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  • Author: Neil Kritz
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: U.S. and Iraqi politicians and analysts consistently agree on one central point concerning Iraq: serious political reconciliation amongst Iraqi groups is needed to reduce the violence and create a viable government. Centrifugal forces fueled by armed conflict, competition for power and resources, and the intervention of foreign powers and neighbors has stalemated the political process in Baghdad for months.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: War in Iraq has lasted more than four years. It has required far greater resources than anticipated. The longer-term goals are still far from realization. The price the United States and Iraq are paying in blood and treasure continues to mount. The time has come to chart a clearer path forward, taking into account the regional and global contexts. Americans want an approach that protects U.S. vital interests and can therefore be supported across a wide range of the political spectrum. As Washington prepares for a critical debate in Congress this fall on what should be done in Iraq, the United States Institute of Peace convened over the summer a group of experts with many different political affiliations to consider next steps over a three-year time horizon. This USIPeace Briefing, prepared by Daniel Serwer, USIP vice president for peace and stability operations, describes their main conclusions. Areas of serious disagreement are noted. Those participants in the discussions wishing to be identified are listed at the end. This USIPeace Briefing does not represent the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take positions on policy issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: George Adams
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in countless other hotspots around the world, religion has been a major factor in matters of war and peace. Since religion often plays a significant role in conflicts, it also needs to be one of the factors addressed in mediating conflicts. Yet, because the United States separates religion from political matters to a greater degree than many other areas of the world, Americans frequently have difficulty understanding the crucial role religion can play in conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Jordan wants a strong, stable, moderate, and unified Iraq. Having wrestled with the dilemmas of an assertive Iraq for many years, Jordan—like Iraq's other neighbors— now faces a myriad of challenges presented by a weak Iraq. The kingdom, for years a linchpin in the U.S. strategy to promote peace and stability in the region, is now less secure in the wake of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Jordanian leaders worry that Iraq is becoming a haven for terrorist groups, a fear dramatically heightened by the November 2005 suicide bombings in Amman. Jordan also has an interest in the development of an Iraq that does not inspire radical Islamist politics in Jordan. Moreover, the kingdom is anxious about growing Iranian involvement in Iraqi politics, and—more broadly—increasing Iranian and Shiite influence in the region. Despite periodic crises of confidence and lingering Iraqi resentment over Jordan's close ties with Saddam Hussein, the two countries have managed to forge deep ties; in fact, Jordan has taken the lead among Arab states. In the face of repeated attacks and threats, Jordan has maintained a strong diplomatic presence in Baghdad. The kingdom has also played a positive, if modest, role in stabilization and reconstruction efforts. The economic impact of the Iraq crisis in Jordan has been mixed. Jordan has benefited greatly from serving as a “gateway” to Iraq for governments, aid workers, con - tractors, and businesspeople; its real estate and banking sectors are booming, and it stands to reap more benefits from increased trade and transport should the situation in Iraq improve. However, with the fall of Saddam Hussein, Jordan lost the sizable oil subsidies and customary shipments it received from Iraq. One of Jordan's principal economic interests in the new Iraq is securing future energy assistance. Unlike many of Iraq's other neighbors, Jordan can claim only modest influence over developments in Iraq. The kingdom does have notable intelligence capabilities vis-à- vis Iraq, and it reportedly helped the United States track down and kill Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Although some Jordanians highlight cross-border tribal and family connections with Iraqi Sunni Arabs, they pale in comparison to those of Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Jordan's most significant means of influence is its hosting of a large and ever-changing Iraqi expatriate community, composed mostly, but not solely, of Sunni Arabs. Jordan's relationship with the United States remains strong. Viewing Jordan as a reliable and friendly government is nothing new in Washington, but what is new is the determination of King Abdullah to make a strategic relationship with the United States a centerpiece of Jordan's foreign policy. Although the kingdom's behind-the- scenes support for the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq widened the credibility gap with the public, King Abdullah is willing to pay the cost for his close alliance with the United States in order to pursue what he sees as Jordan's larger interests. For Jordan, “the Palestinian Question” looms larger than Iraq. Given their support for U.S. policy in Iraq and their contributions to the global campaign against terrorism, along with the country's central role in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, Jordan's leaders have been disappointed with what they see as U.S. inaction on the Middle East peace process. Moreover, given the turmoil in both Iraq and the Palestinian territories, Jordan must contend with the twin prospects of “state” failure to its east and west.