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  • Author: Dave van Zoonen
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Donald Trump, the next President of the United States, will soon be confronted with the difficulty of translating campaign rhetoric regarding his foreign policy in the Middle East into policy and positive outcomes. He is thus likely to be forced to make significant concessions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Hashd al-Shaabi launched an offensive on Tal Afar on 29 October; the looming recapture of Tal Afar prompted a strong reaction from Turkey, which maintains ties to the Turkmen population there. Tal Afar is thus yet another flashpoint of competing interests between Ankara, Erbil, Baghdad, and Tehran and can possibly further destabilise the situation in Nineveh.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Nearly two years since the north side of Shingal was liberated from the Islamic State, most of the Yazidi population is still displaced. Yazidis are trapped between millstones of the competition of exogenous actors, such as the KDP, the PKK-linked forces, and Baghdad, over the control of the strategically important disputed territory of Shingal.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O’Driscoll, Dave van Zoonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This paper lays out three administrative options for the post-Islamic State governance of Nineveh and analyses the benefits and drawbacks related to each option. Despite minorities and international lobbying groups tied to the minorities favouring separate minority provinces, this paper argues against the formation of a Nineveh Plain province. A separate province would prevent efforts for reconciliation, is likely to induce new conflicts, and will ultimately not benefit minorities in the ways proponents of the plan claim. Similarly, the paper highlights that although decentralisation to the province through Law 21 could address a number of important issues, it would leave minorities in Nineveh too vulnerable to being marginalised and politically dominated by Sunnis. The main argument, and thus recommendation, of the paper is that the best available option for all components of Nineveh is the creation of a Nineveh federal region with entrenched power sharing and decentralisation within the region. This will provide the components of Nineveh with a political arena in which to address and overcome differences, while protecting minorities as well as Sunnis from being marginalised. Moreover, the creation of a region for Nineveh will have a stabilising effect on the wider Iraqi political system.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Islamic State (IS) has not only surprised everyone with its cruelty but also by proving to be one of the world’s richest terrorist organisations. Now that its economic gains are draining due to military setbacks and financial strains, IS-held territories are increasingly struggling through economic hurdles – the challenge ahead is to link military interventions against IS with concrete economic plans.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O’Driscoll
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: When the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, came into power in 2014 he promised to end the politics of dominance that was largely responsible for the rise of Islamic State (IS). Yet, with the military defeat of IS in Iraq imminent, Sunnis are still being marginalised and until this ends, the foundations of IS will remain within the society.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Political Power Sharing, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Dlawer Ala’Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The roadmap to independence starts from home and ends at home. A fragmented and unstable Kurdistan Region is neither good for the stability of the Kurdistan Region nor for Iraq or the rest of the Middle East. Institutionalisation of national unity and promotion of good governance are a key priority in every country of the Middle East, and even more so for an emerging one like the Kurdistan Region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O’Driscoll
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There is the opportunity for the rebirth of Mosul and Nineveh, as well as for Iraq, but without a valid plan in place for the liberation of Mosul, that includes the formation of political agreements and huge post-conflict efforts of reconstruction, reconciliation and de-radicalisation, it will be a stillbirth rather than the beginning of a new and promising life.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This report is a contribution to the public debate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) about crucial aspects of the current economic crisis and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) immediate response. In addition, it looks at the impact of four different policy options, such as a.) independence b.) rapprochement with Baghdad c.) macro-financing from International Stakeholders and d.) macro-financial assistance from Regional Stakeholders, may have in averting an economic meltdown in the short-term, on the assumption that the oil prices will remain suppressed for the foreseeable future. This report argues that it is only when the economic meltdown is averted in the short-term that the KRG will be able to proceed with deep structural reforms in the public sector and start working on the diversification of the economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Aram Mahmood
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The current policy of salary reductions might have been the only available emergency measure for the KRG to counter its empty treasury. However, continuing the current policy, focusing on a single sector of the economy is an unsuitable response to the on-going financial crisis and is likely to significantly dampen and delay recovery.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The MERI Economic Forum 2016 is the first of its kind to be held in Iraq or the Kurdistan Region. Iraq and the KRI, at the time of the forum in April 2016, were in the midst of a severe financial and economic crisis and searching for ways to move away from the rentier-state economic model to restructure and grow the economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: M Shteiwi
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center of Strategic Studies (CSS)
  • Abstract: For Europe, 2015 was the year of the biggest migration and refugee crisis in the European Union’s history. Around 1.5 million asylum seekers arrived in Europe (0.2% of the combined EU population) in 2015, most of them Syrian refugees. More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since the onset of the conflict in 2011. According to the Syrian Regional Refugee Response, there are 639,000 UNHCR registered refugees in Jordan (8% of the population), 1 million in Lebanon (17%), 2.7 million in Turkey (3.5%), 246,000 in Iraq (0.7%), and 118,000 in Egypt (0.1%). Many other Syrians living in those countries have not been registered by UNHCR. In addition, 7.5 million are estimated to be internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria itself. These are only the numbers directly related to the Syrian conflict. Iraqi, Sudanese, Somali, Palestinian, Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees are also registered in the aforementioned countries. Between 1998 and 2003 unauthorised entries by sea into Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain had stabilised, except for 2011 due to the Arab Spring (Fargues, 2015), but in 2015 the numbers increased dramatically, as shown in this pape
  • Topic: Diaspora, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Olli Ruohomäki
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Finnish Institute for International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the complexity Afghanistan entails, it is possible to outline the main contours of the fragmented reality and geopolitical fault lines that inform the situation on the ground. It is with this in mind that this Briefing Paper examines the cur- rent state of affairs in Afghanistan with a focus on the highly contentious politics, precarious security situation and the role of the difficult neighbourhood. The paper concludes with reflections regarding the prospects for peace, which do not appear promising.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Taliban, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: IN EARLY 2017, Iraqi security forces (ISF) are likely to liberate Mosul from Islamic State control. But given the dramatic comebacks staged by the Islamic State and its predecessors in the city in 2004, 2007, and 2014, one can justifiably ask what will stop IS or a similar movement from lying low, regenerating, and wiping away the costly gains of the current war. This paper aims to fill an important gap in the literature on Mosul, the capital of Ninawa province, by looking closely at the underexplored issue of security arrangements for the city after its liberation, in particular how security forces should be structured and controlled to prevent an IS recurrence. Though “big picture” political deals over Mosul’s future may ultimately be decisive, the first priority of the Iraqi-international coalition is to secure Mosul. As John Paul Vann, a U.S. military advisor in Vietnam, noted decades ago: “Security may be ten percent of the problem, or it may be ninety percent, but whichever it is, it’s the first ten percent or the first ninety percent. Without security, nothing else we do will last.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, International Security, Reconstruction, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel H. Rubinstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Though I came to Tunisia as Ambassador in the Fall of 2015, my relationship with the country and its people actually began in the late 1990s. In some ways, the Tunisia I returned to in 2015 is the one I knew years before—the Arabic and French linguistic mélange, the stambeli and malouf music, the local soccer and handball rivalries, the pine nuts floating atop mint tea. Yet alongside those resilient traditions, the Tunisia I returned to is now in its fifth year of the post-Ben Ali era, and is a country in the midst of an exciting but difficult transition. That transition is replete with a challenging self-realization, as the country and its citizenry redefine themselves and learn what it means to be a democracy in the wake of the 2011 revolution. Tunisians are still deciding how they want to incorporate democratic principles into day-to-day life, and through their decisions are defining what it means to be Tunisian for future generations. As a longtime friend—our diplomatic relations with Tunisia date to 1795—and strategic partner, the United States will continue to support the new Tunisia as it looks to the future.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Popular Revolt, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Tunisia
  • Author: Christopher Phillips
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Military conflict in Syria is in its 5th year. What was initially seen as another strike of the wave of democratization known as the “Arab Spring” has now become an extremely complicated multi-level regional conflict, where authorities in Damascus, estranged from the Western countries, are fighting against several groups, including ISIS1. The international dimension of the Syrian conflict is usually seen as the reluctance of the USA to get engaged, and Russia’s readiness to do just the opposite – while many other regional players get lost in the background. In order to establish different patterns and to articulate the plurality of motives that guided international actors, Rethinking Russia spoke to Christopher Phillips – senior lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University and associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, who just published a meticulously researched book “The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East” that documents the international dimension of the conflict.
