Judith S. Yaphe
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Nearly 3 years since the start of the Syrian civil war, no clear winner is in sight. Assassinations and defections of civilian and military loyalists close to President Bashar al-Asad, rebel success in parts of Aleppo and other key towns, and the spread of violence to Damascus itself suggest that the regime is losing ground to its opposition. The tenacity of government forces in retaking territory lost to rebel factions, such as the key town of Qusayr, and attacks on Turkish and Lebanese military targets indicate, however, that the regime can win because of superior military equipment, especially airpower and missiles, and help from Iran and Hizballah. No one is prepared to confidently predict when the regime will collapse or if its opponents can win.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Fragmentation and disorganization have plagued Syria's armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms in December 2011 and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. A lack of unity has made cooperation and coordination difficult on the battlefield and has limited the effectiveness of rebel operations. Since the summer of 2012, rebel commanders on the ground in Syria have begun to coordinate tactically in order to plan operations and combine resources. This cooperation has facilitated many important offensives and rebels have taken control of the majority of the eastern portion of the country, overrunning their first provincial capital in March 2013 with the capture of al-Raqqa city. However, rebels have been unable to capitalize on these successes, and fighting has largely stalemated along current battle fronts particularly in the key areas of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In order to overcome the current military stalemate, the opposition needs to develop an operational level headquarters that can designate campaign priorities, task units to support priority missions, and resource these units with the proper equipment to execute their missions. Recently, the opposition has established a new national military structure that may grow to serve this purpose. On December 7, 2012, rebel leaders from across Syria announced the election of a new 30-member unified command structure called the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, known as the Supreme Military Command (SMC). The Supreme Military Command improves upon previous attempts at armed opposition unification through higher integration of disparate rebel groups and enhanced communication, which suggest that it could prove to be an enduring security institution. The SMC includes all of Syria's most important opposition field commanders, and its authority is based on the power and influence of these rebel leaders. Its legitimacy is derived from the bottomup, rather than top-down, and it has no institutional legitimacy apart from the legitimacy of the commanders associated with the council. Thus, the SMC is not structurally cohesive, and its ability to enforce command and control is dependent on the cooperation of each of its members. The incorporation of rebel networks has resulted in chains of command that are not uniform across the five fronts, with each sub-unit retaining their own unique authority structures. The SMC's primary function to date has been to serve as a platform for coordination. Regardless of the limits of its current command and control, the SMC has played an important role in syncing rebel operations with several notable successes. It has allowed for greater opportunities for collaboration and coordination among the disparate rebel groups operating in Syria. As the SMC develops its institutional capacity, its ability to assert greater authority will likely depend on its transactional legitimacy and its ability to distribute critical resources to rebel-held communities. To date, disparate sources of funding have significantly handicapped the rebels' ability to unite and consolidate authority on a national level. Although private sources of funding will likely continue outside the parameters of the SMC, uniting the support channels of rebels' main state sponsors will be fundamental to ensuring the legitimacy of the new organization. The ability to provide resources and material support to its sub-units is the determining factor in whether or not the SMC will be able to unite rebel forces under its command and establish a level of command and control. The SMC has the potential to serve as a check on radicalization and help to assert a moderate authority in Syria. If the SMC can create enough incentives for moderation it will likely be able to marginalize the most radical elements within its structure. To this end, the SMC has recognized the importance of the inclusion of some of the more radical forces, while still drawing a red line at the inclusion of forces that seek the destruction of a Syrian state, such as jihadist groups like Jabhat Nusra. Ultimately, even if the SMC only serves as a mechanism for greater cooperation and coordination, it is a significant development in that it has united the efforts of rebel commanders across Syria. It is the first attempt at unity that incorporates important commanders from all Syrian provinces and has enough legitimacy on the ground to even begin the process of building a structure capable of providing a national-level chain of command. Syria's state security apparatus will collapse as the Assad regime finishes its transformation into a militia-like entity. The Supreme Military Command is currently the only organization that could serve to fill the security vacuum left by this transformation. As the Syrian opposition begins to build a transitional government, the SMC could create a framework for rebuilding Syria's security and governing institutions if properly supported. The SMC's ability to act as a basis for a national defense institution will be an important component in filling the power vacuum left by Assad's fall and will aid in a secure and stable Syria. There remain a number of critical obstacles ahead for the SMC. They include the incorporation of existing command networks, which will have an impact on command and control and resource allocation; mitigating the strength of extremist groups; and managing disparate sources of financing. Overcoming these obstacles will be difficult, especially as the nature of the conflict transforms and the sectarian polarization makes it more challenging to create a strong military institution and professional armed force. Although the SMC must do its part internally to overcome these obstacles, its success will largely depend on greater international support and access to more resources. The goal behind U.S. support to the opposition should be to build a force on the ground that is committed to building a nonsectarian, stable Syria, with a government more likely to respect American interests. Working with the SMC could enhance America's position vis-à-vis Syria's armed opposition and provide a mechanism for stability should the Assad regime fall.
