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  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Islamic State (IS) is often identified as the world’s leading proponent of Salafism, or fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But, as Dr. Jacob Olidort points out, most of the world’s Salafis are not violent or politically active -- in fact, they explicitly condemn both. In this illuminating video presentation, Institute Soref Fellow Olidort provides an introduction to Salafi thought, describes the emergence of the Salafi movement, and deconstructs the Salafism of IS. This is essential viewing for anyone interested in the ideological roots of IS and how it diverges from other Islamist groups. Dr. Jacob Olidort, an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, received his BA in Middle Eastern studies from Brandeis University, his AM in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University, and his MA and PhD in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. Dr. Olidort has spent nearly two years in the Middle East, including a Fulbright Scholarship in the UAE and field work on Salafism in Jordan. He has given presentations and has briefed on Salafism and on countering violent extremism to various academic and policy settings. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, the National Interest, and Lawfare, among other publications.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Salafism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although President Rouhani has persuaded the Supreme Leader to adjust the IRGC's economic functions, he has not challenged its role in shaping Iran's nuclear policy. President Hassan Rouhani's relationship with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a central dynamic in the country's politics and economy. As always, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ultimately determines the roles of the president and the IRGC, so Rouhani has sought to pursue his economic imperatives without crossing the Supreme Leader or the military elite on the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Low Salafist turnout for this week's constitutional referendum could signal a broad base of support for growing jihadist violence against the post-Morsi government. The January 14-15 referendum on Egypt's draft constitution is being billed as a referendum on the military's July 3 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Morsi. Yet the vote is unlikely to alter the country's short-term political trajectory: no matter the results, the military-backed government will continue repressing pro-Morsi forces, who will in turn continue resisting a process they view as illegitimate. The extent to which Salafists participate in the referendum may have longer-term implications, however. High Salafist turnout would suggest an embrace of the Nour Party's decision to participate in the post-Morsi process, whereas low turnout would reflect strong feelings of disenfranchisement that could lead more Salafists to embrace jihadism.
  • Topic: Religion, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Tehran worries about internal threats from Salafi jihadists, it may well cooperate with such groups if they attack Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, North America
  • Author: Habib Sayah
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Tunisia's Islamists reaffirm their cohesiveness, the country's contentious politics have worn out many voters and dulled their interest in democratic participation, making abstention the most likely winner of this year's elections. Last week, 39,000 members of Tunisia's leading Islamist faction, Ennahda, took part in an internal referendum to decide whether to postpone their next national congress, where a new party executive board is typically chosen. More than 70 percent of the members agreed to maintain the party's cohesiveness in order to focus on winning the next round of legislative elections rather than risk exposing internal divisions. In contrast, the various parties in the secular opposition remain disorganized and divided by their ambitions -- months after helping to pressure the Ennahda-led governing coalition out of office and agreeing to a transitional roadmap, they are unable to unite, whether against their Islamist adversary or around a common political project. More important, Islamists and secularists alike face an uphill battle in convincing increasingly skeptical Tunisian voters that they are serious about addressing the country's social, economic, and security concerns instead of squabbling with each other.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Power Politics, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The thorny parliamentary process of selecting a new president could rekindle violence if it results in substantial delays or further sectarian friction. Last week, Lebanon's parliament convened for the first round of balloting to elect a new president. While Samir Geagea -- who leads the Christian "Lebanese Forces" party, which is aligned with the pro-Western March 14 coalition -- received the most votes, he failed to secure the requisite two-thirds parliamentary support. In the coming weeks, legislators are slated to continue meeting until a president is selected. Unlike last week's session, in which the Hezbollah-led March 8 bloc did not challenge Geagea's candidacy, the voting promises to become increasingly contentious in subsequent rounds. Perennial sectarian tensions exacerbated by the war next door in Syria have complicated the historically wrought and arcane election process. Should a compromise candidate not emerge by May 25, the term of current president Michel Suleiman will expire, leaving the post vacant. In the past, the presidency -- which by law must be held by a Christian -- was the dominant office in Lebanon's government. But the 1989 Taif Accord effectively stripped the position of its powers, delegating them to the prime minister, who must hail from the Sunni Muslim constituency. Given the post's largely symbolic nature, some might argue that the tense selection process is much ado about nothing. Yet the presidency remains an emotionally evocative issue for Lebanese Christians, and both the March 8 and March 14 blocs see a sympathetic chief executive as an important advantage worth fighting for.
  • Topic: Religion, Power Politics, Regime Change, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Haroon Ullah, Eric Trager, Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A senior State Department advisor and two Washington Institute scholars discuss what lessons can -- and cannot -- be drawn from the Islamist political experience in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and other countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Andrew Engel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Long-simmering tensions between non-Islamist and Islamist forces have boiled over into military actions centered around Benghazi and Tripoli, entrenching the country's rival alliances and bringing them ever closer to civil war. On May 16, former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar launched "Operation Dignity of Libya" in Benghazi, aiming to "cleanse the city of terrorists." The move came three months after he announced the overthrow of the government but failed to act on his proclamation. Since Friday, however, army units loyal to Haftar have actively defied armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Salem al-Obeidi, who called the operation "a coup." And on Monday, sympathetic forces based in Zintan extended the operation to Tripoli. These and other developments are edging the country closer to civil war, complicating U.S. efforts to stabilize post-Qadhafi Libya.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Religion, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Libya, Tripoli
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Jasmine El-Gamal
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Saudi Arabia is organizing a global interfaith conference in Madrid, with more than 200 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders from 54 countries expected to attend. The conference, in the words of its main organizer, the Mecca-based Muslim World League, will "focus on common human values." Many in the West, however, will likely judge the conference as a Saudi public relations effort to emphasize its leadership of the Islamic world, and to ward off criticism, especially from the United States, that Saudi Arabia bears continuing responsibility for political and financial backing of Sunni extremists across the Middle East.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 14, the Iranian government arrested six prominent Bahai leaders and accused them of "endangering national security." The timing of the arrests has led some to speculate that the Iranian government is trying to link these leaders to the April explosion at a religious center in Shiraz that killed fourteen people. Considering Iran's clerical establishment believes the existence of religious minorities undermines official Shiite orthodoxy, these latest arrests are just another black mark on Iran's long and dismal record of protecting individual human rights and religious freedom.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Away from the headlines, Sunnis and Shiites are testing the waters of reconciliation in the Iraqi parliament with an agreement that may come at the expense of country's Kurdish population. The Kurdish political reaction to such an agreement could potentially exacerbate anti-Kurdish sentiment among many Arab parliamentarians, costing the Kurds some of the hard-earned political ground they have gained thus far.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 5, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deputy chief of military staff Gen. Ergin Saygun visited President Bush in Washington to discuss the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The composition of the Turkish delegation was symbolically important and demonstrates a new political stability based on the working relationship between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Turkish military. Yet the newfound weight of the PKK issue may prove problematic for the United States -- and, in the long term, for Turkey as well.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Yuksel Sezgin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 20, thousands of secular Turks demonstrated in the Black Sea port city of Samsun against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has an Islamist pedigree. It was the most recent display of protest in a power struggle between the AKP and its opponents over determining a replacement for outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In addition to the protestors and Sezer, the courts and the Turkish military have weighed in against the AKP. Far from backing down, as Turkey's Islamists would have done in the past, the AKP has stepped up the pressure by introducing a constitutional amendment package that calls for direct presidential elections to replace the current system of voting in parliament. President Sezer could decide the fate of this package, but the political crisis will continue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Jihad al-Bina, Hizballah's construction company in Lebanon, effectively shutting the terrorist group's firm out of the international financial system. While the designation will not take effect at the United Nations -- sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 only target elements associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, to the exclusion of any other terrorist groups -- international lenders and donors, including financial institutions, NGOs, and governments, are unlikely to want to assume the reputational risk of working to rebuild Lebanon in partnership with Hizballah instead of the Lebanese government. Moreover -- and contrary to conventional wisdom -- the designation presents a rare public diplomacy opportunity in the battle of ideas in the war on terror.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Taliban, Lebanon
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Dennis Ross, Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There are three possibilities for the future of the troubled Hamas-Fatah relationship. The first is the default option, involving perpetual tension with progressively worsening violence—and no decisive victor. Each side mistakenly believes that it can swiftly defeat the other. Hamas believes it can win through continued rearmament and resistance, and that its political message resonates with its constituency. Its own efforts—along with Hizballah's perceived victory in summer 2006—have lent Hamas confidence in its current footing. For its part, Fatah believes it has historical claim to both power and representation, and that its rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the governmental security apparatus are ingredients of a decisive victory, regardless of the continuing arms race.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 14, in a rare show of unity, Sunni and Shiite Arab, Turkmen, and Christian Iraqis gathered at a conference in Ankara to denounce Kurdish plans to incorporate Kirkuk, the capital of Iraqs at-Tamim province, into the Kurdish region. This comes after recent violence in Kirkuk, including a December 26 roadside bomb that killed three and wounded six. Between December 2005 and July 2006, the number of reported violent incidents in Kirkuk increased by 76 percent, ending the citys previous status as a relatively safe area. With tensions in Kirkuk rising, how can violence be countered?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Akbar Ahmed, Gregg Rickman
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Of all the forms of anti-Semitism in Arab societies, Holocaust denial is one of the most pernicious and widespread. Generally it takes one of three forms: outright denial, Holocaust glorification, and Holocaust minimization or trivialization. One does no favor to Arabs by exempting them from this history, whatever its connection to their political dispute with Israel. And because jihadists' conspiracy theories target a coalition of “Crusaders and Jews,” exempting Arabs from Holocaust history certainly does America no favor either.
