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  • Author: Karam Saeed
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On January 27, 2021, the political climate in Tunisia was charged up, following the parliament’s approval on a cabinet reshuffle on January 26, supported by 144 parliamentarians. This included new ministers joining the government of ‘Hichem Mechichi’, which had been formed on August 24, 2020. The proposed amendments intensified the political crisis in the country, against the backdrop of President Kais Saied’s announcement of his rejection of the cabinet reshuffle under the claims of the potential corruption of some ministers. Yet, Mechici resorted to the parliamentary majority led by Al-Nahda movement to gain the confidence of the parliament. Despite the lapse of a week since the new reshuffle won the confidence of the Parliament, the President rejected summoning the new ministers to take the constitutional oath, which paves the way for more complications in the Tunisian scene. Furthermore, the Parliament's approval of the amendments may fuel a constitutional struggle between the Prime Minister and the President.
  • Topic: Government, Conflict, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Ahmed Abdel-Alim Hassan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The internationally-supported political dialogue forum in Geneva succeeded in selecting a new government, including Abdul Hamid Mohammed al-Dabaib as Prime Minister, and Muhammad Al-Manfi as President of the Presidential Council as well as two other members of the Council. These results were well received internally, regionally and internationally, which raises a key question relevant to the ability of the new government, though temporary, to effect positive accomplishments leading to the general elections in December 2021.
  • Topic: Politics, Conflict, Transition, Khalifa Haftar, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Abdel Latif Hegazy
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Turkish foreign policy has witnessed changes since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. Turkey initially adopted a ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy and resorted to solving regional issues through diplomatic mechanisms, leading to improving its relations with the countries of the region. However, following the outbreak of the Arab uprisings end of 2010 and the collapse of several major Arab regimes, resulting in a leadership gap within the region, Ankara sought to foster its influence in the region. This was clear in abandoning the ‘zero problems’ policy, engaging in the region's military conflicts and providing support to the Muslim Brotherhood to enable its rule in some Arab countries. These policies have led to tensions in Turkey's relations with many countries in the region, such as Egypt and Syria, as well as interrupted relations with countries that were considered its allies, such as the US and the EU, leaving Turkey with ‘zero allies’. Turkish officials defend their country's policies by launching the term ‘precious loneliness’, clarifying that Turkey's foreign policy is based on a set of values and principles that achieve its national interests, and that sometimes one may have to stand up alone to defend the values that one believes in. Nevertheless, since late 2020, Turkey's foreign policy has made a shift towards appeasement and the pursuit of improving relations with many countries in the region, with the EU and the US. Perhaps one of the most significant official statements indicating the desire to resolve issues is Erdogan's call in November 2020 to open diplomatic channels and reconciliation with all countries in the region for a quick resolution of conflicts. He also mentioned that they have no implicit or explicit prejudices, enmities or hidden agendas against anyone, and that they sincerely and cordially call on everyone to work together to set a new stage in the framework of stability, safety, justice and respect. This change has raised questions about Ankara's real motive, whether it aims to improve its foreign relations or it simply seeks to compensate for the losses incurred by its regional policies, relieve the pressures imposed on it and to penetrate the fronts that counter its role in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mervat Zakaria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Uncovering the limitations of the Chinese Iranian agreement The Economic Cooperation Agreement signed between Iran and China in March 2021 unfolded a development plan that includes China injecting $ 400 billion into various sectors of the Iranian economy. This grants Tehran an opportunity to increase the pressures imposed on the new US administration, regarding resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action held with the P5+1 in 2015, as well as confronting the surrounding regional threats and alleviating internal pressures by improving the Iranian standard of living.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Karam Saeed
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The stripping of a young man on June 8, by Tunisian police in the district of Sidi Hassine, west of the capital Tunis, has sparked a wave of angry protests that swept the whole country. The popular tensions do not stem only from a rejection of violations by the security forces of the cabinet headed by Hichem El Mechichi. Rather they are being stoked by the escalating political polarization among the presidency, the cabinet and the parliament. This is accompanied with the underperformance of state institutions failing to carry out their essential functions, in addition to the deteriorating living conditions, the messy monetary policies, increasing reliance on borrowing from other countries, while at the same time cutting subsidies. All of this triggered the recent wave of protests.
  • Topic: Economics, Protests, Institutions, Police
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: After the announcement of the victory of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hard-line judiciary chief, various analysts raised questions about the future of US-Iranian relations, particularly in light of major determinants. The most prominent of which is Ebrahim Raisi himself, who is subject to US sanctions, and his term, which may coincide with reaching a new nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, as well as the current debate in Washington’s political circles regarding the situation in Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mahmoud Qassem
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: About a year and a half following the first Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis held in January 2020, the ‘Berlin 2’ conference was held on June 23, 2021 raising a number of questions. Some of the questions pertain to the future of this crisis and the outcome of such interactions, in light of the significant momentum accompanying the current internal and external developments. The post ‘Berlin 2"’conference interactions were shaped according to two tracks, one of which is optimistic about the possibility of building on the outcomes of the conference and adopting a settlement path in Libya, while the other is loaded with anticipation and uncertainty, particularly with the ongoing challenges and issues that may undermine any future developments.
  • Topic: Conflict, Negotiation, Crisis Management, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Germany
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Israel and Iran are witnessing significant political changes that affected the ruling elites. The developments came in the wake of early legislative elections held in Israel in March leading to the formation of a new coalition government headed by Naftali Benett, leader of the right-wing party Yamina. In Iran, presidential elections held on June 18, were won by hardline chief justice Ebrahim Raisi. The internal political dynamics in Tel Aviv and Tehran cast a shadow on the whole political landscape in both countries, and are projected to have an impact on the trajectory of the non-traditional conflict between the two sides, which escalated over the past few months.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Anwar Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The election, which was held in Ethiopia on Monday, June 21, 2021, was the most complicated election that the country has witnessed in more than three decades, or, more accurately, since the 1994 constitution was approved. The reason is that this election was held amid lots of internal challenges, not to mention the strong criticism of its legitimacy (both domestically and internationally) even before it was held. Ethiopians are warily looking forward to the results, which are supposed to be announced within a few days, despite that it is not unlikely that these results will escalate the tensions in an already unrest-ridden country.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Conflict, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Tigray
  • Author: Leonid Issaev
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria was perceived by the world community as a demonstration of strength, unveiling Moscow and the Kremlin's readiness to defend its interests in the Middle East by military means. It is not surprising that the Russian military presence in Syria has generated a lot of speculation about the possibility of a repetition of the Syrian ‘scenario’ in other hot spots in the region, such as Yemen. We believe that such generalizations are inaccurate and simplify the multifaceted situation. First of all, the Syrian case is rather an exception for Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist ideology, Russia became more pragmatic, its policy got rid of the prefix ‘pro’, and, in principle, it is trying to serve its own interests. It is not surprising that the rejection of messianic ideas forced Russia to reconsider its attitude to conflicts, including ones in the Middle East. The best example of Russian pragmatism is the Kremlin's policy on the Yemeni crisis since its beginning in 2011 until now.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Ahmed Nazif
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The political crisis in Tunisia has been spiraling over the past months with no solution in sight. The reason, in part, is that the country’s constitution, approved in 2014, features complex intertwined interests of the governmental institutions. This situation eventually led to the current conflict between the president, on one side, and the parliament and the government, on the other. In an attempt to resolve the current gridlock, President Kais Saied, on several occasions, called for a radical change of the current political system, while the Islamist Ennahda Movement and its allies fear that they might lose the electoral privileges they have gained thanks to the power-sharing system and the current voting system. The last of Saeid’s calls came up more detailed and within a clearer framework to be shaped by “national dialogue.”
  • Topic: Government, Constitution, Political Crisis, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mustafa Gamal Omar
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: While many Libyans look forward to implement the outcome of the Berlin II Conference on Libya and achieve stability across their country, others believe that the first steps towards such stability should be through breaking the deadlock on unresolved issues. Such issues require urgent but decisive action, and the most prominent of which is the reopening of the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata. The announcement on June 20, 2021, by head of the National Unity Government, Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, that the main coastal highway will be re-opened, following months of talks on a ceasefire, has revived Libyan hopes. The move is projected to yield significant political, security and economic benefits for the country. However, according to media reports circulated in late June, the 5+5 committee, formally named the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission, decided to put off the re-opening of the vital highway, claiming that only damages will be repaired, which made the situation murky once again. The 5+5 committee, on July 2, dispelled the confusion by announcing that the highway linking Sirte to Misrata will be re-opened over the next week upon the completion of maintenance work. Member of the committee, Major General Faraj Al-Sousaa, confirmed that arrangements were underway for the re-opening.
  • Topic: Government, Armed Forces, Conflict, Ceasefire
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Abdel Latif Hegazy
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On June 7, 2021, Ali Erbaş, President of Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey, and İbrahim Ärän, Director of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), signed a cooperation protocol to establish a religious channel for children, which would be the first of its kind in Turkey. Within this context, Erbaş, said, "We have not been able to present Islamic values to children over the past years, since we used to show them animated cartoons designed by foreign companies." He emphasized the need to exert efforts to sustain children with correct religious knowledge. The government’s establishment of a religious channel for children has raised questions regarding the dimensions and motives of this step currently, particularly since there is a Turkish tendency to politicize and use religion to serve the political and electoral motives of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Children, Islamism, Erdogan
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Muthana Al-Obeidi
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The New Mashriq Plan, which was announced in the Baghdad tripartite summit (which brought together president Abdel-Fattah El-sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and the Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi), stimulated a lot of analyses, which reflected two opposing views. Some analysts seemed to be overly optimistic about the outcomes of this Iraqi-Egyptian-Jordanian project. On the other hand, others adopted a more skeptical, even pessimistic, attitude, believing that it will fail to achieve its purpose, on account of the many challenges it has to face. Despite all the analyses available about the project, questions are still being raised, such as: How did the project develop? What is its economic agenda? What about its political dimensions? And, last but not least, what will its future be like?