  • Topic: Civil War, International Security, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The December 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, signed in Skhirat, Morocco, has re- configured more than contributed to resolving internal strife. A year ago, the conflict was between rival parliaments and their associated governments; today it is mainly between accord supporters and opponents, each with defectors from the original camps and heavily armed. The accord’s roadmap, the idea that a caretaker government accommodating the two parliaments and their allies could establish a new political order and reintegrate militias, can no longer be implemented without change. New negotiations involving especially key security actors not at Skhirat are needed to give a unity government more balanced underpinning.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Peacekeeping, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: During the second half of the twentieth century, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was hit by a demographic wave that saw its youth population grow at an unprecedented rate. This youth bulge spurred national and international debate regarding the challenges and opportunities that the youth cohort brings to the region. The potential that young people have—either as agents of positive change or instability—was illustrated during the Arab uprisings. In the wake of the unrest, there is a need to expand our collective understanding of the lives of young people in the MENA region, and to examine factors that affect their normative transitions to adulthood. The narrative around Middle Eastern youth often centers on their social, political, and economic exclusion and marginalization. Living through decades of authoritarian rule and political instability, youth in the Middle East have struggled to fulfill their aspirations related to citizenship, livelihood, and social and political participation. Given the continued jobs crisis in the Middle East, where youth generally experience high rates of unemployment and where labor market activity, particularly among young women, remains strikingly low, understanding the economic exclusion of youth and the various means by which to redress it remain significant.
  • Topic: Education, Youth Culture, Entrepreneurship, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: The historic events of the Arab uprisings have been accompanied by profound changes in the role of traditional and new media across the Middle East. Early on in the revolts, printed and electronic media played critical roles in disseminating information, and conveying compelling sentiments, within and across national boundaries in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. As the uprisings grew in both intensity and scale, new media in the form of Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogosphere joined satellite television in helping facilitate popular mobilization aimed at overthrowing authoritarian establishments. Today, satellite television and the internet have become consequential in countries where popular uprisings are being cast in a sectarian light by some national and international actors, most notably in Bahrain and Syria.
  • Topic: International Organization, Social Movement, Popular Revolt, Social Media
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Glittering skylines, high urbanization rates, and massive development projects in the Gulf have increasingly attracted the attention of urban development scholars and practitioners. Within the GCC, an average of 88 percent of the total population lives in cities, while on average only 56 percent of Yemen, Iraq, and Iran’s populations lives in urbanized spaces. The tempo and spatial ethos of urbanization in the Gulf differ markedly from patterns of traditional urbanism in other developing countries. Within a matter of decades, Gulf port cities have rapidly evolved from regional centers of cultural and economic exchange to globalizing cities deeply embedded within the global economy. Explicitly evident features of Gulf cities such as international hotel chains, shopping centers, and entertainment complexes have classified these cities as centers of consumption. Other urban trends, such as exhibition and conference centers, media and knowledge cities, and branch campuses of Western universities have integrated Gulf cities within numerous global networks. From the advent of oil discovery until the present day, forces of economic globalization and migration, national conceptualizations of citizenship, and various political and economic structures have collectively underpinned the politics of urban planning and development. While oil urbanization and modernization direct much of the scholarship on Gulf cities, understanding the evolution of the urban landscape against a social and cultural backdrop is limited within the academic literature. For instance, within the states of the GCC, the citizen-state-expatriates nexus has largely geared the vision and planning of urban real-estate mega-projects. These projects reflect the increasing role of expatriates as consumers and users of urban space, rather than as mere sources of manpower utilized to build the city. Other state initiatives, such as the construction of cultural heritage mega-projects in various Gulf cities, reveal the state’s attempts to reclaim parts of the city for its local citizens in the midst of a growing expatriate urban population.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Migration, Urbanization, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Increasingly, over the past few decades, the cross-border mobility of people and international migration has become a central and dynamic hallmark of human existence. While migration is by no means a recent phenomenon, present-day migratory experiences are increasingly informed by national and international policy settings, and by the needs of the global labor market. In contemporary times, the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have emerged as the third largest hub of international labor migration. In recent years, migration to the GCC has attracted increasing journalistic attention, and a growing body of scholarship from academics. What has gone almost completely unnoticed, however, is the regional, intra-Arab aspect of the phenomenon. Migration into the Gulf region from other Arab countries by far outdates more recent, and comparatively more temporary, migratory patterns from South Asia and Western Europe. Not only are Arab migratory patterns into the GCC comparatively and qualitatively different from other similar patterns, the historical setting within which they have unfolded, the processes through which they have taken place, and their economic, sociological, and political consequences have all been different. This book examines the dynamics involved in the emergence of Arab migrant communities in the Gulf region, focusing specifically on how they came about, their overall sociological compositions and economic profiles, and the causes, processes, and consequences of their interactions with, and integration within, the host countries.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Migration
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ahmad Samih Khalidi
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: ONE OF THE MANY REASONS for the humbling of the mighty Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2006 Lebanon War was an Israeli combat doctrine named Systemic Operational Design, better known by its perhaps aptly abbreviated acronym SOD.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O'Driscoll
