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  • Author: Steven Cook
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Steven Cook expects bin Laden's death to have a minimal impact on al-Qaeda, and says extremist activity targeting countries in the Middle East and the United States is likely to continue.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Steven A. Cook
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Steven A. Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that the national dialogue convened by the Syrian government lacks credibility, and raises question about what steps the Syrian military will take as the regime faces continued popular protests.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Paul Lettow
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The international nuclear nonproliferation regime—the principal objective of which is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons—is under severe strain. The North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs have exploited and underscored weaknesses in the regime that must be fixed if it is to serve its purpose. Those weaknesses are both structural—ambiguities and limitations in the current rules—and result from a failure to enforce the rules that exist.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North Korea
  • Author: Daniel C. Kurtzer
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Lebanon has been a flashpoint for Arab-Israeli violence and military confrontations since the mid1970s. Its political system is weak and outside parties continue to vie for political advantage as part of a larger regional conflict. In particular, Syria and Iran provide support for the militant Islamist group Hezbollah as a strategic asset to pressure Israel. Hezbollah now controls most of southern Lebanon, while its political wing has developed a strong presence in the Lebanese parliament. In July and August 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought what became known as the “Second Lebanon War,” which killed and displaced many thousand s of people and destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure. Since then Hezbollah has steadily rearmed in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which requires, inter alia, “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state” and “no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.” Hezbollah's arsenal is more potent in quantity and quality today than it was in 2006. Although the border area between Israel and Lebanon is quieter than at any time in the previous decade, speculation that a third Lebanon war will occur in the next twelve to eighteen months has been steadily rising. Israel could decide the security threat posed by Hezbollah has reached intolerable levels and take preemptive military action. Hezbollah, while outwardly showing no interest in confronting Israel at this time, may for various reasons choose or be pressured by Iran to flex its new military capabilities. As happened in 2006, even small-scale military engagements with limited objectives can escalate into a major conflict. Whatever the precipitating reasons, a new conflict over Lebanon would have significant implications for U.S. policy and interests in the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, War, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, United Nations, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Bernard Gwertzman (interviewer)
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: After nine months of political wrangling, Iraq's parliament confirmed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new coalition government December 21. Though the government is "a good basis for setting out," says Iraq expert Joost Hiltermann, there's much uncertainty about how cohesive it will be and whether the inclusive government formed can govern. Hiltermann says there are questions about who will head the three major security ministries, whether a new National Council for Strategic Policy--designed as a "real check" against Maliki's power--will be approved by parliament, and whether Ayad Allawi, who headed the Iraqiya bloc that won the most seats in the election, will want to head that council. The United States pushed a power-sharing agreement "that went beyond the sharing of ministerial positions," says Hiltermann, but it remains to be seen whether various factions, including the prime minister and his allies, will allow that to happen.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, Politics, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Isobel Coleman
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Over the last several decades, it has become accepted wisdom that improving the status of women is one of the most critical levers of international development. When women are educated and can earn and control income, a number of good results follow: infant mortality declines, child health and nutrition improve, agricultural productivity rises, population growth slows, economies expand, and cycles of poverty are broken.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Malley, Peter Harling
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama has spent the first year and a half of his presidency seeking to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor. He has made up some ground. But given how slowly U.S. policy has shifted, his administration runs the risk of implementing ideas that might have worked if President George W. Bush had pursued them a decade ago. The region, meanwhile, will have moved on. It is a familiar pattern. For decades, the West has been playing catch-up with a region it pictures as stagnant. Yet the Middle East evolves faster and less predictably than Western policymakers imagine. As a rule, U.S. and European governments eventually grasp their missteps, yet by the time their belated realizations typically occur, their ensuing policy adjustments end up being hopelessly out of date and ineffective. In the wake of the colonial era, as Arab nationalist movements emerged and took power across the Middle East, Europe either ignored the challenge they posed or treated them as Soviet-inspired irritants. By the time the West understood the significance and popularity of these movements, Europe's power had long since faded, and its reputation in the region was irreparably tarnished by the stain of neocolonialism. Likewise, the United States only became fully conscious of the jihadist threat in the aftermath of 9/11, after Washington had fueled its rise by backing Islamist militant groups in Afghanistan during the 1980s. And Washington only endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state in 2000 -- just when, as a result of developments on the ground and in both the Israeli and the Palestinian polities, the achievement of a two-state solution was becoming increasingly elusive. The West's tendency to adopt Middle East policies that have already outlived their local political shelf lives is occurring once again today: despite its laudable attempt to rectify the Bush administration's missteps, the Obama administration is hamstrung by flawed assumptions about the regional balance of power. Washington still sees the Middle East as cleanly divided between two camps: a moderate, pro-American camp that ought to be bolstered and a militant, pro-Iranian one that needs to be contained. That conception is wholly divorced from reality.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Author: William J. Lynn III
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Scott M. Thomas
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Religion is on the rise around the world. If the United States fails to confront the implications of this growth properly the potential for religiously motivated violence across the globe may increase dramatically over the next century.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Crawford, Jami Miscik
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Governments across the Middle East and South Asia are increasingly losing power to substate actors that are inserting themselves at a mezzanine level of rule between the government and the people. Western policymakers must address the problem systematically, at both a political and a legal level, rather than continue to pursue reactive and disjointed measures on a case-by-case basis.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East