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  • Author: Danielle Pletka
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In connection with an assessment of AEI’s work on the Middle East over the past two decades, I drafted the following survey. The arc of our scholarship in this critical region is fascinating and illuminates the continuity and evolution of the challenges the United States faces in the Middle East. What is ultimately clear is that in the region both the challenge of destructive ideas and the fostering of better ones will shape outcomes.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, it has been only the world's second Shi'ite-led state after Iran. Azerbaijan respects separation of mosque and state, and despite pressure from its neighbors, remains independent from political domination. Given its strategic importance, safeguarding the country's independence remains a US priority. And the threat from Iranian meddling is particularly acute. From Tehran's perspective, the combination of Azerbaijan's pre-19th-century Iranian past, modern Azerbaijan's embrace of secularism, and its relative economic success challenge Iran's legitimacy. As Iranian authorities have sought to undermine and destabilize Azerbaijan through political, clerical, charitable, and media channels, Azerbaijan's counterstrategy has been both restrained and effective.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Sovereignty, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Frederick W. Kagan, J. Matthew McInnis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A review of the soft-power strategies of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes clear a disturbing fact: Tehran has a coherent, if sometimes ineffective strategy to advance its aims in the Middle East and around the world. The United States does not. This project began with two tour d'horizon reviews of Iranian activities throughout areas Iran has, by its actions, defined as its sphere of influence. From the Persian Gulf through the Levant and into neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has consistently invested in soft- and hard-power activities designed not only to extend its own influence but also to limit both American and hostile Arab aims. And while the latter part of the Ahmadinejad administration saw waning rewards for Tehran's efforts-a result more of the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East than of changes in strategy-the continued existence of a coherent Iranian strategy to dominate or destabilize the region should not be ignored. This report, the culmination of a process of both examining Iranian actions and surveying American policy, policy responses, and soft-power strategies in the region, focuses on the US side of the equation. Despite the Obama administration's commitment to replace hard power with smart power, what the United States pursues in the Middle East is a set of incoherent, ineffective, and increasingly irrelevant policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin, Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Shi'ism has a public relations problem, at least, in the United States. Most Americans formed their perception of Shi'ism not by reading its rich internal debates or exploring its diversity and cultural heritage, but rather by seeing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini lead chants of "Death to America" after the 1979 Iranian revolution and Iranian hostage takers scaling embassy walls and then parading blindfolded, abused diplomats on television. Less than four years later, Shi'ite operatives in Lebanon rammed a truck bomb into the headquarters of US Marines serving as peacekeepers in Beirut, killing 241 in an incident that propelled suicide terrorism to the forefront of the American conscience.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Persian Gulf states of Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have largely been immune to the rising tide of sectarianism that has rocked the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. The three monarchies have successfully integrated their Shi'ite minority populations into their countries' sociopolitical and economic spheres, giving those populations little reason to engage in violence or seek political guidance from Iran or Iraq. Omani, Qatari, and Emirati Shi'ites strongly identify themselves as citizens of their respective countries and remain loyal to their ruling regimes. However, the spillover effects of the Syrian civil war—a sectarian conflict between the Shi'ite Iran-Hezbollah-Assad axis and the opposition groups backed by regional Sunni governments—are threatening Sunni-Shi'ite stability in the UAE, Qatar, and to a lesser degree, Oman. The United States should help maintain harmony in these states by reaching out to independent Shi'ite business communities and by working with regional leaders to ensure equal citizenship, political rights, and religious freedom among minority populations.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Post Colonialism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: For decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, and the ­Kingdom's stability remains vital for US strategic interests in the region. While antigovernment protests in the Kingdom's Sunni-majority regions have been small and sporadic in the wake of Arab Spring, there has been an unremitting unrest in the strategic Eastern Province, home to Saudi Arabia's marginalized Shi'ite minority and major oil fields. As in the 1980s, if government repression and discrimination push the Shi'ites to extremes, some may resort to violence and terrorism, jeopardizing American interests in the region, benefitting Iran and ­al-Qaeda, disrupting the equilibrium of global oil markets, and adversely affecting economic recovery in the West. To ensure lasting stability in the Kingdom, the United States must work with the Saudi government to achieve gradual but meaningful reforms that include integrating the Shi'ites into the Kingdom's sociopolitical system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Kuwait is perhaps America's closest Arab ally; it remains the only country in the Middle East on whose behalf the United States went to war. Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has at times tried to leverage Kuwait's large Shi'ite minority against the Kuwaiti state, it has mostly been unsuccessful. Indeed, Kuwait's Shi'ite ­community has repeatedly worked to prove its loyalty to Kuwait. Recent political instability, however, is again opening the door for sectarian forces to undermine Kuwait and, by extension, an important pillar of US defense strategy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Hassan Mneimneh
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: September 11, 2001, marked the coming to the fore of the “jihadist international,” a loosely connected movement of militant and terrorist groups worldwide with a common ideology and increasingly shared tactics and methods. While such groups still have limited recruitment potential eight years on, they have inflicted substantial physical damage and have forced free societies to take costly precautionary measures. Perhaps most alarming, the global jihadist movement has continued simultaneously to feed off of and perpetuate the growing radicalization that Muslim culture has endured over the last few decades.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Danielle Pletka
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On April 8, Iran announced that it was expanding its plans to enrich uranium, despite demands from the United Nations (UN) Security Council that it halt the program. Iran will start installing six thousand more centrifuges in addition to its three thousand existing ones. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, AEI vice president Danielle Pletka reviewed recent U.S. and UN policy toward Iran; examined the evidence on sanctions, arguing that they are taking a toll on Iran's economy; and looked at what other options we now have for dealing with Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In a recent article, AEI resident scholar Frederick W. Kagan examined one of the recurring themes in the recent congressional hearings on the situation in Iraq. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were repeatedly told that the size and scope of our Iraq effort were preventing the United States from prevailing in the "real fight" against al Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Kagan, the author of four reports on Iraq strategy, including the latest, Iraq: The Way Ahead, examines the reality of the popular claim.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The name Fethullah Gülen is virtually unknown in the United States. Self-exiled here for more than a decade, this prominent Turkish theological and political thinker is the leader of a movement estimated conservatively to have more than a million followers in Turkey. The movement controls a business empire of charities, real estate, companies, and schools. Thousands of Gülen's followers populate Turkey's bureaucracies. AEI's Michael Rubin believes that, just as many people remained clueless or belittled concerns about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's intentions in Iran thirty years ago, many may be making the same mistake today about Gülen, who professes to want to weld Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Rubin introduces us to a man who could play a prominent role in Turkey's future at a time when Turkey's "secular order and constitutionalism have never been so shaky."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The State Department is counseling Turkey to make political concessions to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the terrorist organization that launched an attack in Turkey in October. Michael Rubin argues that this would be a mistake and urges the United States to stand by its long-time NATO ally in its fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
14. Panic
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The credit crisis that followed the collapse of the housing bubble turned into a financial panic on Wednesday, September 17, 2008. There was a run by households out of money-market funds and into safe Treasury bills, pushing their yields to zero for the first time since the Great Depression. There was a liquidity trap in the interbank market, in which banks that are supposed to lend to each other hoarded cash for fear of runs by their depositors and the insolvency of other banks. Financial markets simply froze in the midst of chaos.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following article is the second of two installments by Michael Rubin in AEI's On the Issues series. The two articles originally appeared as a review essay in the Spring 2007 edition of Middle Eastern Quarterly.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following article is the first of two installments by Michael Rubin in AEI's On the Issues series. The two articles originally appeared as a review essay in the Spring 2007 edition of Middle Eastern Quarterly.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas Donnelly, Colin Monaghan
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The White House has recently taken important steps to ensure that the tenets of the Bush Doctrine endure beyond the end of President George W. Bush's administration, including a new strategy in Iraq and an increase in the size of U.S. land forces. But as time grows short, the president needs to attend closely to three matters. The first of these—a surge in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan—was discussed in the February 2007 edition of National Security Outlook, is a need as obvious and pressing as Iraq and an important factor in the urgency of rebuilding land forces, especially the Army. The second and third factors are less frequently discussed but essential for the long-term viability of the Bush Doctrine and the continuation of the Pax Americana: articulating a strategy for the “Long War” in the greater Middle East and devising a genuinely global response to the rise of China. This issue of National Security Outlook is devoted to the second factor, the strategy for winning the Long War in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Government, National Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, America, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Eliot A. Cohen
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: There is little realism in the report of the Iraq Study Group, a consensus group dominated by so-called foreign policy realists. It offers diplomatic pablum instead of serious discussion of what has gone wrong in Iraq. Our difficulties in Iraq are not a result of having the wrong strategy, but of failing to implement the choices we have made.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Joshua Muravchik
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: No sooner had Israel raised its hand in self- defense when Finland, speaking as the rotating president of the European Union, denounced it for “the disproportionate use of force.” This position, echoed by France, Spain, the United Nations, and others, is wrong legally, morally, and strategically. From a legal standpoint, Israel is the victim of multiple unprovoked aggressions. It withdrew entirely from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. (Both of these occupations had come about as acts of self-defense: the former against rocket fire from Lebanon in 1982, and the latter against a war of annihilation declared by Egypt in 1967.) From the time of its withdrawal from Gaza, not a single day had passed without rockets being fired into Israel. Now from the north as well as the south, Israel finds hundreds of rockets being fired across its border. Even if these were aimed at military installations, it would be a clear-cut act of war. To make it worse, these rockets are aimed randomly at cities and other civilian population centers, making them not only acts of war but war crime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Finland, France, Gaza, Spain, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: After Hamas kidnapped nineteen-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza to win his release. Arab condemnation was swift. Saudi Arabia's pro- government al-Jazira daily called Israel “a society of terrorists.” Egypt's state-controlled al-Gumhuriyah condemned Israel's “heinous crimes” in Gaza. Following a July 8 meeting in Tehran, foreign ministers from countries neighboring Iraq denounced the “brutal Israeli attacks.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Gaza, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt