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  • Author: Raffaele Marchetti
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The articles of this core present a number of innovative studies on transnational networks. Mainstream transnational network research has suffered from a number of theoretical biases which have prevented comprehensive study of the wide range of transnational activism of civil society organisations (CSOs). These biases concern, in particular, the notion of the ' civilness ' of CSOs, their Western origin, their bourgeois nature, and their centre-left political orientation in terms of views on global politics.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Leigh
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Energy trade cannot overcome longstanding political conflicts. There are no 'peace pipelines' anywhere in the world. Rather peace is a condition for investment in pipelines and other forms of energy infrastructure. Where political breakthroughs have been achieved, however, energy trade can reinforce cooperation between states and contribute to regional stability. These considerations are particularly pertinent to the Cyprus settlement talks and Middle East Peace Process, against the background of energy discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Kayhan Barzegar
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The nuclear negotiations between Iran and EU3+3 have provided the grounds for establishing direct talks between Iran and the United States, subsequently creating a positive prospect for solving the Iranian nuclear standoff after a decade of negotiations. The effect of economic sanctions and political change in Iran have made it possible to bring an important foreign policy issue into domestic politics discourses. The fact that the nuclear negotiations put Iran in a position comparable to the other world powers strengthened a sense of movement towards a win-win situation among Iranian political forces. All of this created a relative political consensus among Iran's ruling elites regarding the need to initiate direct talks with the United States in order to solve the Iranian nuclear standoff. The nuclear programme is also linked with the regional equation, the result of which has been the emergence of a new kind pragmatism in the conduct of Iranian regional policy in hope of revising Iran's place in US Middle East policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Lorenzo Trombetta
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Seen through the eyes of Syrian activists and other observers based in the Middle East, EU policy towards Syria could in some ways appear inconsistent and ambiguous. In Brussels, EU representatives remind us that the Syrian crisis is the most difficult one the European Union has had to face so far, for the unprecedented scope of the humanitarian catastrophe, its geographic proximity to the Union's borders, and the difficulties in deciphering a fluid and multi-dimensional conflict. After more than three years since the eruption of violence, the EU is trying hard to play a pivotal role in the Syrian issue, despite the complexity of balancing its institutions, the different political sensibilities of its 28 member states, and the pressures exerted by influent external actors.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Syria, Brussels
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The political and strategic landscape of the Middle East and North African region has changed dramatically since late 2010 and the events now loosely defined as the 'Arab Spring'. The dust has yet to settle in many Arab capitals and 2013 is set to be another defining year for the greater Middle East as regional actors, particularly new Islamist-led governments, take on more direct roles in influencing political, military and social developments in the Arab world. Israel and the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah are not immune to these developments and while progress towards peace has been all but non-existent, change in the region must not necessarily lead to more tensions and conflict. The EU and US should work to establish greater Arab ownership of the diplomatic process, convince Israel that its security is best served by assuming a proactive approach to its changing neighbourhood and strive to harness the new realities in the region to modify the incentive calculus of the major domestic players in the conflict.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa
  • Author: Arturo Marzano
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel's international position has declined in recent years. Even if its relationship with the EU - and even more with the US - is solid, there have been frictions that are not likely to disappear in the years to come. Its relations with other states, from Middle Eastern countries to India and China, are either highly problematic or have not improved despite the Israeli government's efforts. It is Israel's policy in the Occupied Territories that is being increasingly criticised and this is creating a sort of 'vicious circle' in Israel: the critiques reinforce Israeli's 'bunker mentality', strengthening the ethno-nationalist character of Israeli politics and society and causing de-democratisation, and this, in turn, brings on more international isolation.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The momentous changes in the Middle East and North Africa have brought the issue of human rights and democracy promotion back to the forefront of international politics. The new engagement in the region of both the US and the EU can be scrutinised along three dimensions: targets, instruments and content. In terms of target sectors, the US and EU are seeking to work more with civil society. As for instruments, they have mainly boosted democracy assistance and political conditionality, that is utilitarian, bilateral instruments of human rights and democracy promotion, rather than identitive, multilateral instruments. The content of human rights and democracy promotion has not been revised.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Liviu Horovitz, Roland Popp
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: A scheduled conference to promote a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East has renewed hopes for nuclear disarmament in this unstable region, if only innovative diplomacy could take advantage of the current shifts. However, a realistic assessment suggests that optimism is unwarranted. Fundamental strategic considerations related to Iran's nuclear program, Israel's atomic options, and the region's ingrate security architecture remain nearly insurmountable hurdles. Therefore, policymakers should focus first on attaining a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Emiliano Alessandri
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The transatlantic tensions of the Bush years are behind us but the future of transatlantic relations remains uncertain at the closing of the Obama term. Policy alignment has been found on a host of issues but 'existential' questions have resurfaced, casting shadows on Western unity and relevance in the coming years. So far the crisis has failed to focus attention on the need for a common vision for the 21st century. Key strategic issues, from the future of the European order to transatlantic engagement in the Middle East, should figure prominently on the next transatlantic agenda, shifting the debate from the notion of a 'Pacific century' to how the West can address ongoing power transitions.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Christopher Hobbs, Matthew Moran
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The past year has seen a steady rise in tensions with regard to Iran's nuclear programme. Iran's economy is being crippled by far-ranging sanctions and the threat of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities looms large on the horizon. Yet the country's nuclear programme marches on, stoking fears that Iran may indeed be seeking to cross the nuclear weapons threshold. In this context, it is timely to consider how key regional players would respond to a nuclear-armed Iran. Many argue that an Iranian bomb would prompt a proliferation cascade in the Middle East. However, a closer examination of the drivers for key regional players shows that this is not necessarily the case. There is a range of non-proliferation tools that could be applied by the West and others to offset this risk.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Incentives are capable of creating favourable environments in which peace processes can make progress. This is especially true for mega incentives, which can assist in overcoming political and socio-psychological barriers to peace. In Israeli-Arab peacemaking, incentives have not yet proven efficient. To date, they have been used in a limited and inefficient manner. In 2010, the US offered Israel incentives in return for an extension of Israel's settlement freeze. This move failed due to unfavourable political conditions and scepticism regarding its ability to bring about a major breakthrough. Nevertheless, it signaled that incentives are now an integral tool in US diplomacy and could serve as a step towards crafting a multi-national mega incentive package for Middle East peace.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Gareth Winrow
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Officials in Ankara are pressing for Turkey to become a key energy hub for the transportation of hydrocarbons from the Caspian region and the Middle East to Europe. It appears that they are seeking to secure certain strategic and economic advantages. Turkey's increasing energy needs could be satisfied, re-export rights obtained, and ambitions to become a significant regional state fulfilled which could facilitate accession to the EU. It seems more likely, though, that Turkey will become an important energy transit state, especially for the Southern Gas Corridor. Here, Turkey could still diversify its gas imports and reduce dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Silvia Colombo
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: The Muslim Brotherhood : the burden of tradition, by Alison Pargeter, Saqi, 2010; The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's succession crisis : the politics of liberalisation and reform in the Middle East, by Mohammed Zahid, Tauris Academic Studies, 2010; I Fratelli musulmani nel mondo contemporaneo, edited by Massimo Campanini and Karim Mezran, UTET libreria, 2010
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Roberto Aliboni
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Arab revolts are one dimension of the strategic change that is affecting the Middle East and Arab world as a consequence of the failure of the West, especially the United States, to shape the region in line with their views during the last decade. They definitely point to the weakening, or perhaps even the end, of a long period in which US and Western objectives in the region were supported by a large coalition of regional powers with conservative interests. The revolts did not come out of the blue and have quite a different nature and significance from the ones that Western official rhetoric and media tend to assign them. To understand the Arab revolts and work out a fresh Western approach toward the region, the West must frame the revolts in the region's evolving strategic context.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Ana Echague
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: European Union policy towards the Middle East and North Africa suffers from geographic fragmentation and an increasing functional imbalance which reflects a growing trend towards securitisation. While policy towards the Mediterranean is highly institutionalised, the Gulf Cooperation Council states receive much less attention and policies towards Iran, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories exist in isolation. A narrow focus on an exclusionist approach to security has taken over to the detriment of political and economic concerns. The shortcomings in European foreign policy towards the broader Middle East in terms of lack of breadth and coherence need to be addressed in order to forge a more cohesive and effective policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Iran, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Henri J. Barkey
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Turkey could not have a more vigorous advocate for its quest for European Union accession than the United States. Successive administrations in Washington have strongly asserted that Turkey is an intrinsic part of Europe, that historically and politically, Ankara has played a critical role in the defence of Europe against the Soviet Union and that now it is an indispensable country in bridging the civilisational divide. In the early 1970s, the United States decided to locate Turkey in Europe, bureaucratically speaking of course. Turkey, which used to be in the Near East bureau in the State Department and elsewhere in the bureaucracy, was transferred to the European divisions of the respective administrative agencies. Hence it is perhaps ironic that after arguing for decades that Turkey is a European country, the United States, through its Iraq invasion, has in one bold stroke managed to push Turkey back into the Middle East. Of course, other events, especially Turkish domestic politics, have also played a role in making this perceptual move possible. Simply stated, as United States security concerns shifted east and away from Europe, it was only natural, though far from intentional, that Washington would take Ankara along with it.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Volker Perthes
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The summer 2006 war in Lebanon can be perceived through at least five different frames of reference. The US administration saw the war in Lebanon as a local manifestation of the global war on terror. According to this framework, Hezbollah is an Al Qaeda-type enemy, not a national group with a local agenda and constituency; bargaining with Hezbollah is not possible. This point of view makes fighting global terror more difficult and jeopardises the search for stability and peace in the region. Many Israeli and European politicians saw the war as a confrontation between radical Islam and a modern Israeli state, a clash of cultures between Islamic fundamentalists and Western civilisation. This frame of reference, however, fails to recognise the fault line within the Muslim world itself, between those who want to integrate their societies into a globalised world and those who do not. The conflict in Lebanon can also be interpreted as a consequence of the weakening of a state, a framework which underlines the need to strengthen Arab institutions, or as an asymmetrical war between an armed nation state and a guerrilla movement. Finally, the war in Lebanon can be seen as a conflict over power, land, resources and sovereignty - the classic realist perspective. If the international community fails to work toward a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, another framework will gain strength in the Arab world: one that interprets events according to a theory of non-negotiable conflicts between Western imperialism and radical Islamic resistance.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: Democratization and development : new political strategies for the Middle East, edited by Dietrich Jung, Palgrave MacMillan, 2006
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East