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  • Author: Maria Cristina Paciello
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Two years after the popular mobilisations in Egypt and Tunisia of early 2011, post-uprising authorities, including the Islamist parties that came to power, have failed to deliver on the demands for social justice that triggered those protests. They have responded to past and present socio-economic challenges by adopting measures that are in clear continuity with previous regimes and lacking any coherent long-term vision of economic reform. Indeed, albeit with differences between the two countries, post-uprising authorities, lacking experience and competence, have not fully broken with the old system in reconfiguring power relations within and outside state institutions and have continued to adopt a top-down approach to economic decision-making.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This article aims to analyse and evaluate the post-Mubarak politics of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in an attempt to explain its swift political parable from the heights of power to one of the worst waves of repression in the movement's history. In order to do so, the analysis will start with the period before the'25th of January Revolution'. This is because current events cannot be correctly under-stood without moving beyond formal politics to the structural evolution of the Egyptian system of power before and after the 2011 uprising. In the second and third parts of this article, Egypt's still unfinished' post-revolutionary' political transition is then examined. It is divided into two parts: 1) the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)-led phase from February 2011 up to the presidential elections in summer 2012; and 2) the MB-led phase that ended with the military takeover in July 2013 and the ensuing violent crackdown on the Brotherhood.
  • Political Geography: South America, Egypt
  • Author: Robert D. Springborg
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Turkish model deemed most relevant to 2011-12 post-Mubarak Egypt was the Islamist-led transformation of the polity and economy that occurred following the rise to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2002 general election. As it transpired, this version of the Turkish model lasted but one year before another took its place. That model was the political project of the Turkish military that seized power in September 1980. This thirty-one year old Turkish model of a constitutionally empowered executive body, controlled by the military appears to have trumped the contemporary, Islamist one in Egypt. But the Turkish military coup of 1980 unwittingly and unintentionally laid the groundwork for the transition that ultimately swept it from power and its leaders into jail. The pertinent question then is will Egypt's civilian political and economic actors be similarly and sufficiently astute to exploit the opportunities they inevitably will have even under military rule? Egyptian political forces will inevitably mount serious challenges as they did in Turkey. In Egypt, however, the domestic and regional political and economic contexts are so different from those in Turkey that the outcome of the struggle for power between civilians and the military are likely to deviate substantially from this Turkish model.
  • Topic: Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Egypt
  • Author: Augustus Richard Norton
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Arab awakening augurs the return of political contestation to key Arab societies in which little more than token opposition had been tolerated. Unfolding experiments in democratisation in which Islamically-oriented parties are leading players are underway but the prospects for the consolidation of stable political systems in key countries, such as Egypt or Syria are problematic. These developments have hastened a new regional balance of power in which Saudi Arabia and its allies have sought to stem the tide of change as well as thwart the hegemonial ambitions of Iran. Persistent issues, particularly the Israel-Palestine conflict, remain unresolved and have a powerful grip on the conscience of the Arab world. Key external powers, especially the United States, confront not only stubborn familiar issues but also a host of new strategic, economic, diplomatic and military challenges.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Mohammed Hashas
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Compared to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Morocco's political development looks like an oasis of tranquillity. "Moroccan exceptionalism" is often drawn on as a positive status, the result of at least one decade of reforms implemented by the monarchy, long before the Arab Spring events. An alternative view is offered by some civil society movements inside the country and by the 20 February Movement, born amidst the waves of the Arab Spring, which are critical of this exceptionalism and call for more reforms. By making reference to the constitutional reforms undertaken by the country since 1908 and by assessing the most recent reform efforts, this paper argues that "Moroccan exceptionalism" is yet to go through the test of the implementation of what is often referred to as a "promising constitution" that should in its intentions pave the way for a genuine constitutional monarchy in Morocco. "Moroccan exceptionalism," as the paper concludes, is not the description of a "final" political situation; rather, it is merely "a phase" in the political life of a country undergoing transition. It is then the outcome of this "phase" that will determine whether "exceptionalism" takes on a positive or a negative meaning and whether the two contrasting narratives about "exceptionalism" can ultimately be reconciled.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Political Economy, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Marco Pinfari