  • Topic: International Relations, Genocide, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, America, Israel
  • Author: Cecile Zwiebach
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While U.S. and coalition forces—and increasingly the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)—struggle to defeat the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, they are also dealing with a range of armed groups that complicate the security scenario. Militias and ad hoc units with different levels of government sanction are growing in strength, and the training of the ISF is progressing unevenly. While it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive survey of both independent groups and ISF units, a sampling of less publicized units illustrates how diffuse military power in Iraq has become.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With the ongoing clashes between Israel and Hizballah raging without respite and Lebanon sustaining significant human and material losses, the sociopolitical scene in Beirut is bursting with both centrifugal and centripetal forces. While these forces threaten the country with implosion, they are sparking a national debate on Lebanese national identity that may prevent Lebanon from disintegrating as a sovereign state. While many Western observers see the civilian deaths in Qana as galvanizing Lebanese support for Hizballah, national solidarity against Israeli attacks should not be mistaken for a widespread embrace of Hizballah.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Having come into existence by virtue of Iranian military and financial patronage, Hizballah has used massive Iranian support to transform itself from a purely military group into an armed political party that has had an enduring impact on Lebanese political life and served as an outpost of Islamic fundamentalism in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Acting Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat arrived in Washington June 20 for his first official visit in his new capacity. The U.S. trip comes one month after a radical Sunni Islamist organization was legalized in Lebanon, and just weeks after thousands of Shiite Hizballah supporters rioted in Beirut after the broadcast on LBC television of a comedy skit satirizing Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. These developments highlight growing tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. Unchecked, this dynamic could lead to a resumption of the type of conflict that has long plagued Lebanon and threaten the gains of the Cedar Revolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, a gunman chanting Islamist slogans attacked the Turkish Council of State (the Danistay, or high court for administrative affairs) in Ankara. The gunman killed one judge and wounded four others who were sitting in the Council's second chamber, which has recently upheld Turkey's ban on “turbans” in schools. In accordance with the European and Turkish notion of secularism (laïcité in French) as freedom from religious symbols in the public sphere, Turkey bans public officials and school students wearing turbans—a specific style of women's headcover that emerged in the mid 1980s and that the courts consider an Islamist political symbol. (Turbans are distinct from traditional headscarves, which are not banned.) Photographs of the judges had earlier been published in Islamist newspapers with headlines targeting them.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 18, the Jordanian government announced it had discovered a cache of weapons -- including rockets, C-4 explosives, and small arms -- in a northern Jordanian town. Jordanian authorities said the weapons belonged to Hamas and had entered Jordan from Syria. Subsequently, Jordan arrested ten Hamas militants and cancelled a scheduled visit by Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader. While the discovery of these weapons underscores Hamas's continuing efforts to prepare for terrorist acts even while it proclaims a tahdiya (period of calm), it also has important implications for internal Jordanian politics and the rising influence of Jordan's own Islamist movement.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Michael Young
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Shiite ministers recently “suspended” their participation in the Lebanese cabinet, though without resigning, it highlighted an increasingly apparent reality in post-Syria Lebanon: Two powerful camps coexist today. One, led by Hizballah, in alliance with the Amal movement, sits atop a Shiite community generally, though not unanimously, supporting their positions. The other reflects a cross-communal parliamentary majority, the cornerstone of which is the Sunni-led Future Movement of Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, January 25, Palestinian voters will elect a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the first time since the initial PLC was elected ten years ago. The participation of Hamas in the elections marks a turning point in Palestinian politics; the group boycotted the original 1996 ballots as part of its rejection of the Oslo process. Ensuring a smooth transition from elections to the seating of the new PLC will require passing several hurdles, not the least of which is protecting balloting and vote-counting from violent disruptions. Assuming election day proceeds without incident—no small matter given the level of domestic lawlessness over the last several weeks—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will then face the challenge of selecting a prime minister to form the next government. What remains unknown is precisely how well Hamas will finish in relation to Abbas' own Fatah party, and whether a tight race will lead Abbas to include Hamas as an active partner in the next Palestinian government—or, indeed, whether a poor Fatah showing might prompt Abbas to resign.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, Iraq's Defense Ministry appealed to junior officers from Saddam Hussein's disbanded army to return to service. The decision to include these soldiers is part of an ongoing strategy to minimize support for terrorism by reintegrating Sunnis into the political fabric of the new Iraq. This latest effort comes as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group steps up targeting of Shiite civilians in an effort to spark retaliatory attacks against Sunnis. But as Zarqawi's attacks on Shiites exact growing toll among civilians, his tactics may be causing a divide within the ranks of the resistance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohsen Sazegara
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Mohsen Sazegara, recently a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute and now at Yale University, posted on several Persian-language websites (including gooya.com) a long open letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Hossein Khamenei. Below are translated extracts from that letter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Düden Yegenoglu, Ekim Alptekin
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey opened accession talks with the European Union (EU) on October 3. In the aftermath of the March 2004 Madrid bombings, the November 2004 murder of film director Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, and the July 2005 London bombings, all committed by radical Islamists, some people in Europe wonder whether Islam is compatible with European values and, accordingly, whether letting the predominantly Muslim Turkey join the EU is a good idea. Will Turkey's EU accession compound Europe's problem with radical Islam, or is Turkey's version of Islam a panacea for Europe's Islamist problem?
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Khairi Abaza, Mark Nakhla
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee is due to consider a Canadian resolution condemning Iran for human rights violations. A similar resolution was approved by the General Assembly in 2004 by a vote of 71-54 with fifty-five abstentions. Iran's human rights violations have recently worsened, and the Iranian government is becoming less concerned about international complaints on the matter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Canada, North Africa
  • Author: Khairi Abaza, Mark Nakhla
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the third week of October, Egypt saw some of its most significant sectarian clashes in the last five years. Violence broke out as police forces protected a church in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria against Muslims protesting a play that was staged inside the church and that they considered offensive to Islam. Sporadic tensions are an expression of Egypt's general political malaise.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Warnings by Sunni politicians of even greater violence if Sunni Arab concerns are not addressed in the draft Iraqi constitution raise the question: could the insurgency get worse? The answer can be found by examining the insurgency's demographic dimension.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Khairi Abaza
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The July 23 bombings at Sharm al-Shaykh offered a harsh reminder that Egypt remains vulnerable to Islamists who see terrorism as their only viable means of affecting political change. The attacks, which left at least sixty-four dead and more than two hundred injured, were the deadliest to be carried out by Islamist extremists in the last two decades. And the participation of Sinai Bedouin youths in the attacks points to a dangerous development in terrorist activities in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the U.S. and British governments have offered gestures of mutual diplomatic support and apparent political agreement in the aftermath of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London, such efforts mask the wide differences between their approaches to the increasing threat of al-Qaeda terrorism. On July 15, President George W. Bush, speaking in North Carolina about the bombings, stated, “The killers . . . did not care about their religion. . . . These people will not be stopped by negotiations. . . . There is only one course of action. We will take the fight to the enemy, and we will stay in this fight until this enemy is defeated.” The next day, Prime Minister Tony Blair, stated, “The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat we are dealing with. . . . [N]o sane person would negotiate. . . . It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion.” The similarity in language was probably intentional. Yet, Washington's apparent preference for military force contrasts with Blair's categorization of Britain's strategy: “In the end, it is the power of argument, debate, true religious faith, and true legitimate politics that will defeat this threat.”
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Washington, London
  • Author: Jamie Chosak, Julie Sawyer
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, 2005, Abbas al-Sayyid was convicted of masterminding two Hamas suicide bombings: the March 27, 2002, attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya and the May 18, 2001, shopping mall bombing that killed five and injured one hundred. The Park Hotel bombing, considered the terror group's most devastating attack since the outbreak of the second intifada, had implications extending far beyond the murder of thirty innocent civilians. The attack prompted Israel to launch Operation Defensive Shield, the reoccupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the bombing highlighted Hamas's program of radicalization and recruitment in Palestinian universities and the group's experimentation with chemical and biological agents.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli authorities on September 27 announced the arrest of an Israeli-Arab Hamas activist who played central militant, political, and financing roles for the group in coordination with what Israeli authorities described as a “Hamas command in Saudi Arabia.” The arrest is just the latest evidence that support for Hamas in particular and Islamic extremism in general continues to emanate from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A key issue in the runup to January's Palestinian parliamentary elections is whether the radical Islamist party Hamas will be allowed to participate and under what conditions. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom have insisted that the group disarm, disavow terror, and end its call for Israel's destruction before it is permitted to run in elections. Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has favored an unconditional acceptance of Hamas's electoral participation, believing that it could coopt Hamas within the Palestinian political fold. However, he said in a Washington Post interview published on September 11, 2005, "A political party plus a militia is unacceptable," but he did not elaborate specific plans that would prevent Hamas from participating in elections as both party and militia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank settlements has left in its wake three important crises for the religious Zionist movement that spearheaded settlements in Israel. These crises involve the settlers' future relationships with the Israeli public, the Israeli state, and the political secular right. For settlers, these three relationships are now colored by a sense of betrayal, raising the question of whether disengagement will radicalize the ideological settlers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I have spent the past month in Jerusalem, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians here, in Ramallah, and in Gaza City. In my years of dealing with both sides, I cannot recall a time when emotion in general, and frustration in particular, have so clearly shaped their outlook. Given the death of Yasser Arafat, the emergence of Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza, this should be a time of hope and opportunity. Instead, there is less a sense of possibility than of foreboding. It may not yet be too late to use the withdrawal as a platform on which to build a different future. Yet, much of what could have been done to prepare the ground for disengagement has not been done—and that may explain the unease that pervades both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 21 meeting between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas highlighted the widening expectations gap between the two parties. Less than two months before Israel commences its pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the security situation is worsening, while the PA appears largely unprepared to assume effective security control over these areas. Without an urgent predisengagement "crash program" to improve security, the opportunity afforded by Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene and Israel's departure from Gaza will be lost.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Minda Lee Arrow
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the challenges facing the Israeli government in the weeks before the Gaza disengagement commences are relocating evacuated settlers and determining the future of settlement assets. This Peace Watch will examine the former issue; a future Peace Watch will address the latter.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House Thursday with an unprecedented shower of diplomatic, political, and financial support. Most media attention has focused on two high-profile signs of U.S. backing of Abbas -- Bush's bold characterization of his guest as a "man of courage" and the dispatch of $50 million in direct assistance to the PA. As constructive as these messages were in bolstering the new Palestinian leader, little attention has been given to several other surprising messages Bush delivered -- both by omission and commission -- that could rebound against the administration's twin objectives of strengthening Palestinian democracy and advancing the vision of "two states living side by side in peace and security."
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 18, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is scheduled to debate the law governing the legislative elections scheduled for July 17, the first such elections since the inaugural polls of 1996. The issues under contention underscore the larger divisions in Palestinian politics, particularly the dominant Fatah PartyÕs internal factionalism and its fear of an increasingly popular Hamas.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank beginning this summer has earned him the ire of the 8,000 people living in the twenty-five settlements scheduled for evacuation. It has also generated opposition among the quarter-million settlers living in the remainder of the West Bank and their sympathizers within Israel proper. This PeaceWatch seeks to analyze the ideological and political challenges that disengagement poses to these settlers. Future PeaceWatches will examine other aspects of disengagement, including the challenge that settlers pose to disengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza, Czech Republic
  • Author: Michael Herzog, Dennis Rose
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 7, 2005, Dennis Ross, Michael Herzog, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Ross is the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004). Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Brig.-Gen. Herzog, a visiting military fellow at the Institute, was formerly the senior military aide to the defense minister and a peace negotiator. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks; David Makovsky's remarks served as the basis for PeaceWatch no. 498.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Isaac Herzog
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 4, 2005, Isaac Herzog addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Herzog was recently named Israel's minister of housing and construction when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broadened his government to include the Labor Party. Heading a ministry that was key in backing past settlement activity, Mr. Herzog has called for a thorough ministerial review of Israel's settlement policy. A Labor member of the Knesset since 2001, Mr. Herzog previously served as cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 11, 2005, President George W. Bush will host Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The meeting comes at a key juncture, given Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Mr. Makovsky, who recently returned from a ten-day trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan, discussed the upcoming summit at The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum on April 7. This PeaceWatch is based on his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Czech Republic