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The post-conflict planning following the 2003 invasion of Iraq was weak at best and as a result many elements were at play that led to the marginalisation and political disenfranchisement of the Sunni community. Consequently, radical entities, such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), exploited local dynamics to take up a position within society in the Sunni areas of Iraq. It is important that the current fight against IS in Iraq avoids this pattern at all costs; if the liberation is devoid of long-term planning it will likely result in the resurfacing of a number of issues responsible for the rise of IS in Iraq in the first place. Lessons must be learnt from the mistakes of post-Saddam planning and these must not be repeated post-IS. There needs to be a multifaceted approach to the preparation for the liberation of Mosul that goes well beyond the military dimension.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: During the second half of the twentieth century, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was hit by a demographic wave that saw its youth population grow at an unprecedented rate. This youth bulge spurred national and international debate regarding the challenges and opportunities that the youth cohort brings to the region. The potential that young people have—either as agents of positive change or instability—was illustrated during the Arab uprisings. In the wake of the unrest, there is a need to expand our collective understanding of the lives of young people in the MENA region, and to examine factors that affect their normative transitions to adulthood. The narrative around Middle Eastern youth often centers on their social, political, and economic exclusion and marginalization. Living through decades of authoritarian rule and political instability, youth in the Middle East have struggled to fulfill their aspirations related to citizenship, livelihood, and social and political participation. Given the continued jobs crisis in the Middle East, where youth generally experience high rates of unemployment and where labor market activity, particularly among young women, remains strikingly low, understanding the economic exclusion of youth and the various means by which to redress it remain significant.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Youth Culture, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Eran Lerman
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: This study maps four Arab ideological camps and their interactions: The Iranian camp, Islamic State camp, Muslim Brotherhood camp, and the “counter camp” – which consists of the forces of stability, ranging from Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states to Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as the Kurds and other non-Arab players. Israel shares the fears and goals of the latter camp, and is joined with it in countering Iran. The US administration’s courtship of Iran, as well as the hope held broadly in the West that the Muslim Brotherhood could play a constructive role, has done little to restore stability or restrain the rise of radicalism.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Transparency International
  • Abstract: Spring Cleaning” a new report from Transparency International UK (TI-UK) analyses the role of the UK in providing a safe haven for corrupt wealth from Middle Eastern rulers. In Syria Egypt and Libya, amongst others, corruption played a major role in igniting the “Arab Spring”, with mass protests decrying the misuse of power by political establishments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Corruption
  • Political Geography: Britain, Middle East
  • Author: Jessica Lewis McFate, Harleen Gambhir
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The next forty-five days constitute a high-risk period for a surge of attacks by ISIS during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. ISIS traditionally uses Ramadan – which begins on June 6 and ends on July 5, 2016 - as a justification for its attacks and as an occasion to reorient its strategy. This year, ISIS will likely take action to reverse serious losses in Iraq and Syria while expanding its attacks against the non-Muslim world in an attempt to spark an apocalyptic total war. ISIS is still operationally capable in its core terrain and stands poised to expand its operations over the next six weeks, particularly in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. This forecast will outline the most likely and most dangerous targets that ISIS may seek to operate against during Ramadan
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jennifer Cafarella, Harleen Gambhir, Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-week exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to defeat the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. The planning group weighed the national security interests of the United States, its partners, its rivals, and its enemies operating in or influencing the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. It considered how current policies and interests are interacting in this complex environment. It identified the minimum endstates that would satisfy American national security requirements as well as the likely outcomes of current policies. The group also assessed the threat posed by al Qaeda and ISIS to the United States, both in the immediate and long term, and tested the probable outcomes of several potential courses of action that the United States could pursue in Iraq and Syria.
  • Topic: Intelligence, International Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Turkey has been in the news repeatedly in 2016, from the coup attempt of July to the subsequent government purges to its renewed fight against the PKK and crackdown on Kurdish populations. However surprising these developments may appear for an outside observer, they are deeply rooted in the history of the Turkish state, the evolution of the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), and the complex identity politics of the region. In October, more than a dozen scholars of Turkish politics gathered at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston for a Project on Middle East Political Science workshop to delve into some of these underlying themes. The memos produced for that workshop have been published individually on the POMEPS website and the full collection is now available as a free download here. The authors in this collection provide rich context, new data, and sharp analysis of the nuanced challenges facing the country and the region today
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The Arab world never seemed more unified than during the incandescent days of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Tunisia’s revolution clearly and powerfully inspired Arabs everywhere to take to the streets. Egypt’s January 25 uprising that led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak taught Arab citizens and leaders alike that victory by protestors could succeed. The subsequent wave of protests involved remarkable synergies that could not plausibly be explained without reference to transnational diffusion. Bahrainis, Yemenis and Jordanians alike attempted to replicate the seizure and long-term encampments in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and protestors across the Arab world chanted the same slogans and waved the same signs.
  • Topic: International Security, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The Arab uprisings triggered a fierce regional countermobilization by threatened regimes and the elites who benefited from the status quo. This resurgent autocracy did simply restore the old order, however. It created new forms of populist mobilization and established new relationships among civil and military state institution. In May 2016, the Project on Middle East Political Science and Oxford University’s Middle East Center convened a workshop to dig deeply into the new regional politics generated by the authoritarian reconstruction.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The barriers to women’s political participation in the Middle East have long preoccupied scholars and analysts. The Arab uprisings of early 2011 disrupted virtually every dimension of Arab politics and societies, forcing a systematic re-evaluation of many long-held political science theories and assumptions. The place of women in politics and the public sphere were no exception.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Maher Akhttiar
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Until recently, people with disabilities in the Arab world have lived largely in the shadows, a silent sector lacking the opportunity to express their demands or discuss their needs. There are no medical, social, economic, legal, or political mechanisms in the region for discussing how disability is defined, or effectively explaining who disabled individuals are; this ambiguity in standards, which allows people to be divided into healthy and unhealthy categories, act as a mechanism of veiled oppression.
  • Topic: Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Nael Georges
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: This paper presents the key ideas from a new book of the same name forthcoming soon from Dar el Machreq. This book was made possible by support from the Arab Reform Initiative’s Arab Research Support Program.