  • Topic: Security, Civil War, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Today, political and military power in Iraq is highly centralized in the Prime Minister Maliki's personal office. The national unity government that was formed in the wake of the 2010 parliamentary elections has given way to a de-facto majoritarian government in which Maliki has a monopoly on the institutions of the state. This will have important implications for the future of Iraq and the trajectory and durability of its democratic transition. Maliki is the dominant force over Iraq's conventional military forces, special operations units, intelligence apparatus, and civilian ministries. Maliki began his security consolidation not long after taking office in mid-2006. Maliki's security consolidation enables the prime minister to prevent any coup attempts, to aggressively target Sunni terrorist groups, and to check political rivals through the implicit or explicit threat of force. Since 2007, Maliki has used the creation of extra-constitutional security bodies to bypass the defense and interior ministries and create an informal chain of command that runs directly from his office to the commanders in the field, allowing him to exert direct influence over the both the targeting of individuals and the conduct of operations. Chief among these are the Office of the Commander in Chief (OCINC) and provincial-level operations commands. OCINC reports directly to the prime minister and is staffed by Maliki loyalists. The extra-constitutional body has no legal framework to govern its existence and therefore no accountability or oversight, yet it has significant powers and resources. Maliki has also attached Iraq's most elite units to his military office, and has used them for political purposes. Maliki relies on the operations commands to coordinate government responses to security challenges. He maintains direct control over these headquarters through OCINC and through the appointment of trusted commanders. The lack of oversight on military appointments has allowed Maliki to choose his preferred officers (nearly all Shi'a) to head the most significant command positions in Iraq—those of the Iraqi Army Divisions and Operations Commands. Maliki has appointed these senior military officers in acting capacities to bypass requisite parliamentary approval and oversight. The individuals who benefit from these appointments become, in turn, invested in Maliki's success and continuation as prime minister. After the 2010 election, Maliki greatly expanded his control over many of Iraq's civilian institutions, including the judiciary and independent bodies such as the elections commission, central bank, and the anti-corruption watchdog. Through his consolidation of power, Maliki has subverted the system of checks and balances that was intended in the Iraqi constitution. His growing influence over and limitations on supposedly independent institutions have tarnished the legitimacy and efficacy of these bodies, particularly the judiciary and the parliament. Politicization at the national level has effectively compromised the role of the judiciary as an independent check on the other branches of government. The judiciary has been an accomplice to the centralization of power by Prime Minister Maliki through a series of controversial rulings that have empowered the executive and restrained or removed his political rivals. Maliki has used his parliamentary allies and favorable judicial rulings to remove key personnel deemed obstacles to his control of Iraq's independent bodies, the most important of which are the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), and the Integrity Commission. The prime minister has also used his influence over these bodies to check his political rivals and shield his political allies. Free and fair elections will be nearly impossible in the current political environment without an impartial and independent IHEC. Thus, Maliki's efforts to influence, if not control, IHEC are particularly concerning because it suggests his effort to subvert Iraq's electoral process. The Council of Representatives (CoR) has not been an effective check on executive authorities. The parliament's internal dysfunction, combined with Maliki's own efforts to undermine the body, has limited its oversight ability. Maliki has adopted a strategy meant to keep his parliamentary opposition fragmented and prevent the coalescing of a broad anti-Maliki bloc. This has proved largely successful, aided by the opposition's own internal divisions. Maliki's requests have prompted judicial rulings that have curbed the legislating and accountability powers of the parliament, namely by preventing the CoR from initiating legislation and limiting its ability to question ministers. Maliki uses his control over the security and civil institutions mentioned above in various ways to advance his interests. One objective is to dismantle Iraqiyya's senior leadership, while another is to expand his control over Iraq's financial institutions. Maliki has also used his control over the security forces and judiciary to defuse a federalism challenge from several Iraqi provinces. De-Ba'athification, along with accusations of terrorism and corruption, have become convenient political tools to discredit and even remove opponents. Maliki is not the only politician in Iraq to use these tools, but he has the most latitude in doing so on account of his growing executive authority. Maliki still faces some challenges to his power that he will likely have to face in the near future. The first stems from his rivalry with the Sadrists for political dominance among Iraqi Shi'a. The second comes from the growing Sunni discontent with the status quo. While the demonstrations have thus far remained largely peaceful, they have mobilized a significant number of Sunnis in opposition to the government, something that Maliki has sought to avoid. There is also the danger that Sunni discontent and the instability in Syria may translate into a resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Any security crackdown or further actions seen as disenfranchising the Sunni participation might actually exacerbate the drivers of instability that could fuel a regeneration of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Maliki will seek to keep the Sunni fragmented by alienating or removing leaders from rival political parties (such as Nujaifi, Issawi, and Allawi), while cultivating allied Sunni politicians and political