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  • Author: Peter FitzGerald
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On 14 February 2005, an explosion in downtown Beirut killed twenty persons, among them the former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri. The United Nations' Secretary-General dispatched a Fact-Finding Mission to Beirut to inquire into the causes, the circumstances and the consequences of this assassination. Since it arrived in Beirut on 25 February, the Mission met with a large number of Lebanese officials and representatives of different political groups, performed a thorough review of the Lebanese investigation and legal proceedings, examined the crime scene and the evidence collected by the local police, collected and analyzed samples from the crime scene, and interviewed some witnesses in relation to the crime. The specific 'causes' for the assassination of Mr. Hariri cannot be reliably asserted until after the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice. However, it is clear that the assassination took place in a political and security context marked by an acute polarization around the Syrian influence in Lebanon and a failure of the Lebanese State to provide adequate protection for its citizens. Regarding the circumstances, the Mission is of the view that the explosion was caused by a TNT charge of about 1000 KG placed most likely above the ground. The review of the investigation indicates that there was a distinct lack of commitment on the part of the Lebanese authorities to investigate the crime effectively, and that this investigation was not carried out in accordance with acceptable international standards. The Mission is also of the view that the Lebanese investigation lacks the confidence of the population necessary for its results to be accepted. The consequences of the assassination could be far-reaching. It seems to have unlocked the gates of political upheavals that were simmering throughout the last year. Accusations and counter-accusations are rife and aggravate the ongoing political polarization. Some accuse the Syrian security services and leadership of assassinating Mr. Hariri because he became an insurmountable obstacle to their influence in Lebanon. Syrian supporters maintain that he was assassinated by "the enemies of Syria"; those who wanted to create international pressure on the Syrian leadership in order to accelerate the demise of its influence in Lebanon and/or start a chain of reactions that would eventually force a 'regime change' inside Syria itself. Lebanese politicians from different backgrounds expressed to the Mission their fear that Lebanon could be caught in a possible showdown between Syria and the international community, with devastating consequences for Lebanese peace and security. After gathering the available facts, the Mission concluded that the Lebanese security services and the Syrian Military Intelligence bear the primary responsibility for the lack of security, protection, law and order in Lebanon. The Lebanese security services have demonstrated serious and systematic negligence in carrying out the duties usually performed by a professional national security apparatus. In doing so, they have severely failed to provide the citizens of Lebanon with an acceptable level of security and, therefore, have contributed to the propagation of a culture of intimidation and impunity. The Syrian Military Intelligence shares this responsibility to the extent of its involvement in running the security services in Lebanon. It is also the Mission's conclusion that the Government of Syria bears primary responsibility for the political tension that preceded the assassination of former Prime Minister Mr. Hariri. The Government of Syria clearly exerted influence that goes beyond the reasonable exercise of cooperative or neighborly relations. It interfered with the details of governance in Lebanon in a heavy-handed and inflexible manner that was the primary reason for the political polarization that ensued. Without prejudice to the results of the investigation, it is obvious that this atmosphere provided the backdrop for the assassination of Mr. Hariri. It became clear to the Mission that the Lebanese investigation process suffers from serious flaws and has neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion. To find the truth, it would be necessary to entrust the investigation to an international independent commission, comprising the different fields of expertise that are usually involved in carrying out similarly large investigations in national systems, with the necessary executive authority to carry out interrogations, searches, and other relevant tasks. Furthermore, it is more than doubtful that such an international commission could carry out its tasks satisfactorily - and receives the necessary active cooperation from local authorities - while the current leadership of the Lebanese security services remains in office. It is the Mission's conclusion that the restoration of the integrity and credibility of the Lebanese security apparatus is of vital importance to the security and stability of the country. A sustained effort to restructure, reform and retrain the Lebanese security services will be necessary to achieve this end, and will certainly require assistance and active engagement on the part of the international community. Finally, it is the Mission's view that international and regional political support will be necessary to safeguard Lebanon's national unity and to shield its fragile polity from unwarranted pressure. Improving the prospects of peace and security in the region would offer a more solid ground for restoring normalcy in Lebanon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Gates, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Susan Maloney
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Twenty-five years after its Islamic revolution, Iran represents a challenge and an opportunity for the United States. The issues at stake reflect the urgent and multifaceted dilemmas of U.S. security in the post–9/11 era: nuclear proliferation, state support of terrorism, the relationship between religion and politics, and the imperative of political and economic reform in the Middle East. At this time, as Iraq—Iran's neighbor and historic adversary—embarks on a difficult transition to post-conflict sovereignty, and as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) extends its scrutiny of Iranian nuclear activities, Iran looms large on the U.S. policy agenda. Recognizing this relevance to vital U.S. interests, the Task Force advocates selectively engaging with Iran to address critical U.S. concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Marice R. Greenberg, Mallory Factor, William F. Wechsler, Lee S. Wolosky
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In October 2002, this Task Force issued its initial report on terrorist financing. That report described the nature of the al-Qaeda financial network, the actions that had been taken to date to combat terrorist financing, and the obstacles that hindered those efforts.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: J. Brian Atwood, Robert S. Browne, Princeton N. Lyman
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States will host the G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia, in June 2004. Many urgent and critical international issues need to be discussed at the summit, especially developments in the Middle East and in the worldwide war on terrorism. It will be important, however, that the summit also maintain the momentum of the past three years in the G8-Africa partnership. This will reinforce the work of African leaders who are championing democracy, human rights, and good governance. Africa, moreover, figures prominently in the three global issues the United States has selected for the summit: freedom, security, and prosperity.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Georgia, Island
  • Author: Thomas R. Pickering, James R. Schlesinger, Eric P. Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On March 20, 2003, the United States launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, designed to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein. By mid-April, major fighting was essentially over, and on May 1, the United States declared an end to major combat operations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas Pickering, James Schlesinger
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: This memorandum focuses on key challenges in the postwar period in Iraq. It supplements the March 12, 2003, report, Iraq: The Day After, prepared by the Independent Task Force on Post-Conflict Iraq and sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. That report contained some 30 recommendations for U.S. postwar policy in Iraq. While some of the Task Force's recommendations addressed contingencies that did not occur (such as the use of weapons of mass destruction by Iraqi forces or large-scale refugee flight), the bulk of the recommendations remain applicable some three months after the release of the initial report. This supplement highlights a few key areas of continuing concern that we believe require attention by the administration.
