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  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The top concern for both Riyadh and Damascus remains blowback from Iraq: the ascendance of ethnic and sectarian identity and the spread of Islamist militancy. The need to contain this threat is the dominant force that shapes their relations with Iraq. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq's emerging political order is inclusive of Sunni Arab Iraqis, who have not yet been fully incorporated into Iraqi institutions. Syria and Saudi Arabia do not look at Iraq in isolation, nor do they assign it top priority among their foreign policy concerns. For them, Iraq is merely one element in a comprehensive view encompassing other regional players (including the U.S. and Iran) and other regional crises, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lingering resentment and bitterness toward Washington is now mixed with intense curiosity and modest optimism about President Barack Obama. Saudis still bristle when recalling how the Bush Administration sidelined Riyadh on Iraqi matters; as do Syrians, who believe the previous administration was intent on isolating and undermining Damascus. Iraq remains very much isolated in its neighborhood. Recent Progress on regional cooperation notwithstanding, these two neighbors are still focused more on containment than engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: David Waldner
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Post-conflict, post-totalitarian societies like Iraq possess many economic, political, social, and cultural characteristics that are not conducive to democratic governance. A central pillar of democracy promotion is that judicious institutional engineering—crafting new institutions and other elements outlining the democratic rules of the game—can overcome these obstacles and engender stable democracies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Regime Change, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: USIP recently hosted Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh, official spokesman for the Iraqi government, He unveiled a far-reaching regional initiative to increase economic and strategic cooperation in the Middle East. The initiative represents a new level of consciousness and independence in Iraqi foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Sam Parker
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Baghdad in May 2009, senior Iraqi leaders indicated how they interpret January's provincial election results, expressed concerns about the recent downturn in security, lamented the tremendous financial pressure the government is feeling due to the decline in oil prices, and projected their hopes for national elections slated for 30 January 2010. The Iraq is, numbering about 20, represented the highest level of nearly all of the main Iraqi political factions, including leaders in the Council of Representatives (COR), members of the presidency, and top officials in the government.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Perito, Madeline Kristoff
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's Ministry of the Interior (MOI) is responsible for the supervision, training and administrative support for Iraq's non-military security forces. These include: the Iraqi Police Service, the Iraq National Police, the Iraqi Border Enforcement Service and the Facilities Protection Service. In total, MOI is responsible for nearly 600,000 men under arms or a force that is three times the size of the new Iraqi Army, Navy and Air Force combined.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Theo Dolan
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: USIP's Center of Innovation for Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding organized an expert working group on April 26-27 in Erbil, Iraq to discuss how to create a multimedia program that will provide Iraqi teenagers (ages 14-18) the tools to help them grow into independent, empowered citizens within a complex society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: David Steele
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A Window of opportunity now exists for post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq despite the resurgence of violence in the spring of 2008. The creation of Sunni Awakening Councils, the ongoing presence of sufficient U.S. troops, and the decrease in combat activity by the Mahdi Army provide a real, though tenuous, opportunity to continue building on the gains of the past year. In all societies emerging from conflict, reconciliation efforts are the glue that holds the post-conflict reconstruction process together. Reconciliation must be pursued not only on national but also on local levels and not only in the political but also in the social domain. At all points within a society, people and groups must be encouraged to work together constructively for the common good. Reconciliation in Iraq must be approached with sensitivity to its shame-oriented culture, which emphasizes community, authority, honor, and hospitality. Reconciliation must also be approached with an awareness of the importance of primary identity markers—religion, ethnicity, tribe, and family—and the possibilities for creating bonds based on secondary markers—class, profession, internally displaced persons (IDP) status, and so forth. Moving toward reconciliation in the context of slevere and widespread violence requires that special attention be given to steps one can take to break the pattern of revenge and transform relationships. These steps include mourning, confronting fears, identifying needs, acknowledging responsibility, envisioning restorative and operational justice, and choosing to forgive. When good groundwork has been laid in relationship building, then groups in conflict are better able to engage in constructive dispute resolution. Seven elements form the basis for this process of negotiation or problem solving: identifying interests, alternatives, options, and criteria, and working on relationships, communication, and commitments. Internationals need to develop programming that focuses on process, rather than substance, to train and equip local Iraqis to be more effective mediators and facilitators. This programming should include conflict assessment, psychosocial and spiritual healing, conflict resolution training, facilitated dialogue, and problem solving.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jeremiah S. Pam
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. Treasury Department's approach to helping states build and strengthen their public institutions responsible for financial management is worth studying both because of the intrinsic importance of these institutions to an adequately functioning government and because it illustrates some key dynamics underlying state-building assistance more generally. A key premise of Treasury's approach is a primary orientation toward assisting local government institutions on mutually agreed-upon reform programs, based on a thorough understanding of the local administrative systems to be reformed. This orientation is reinforced by the fact that Treasury's contribution is typically only a small number of policy officials and embedded technical advisors, rather than large U.S.-funded programs. In the conventional case where state-building and institution-strengthening are pursued as part of a long-term development strategy, Treasury provides assistance through two activities that are organizationally and functionally distinct: advisors fielded by Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), who are technical experts and usually based within local institutions at the request of host governments, and financial attachés, who act as financial policy officials/diplomats and are based at the U.S. embassies in a smaller group of countries. extraordinary situations where state-building follows an intervention (as in Iraq), deployed technical experts need to be partnered with a senior policy official (such as the Treasury attaché) who can create space for local institution–oriented work by shaping (and, where necessary, resisting) the many “centrifugal” external forces— from Washington, the military, and other civilian and international agencies—pulling in other directions. Improving interagency coordination mechanisms in Washington might do relatively little to enhance effectiveness by itself. Indeed, tighter Washington interagency “alignment” could end up strengthening Washington coordinating bodies at the expense of knowledgeable field officials and experts. It may be better to create the conditions for more effective interagency coordination in the field by deploying senior policy champions who both understand the importance of a local institution-oriented approach and possess sufficient delegated authority to tame the centrifugal forces necessary to make space for it. An expeditionary corps of technical experts by itself is insufficient to deal with the unconventional challenges presented by post-intervention state-building operations because the centrifugal forces present in such an environment are strong enough to undermine even the most sound assistance program absent the support of appropriately oriented policy champions.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East