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Ahmed Nazif
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On the 64th anniversary of the Republic, President Kais Saied chose to declare ‘state of imminent danger’, invoking the constitution shaped by the Islamist Ennahda movement. On July 25, Saied took exceptional decisions ousting the government led by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, freezing the activities of parliament, and stripping parliament members of legal immunity. He considers the measures necessary for saving the state. The political forces took different stands depending on their position in the political hierarchy as well as their closeness to President Saeid.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Nawar Samad
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: A Russian business delegation visited Lebanon in late June 2021 to offer support to the country by cultivating projects in the oil sector, development plans for the energy industry as well as the ports in Beirut and Tripoli. For the past two years, Lebanon, which is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its history, and has been trying to secure international aid to survive, is now facing the attractive Russian economic bailout offer. Although such an offer is welcomed by Lebanon, the Russian initiative raises concerns across the West, and particularly in the United States, which is in control of Lebanon’s banking system and still has significant influence on the state’s politics and financial sector. The United States believes that it is not possible to dissociate this Russian offer from Moscow’s desire to expand its influence in a region, in which it already established military presence and gained access to the Eastern Mediterranean, where a conflict is underway over investment of newly-discovered gas fields.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Financial Crisis, Gas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran’s water shortage crisis is neither new or surprising and was predicted by experts and officials several years ago. As far back as 2015, former Iranian agriculture minister, Isa Kalantari, warned that water scarcity would force 50 million Iranians to leave the country. Later, he claimed that a 'water war' might hit rural areas. However, this early warning has not triggered an effective policy to preempt or solve the crisis already hitting the country. More than 12,000 villages have run out of water and around 7,000 rely entirely on water deliveries by tankers, according to Hamid-Reza Mahbubfar, a member of Environmental Risks and Sustained Development. The ecologist explained that 90 percent of surface and underground water resources have been used up. The water crisis triggered a series of political upheavals due to its implications for the population in affected villages and towns. In recent weeks, protests broke out in several Iranian cities over water scarcity and the resulting environmental problems.
  • Topic: Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Hamdy Abdul Rahman
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Two years after the overthrow of Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir, political transition is going through a critical and highly complicated phase. The government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is facing diverse challenges and hurdles, including widespread popular protests against fuel and consumer price increases, as well as resurgence of violence in Darfur region. If the situation remains unchanged, the country can fall in a fresh structural crisis that would prompt key figures of the ousted regime to make a comeback to power. It should be noted that over the past decade, prior to the fall of al-Bashir regime, had already faced huge challenges. The secession of South Sudan caused economic shocks to Sudan, while the civil war did not only damage the Sudanese economy, but also caused an increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced persons. This article seeks to discuss the country’s political transition and challenges facing it while also explaining what the interim government should do to bring the country back to the right track.
  • Topic: Government, Displacement, Crisis Management, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 25, 2021, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced a series of decisions, most notably the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and freezing the Parliament for 30 days. Although there is widespread internal support for these decisions, both at the public level and among the political forces, the Ennahda movement has adopted a stand against them, based on a misinterpretation of the views of Western countries, particularly that of the US administration headed by Joe Biden. The Ennahda believes that Washington would reject or at least condemn President Saied's decisions. However, the US administration's official moves and statements reflect its implicit approval of Saied's decisions. This raises several questions about the nature of the Biden administration's stance and why Ennahda and liberal voices in Washington failed to force the US administration to adopt a position against those extraordinary decisions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Parliamentarism, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia, United States of America
  • Author: Ammar Ali Hassan
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: It is normal and even realistic that the apparent political propensity of religious groups and organizations, led by the MB, would place the issue of "adaptation" on its agenda. Some groups are preoccupied with presenting themselves to the society by speech and presence in order to win its acceptance, particularly during the election seasons. Other groups are hostile and seek to subdue people and to change their ideas and ideals by force, refusing to advance on the map of society through peaceful settlements, where elections come as a key step. They view democracy as a "blasphemous process", which they should not consider or delve into.
  • Topic: Ideology, Violence, Islamism, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Middle East