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since 1960, Latin American attempts at regionalism have undergone distinct phases. More notably, they have tended to diverge across space, gradually giving birth to separate blocs that seem to be tearing South, Central and North America apart. Additionally, within and across these regions several overlapping projects coexist. This article focuses on the dynamics of segmented and overlapping regionalism in order to describe what they look like, analyse how they articulate with one another, and explain why member states have pushed for such a messy outcome. This situation, linked to the evolution of the global context, might be indicating that regionalism in Latin America has reached its peak, beyond which it may be difficult to achieve further progress. Two conclusions are elicited: first, economic integration is becoming a geographically diffused phenomenon rather than a regional one; second, regionalism is still a compelling foreign policy but its causes, goals and outcomes are no longer what they used to be.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Latin America, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: For the last two decades, the EU has sent mixed signals concerning democracy and human rights to its Mediterranean neighbourhood. Has this changed since the outbreak of the Arab Spring? After observing the EU's response to the revolutions in two key countries, Tunisia and Egypt, this paper finds that signalling to Tunisia has become more coherent, while it remains ambiguous towards Egypt - a trend reinforced by US foreign policy in the region. In order to send a coherent message, the EU has to outline more concretely, what are the benchmarks and rewards for progress. For signalling to be effective, bilateral and multilateral dialogues are key. While bilateral dialogue platforms do exist, they should meet more frequently and at the highest levels. A multilateral dimension is conspicuously missing in the array of instruments set up by the EU in response to the Arab Spring, but would be crucial not only in order to understand the different democracy languages spoken, but notably also to anchor reform and set regional standards for it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Human Rights, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: While spared from internal turmoil, Israel and the Palestinian Territories have nonetheless been affected by the region's political transformation brought about by the Arab Spring. Reflecting what can be described as Israel's “bunker” mentality, the Israeli government has characterized the Arab revolutionary wave as a security challenge, notably given its concern about the rise of Islamist forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu has capitalized on this sense of insecurity to justify his government's lack of significant action when it comes to the peace process. On the Palestinian side, both Hamas and Fatah have lost long-standing regional backers in Egypt and Syria and have had to contend with their increasingly shaky popular legitimacy. This has spurred renewed efforts for reconciliation, which however have so far produced no significant results. Against this backdrop, the chances for a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks appear increasingly dim. An effort by the international community is needed to break the current deadlock and establish an atmosphere more conducive for talks. In this context, the EU carries special responsibility as the only external actor that still enjoys some credibility as a balanced mediator between the sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is a common place in the literature that the Muslim Brotherhood (jama'a al-ikhwan al-muslimin) is - after its re-emergence on the political scene back in the seventies - the main (if not the only) real, organised and mass-based opposition force in Egypt. Events in Egypt in January 2011 have recast attention on this question. This paper aims to evaluate, inasmuch as it is possible, the state of health of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) today, after forty years of coexistence with the Egyptian (neo)-authoritarian regime. Has the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood represented a real alternative to the incumbent regime? Or it is more correct to speak today in terms of an almost 'functional' opposition, tamed by recurring political repression and limited freedom of action? To what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood been able to shape or at least to influence the Egyptian political and social agenda, both with respect to the regime and to other opposition forces?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Philippe Droz-Vincent
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Arab armies are closed and secretive actors. Yet they have been propelled to the fore in 2011, acting as midwifes and active participants in the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Their posture vis-à-vis incumbent regimes is crucial in other Arab countries too - Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria - as the wave of popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes has spread. In view of this, there is an essential need to understand what kind of actors Arab armies are. The nature of armies in authoritarian settings shapes the pattern of resilience or of breakdown for regimes facing popular uprisings, and the prospect for various transition countries in the Arab world.