  • Topic: International Relations, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union (EU) and Asia is in flux. The EU intensified its economic ties to Asia and boosted its security cooperation in the region in 2011 and 2012. But new challenges, including the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, have made it difficult to sustain this incipient momentum. There are a number of steps that EU and Asian governments can and should take to continue to strengthen their relations.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Daniela Huber, Lorenzo Kamel
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The "battleground" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shifting from its local context, where it has been placed in the Oslo, Intifada and Roadmap/Quartet periods, to its original dimension: the international arena. While it is indeed unclear if a multilateral approach will fare well, it is a fact that the unilateral/bilateral approach has failed. Having reached the end of the Middle East Peace Process as we have known it for the past decades, it is about time to be open-minded about realistic alternatives. This paper analyses these potential scenarios, the roles played by the main local and international actors, and outlines how a EU multilateral initiative should look like.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has made it a priority to keep state agencies running, allowing Assad to claim that the regime is the irreplaceable provider of essential services. Breaking the regime’s monopoly on these public services and enabling the moderate opposition to become an alternative source of them would weaken the regime and prevent the radical jihadist Islamic State from emerging to fill power vacuums across the country.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Islam, Governance, Sectarian violence, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Already-weak states in Libya and Yemen crumbled as struggles for control over their security sectors became central to transitional politics after the popular uprisings of 2011. Instead of being reformed and upgraded to enhance the fragile legitimacy of interim governments, the security sectors collapsed by 2014. Libya and Yemen are now caught in a vicious circle: rebuilding effective central states and cohesive national identities requires a new consensus on the purpose and governance of security sectors, but reaching this agreement depends on resolving the deep political divisions and social fractures that led to civil war in both countries.
  • Topic: Security, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the learning of authoritarian regimes in the early phase of the Arab uprisings. Differentiating conceptually between learning and policy change, we analyze and compare the authoritarian regimes of Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, and Syria and their reactions to the challenge of "late riser" oppositional protests. We first show that the four regimes initiated very diverse measures in the domains of repression, material co‐optation, and legal reforms. With regard to the sources of learning, we find that proximity is a determining factor, in terms of both geography and political similarity. Using the case of Bahrain, we then demonstrate that structural factors such as internal power structures, regional and international pressures, or state capacity can decisively constrain the implementation of learning‐induced policy change. Overall, the paper aims to contribute to the emerging research on the international dimension of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and beyon
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Elites in Tunisia and Jordan stress their need to invest in their human resources, because people are the only resources they have. An array of programs has arisen in both countries to help young people learn life and job skills, find appropriate careers, and launch new businesses. Yet a look at recent and ongoing workforce development efforts in each country reveals that these schemes are intended to produce something fundamentally different in each country. Tunisians are working to overcome the legacies of dictatorship and build a new, more democratic system while simultaneously carrying out economic reforms that aim to alter the state’s role in the economy. Jordanians are trying to alter society and economic incentives within a political status quo where too much change too quickly could threaten the political order, and the government therefore faces compelling reasons both to reform and to keep things as they are. This report examines how similar efforts have evolved in these contrasting contexts
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Human Welfare, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The events in Iraq over the last month have shown that any success in Iraq requires both the Iraqi government and the United States to go far beyond the war against ISIS, and makes any partisan debate over who lost Iraq as damaging to U.S. national interests as any other aspect of America’s drift toward partisan extremism. The war against ISIS is a critical U.S. national security interest. It not only threatens to create a major center of terrorism and extremism in a critical part of the Middle East, and one that could spread to threaten the flow of energy exports and the global economy, but could become a major center of international terrorism. It is important to understand, however, that ISIS is only one cause of instability in the region, and only one of the threats caused by spreading sectarian and ethnic violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Gary Samore
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This report has been produced in the interest of contributing to informed Congressional review and public discourse on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It provides a concise description of the agreement and the accompanying UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It also includes a balanced assessment of the agreement's strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The team of experts who prepared the report includes Democrats, Republications, independents, and internationals. Noting areas of disagreement among themselves, they agreed that this report provides an accurate description and balanced assessment of the agreement.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Alexandra Francis
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis has exacerbated endemic political, economic, and resource challenges in Jordan. As the conflict in Syria enters a protracted state and public discontent and other tensions rise, Jordan has limited its humanitarian response. Yet, the roots of the kingdom’s challenges run deeper than the refugee crisis and if left unaddressed will be harbingers of instability. If Jordan is to confront its national challenges and continue to provide a safe haven for Syrian refugees, the country will depend on increased international support.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Political Economy, War, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Sarah Wolff
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The death of Aylan, a 3-year-old boy on a Turkish beach, prompted European leaders and public opinions to acknowledge that Europe is the deadliest migration destination in the world. In spite of this disturbing truth, there is little agreement on an EU solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. In September 2015, the EU Interior Ministers struggled to agree over the relocation of 120,000 refugees through a common compulsory mechanism, as Eastern European countries oppose the idea of “sharing the burden.” Progress regarding other solutions such as a European rescue at-sea-mission, the delivery of humanitarian visas or the opening of legal means of migration have also met strong member state resistance. If Europe is not up to the task, can international organisations (IOs), often critical of European states for their inaction, impulse change? What influence do IOs have on EU and Mediterranean migration and refugee policies? This paper investigates how IOs have been trying to frame an alternative debate and the challenges they meet in promoting transregional governance.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, War, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-66-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Under certain conditions, such as security crises, an integrated external EU counter-terrorism policy can emerge without leading to the supra-nationalisation of policy-making. This paper analyses the role of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with the objective of assessing the influence that such figure can have on the governance of EU counter-terrorism policies. It does so by assessing the EU’s response to three security crises, namely: the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent bombings in Madrid (2004) and London (2005); the Arab Spring and the following destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); and the emergence and spread of Da’esh.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-53-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The term “post-colonial” has presented a seminal problem for historians of the 20th century Middle East. As this essay will detail, debates over the term have provided an important axis around which discussions of political identity revolve. Following World War Two European power in the Middle East crumbled and a number of post-colonial states emerged. These states often justified their existence in terms of ideologies that were tied to specific post-colonial, political identities. Endless debates have occurred over how much emphasis to put on the post-colonial nature of these states and their political identities. In this essay, I will discuss whether a state’s status as post-colonial matters. If so, how? And what are the consequences? Following a general discussion of debates over post-colonialism, will look more closely at three case studies: Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: After surviving its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and the near collapse of its common currency, Europe is now engulfed by hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa. It needs new and permanent migration institutions and resources not only to accommodate the influx of refugees but also to set up a new border control system throughout the region. These demands pose a challenge for European policymaking as serious as the euro crisis of the last five years. Kirkegaard proposes a migration and mobility union, to be implemented gradually, with the goal of comprehensively reforming European migration policy.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Governance, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Sara Vakhshouri
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The international community is poised to sign a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, under which Iran would make concessions on its enrichment activities and the United States and others would offer substantial relief from punishing economic sanctions. The removal of the most complex, extensive, and multilateral regime of coercive economic measures promises a windfall to Iran. However, this will be neither immediate nor easy, given the difficulty of reestablishing severed commercial and legal ties between Iran and the global financial system. Removing sanctions will require careful international cooperation and substantial outreach to the private sector.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Eric Herring, Piers Robinson
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHED A DOSSIER on 24 September 2002 setting out its claims regarding Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Parliament was recalled for an emergency session on the same day to hear Prime Minister Tony Blair's presentation of it. The dossier stated that Iraq had WMD and was producing more. After the invasion in March 2003, no WMD were found. Ever since, there has been controversy as to whether the dossier reported accurately intelligence which turned out to be wrong, as Blair has claimed consistently, or whether the dossier deliberately deceived by intentionally giving the impression of greater Iraqi WMD capability and threat than the intelligence suggested.
