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  • Author: Nancy Ezzeddine
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Nineveh Plains have long been characterised by ethnoreligious diversity that has triggered waves of marginalisation and sectarian violence far more often than peaceful co-existence over the past decades. The Islamic State occupation represented only the latest of many episodes of violence. Although it was short-lived, the impact of IS has been profound as it further ruptured the Plains’ social fabric and dysfunctional governance. Indeed, as the threat of IS has gone and violence abated, old vulnerabilities persist while new ones have arisen. This report analyses four major factors of instability that characterise the Nineveh Plains today from a perspective of crisis and conflict: the current administrative and governance vacuum produced by the weak capacity of local authorities and a paralysing dispute between Baghdad and Erbil; fragmented security arrangements with each actor exerting autonomous control within their part(s) of the Nineveh Plains; chronic displacement without coherent policy on how to enable safe returns or support vulnerable communities; growing social tensions in the aftermath of the war sowing feelings of anger, betrayal and disillusionment among communities. As the weight of these issues drags communities down and a government response remains absent, desperation and misery grow. Because the different factors of instability reinforce each other – consider for example how continued insecurity prevents the displaced from returning – they create a vicious cycle.
  • Topic: Sectarian violence, Islamic State, Political stability, Marginalization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This study on Libya is one of a series of reports prepared within the framework of the EU-LISTCO project, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Libya is a special case within the EU-LISTCO project. It is in the western region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria and Tunisia to the west, Chad and Niger to the south, Sudan to the south-east and Egypt to the east. The security and stability of Libya is fundamental for the economic and political future of Europe, particularly in relation to migration, radicalisation and political economy. Because of the NATO-led intervention that brought about the collapse of the Libyan Arab al-Jamahiriyah, the country has now entered an interrelated social, economic and political crisis, and violence has been simmering for the past eight years. While the collapse of the previous government has been beneficial for some, numerous armed political actors now control the Libyan territory, supported and funded by external powers that often have contradictory political agendas. The purpose of this report is to answer the following research questions: what is the background of areas of limited statehood and contested order in Libya?; how and when can areas of limited statehood and contested order in Libya turn into governance breakdown and/or violent conflict, and how can these threats affect the security of the EU?; what are the resilience mechanisms in Libya?
  • Topic: Security, Governance, Political stability, State, Crisis Management, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Erwin van Veen, Hamzeh al-Shadeedi
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Iraqi Kurdistan has done well for itself in recent decades by carving out a largely autonomous region free of most governance and security interference from Baghdad. The alliance of convenience between the two pre-eminent Kurdish parties (PUK and KDP) effectively seized a number of opportunities to consolidate and expand Iraqi Kurdistan, such as the international no-fly zone (1991), the US intervention (2003), the crafting of a new constitution for Iraq (2005) and, arguably, even the rise of the Islamic State (IS) (2014). Yet, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) also faces a triple crisis. Politically, this includes the exclusive and increasingly repressive rule of the KDP and PUK in a context of mediocre governance, as well as strained relations between Erbil and Baghdad over the disputed territories. Economically, it includes a general downturn combined with serious financial disputes with Baghdad. Socially, it includes deteriorating popular satisfaction with the quality of rule and life in Kurdistan. In this report Erwin van Veen and al-Hamzeh al-Shadeedi analyse four factors that could drive future (in)stability in western Iraqi Kurdistan: 1) geopolitical tensions; 2) further clashes over the disputed territories; 3) growing dissatisfaction with the KDP and 4) protracted displacement. On balance, it does not consider the risk of immediate crisis or violence as being very high, but the report does note that many elements are in place that could easily trigger violent incidents with the potential of escalation. For each factor, the report proposes restraining factors, developments to monitor and trigger events. While international influence on the domestic politics of Iraqi Kurdistan is limited, coupling an offer of international (UN) mediation to facilitate resolution of the disputed territories with the development, or strengthening, of a dedicated fund that can rapidly initiate the reconstruction of the Greater Mosul area (including some of the disputed territories) would be a valuable intervention to further the peaceful development of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • Topic: Governance, Political stability, Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Jonas Parello-Plesner
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: The fight in Iraq and Syria against the brutal terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has been led by an unprecedented international coalition, with the U.S. as the galvanizing diplomatic and military component. ISIS was defeated militarily in Iraq at the end of last year, but even today small pockets remain as a fighting force in Syria. As the war is won, peace must be secured. Key to that effort is post-conflict stabilization through restoration of essential services and a gradual return of governance. As the U.S. National Security Strategy puts it, “instability and weak governance threaten U.S. interests.” In Iraq and Syria, reasserting stability is vital so that terrorist organizations do not find fertile ground again. This report draws some lessons from Iraq and Syria on stabilization efforts and the path forward. The backdrop is the evolving U.S. approach to stabilization under the Trump administration. On June 19, 2018, the administration published the final version of the Stabilization Assistance Review report, which provides an inter-agency definition of stabilization, including a more hard-nosed approach to sharing the burden with partners in accordance with President Trump’s priorities. The review also draws demarcation lines between humanitarian assistance, stabilization, and reconstruction. Stabilization is short-term and transitional, and thus also limits the time frame for U.S. engagement. However, the U.S. no longer provides public funding for reconstruction to avoid nation-building, which the administration has declared to be off limits.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Reconstruction, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alexander Velez-Green
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States has long looked to Egypt as a key partner in the Middle East. Egypt’s adherence to the Camp David Accords is fundamental to Israeli security. Cairo has also been a key player in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process for many years. In addition, the Egyptian state has played an essential role in supporting the U.S. fight against global jihadism. Its provision of reliable access to the Suez Canal, Egyptian airspace, and intelligence sharing directly enables U.S. operations against al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) across the Middle East. That is not to mention the blood and treasure that Egypt itself has spent to defeat terrorist groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Nicholas Blanford
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Starting as a revolutionary Shiite militia, the Hezbollah of today dominates the political and military landscape of Lebanon, and possesses tens of thousands of trained fighters as well as an array of sophisticated armaments. Its intervention in Syria on the side of Bashar al-Assad has expanded its influence and reach in the region. As the war in Syria comes to a close, the risk of conflict between Hezbollah and Israel could increase, particularly over the future of the Golan Heights. But the mutual deterrence between the two foes remains strong for the time being. The United States is searching for strategies to limit the power of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, but given the group’s deep immersion within Lebanon’s political, economic, and social milieu, the number of realistic options for external powers to weaken Hezbollah or persuade it to forsake its armed wing are minimal.
  • Topic: History, Armed Forces, Political stability, Ideology, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America