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  • Author: Emmanuel Karagiannis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Western Muslims have joined jihadi groups in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Somalia and Syria to defend Islam from its perceived enemies. Transnational Islamist networks have played a pivotal role in bringing them to conflict zones by fulfilling three functions: radicalisation through mosques, radical preachers, and the Internet; recruitment which can be conducted either physically or digitally; and identity formation that provides the radicalised recruits with a larger cause to fight for as members of an imagined global community. Transnational Islamist networks are multifunctional entities on the rise.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia
  • Author: Matthias Matthijs
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since the turn of the millennium, scholars and pundits have been musing over the decline of the West. The disappointing US military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq, together with the subprime mortgage crisis, seem to be evidence of an abrupt end to America's 'unipolar' moment. In Europe, the sovereign debt crisis has amplified Europe's long-term structural economic problems and laid bare the fragile institutional foundation on which the Economic and Monetary Union was built. At the same time, the BRICs and other emerging economies have been growing at unprecedented rates. Those same analysts see a 'decoupling' in the world economy: the developing economies pulling the world out of recession, while the advanced industrial economies are unable to solve their domestic difficulties. So to them, the events of the past five years signify the beginning of the end of Western influence, eventually leading to a more complete rebalancing of the world economy's current 'Western' system of governance. This article argues instead that the West still has a significant edge when it comes to most critical factors that determine long-term economic growth potential, including technology, innovative capacity, research and development, investment climate and education. Furthermore, the transatlantic economy is less vulnerable than the rest of the world to outside economic shocks and might eventually prove more capable of reform than many expect. The current malaise in the transatlantic community might therefore prove once again to be more cyclical than structural. Relying on linear projections, many are 'crying wolf' again, too loud and too soon.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Europe
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In 2011 NATO initiated the Inteqal process, i.e. the "transition" of security responsibilities from ISAF to the Afghan state and its security forces. The main pillars of this process are the build up of the Afghan Army and Police and the improvement of Afghanistan's governance system at both national and local level. Progress has been made in this respect, although challenges remain. NATO aims to complete the transition by 2014, while reducing its military presence in the country, but a substantial Allied footprint is likely to remain in Afghanistan beyond that date. The death of Bin Laden has brought about little changes to the situation on the ground, while it may have a significant impact on the US's attitude towards peace talks with the Taliban and thus influence the transition timeline and nature.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, NATO, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Elaborating a Strategic Concept is a delicate undertaking which implies a good deal of resolve, far - sightedness, and realism. Allies should neither search for a new North Star nor give in to the temptation of de facto acceptance of the status quo as the optimal solution. Instead, they should make choices reflecting a synthesis, not just a list, of their security priorities. In particular, they should consider the future of the allied deterrence and defence strategies in a security environment characterised by significant political and technological changes, including by thinking about steps towards withdrawing US nuclear weapons in Europe and creating an integrated missile defence system; learn the lessons from the Balkans and Afghanistan and accord greater priority to stabilisation than to rapid reaction capabilities; recognise that compromises will be inevitable if they are serious about considering Russia as a partner, and start by pausing for a while with enlargement. Allies should also make it clear that they have no ambition of turning NATO into a world gendarme and shift towards cooperative crisis management.
  • Topic: NATO, Treaties and Agreements, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe
  • Author: Shireen T. Hunter
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In June 2009, Iran will hold its 10th presidential elections since the establishment of the Islamic regime in 1979. As a rule, in past elections the incumbent president was elected to a second term. Even Muhammad Khatami, despite his problems with the conservative elements and disagreements with the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, was reelected in 2001.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran
  • Author: Julianne Smith, Michael Williams
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Common wisdom is that NATO's future hinges solely on the outcome of the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. While the state of Afghanistan will impact the future of the Alliance for better or for worse, it will not be the sole or even primary factor to influence the future of NATO. In many ways, Afghanistan has become an excuse for the Alliance to ignore some of the in-built problems of the organisation. The allies' inability to define clearly the nature of the Alliance and its core missions, a lack of capability and poor funding, topped off by exceedingly weak and troubled relations with other international organisations, particularly the European Union, all pose significant challenges that the alliance must address to remain relevant, coherent, and equipped to engage effectually in future operations.
  • Topic: Security, NATO
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe
  • Author: J.C. Mahncke
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: “I see that under the Prodi government Italy already now has and even more in future will be able to have a big role in Europe, and that as a result of this role will be able to take on an important function in relation to the United States and the Arab world […] I believe that in the course of one month Italy has succeeded to launch a strategic rearrangement of its foreign policy.”1 These are the words of Massimo D'Alema, Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs since May 2006. Indeed, the measures taken by the new Italian government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi indicate, if not a completely new orientation, a revised concept behind Italian foreign policy in contrast to that of his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi. Most striking is the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq, to be completed by autumn of this year. But Prodi wants to maintain Italian involvement in Afghanistan, and the government seems eager to uphold the traditionally good relations with the United States, despite the withdrawal from Iraq. While Prodi and D'Alema are in favour of a more important role of Italy in Europe and of the European Union in the world, close ties are to be kept with the United States. According to D'Alema: “The foreign policy of the government intends to favour the growth of an autonomous European actor but tied to the United States by solid and mature understanding within the alliance.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia, Italy
  • Author: Bechir Chourou
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The emergence of a political ideology based on Islam is commonly attributed to Jamal Eddine al-Afghani (1838-1898) of Afghanistan, Mohammad Abduh (1849-1905) of Egypt and Abdurrahman al-Kawakibi (1849-1902) of Syria. These early Muslim intellectuals are called "reformers," because they advocated a reversal of what they perceived in their era as a slow but inexorable decline of Islam. In their views, this could be accomplished only through a purification of the faith and a return to strict observance of the word of Allah (i.e. the Koran) and imitation of His prophet's behaviour (i.e. the Sunna). But at the same time, those thinkers believed that Muslims should not shun science and knowledge even if they came from non-Muslims. Thus saved from decay and decadence, the reformed and renovated Islam could inaugurate a period of renaissance (nahdha) that would allow it to join and participate in the economic and social transformations that were under-way in the West.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Ian O. Lesser
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: “Coalition” may be an inappropriate term to describe the constellation of state and non state actors cooperating in the global struggle against terrorism. The term coalition implies a certain agreement on strategy and objectives, short of a formal alliance. In fact, to the extent that NATO plays an active role in counter-terrorism, the current pattern of cooperation does have elements of an alliance. But the vast bulk of international cooperation on counter-terrorism, before and after September 11th, has involved the routine, sometimes intensive, coordination of intelligence, police and judicial activity. Contributions to large-scale military operations in Afghanistan, or elsewhere – although important to current objectives – are exceptional. Most counter-terrorism cooperation has been, and will almost certainly continue to be, of a more prosaic nature. The sheer range of activity – from the most intensive cooperation among European allies, to the ad hoc and often arms length relations with states such as Libya, Syria and Iran, not to mention Russia and China, makes it difficult to speak of a single grand coalition against terrorism.. The reality is a highly diverse pattern of cooperation; some limited, some extensive; some sustained, and some on a case-by-case basis.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, International Cooperation, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, China, Europe, Iran, Libya, Syria