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Alan Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Three workshops explored hundreds of forces and factors relevant to insurgency outcomes and focused on key drivers to develop five alternative scenarios. These scenarios reflected the participants' perception that positive outcomes would be hard to achieve, and negative outcomes could be foreseen much more easily. The workshops' principal finding is that U.S. goals for Iraq and the region should be reexamined and scaled back. The administration's expressed goal of “an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country” is possible only in the very long term. Avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goals—but even these will be hard to achieve without new strategies and actions. The scenarios include recommended adjustments to U.S. goals and strategies to achieve reduced expectations. Unfortunately, the United States is now in a position to influence but not to control outcomes; it will have to engage and enlist the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors to attain success. This report broadly outlines the strategies that appear best suited to the current situation and the unfolding futures the participants envisioned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jill Shankleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report analyzes the particular challenges of stabilization and reconstruction missions in countries rich in hydrocarbons and minerals and provides lessons learned from the recent experience of such countries as Iraq, Sudan, Angola, Liberia, and Afghanistan. It offers recommendations for the U.S. government and others involved in natural resource–rich countries emerging from conflict and also to the extractive industry companies and banking sectors––that play a critical role in these states. War-torn countries rich in hydrocarbons and minerals face particular problems in the stabilization and reconstruction of their states despite the apparent promise that natural resource wealth holds. Unless deliberate efforts are made to avoid the “resource curses”—corruption, economic instability, conflict over the distribution of resource wealth and control of resource–rich areas—these curses will undermine peace building. Elite groups who receive royalties and taxes paid by extractive industry companies have shown themselves consistently resistant to democratization. Control over natural resources is fundamental to sovereignty. Ultimately, it is the governments and people of resource–rich countries who must put in place the systems that enable resource wealth to support stability and development However, through early and consistent action, the international community can play an important role in helping resource–rich states emerging from conflict manage the wealth that accrues from these resources, and can make proper wealth management a condition for donor assistance. It is essential that international missions and indigenous transitional governments immediately secure effective control of natural resource wealth (physical and monetary) and establish the laws, institutions, and capacity to manage that wealth transparently, accountably, and in ways that support reconstruction. Achieving these goals requires prior planning by relevant U.S. agencies, a willingness to confront vested interests, a consistent approach from the international community and donors, the involvement of civil society, and the deployment of human resources, such as forensic accountants able to “follow the money,” as part of the mission staff. To be successful, the extractive industries and their bankers, the international financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must be brought into this process
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Sudan, Middle East, Liberia, Angola
  • Author: Jonathan Morrow
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The cycle of violence in Iraq is, in part, constitutional: it derives from competing visions of the Iraqi state that have not been reconciled. An amendment to Iraq's constitution to delay the creation of new federal regions, together with a package of legislation and intergovernmental agreements on oil, division of governmental power between Baghdad and the regions, and the judiciary, may be enough to slow or even arrest this decline in the security situation, and may be achievable. A “government of national unity,” though desirable, will not by itself be able to generate the necessary constitutional consensus. Iraq's new legislature, the Council of Representatives, is now considering the process of constitutional amendment described in Article 142 of the constitution. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced the constitutional review as part of his government's platform. This amendment process, assuming it proceeds, will come in the wake of widespread opposition to the constitution from Sunni Arab Iraqis in the October 2005 referendum. It is expected that a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) will soon be appointed, in line with Article 142. To the extent that it was opposed by Sunni Arabs, the constitution lacks the essential criterion of any constitution: the consent of all major national communities. The 2005 Iraqi constitution may nonetheless, as a legal text, be a sufficient and necessary framework for the radically regionalized Iraqi polity which the constitution drafters envisaged. The constitutional challenge in Iraq is first about peacemaking, not state building. As the Iraqi parliament faces the challenge of appointing, mandating and staffing a CRC, the first, and essential, set of questions is therefore political: How can the amendment process be used as a vehicle to remedy the political failure of last year's constitution drafting process? How can consensus be built, and in particular how can Iraq's Sunni Arabs be encouraged to give their assent to the new federal Iraq? How can Iraq's Kurdish and Shia leaders be encouraged to make worthwhile constitutional concessions to Sunni Arab positions so as to elicit that consent? The second set of questions is legal: What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that Iraq is a viable, if not a strong, state? To the extent that the Sunni Arab position has been one that purports to defend the Iraqi state, legal or technical improvements to the text that support Baghdad's ability to govern may draw support from Sunni Arabs, thereby generating clear political benefits. There are additional legal questions that, though not strictly related to the Sunni Arab problem, are pressing: in particular, What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that the human rights of all Iraqis receive adequate protection? It is not only the Sunni Arabs who feel disenfranchised by the constitution; nationalists, some women's groups, and groups representing Iraq's minorities express similar views. It will be very difficult to pass constitutional amendments of any sort, especially those that seek to shift power from Iraq's regions to the central government. Regional interests have the upper hand, constitutionally and politically. There is no reason to expect that the constitution's Kurdish and Shia authors will see the need for constitutional amendments to the text that they themselves deliberately, if hastily, constructed. The referendum procedure for amendment is onerous, with a three-governorate veto power. High expectations of the amendment procedure will lead to disappointment and may amplify, rather than reduce, violence. For this reason, legal instruments other than constitutional amendments must be considered as ways to remedy the political and legal deficiencies of the constitution. A CRC should be established, with strong Sunni Arab membership. Given the pressing and complex nature of the necessary constitutional deal, the CRC should be mandated to make recommendations, where appropriate, not only for constitutional amendments, but also for (1) legislation, (2) intergovernmental agreements and, where appropriate (3) interparty agreements and (4) international agreements, all of which might encourage Sunni Arab political commitment to the Iraqi constitution and ensure viability for the Iraqi state. A three-part formula, concerning the creation of new regions, oil, and the delineation of powers between the central government and the regions, offers a way forward for the CRC to heal the wounds caused by the deficiencies in the 2005 drafting process. That formula would not require the Kurdistan party or the hitherto most influential Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to make major modifications to their constitutional positions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Public opinion surveys show that Iraqis feel the greatest security threat they face is not the insurgency or sectarian conflict but pervasive criminal violence. For a people accustomed to a stifling regime security presence under Saddam Hussein—and the correspondingly safe streets—the post-intervention upsurge in murder, home invasion robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and rape is fundamentally disturbing.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Crime
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Yll Bajraktari
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A UN/World Bank survey conducted after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime revealed that even though women represented about 55 percent of Iraq's population, they made up only 23 percent of the workforce. Although the international community and Iraqis have since devoted considerable attention to boosting the status of women in Iraq, most of these efforts have focused on the social and political empowerment of women. Full democratic consolidation in Iraq can only be achieved by guaranteeing, in addition, a leading economic role for women in Iraq.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Hind Haider
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As Iraq teeters on the precipice of a civil war, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, continues to search for ways to push the country over the edge.1 Yet questions linger about Zarqawi's ultimate motivation: Is it his loathing of foreign occupation forces that make him tick? Or is his hatred of Iraq's Shia the essential and irreducible sentiment that sustains his violent jihad? This distinction between Zarqawi's quest to promote a Sunni-Shia civil war and al Qaeda's broader goal of waging a universal battle that unites all Muslims against Western "infidels" has many implications, not merely for the future of Iraq, but also for the Middle East and the war on terror itself.
  • Topic: Civil War, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East