  • Topic: Government, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Alvin Almendrala Camba
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Central European University Political Science Journal
  • Institution: Central European University
  • Abstract: Nazrin Mehdiyeva's work is elegantly argued and timely volume on small states and energy politics; however, in looking to contribute to both of these literatures, she opens up questionable points in her book. Her main aim was to understand the conditions that allowed Azerbaijan to pursue an autonomous foreign policy after the Cold War while focusing on energy's role in the context of global energy insecurity. Mehdiyeva's structure relies on a simple and clear deductive narrative. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on small state literature and its application in Azerbaijan's institutional context; 4 focuses on Russia, the main 'antagonist' in the narrative, and 5 on the Caspian sea issue; while 6 and 7 deal with alternative allies in the form of Turkey and the United States. The last chapter concludes with the author's projection of future foreign policy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Cold War, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Turkey, Middle East, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Terry Terriff, James Keeley, John Ferris
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The US and a coalition of allies are once again intervening in the Middle East. This time it is in response to the rapid military advancement of Daesh, the acronym Arabic speakers use for the Arabic name of ISIS, Al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Some ten weeks into the start of military operations a common view is that the coalition's aerial campaign has only had limited success at best. On the plus side, coalition air power coupled with local forces on the ground were able to save a great many Iraqi Yazidis who were being threatened by Daesh, but equally a great many of this sectarian minority were massacred and, in the case of women and girls, raped or sold into sexual slavery. The Kurds subsequent to the initial retreat of their much vaunted Peshmerga forces have been able to stabilize their fighting lines against Daesh and regain control of the important Mosul dam. This particular success is in part due to the Kurds themselves and in part due to the support of coalition air strikes and delivery of supplies, but it also appears to be due in part to Daesh turning its focus to Anbar and northern Syria. On the negative side, Daesh not only continues to hold Mosul, among many other Iraqi cities and towns, but it has also expanded its control of territory in Anbar province from where it now poses a potential threat to Baghdad and areas in and around the Iraqi capital city. Daesh also made significant advances in northern Syria where it threatened to overrun the Kurdish city of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border, creating the looming prospect of the massacre of the fighters and civilians still there. Over the past few days the intensification of coalition air strikes in and around this city appears to have halted and at least partially pushed back the Daesh assault, but the city and its inhabitants are far from being safe as it could still fall in the days and weeks to come.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Is there an oil weapon? Concern about the use of oil as an instrument of coercion has been central to state intervention in oil markets. Historically, the U.S. government sought to ensure access for domestic firms in the Middle East on national security grounds. Current U.S. national security strategy identifies the importance of Middle Eastern oil production to the global oil market as justification for retaining a military presence in the region. Conversely, rising U.S. oil production in the 2000s leads some analysts to propose that the United States should reduce its military presence in the Persian Gulf.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Muhammed Kürsad Özekin, Zeynep Arıöz
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations
  • Institution: Prof. Bulent Aras
  • Abstract: With the rise of intra-state conflicts in the Middle East, particularly in the last two decades, the causality relationship between oil wealth and political stability has become a matter of debate in the literature. However, despite the proliferating research interest, the impact of oil revenues on regime stability and civil conflicts still remains contested in both theoretical and empirical terms. Bearing this limitation in mind, this article aims to present a fairly general but analytically broadened framework to explain the relationship between the decline of the oil-rentier states, and the rise of intra-state conflicts experienced in the Middle East in the past two decades. Putting matter into the historical context of the state formation and the colonial legacy in the Middle East this study presents a slightly different reading of the causality relation between oil revenue and the conflict-proneness of rentier states. Thus this article, to a certain extent, moves beyond the conventional explanations of the rentier state theory and argues that oil revenue cannot be taken as an explanatory variable of conflicts per se.
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ornela Fabani
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: International Strategic Studies Doctoral Program
  • Abstract: Different actors and even geographical areas with which Argentina has prioritized its ties can be traced overtime. However, the Middle East has never had a special place in the agenda of external relations of the country. On the contrary, it has been a marginal area with regard to its relations both in political and economic terms. This can be explained by the geographical gap between those territories; also, by the lack of shared idiosyncrasies, such as religion , and social and cultural terms, since the South American country is markedly different from the states comprising the space that has been called the Middle East – an area in which, moreover, coexist different ethnic and religious groups, as well as different political regimes, and which has become internationally notorious internationally for its high number of conflicts.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Argentina, South America
  • Author: Joseph England
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Every year throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, between four and five million girls suffer gruesome genital mutilation at the hands of tribal “cutters” or circumcisers. Far from being regarded as barbaric criminals from whom children should be hidden, these wielders of sharpened rocks, broken glass, rusty metal, and (only sometimes) scalpels occupy a special position of power and influence in their communities. Parents voluntarily, sometimes enthusiastically, bring their young and infant daughters to be mutilated. Though methods vary in severity, in as many as 10 percent of cases, a cutter shears a girl's labia for “beauty,” excises her clitoris to deprive her of sexual pleasure later in life, and sews closed her vagina to ensure virginity until marriage.
  • Political Geography: Africa, America, Middle East
  • Author: Douglas Lute
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ambassadors Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Wales on September 4-5, 2014, NATO leaders were clear about the security challenges on the Alliance's borders. In the East, Russia's actions threaten our vision of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. On the Alliance's southeastern border, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's campaign of terror poses a threat to the stability of the Middle East and beyond. To the south, across the Mediterranean, Libya is becoming increasingly unstable.