  • Topic: Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia
  • Author: Massimiliano Fiore
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Only a few weeks ago, no one could have believed that what the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt accomplished was possible: they defied their dictators and won, causing worldwide euphoria and celebration. Yet, while such activism has inspired fellow Arabs throughout the region, it has been met with fear and trepidation in Israel. Mubarak's downfall, combined with the growing unrest in the Middle East, makes it vital for Israel to recalibrate its strategies toward its neighbouring Arab states. Many political analysts believe that this is the ideal moment for Israel to push hard for resuming the stalled peace process with the Palestinians. Yet it is unrealistic to think that a comprehensive agreement can be reached at this time. While the Israeli-Palestinian peace track is very troubled, the Israeli-Syrian track seems more within reach, and in the vital interests of both countries.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Bessma Momani, Andrew F. Cooper
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is increasingly obvious that Qatar is playing above its weight in the international role. There is no one script that defines Qatar's diplomatic role. It is best seen as a maverick, willing to work with the US as well as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. It operates a complex form of public diplomacy via Al-Jazeera and other high profile initiatives at the same time as it mediates behind the scenes with Israel and Lebanon. Qatar's role as a unique hybrid diplomatic actor is reinforced by the enthusiastic support it displayed towards the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, including operational support for the UN Security Resolution to place a no-fly zone with respect to the Qaddafi's regime, while being more circumspect on the uprising in Bahrain. Such an extensive, unconventional and differentiated approach creates risks as well as opportunities. Yet, through a combination of resources and vision, it is skilled resilience not vulnerability that defines Qatar.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Dublin
  • Author: Silvia Colombo
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: The Muslim Brotherhood : the burden of tradition, by Alison Pargeter, Saqi, 2010; The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's succession crisis : the politics of liberalisation and reform in the Middle East, by Mohammed Zahid, Tauris Academic Studies, 2010; I Fratelli musulmani nel mondo contemporaneo, edited by Massimo Campanini and Karim Mezran, UTET libreria, 2010
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Michele Comelli
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Egypt, like the other Southern Mediterranean (SM) countries, was more of a recipient than a co-initiator of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) launched by the European Union (EU) in 2003. In fact, while being extended also to SM countries, the ENP was mainly intended for the EU's Eastern neighbours (Comelli, 2005). At that time, relations between the EU and Egypt were mostly conducted within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Barcelona Process, launched in November 1995), and the related Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement (AA), signed on 25 June 2001, had not yet entered into force.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: Europe, Egypt
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, suspected of harbouring secret military ends, is widely considered a major flashpoint. A nuclear Iran – as the argument goes – would dramatically alter the regional balance in the Gulf, providing the Islamic Republic with a formidable deterrent against external aggression, while augmenting its ability to exert influence on its neighbours and eliminating the strategic advantage of its rival Israel, the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East. An Iranian bomb could also trigger a regional nuclear arms race since such countries as Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, might feel compelled to emulate Iran. This would in turn result in the eventual collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Given the stakes, it comes as no surprise that curbing Iran's nuclear programme has rapidly become a foreign policy priority for western powers, Israel, and the majority of Arab states, which have a history of rivalry with and mistrust of Persian and Shia-dominated Iran.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, United Nations, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Giacomo Luciani
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Several Arab countries have recently manifested an interest in civilian nuclear energy. For some, like Egypt, this is the revival of an old interest, for others, notably the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it represents a clear reversal of previously held positions. This interest has been interpreted as an implicit threat to move in the direction of acquiring a military nuclear capability, in case Iran develops a bomb. Instead, the article argues that interest in nuclear energy has strong economic motivations for all Arab countries, although the position of the GCC is quite different from that of North Africa and Levant countries, from the point of view of both the cogency of motivation and the ability to concretely and rapidly launch a civilian nuclear program.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Khaled Hroub
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: For many decades, mainstream Palestinian Islamists have oscillated between two agendas: Islamising their own society and resisting the Zionist project in Palestine. Prioritising one over the other has always been problematic even if responsive to context and capabilities. Though they emerged in Palestine in the 1940s as the Palestinian chapter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, it was not until 1987 with the forming of Hamas that these Islamists moved to the forefront of Palestinian politics. Hamas' project espouses "resistance" as a priority, yet without marginalising socio-religious activism, an effective formula that has enabled Hamas to compete with the PLO for Palestinian leadership, culminating in its victory in the 2006 elections.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Egypt
  • 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: Roberto Aliboni
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In the European geopolitical perspective, North Africa does not make much sense. Rather, European relations focuses on the Maghreb, the Arab Occident, which traditionally includes Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Egypt, although part to North Africa, belongs geopolitically to another framework, i.e. the Mashreq, the Arab Orient.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Algeria, Arab Countries, North Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia