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  • Author: Sean Kane, William Taylor
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With U.S. military forces scheduled to depart Iraq in December of this year, the State Department and other civilian agencies are being asked to assume a scale of operational and programmatic responsibilities far beyond any other embassy in recent memory. The capacity of the U.S. civilian agencies to assume these responsibilities does not now fully exist. Notably, securing and moving U.S. civilians will require more than 5,000 security contractors. A limited U.S. military contingent post-2011 may well be more cost-effective than private security guards and could also relieve State and other civilian agencies of logistical and security responsibilities. This would enable them to focus on their comparative advantages: diplomacy and development assistance. Planning for the post-2011 U.S. mission in Iraq, however, remains hampered by uncertainty as to whether the Iraqi government will request an extension of the American military presence in the country. A small follow-on U.S. military force would appear to safeguard Iraqi stability and make the achievement of U.S. strategic objectives in Iraq more likely, but cannot be counted on. Should such a request not be received from the Iraqi government, the U.S. may need to reduce the planned scale and scope of its operations and goals in Iraq.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Alison Laporte-Oshiro
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Consolidating the legitimate use of force in the hands of the state is a vital first step in post-conflict peacebuilding. Transitional governments must move quickly to neutralize rival armed groups and provide a basic level of security for citizens. Two processes are vital to securing a monopoly of force: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and security sector reform. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) involve disbanding armed groups that challenge the government's monopoly of force. Security sector reform (SSR) means reforming and rebuilding the national security forces so that they are professional and accountable. U.S. experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo yielded three crosscutting lessons: go in heavy, tackle DDR and SSR in tandem, and consolidate U.S. capacity to implement both tasks in a coordinated, scalable way.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia
  • Author: Henri J. Barkey
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In August 2009, the Turkish government announced that it would undertake a major initiative toward Turkey's Kurdish minority. In addition to being a major development in the long saga of Turkey's relations with its sizeable Kurdish minority, this initiative, known as the “democratic opening,” is also a testament to the distance the Turkish government has traveled in its policy toward Iraq. Turkey, which had once spearheaded opposition to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is implementing a 180-degree turn in its policy toward the KRG. It is developing close economic and political ties with the KRG, and the two are collaborating on a gamut of issues, including efforts to pacify the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). At the heart of these changes lay a confluence of developments. They include the new geopolitics of the region, the new foreign policy conception of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey's domestic institutional context, changing perceptions within Turkey of the domestic Kurdish question, and efforts by key individual actors within Turkey. On the geopolitical level, the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq has helped shift Turkey's approach to Iraq. Whether it is part and parcel of a conscious strategy by Ankara, Turkey's ability to influence events on the ground is greatest in northern Iraq. In Baghdad, Turkey has to contend with not just American competition but, far more significantly, the Iranian presence. Ironically, any increase in Turkish influence in the KRG translates into more in Baghdad because of the Kurds' critical role in Iraq's capital. On the foreign policy level, the AKP took advantage of the vacuum created by the war in Iraq and began to fashion itself as a regional power. In a policy that some have come to call “neo-Ottomanism,” Turkey is expanding the contours of its influence in regions that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, including Iraq.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan
  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Theo Dolan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The monitoring of Iraqi media reveals that inflammatory coverage does not • necessarily consist of a direct call to violence, but instead takes the form of indirect or coded terminology that still has dangerous potential to foment conflict. Current regulatory and self-regulatory efforts designed to prevent media incitement to violence have, thus far, been insufficient. Lessons learned from post-conflict Bosnia, Kosovo and Sri Lanka can assist Iraqis in creating their own legal and self-regulatory mechanisms to limit inflammatory media coverage. There are a wide range of measures to mitigate inflammatory media coverage, including targeted training for media and government officials, broad support for a professional code of conduct, a full review of existing legislation relating to incitement, and the creation of a lexicon of inflammatory terms with guidelines for the proper use of these terms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Kosovo
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's March 2010 elections delivered a surprising virtual tie in the ethnically mixed and strategically important province of Kirkuk, making it an opportune time for fresh thinking on how to address persistent disputes over its status.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Joel Whitaker, Anand Varghese
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's post-conflict struggles for sustainable economic growth and regional stability are undermined in both the short and long term by poor water management in the Tigris-Euphrates basin. Poor regional water management has negative effects on Iraq's regional political relationships, its economy and its ecology.
  • Topic: Environment, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The institution of Iraq's prime minister has evolved since the previous national government was formed in 2006. The success of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in building an independent power base around the office and the diminishing U.S. presence in Iraq have transformed the perception and stature of Iraq's chief executive. This evolution of the position helps to explain why negotiations over the government's formation have struggled to move beyond the top post to discuss other assignments and the new government's agenda. The talks are not just about agreeing on a prime minister in the context of inconclusive, close election results, and competing regional influences; these talks are trying to define the role of the premiership and possible checks on its power. Understanding the debate on possible checks and balances is important because of its potential ramifications for Iraq's democratic experiment, and also because agreement on this issue might pave the way for the nomination of a prime minister.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The political situation in Baghdad is still blocked almost four months after the national elections signaled change while denying any one of the four main coalitions a clear mandate to govern. The complications are real, but so too is a political culture that is increasingly appealing to democratic norms and factors to sort out the difficulties.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Semira Nikou
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has subsidized petroleum products, basic foodstuffs, medical goods and utilities since 1980, first to manage hardships during the eight-year war with Iraq, and then to prevent political and economic challenges after the war. Since the 1990s, three presidents have tried to cut back subsidies that are now estimated to cost Iran between $70 billion and $100 billion annually. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won parliamentary approval for a controversial plan to phase out subsides by 2015. Under the plan, universal price controls are to be replaced with small cash payments to families and direct support of industries. Some economists are concerned that lifting price controls will trigger dramatic rises in inflation and unemployment. The cutbacks come at a time the government already faces serious economic troubles and tougher international sanctions. For the public, the change is likely to produce the most economic disruption since the revolution. Economic reforms have triggered unrest in the past. If reform succeeds, however, the program could help reduce waste, shrink state outlays and enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East