  • Topic: NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Nilüfer Karacasulu, Irem Aşkar Karakır
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This paper discusses EU-Turkey relations with a specific reference to regional developments in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. In the last decade, the Turkish government has tried to intensify Turkey's influence in the region. However, increasing activism in Turkey's foreign policy toward the region was not accompanied by a parallel commitment in its relations with the EU. In the meantime, the EU was caught unprepared by the Arab Spring in the middle of the Euro-zone crisis, and now its strategic interests are being threatened by regional instability. Both sides have been faced with the task of adapting their policies to the political transitions in the region. After an analysis of their contemporary regional policies, this article argues that even though their strategies are not totally in line with each other, Turkey follows the same objectives that the EU neighborhood policy has pursued towards the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Valerie Behiery
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: he recent book edited by A.C.S. Peacock and Sara Nur Yıldız, The Seljuks of Anatolia: Court and Society in the Medieval Middle East, demonstrates how a cognizance of historiography affords the ability to reexamine a historical period. The book, which emerged out of a workshop held in Istanbul in 2009, reinvigorates the study of the Seljuk Empire. Its authors, in order to compensate for the paucity of Muslim sources on medieval Anatolia, draw from a number of “untapped” sources such as Greek and Armenian texts, epigraphy, poetry and letters sent to the court. More significantly, they employ innovative frameworks that test standard perceptions of the Sultanate of Rūm (c. 1081 -1308) and emphasize its religious, cultural, and linguistic diversity. Thus, while the cited aim of the book is to “explore how court and society interacted and shaped one [an]other,” moving “beyond the more purely political history that has dominated to date” (p. 4), its larger purpose of questioning entrenched views of the Seljuk dynasty and medieval Anatolia, and the methods that it uses to offer up new avenues of research make this book a benchmark in the field.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: Asaad Al-Saleh
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Narrated by dozens of activists and everyday individuals, this book documents the unprecedented events that led to the collapse of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Beginning in 2011, these stories offer unique access to the message that inspired citizens to act, their experiences during revolt, and the lessons they learned from some of the most dramatic changes and appalling events to occur in the history of the Arab world. The riveting, revealing, and sometimes heartbreaking stories in this volume also include voices from Syria. Featuring participants from a variety of social and educational backgrounds and political commitments, these personal stories of action represent the Arab Spring's united and broad social movements, collective identities, and youthful character. For years, the volume's participants lived under regimes that brutally suppressed free expression and protest. Their testimony speaks to the multifaceted emotional, psychological, and cultural factors that motivated citizens to join together to struggle against their oppressors.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Insurgency, Authoritarianism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231163194
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens, male and female, are travelling to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL or ISIS). Prompted in part by political marginalisation and bleak economic prospects that characterise their post-Soviet region, 2,000-4,000 have in the past three years turned their back on their secular states to seek a radical alternative. IS beckons not only to those who seek combat experience, but also to those who envision a more devout, purposeful, fundamentalist religious life. This presents a complex problem to the governments of Central Asia. They are tempted to exploit the phenomenon to crack down on dissent. The more promising solution, however, requires addressing multiple political and administrative failures, revising discriminatory laws and policies, implementing outreach programs for both men and women and creating jobs at home for disadvantaged youths, as well as ensuring better coordination between security services.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's murder of Jordanian hostage Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was both a message to the group's fighters that it can counter the coalition's relentless airstrikes as well as an offensive move designed to provoke a high-profile overreaction The air campaign against the Islamic State has been relentless while at the same time has receded from the headlines-a double blow to the group in that it suffers the losses but doesn't benefit from the attendant spectacle The drawn-out 'negotiations' over this past month-while the hostage was already dead-were likely intended to sow division and tension in Jordan, and draw attention to the issue as long as possible before the gruesome finale While Jordan is understandably enraged and will have to strike back, the most effective response might be an escalation that continues to kill the group's fighters away from the headlines.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Like a page out of the 2004 extremist manifesto "Management of Savagery," the Islamic State has tried to goad the international community into near-sighted reactions without long-term approaches by highlighting the barbarity of its executions of hostages This tactic has thus far failed to ignite the overreaction (outside of press reporting) of Western powers, leaving the group without an important recruitment and incitement tool The Islamic State needs consistent replenishment of fear to overcome its inherently terrible local governance, and so it depends on shocking savagery to serve as both its recruitment magnet and opposition suppression As the group encounters less and less Westerners, given the danger of their presence in the region, it will find increasingly fewer ways to incite the 'us-versus-them' battle it needs to survive.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While the threat of an immediate escalation between Israel and Hizballah appears to have subsided after deadly tit-for-tat attacks, the trend lines suggest greater conflict ahead In an important and ominous speech on January 30, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah created, in effect, one long front against Israel that now includes Syria and the Golan Heights as well as Lebanon, increasing the potential for conflict with Israel Iran is no longer moving in the shadows but rather is openly coordinating strategy with its proxy Hizballah as the two seek to strengthen and expand 'the resistance' against Israel All parties involved have specific reasons to avoid a near-term conflict-the upcoming Israeli elections, ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, Hizballah's commitments in Syria-but shifting regional power dynamics will only increase the likelihood of serious fighting between them.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The still-unresolved hostage situation involving Jordan, Japan, and the Islamic State is unlike any of the group's previous kidnappings Jordan is in a precarious position, as it seeks the release of one of its citizens-a national hero who comes from a prominent tribe-while not wanting to free one of the perpetrators of the worst terrorist attack in the country's history By demanding the release of failed suicide-bomber Sajida al-Rishawi from Jordanian custody, the Islamic State is trying to elevate itself to the status of negotiating nation-state, and weaken and embarrass a vital member of the coalition seeking its destruction In a striking difference with previous Islamic State hostage situations, current circumstances provide a chance for the group to bolster its standing in the vital Iraqi province of al-Anbar-where al-Rishawi is from-and perhaps slightly lessen tribal pressure on the group The issue is causing tensions between the Iraqi-born leadership of the Islamic State, who want to make the exchange, and a small faction of primarily Saudi fighters, who want to execute the Jordanian pilot for bombing the group.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Author: Jonathan Rynhold
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, Jonathan Rynhold and Elliott Abrams addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Rynhold is a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and author of the just-released book The Arab-Israel Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press). Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 13, Robert Rabil addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Dr. Rabil is a professor of Middle East studies in Florida Atlantic University's Department of Political Science and the Lifelong Learning Society (LLS) Distinguished Professor of Current Events. He is the author of Salafism in Lebanon (Georgetown University Press, October 2014). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon, Florida
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli parties are placing a premium on capturing marginal votes within their blocs rather than competing across the left-right spectrum, and this status quo is working to Netanyahu's benefit. Israeli election polls have been fairly stagnant in the lead-up to the March 17 parliamentary vote, despite a plethora of campaign tactics to shake up the race. Some fluidity has been seen within the wider political blocs, but little if any between them. Socioeconomics, geography, and ethnicity have reinforced the current blocs, making wild swings unlikely. Typically, Israel's upper-middle-class, secular Ashkenazi (European origin) voters tend to focus on the high cost of living and concerns about the country's potential isolation in Europe, making them more likely to vote center-left. In contrast, Sephardic (Middle East origin) voters with more traditional and humble socioeconomic roots tend to focus on security threats and are therefore more likely to vote right. The clear segmentation of the political spectrum has led to a variety of mini-races rather than one overarching race.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Liora Halperin
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: One of the key forces in shaping the history of Palestine was the Zionist movement. This movement emerged from and is rooted in political developments in Europe, but it changed and developed as it evolved from a political movement in Europe to a settlement and nation-building project in Palestine. Thus, we need to step outside the physical context of the Middle East to understand a force that ultimately changed the Middle East.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, P.J. Dermer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 6, 2015, Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, and P.J. Dermer addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Knights is an Institute Lafer Fellow and author of the Institute study The Long Haul: Rebooting U.S. Security Cooperation in Iraq. Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland and author of the Institute study The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects. Dermer is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served multiple tours in the Middle East, including two in Iraq. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: There hasn't been a lasting and successful end to an armed conflict in the Middle East in decades, and the newest fighting in Yemen can be seen through a lens of deep regional frustration over countless issues that seem to defy solutions The entire region is frustrated with the worsening status quo, but the consensus and creativity to meaningfully address the challenges is lacking, even with the newly announced Arab 'rapid response force' to an extremist problem that has been openly growing for a decade The only actors not frustrated are non-state actors, who fill the ever-widening chasm between what regional governments can deliver and what their populations demand.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Algeria
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Outside of its own borders, Iran now has significant proxy presence and influence in four countries encompassing 1.1 million square kilometers and 82 million people, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon It has done this by leveraging tactical decisions made by other countries into its own strategic expansion; from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and now Yemen, Iran is taking advantage of the short-term actions of others in its long-term plan The complete collapse of the U.S.-aided Yemeni president and the associated counterterrorism and military support is just the latest example of measures intended to address immediate pressures, which ultimately benefit Iran-all while U.S. airstrikes support Iraqi and Iranian militias in Tikrit against the immediate threat of the Islamic State It's not that Iranian leaders are all-knowing, masterful chess players but rather that the Middle East has for decades been a battlefield of ad hoc stability measures by numerous countries that have enabled Iran to steadily project power, to the extreme concern of countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has now launched airstrikes in Yemen.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have more in common than sets them apart, as both groups embrace 'bin Ladinism' even as their leaderships differ on tactics and priorities As the fortunes of the two groups wax and wane, their shared characteristics are likely to become more pronounced and their rivalries less so For the moment, the competition between them weakens their appeal and blunts their impact; any trend towards reconciliation or partnership could magnify the threat they pose across the Arab world.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne, Frances G. Burwell, Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: A new Atlantic Council report warns against the tendency of Europe and the United States to sideline political and economic reform in the Middle East while they pursue urgent security priorities in this turbulent region. Instead, the transatlantic partners should forge a shared strategy to encourage political systems that can protect Arab citizens' basic rights, provide security, deliver broad prosperity, and mitigate violent extremism.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Danya Greenfield, Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: To cling to current short-sighted policies and to help sustain dysfunctional states in the Middle East for the sake of short-term security would condemn the region to poverty and further instability, which threaten to have negative consequences for US interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab, Michael S. Tyson
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In September 2014, Bilal Y. Saab, Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft on International Security, and Michael S. Tyson, Marine Corps Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center, predicted in a simulation exercise (for results, see "ISIS War Game: The Coming Stalemate") conducted at the Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative that the most likely scenario was a military stalemate. They also realized that such a stalemate was not stable. Since the conclusion of the first war game, ISIS's regional attacks have increased in scope, lethality, and level of sophistication, as evidenced by its military and terrorist operations in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Despite the vast resources of other states in the Middle East, the two powers that matter most are Iran and Turkey Iran is currently ascendant in the region and takes every opportunity to wield its influence Saudi Arabia is trying to build a Sunni alliance that might challenge Iran's dominance-even if it is not clear how Efforts to bring Turkey on board the Sunni alliance may founder on differing interests-not least Turkey's own ambitions.
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Gorevan, Martin Hartberg, Dominic Bowen
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2139 (UNSCR 2139) at the end of February 2014 brought with it much needed hope for people in Syria and across the Middle East. In the resolution, the UN Security Council (UNSC) – the body responsible for international peace and security – called for an urgent increase in access to humanitarian aid in Syria and demanded that all parties immediately cease attacks against civilians, end arbitrary detention, kidnapping and torture, and lift sieges of populated areas.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: September 2015 marked the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's speech outlining the administration's strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Yet, ISIS celebrated in June its own first-year anniversary of setting up a state by conducting three nearly simultaneous terrorist operations in three different countries—France, Tunisia, and Kuwait. Just this past month, ISIS also shocked the world with its attacks in Paris and Beirut and its downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing more than 400 people combined and injuring hundreds more. While nobody expected the destruction of a resilient and agile foe such as ISIS within a couple of years, it is deeply troubling that the coalition is having such a hard time even disrupting its activities.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Rock-Singer
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Religion was a pillar of pre-modern political identity in the Middle East, arising out of Muslims’ understanding of Islam’s foundational moment and state institutions that developed with the spread of Islamic Empire. Beginning at the turn of the 19th century, European colonial powers and indigenous reformers questioned the centrality of religious identity; instead, it was to be the nation that defined the political community. Since then, the nationalist project has permeated 20th century ideological conflicts in the region, equally shaping the claims of secularists and Islamists. Today, advocates of religious change refer back to early Islamic history as they seek to place religious over national identity, yet they, like their competitors, are unmistakably shaped by the secular nationalist project.
  • Topic: Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lev Weitz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of the Middle East’s population today is Muslim, as it has been for centuries. However, as the place of origin of a range of world religions – including Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and many lesser-known faiths – it remains a region of remarkable religious diversity. This article considers the place of religious minorities in the modern Middle East from three angles: their distinctive religious and communal identities, their place in the major transformations of the region’s political landscape from the nineteenth century to the post-World War I era, and the challenges of contemporary political conditions.
  • Topic: Demographics, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: We live in an age of identity politics. We define ourselves by one or more objective measures: measures of race, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, sexual orientation, to name just a few. Those measures then define who we are to others. They determine our place in society, the communities with which we identify, our attitudes towards others and other communities. The politics of identity are fraught, and they interact in ways that both liberate and confine. On the one hand we prize diversity. On the whole, this is a good thing, since it reflects a larger transformation in American life. Like it or not, the fact is that we are becoming, have become, a “multi-cultural society.” No matter what terms we use to define diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, gender, whatever—we are more diverse now than we have ever been, and we are destined to grow more so. Multi-culturalism is not an option; it is the future. The only question is how, and how well, we are going to deal with it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: In the 11 months since President Barack Obama committed the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), the group has expanded its international reach, metastasized to form offshoots across multiple regions, and increased its perceived momentum. Although U.S. government officials cite a reduction in the overall size of the group’s sanctuary in Iraq and Syria and the killing of thousands of ISIS fighters, the fall of Ramadi and much of Anbar province to the Islamic State served as a wakeup call that current efforts to counter ISIS are not adequate to the task.2 Meanwhile, the threat posed by the terrorist group to Americans at home and abroad appears to be growing as ISIS-inspired individuals conduct attacks targeting Westerners around the globe, including here in the United States.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Jacob Stokes, Nicholas Heras
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: With nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States restarting today, Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Middle East Security Program Director Ilan Goldenberg, CNAS Bacevich Fellow Jacob Stokes, and CNAS Middle East Program Research Associate Nicholas Heras have produced a new policy brief on potential cooperation with Iran in the wake of a nuclear deal. The authors argue any thawing of the relationship would face tremendous challenges.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Sedgwick
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: CIAO Focus
  • Institution: Columbia International Affairs Online
  • Abstract: A brief overview and timeline examining the origins and trajectory of the little known terror group that was initially shunned and finally disowned by al-Qaeda as it developed into the world's most feared militant Muslim organization.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency, ISIS, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Manata Hashemi
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Disproportionate levels of youth unemployment and economic marginalization in the Middle East have prompted many regional observers to conclude that socioeconomically disadvantaged Middle Eastern youth are more prone to radicalization and thereby constitute a threat to national and international security. The general consensus in these accounts is that low levels of occupational opportunities leave poor youth more disposed to frustration and fatalism, which in turn are strongly linked to radical politics. Alternatively, scholars in the language of rational choice argue that these young people engage in a deliberate calculation of means and ends in order to attain the power and wealth necessary for upward mobility. These scholars posit poor youth as rational, autonomous agents whose goals are defined by individual interests and preferences. However, these respective theories are unable to account for 1) the absence of political radicalism among poor youth in many countries of the Middle East, and 2) the presence of seemingly irrational acts among these youth that neither maximize self-interest, nor necessarily reflect individual preferences. Given the shortcomings of each of these prevailing theories, this paper, instead, synthesizes these two approaches and assesses the social conduct of poor youth in the Middle East from the perspective of aspirations-bounded rationality. From this vantage point, the behaviors of poor youth are not determined by individual economic interests or by pure emotion, but by aspirations. This paper proposes that these youth struggle and create strategies to improve their lives that are conditioned by experience and observation of those who inform their social worlds.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Employment
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mathilde Dugit-Gros
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Has Western involvement in the Arab Spring generated more scepticism in North Africa and the Middle East about foreign influence? This study compares public opinion about foreign influence across five MENA countries: Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia. Using data sets from the second and third waves of the Arab Barometer, the study compares the periods pre- and post-2011.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has a number of interests and values at stake in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or "South Asia" for the purposes of this analysis. But it also has a broader set of such concerns at stake regionally (in the greater Middle East, Eurasia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia)—and, of course, globally as well. Any long- term policy or strategy frame- work for South Asia needs to be built around the global and regional concerns that are most likely to persist across multiple changes in U.S. political leadership regardless of political party.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As events in late December 2013 and early 2014 have made brutally clear, Iraq is a nation in crisis bordering on civil war. It is burdened by a long history of war, internal power struggles, and failed governance. Is also a nation whose failed leadership is now creating a steady increase in the sectarian divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni, and the ethnic divisions between Arab and Kurd.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Ari Kerkkänen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Few would dispute the assertion that human security has failed in Syria. Authoritarian regimes in the Arab world have had well-documented deficits in human security emerging from coercive internal politics, a lack of respect for human rights such as freedom of expression, and limited freedom from fear and want. The concept of human security has developed mainly within the domain of UN development policy, but it has also made headway in security policy, being advocated as one approach in international crisis management and peacekeeping. Less attention has been paid to its adaptability in forming the basis for the internal security policy of any given state. The main argument of this paper is that human security principles can be the cornerstones of state security, potentially preventing, mitigating, and remedying security issues within a state that could lead to societal upheaval. The argument is presented by outlining some major developments in the history of modern Syria up to its present state of civil war. The paper shows that the security paradigm exercised in Syria has led to a double failure in which human insecurity has resulted in turmoil for ordinary people and has shattered the authoritarian governance. The paper suggests that the rebuilding of security sectors must be based on the principles of human security, not only in Syria but also in the Arab world at large.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Human Rights, Governance, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Frederick W. Kagan, J. Matthew McInnis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A review of the soft-power strategies of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes clear a disturbing fact: Tehran has a coherent, if sometimes ineffective strategy to advance its aims in the Middle East and around the world. The United States does not. This project began with two tour d'horizon reviews of Iranian activities throughout areas Iran has, by its actions, defined as its sphere of influence. From the Persian Gulf through the Levant and into neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has consistently invested in soft- and hard-power activities designed not only to extend its own influence but also to limit both American and hostile Arab aims. And while the latter part of the Ahmadinejad administration saw waning rewards for Tehran's efforts-a result more of the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East than of changes in strategy-the continued existence of a coherent Iranian strategy to dominate or destabilize the region should not be ignored. This report, the culmination of a process of both examining Iranian actions and surveying American policy, policy responses, and soft-power strategies in the region, focuses on the US side of the equation. Despite the Obama administration's commitment to replace hard power with smart power, what the United States pursues in the Middle East is a set of incoherent, ineffective, and increasingly irrelevant policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Claude Bruderlein
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. Over 20 students from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard School of Public Health participated in "Assessment of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan and Critical Review of the National and International Responses," a winter field study course in Jordan supported by the Middle East Initiative and led by Professor Claude Bruderlein. Read more about their learning experience below and in the attached report.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Emmanuel Comolet
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Jordan is in the eye of the Arab cyclone. It remains stable while surrounded by chaotic political situations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan has not experienced the massive demonstrations aimed at regime change that have been seen elsewhere in the region, and its relative stability has enabled it to cash in on the geo-political services it provides. These services include: hosting refugees from Palestine, Iraq or Syria; remaining a reliable ally for many international powers; featuring a strong army that plays a stabilizing role in the region; serving as an intermediary when neighboring countries need a host or a dealmaker; and providing qualified Jordanian workers to fill open vacancies for companies and countries, especially in the Gulf. The current stability in Jordan matches well its historic capacity to resist and adapt to shocks. However, the contemporary situation of the labor market reveals that the weaknesses observed in the countries having experienced revolutions (e.g., Tunisia and Egypt) are also present in Jordan; labor market participation is low with very few women active, and the unemployment rate of educated young people is worrisome. Both the number of Jordanians working abroad and the number of migrant workers in Jordan show the discrepancy between demand and supply of labor in Jordan. This could become problematic, since the economic situation has been worsening, notably with fewer public jobs available. Hence there is a need for international donors to keep supporting Jordan in a difficult regional environment, for the government of Jordan to wittily manage the balance between Transjordanians and West Bankers in the near future and for new workers to alter their expectations in searching for opportunities outside the public sector.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Enrico Carisch, Loraine Rickard-Martin
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: This manual is intended as a tool for officials of UN member states, international organizations, companies, and corporations to support sanctions implementation. The manual delivers to frontline actors in the public and private sectors specific guidance to enable more effective compliance with UN non-proliferation sanctions on Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North Korea, United Nations