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  • Author: Donald J. Planty
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Arab Awakening opened the door to democratic political change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Security sector reform (SSR) is an integral component of the nascent democratic process in the region. While SSR is a long-term process, it should be a key part of institution building in the new democracies. Democracy requires security institutions that are open, professional, and responsive to public needs. The transitions to democracy are varied in nature and scope. SSR will differ by country and must be tailored to the political realities and specific circumstances of each state. The international community can foster successful SSR processes by calibrating its assistance according to the reform efforts in each country. A general or “one-size-fits-all” approach to SSR will not be successful. A sense of political powerlessness, an unresponsive bureaucracy, a general lack of opportunity, economic stagnation (including high unemployment), and repressive security forces all contributed to the Arab Awakening. As a result of the upheaval, democratic forces in several of the MENA countries are pushing for transparency and accountability in the security services. SSR must be undertaken in a holistic manner, couched within the framework of overall democratic reform and linked to other broad policies such as justice sector reform, evolution of the political process, and economic development. SSR will only be achieved if it is integrated and pursued in unison with these larger processes of democratic change. The international community, especially the United States and the European Union, need to foster democratic developments and, in particular, to support and coordinate SSR.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Economics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Hodei Sultan, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In transitioning countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women are increasingly finding their rights limited by state and religious leaders. Cultural and national stereotypes can be quickly overcome by the shared backgrounds, accomplishments, obstacles, and aspirations of women in transitioning countries. Women living in countries in transition value opportunities to network with women from other countries in similar situations. Women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq have genuine concerns about the challenges facing women in the Arab Spring. Their valuable opinions are based on their own experiences of overcoming those challenges. It is essential that women work together and with men to further women's rights. Women must plan for a transition before it happens and have a strategy of work going into the transition process. Laws empowering and protecting women do not work if they are not enforced. International donors need a long-term view of women's programming, as much of the required work will take time. Donors should consider nonurban areas when working with women, and when possible nonelite partners, as these leaders understand the limitations of local conditions. It is possible for women's groups to find common ground with religious leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robin Wright, Garrett Nada
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either. More than 120 million people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have experienced successful uprisings that ousted four leaders who together ruled a total of 129 years. But more than half of the Arab world's 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all. Defining a new order has proven far harder than ousting old autocrats. Phase one was creating conditions for democracy. Phase two is a kind of democratic chaos as dozens of parties in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia do political battle (and in some cases physical battle) over constitutions. Ancien regimes have not totally given up, as in Yemen. The cost of change has exceeded even the highest estimates, as in Syria. So most Arabs are probably disappointed with the “Arab Spring” for one of many reasons. Nevertheless the uprisings were never going to happen in one season. This is instead only the beginning of a decades-long process—as most in the West should know from their own experiences.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Post Colonialism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Mark Sedra
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The events of the Arab Spring are a unique and unprecedented opportunity for democratic political change for the Middle East and North Africa, but the political transitions in that region remain fragile. The United States and other external actors can help the new democratic regimes by supporting their efforts at security sector reform (SSR).
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Jason Gluck
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Countries emerging from authoritarianism frequently face constitutional challenges, among them sequencing constitutional reform with a transition to democracy, designing a constitutional review process that is seen as legitimate, and addressing substantive constitutional concerns. Sequencing constitutional reform and elections begs the questions who should lead the constitutional reform and when should it be conducted. Constitutional reform prior to elections can leave stewardship over the constitution-making process to unelected and perhaps not wholly trusted transitional governments. Elections prior to constitutional reform may be tantamount to simply handing the machinery of authoritarianism to a new set of actors. Egypt and Tunisia offer different paths to transition and each face criticism. In the end, a less “democratic” solution might be the best one. Whatever the chosen process for constitutional reform, legitimacy must remain the sine non qua of a successful constitution-making moment. Adherence to guiding principles of inclusivity, participation, transparency, consensus and national ownership can legitimize the constitution-making process and the final document itself. Just as the history, society, culture, and preferences of every country is unique, so too is every constitution. Certain common issues, however, are likely to be front and center for countries transitioning from authoritarian rule to democracy. This Peace Brief offers a brief examination of many of these commonly recurring issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Jason Gluck, Scott Worden, Colette Rausch, Vivienne O'Connor
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa are demanding justice, security, and accountability— defining features of the rule of law. Constitutional reform is a priority, but it must be done by legitimate representatives of the people, not hangovers from the past. Principles of inclusivity, transparency, and participation must be at the heart of the process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Law
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kosovo, Nepal, North Africa
  • Author: Toby C. Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia is pursuing a combination of domestic and regional policies that risk destabilizing the Persian Gulf and that risk undermining the United States interests there. Amid calls for political change, Saudi Arabia is failing to address pressing concerns about its political system and the need for political reform. Instead of responding favorably to calls for more political openness, the Kingdom is pursuing a risky domestic agenda, which ignores the social, economic, and political grievances that might fuel popular mobilization.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • 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: Elizabeth F. Thompson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Foreign affairs experts routinely use historical analogy to develop and justify policy. However, as professional historians have long noted, attractive analogies often lead to bad policies. Officials regularly choose analogies that neglect or distort the historical case they aim to illuminate. Nonetheless, history can be used effectively in international relations. To do so, practitioners must first recognize the difference between historical analogy and precedent. Historical precedent, drawn from the past of the region in question, is a safer guide to policy than historical analogy, which is based on comparisons to events in other regions. Because historical precedent is a self-limiting form of analogy restricted to a certain place, people, and time, it provides a better indication of how a certain society understands and responds to a given situation. The recent U.S. intervention in Iraq highlights the misuses of history: American leaders employed analogies to World War II to justify the invasion and to predict success in establishing a democratic regime after. These analogies proved to be a poor guide to nation building in the short term. In the long term, they have deeply aggravated U.S. relations with Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world. A more effective use of history would have been to refer to the precedent of World War I, a crucial moment when American policy could have supported indigenous Arab constitutional democracy—but, fatefully, did not. For the new administration, the Arabs' experience of “justice interrupted” after World War I can still be a useful touchstone for promoting democracy in the region. This precedent alerts us that foreign intervention can spark a deep-seated and negative political reaction in the postcolonial Arab world and that reform in Arab politics must begin with respect for national sovereignty. It also reminds us that constitutionalism and the desire to participate in the community of international law are enduring values in Arab politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • 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