  • Topic: Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas R. Pickering, James R. Schlesinger
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: If the United States goes to war and removes the regime of Saddam Hussein, American interests will demand an extraordinary commitment of U.S. financial and personnel resources to postconflict transitional assistance and reconstruction. These interests include eliminating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD); ending Iraqi contacts, whether limited or extensive, with international terrorist organizations; ensuring that a post-transition Iraqi government can maintain the country's territorial integrity and independence while contributing to regional stability; and offering the people of Iraq a future in which they have a meaningful voice in the vital decisions that impact their lives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Frank G. Wisner, Edward P. Djerejian
  • Publication Date: 12-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Today's Iraq debate is understandably focused on the run-up to possible military action. However, the question of how the United States and the international community should manage post-conflict Iraq is even more consequential, as it will determine the long-term condition of Iraq and the entire Middle East. If Washington does not clearly define its goals for Iraq and build support for them domestically and with its allies and partners, future difficulties are bound to quickly overshadow any initial military success. Put simply, the United States may lose the peace, even if it wins the war.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh, Henry Siegman, Michel Rocard, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Interim Period of Palestinian Self-Government Arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as stipulated in the Declaration of Principles signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the state of Israel on September 13, 1993, came to an end on May 4, 1999. During that period the two parties signed additional agreements on the transfer of functional and territorial jurisdiction to the Palestinian Authority, which assumed direct responsibility for the conduct of daily life and for cooperation and coordination with Israel in a wide range of spheres. Progress toward a permanent settlement of the decades-old conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as toward peaceful relations in the region, requires the establishment of a capable, credible, and meaningful Palestinian political entity. Good governance is a necessary condition for the success of the peace process, and therefore all parties bear a responsibility to assist and facilitate the strengthening of Palestinian public institutions. The United States, the European Union, Norway as chair of the international donor community, and the international community as a whole hold this view firmly. They have demonstrated a sustained commitment to these goals, extending strong political support, reassurance, and diplomatic input to the process. Moreover, the international community pledged $4.1 billion in assistance for Palestinian reconstruction and development in 1994-98, of which some $3.6 billion was committed against specific projects and $2.5 billion of which was actually disbursed by the end of 1998. Around 10 percent of total disbursement was directed toward Palestinian institution-building. The construction and consolidation of effective and democratic governing institutions based on transparency and accountability is a major step on the road to attaining genuine self-determination for the Palestinians, peace and security for Israel and its neighbors, and stability for the region as a whole. This is the basis for the Palestinians to gain ownership over the assistance, investment, and planning programs that are at present shepherded by the international donor community and its representative institutions on the ground. Ownership is necessary for the Palestinians to make a successful transition from externally assisted emergency rehabilitation and post-conflict reconstruction to sustainable social and economic development, greater self-reliance, and confident competitiveness in global markets. A primary goal of the Palestinian Authority, and of its partners and counterparts in Israel and the international community, should therefore be to achieve good governance, based on the following: a constitutional government; political accountability and judicial review; the transparent and accountable management of public resources; the rule of law and citizens' rights; democratic participatory politics and pluralist civil society; and an effective and responsive public administration. The issue is not only one of organization—that is, of the structures composed of individuals working toward common ends. Even more important, it is one of the rules, norms, and practices that define public institutions and their operating culture and determine relations with their constituents. The Palestinians are moving into a new and decisive phase in their national history, and the purpose of this report is to assist in identifying what needs to be done in order to make that transition successfully.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Ted Galen Carpenter, Mark Falcoff, Adrian Karatnycky, Gary C. Hufbauer, Robert D. Blackwill, Leslie H. Gelb, Allen R. Adler, Mario L. Baeza, Philip Peters, Bernard W. Aronson, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Rodolfo O. De La Garza, Daniel W. Fisk, Craig Fuller, M. Farooq Kathwari, Franklin W. Knight, Susan Kaufman Purcell, Peter W. Rodman, Riordan Roett, William D. Rogers, Alexander F. Watson
  • Publication Date: 01-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: This report addresses the current state and the future prospects for the transatlantic relationship. The broad challenge the U.S.-European partnership faces in the period ahead is threefold: to persuade others around the world in post-Cold War conditions to abide by internationally accepted norms and patterns of behavior and the rules of the international institutions that embody them; to deal skillfully with the emerging new power centers, of which China and India are the most prominent; and to meet the current serious threats to Western interests, especially in the Middle East, when these threats often seem to ordinary citizens more remote, abstract, and complex than during the Cold War. This daunting effort will clearly require transatlantic policies that involve a delicate and flexible combination of incentives and disincentives applied to these other countries in a highly discriminating manner in widely differing circumstances. Designing and sustaining such policies will be no easy task for Western governments with compelling domestic preoccupations in the full glare of the media spotlight.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East