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  • Author: Andrew Engel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Long-simmering tensions between non-Islamist and Islamist forces have boiled over into military actions centered around Benghazi and Tripoli, entrenching the country's rival alliances and bringing them ever closer to civil war. On May 16, former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar launched "Operation Dignity of Libya" in Benghazi, aiming to "cleanse the city of terrorists." The move came three months after he announced the overthrow of the government but failed to act on his proclamation. Since Friday, however, army units loyal to Haftar have actively defied armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Salem al-Obeidi, who called the operation "a coup." And on Monday, sympathetic forces based in Zintan extended the operation to Tripoli. These and other developments are edging the country closer to civil war, complicating U.S. efforts to stabilize post-Qadhafi Libya.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Religion, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Libya, Tripoli
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Liora Danan, Joy Aoun, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon, Denise St. Peter
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The top headlines of the past year have made increasingly clear to U.S. government officials the central—but complicated—roles that religion plays in many of the most strategically important engagements of the United States.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, India
  • Author: Susan Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The field of religious peacebuilding has begun to move closer to the mainstream of conflict resolution practice and theory. The 2011 unrest in the Middle East and North Africa—the Arab Spring—reflects ongoing challenges and opportunities for the field. American and European nongovernmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. government, academia, and international organizations—sectors that once held religious issues at a distance or understood religion mainly as a driver of violence—increasingly engage religious communities and institutions as partners in creating peace. Meanwhile, religious organizations that have been involved in creating peace for decades, if not longer, increasingly have institutionalized and professionalized their work, suggesting ways that religious and secular organizations could coordinate their efforts more closely. The U.S. Institute of Peace's own programs on religion reflect the development of the wider field, having moved from research and analysis to on-the-ground programming to foster interfaith dialogue in the Balkans, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan. In addition, it has trained religious actors in conflict management in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Colombia and developed peace curricula based on Islamic principles for religious and secular schools in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As the U.S. field of religious peacebuilding continues to develop, challenges include integrating further with secular peacebuilding efforts, engaging women and youth and addressing their priorities, working more effectively with non-Abrahamic religious traditions, and improving evaluation, both to show how religious peacebuilding can reduce and resolve conflict and to strengthen the field's ability to do so.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech and Secretary Clinton's 2012 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace persuasively argued for policies that promote international religious freedom (IRF), including links to national security, economic development, and democracy promotion, and as an antidote to religious extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, current IRF policy--in place since 1998 and largely built around the threat of economic sanctions which no administration has been willing to use--is not up to the challenges or the opportunities that President Obama and Secretary Clinton so eloquently identified. To correct that, the White House needs to embrace a leadership role, building an infrastructure and providing the necessary resources for a reinvigorated policy of new tools and strategies to thrive. The need is pressing.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) remains a deadly threat to civilians in three Central African states. After a ceasefire and negotiations for peaceful settlement of the generation-long insurgency broke down in 2008, Uganda's army botched an initial assault. In three years since, half-hearted operations have failed to stop the small, brutally effective band from killing more than 2,400 civilians, abducting more than 3,400 and causing 440,000 to flee. In 2010 President Museveni withdrew about half the troops to pursue more politically rewarding goals. Congolese mistrust hampers current operations, and an African Union (AU) initiative has been slow to start. While there is at last a chance to defeat the LRA, both robust military action and vigorous diplomacy is required. Uganda needs to take advantage of new, perhaps brief, U.S. engagement by reinvigorating the military offensive; Washington needs to press regional leaders for cooperation; above all, the AU must act promptly to live up to its responsibilities as guarantor of continental security. When it does, Uganda and the U.S. should fold their efforts into the AU initiative.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Religion, Torture, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, United States
  • Author: Karam Dana
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The perception of Muslims living in the United States has deteriorated dramatically since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. U.S.-Muslims, a group that had already faced discrimination prior to the attacks, became even more visible to the public. Non-Muslim Americans began questioning American Muslim loyalties to the United States as well as their commitment to being “good” citizens. Such doubt extended to the political arena as well, prompting intrusive inquiries into Muslim-affiliated civic and political organizations and their members. Even non-Muslims with Muslim affiliations or Muslim- sounding names or appearances have been subject to public scrutiny. For example, despite identifying as a Christian, President Barack Obama's religious affiliation has been continually doubted by some due to his Kenyan Muslim heritage and his middle name, Hussein. Though a decade has passed since the events of September 11th, the role of American Muslims, and whether they can at all be trusted, remains a popular concern and a topic of household conversation.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: James W. Ceaser
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville could conceivably be thought to offer any guidance for the study of contemporary China? Tocqueville was born early in the nineteenth century (1805) at a time when China lay in near total isolation from Europe. Matters changed during Tocqueville's lifetime with the so-called Opium War (1839–41), in which China suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Great Britain. This reversal helped set in motion a series of events that led to the destabilization of the Manchu (or Qing) dynasty, which eventually fell in 1911. Tocqueville commented in his personal notes on a few of the early occurrences in this sequence, but he never undertook an extensive analysis of developments in the Far East. His focus in his published works was on the West, or what he often called “the Christian world.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Markets, Religion
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: David Smock
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: No major religion has been exempt from complicity in violent conflict. Yet we need to beware of an almost universal propensity to oversimplify the role that religion plays in international affairs. Religion is not usually the sole or even primary cause of conflict. With so much emphasis on religion as a source of conflict, the role of religion as a force in peacemaking is usually overlooked. Religious affiliation and conviction often motivates religious communities to advocate particular peace-related government policies. Religious communities also directly oppose repression and promote peace and reconciliation. Religious leaders and institutions can mediate in conflict situations, serve as a communication link between opposing sides, and provide training in peacemaking methodologies. This form of religious peacemaking garners less public attention but is growing in importance. Interfaith dialogue is another form of religious peacemaking. Rather than seeking to resolve a particular conflict, it aims to defuse interfaith tensions that may cause future conflict or derive from previous conflict. Interfaith dialogue is expanding even in places where interreligious tensions are highest. Not infrequently, the most contentious interfaith relationships can provide the context for the most meaningful and productive exchanges. Given religion's importance as both a source of international conflict and a resource for peacemaking, it is regrettable that the U.S. government is so ill equipped to handle religious issues and relate to religious actors. If the U.S. government is to insert itself into international conflicts or build deeper and more productive relationships with countries around the world, it needs to devise a better strategy to effectively and respectfully engage with the religious realm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States