groups. The promise of patronage that participation in the Maliki government affords is often a strong motivator for politicians. The upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections present an important political test for Maliki. If the status quo prevails in the coming months, Maliki will emerge from these next elections in a better political position. A strong electoral showing in the provinces would allow him to increase his number of seats in the parliament, to regain the premiership, and to make the parliament even more of a rubber stamp, ideally by installing amore pliable speaker to accelerate the move toward majoritarianism. The United States has largely stayed quiet on the issue of Maliki's consolidation. This silence gives the perception of consent, even if the United States harbors reservations about Maliki's authoritarian behaviors and intentions. U.S. engagement with Iraq in recent years has focused more on the need for preserving stability and providing Iraq with security assistance. Such assistance has ignored the political context that is helping to fuel security challenges and has only strengthened the hand of the prime minister, especially given Maliki's tight control of the security forces. Maliki—in his willingness to support the Assad regime in Syria and unwillingness to abide by U.S. sanctions on Iran—is pursuing a regional policy that is much closer to Iran's than that of the United States. The U.S. does retain leverage within Iraq, but it must use it more effectively. In light of these factors, the United States should reevaluate its relationship with Maliki and be more vocal in rejecting any actions that undermine the democratic process in Iraq. The United States should seek a better understanding of how power is exercised within the Iraqi state. Additionally, American officials should engage more broadly in the political sphere and not simply focus on security cooperation. Greater attention to the timing and means of engagement will also be necessary to break the perception of unwavering U.S. support for Maliki's actions. The United States and other international actors can play a vital role in enabling (or inhibiting) Iraq's exit from Chapter VII. A willingness to speed, slow, or stop weapons sales under the Foreign Military Sales program may also serve as a vehicle to exert influence. Supporting an authoritarian leader in the name of stability will have the opposite outcome and only exacerbate tensions and divisions within Iraq. Ultimately, the United States must recognize that stability in Iraq will only come through an inclusive, representative, and fair political system that protects the rights of all Iraqis—goals that run counter to Maliki's current aims, policies, and behaviors.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Reese
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The first half of 2013 has demonstrated clearly that sectarian conflict is spreading in the Middle East. This conflict is a product of developments over the course of 2012, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's consolidation of power and the development of an armed opposition movement in Syria. A turning point, however, came this year with the Syrian opposition's loss of the strategic town of al-Qusayr in early June to regime forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah. The intervention of this prominent Shi'a militant group has heightened the "sectarianization" of the conflict. Sectarian narratives provide an emotional rallying point for popular mobilization, and are easily leveraged by actors involved in the conflict to achieve their goals. The rise in sectarian violence sponsored by external actors poses an existential threat to these already-fragile states.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Karim Sadjadpour, Ali Vaez
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The covert history of Iran's nuclear program is marked by enormous financial costs, unpredictable risks, and unclear motivations.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mona El-Kouedi
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: With the situation in Syria continuing to deteriorate and a death tally of more than 70,000, the Arab League (AL) reached out to representatives of the Syrian opposition. Arab leaders offered the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) the seat of Syria in the AL's 24th Summit in Doha, which took place on 26 March 2013. In his address on that occasion, SNC leader Moaz Al-Khatib asked the US and NATO to extend "the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian North". Al-Khatib added: "We are still waiting for a decision from NATO to protect people's lives, not to fight but to protect lives". NATO was quick in responding to Al-Khatib, but gave him the answer that he least wanted to hear. The Alliance's Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen confirmed: "(W)e have no plans to change the purpose of, and coverage of the deployed Patriot missiles".
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of one of Lebanon' s bloodiest battles since the end of the civil war: the deadly, three - month war pitting a jihadi group against the army in the Nahr al - Bared Palestinian refugee camp. Since then, the camp ' s displaced and resident population has suffered from slow reconstruct ion of their residences, a heavy security presence that restricts their movement and livelihood as well as the absence of a legitimate Palestinian body to represent their interests. Today, there are bigger and more urgent fish to fry, none more so than dealing with the ripple effects of Syria ' s raging internal conflict on inter - sectarian relations in Lebanon and the risk that the country once again could plunge into civil war. But it would be wrong to toss the refugee camp question aside, for here too resides a potential future flare - up.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Sinan Ülgen
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Though most states that want a nuclear weapon can get one through determined effort, the fact remains that most choose not to proliferate. Turkey is no exception. Not even the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is likely to push Ankara to develop its own nuclear weapons. The only circumstance where such a scenario would acquire a degree of likelihood is a breakdown in Turkey's security relationship with the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East