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  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the two decades since the fall of the Suharto regime, one of the most conspicuous developments has been the rapidly increasing influence of religious interpretations and practices emanating from the Middle East and more specifically the Gulf states, leading observers to speak of the “Arabisation” of Indonesian Islam. In the preceding decades, the state had strongly endorsed liberal and development-oriented Muslim discourses widely perceived as “Westernised” and associated with secularism and Western education. Indonesia’s unique Muslim traditions have in fact been shaped by many centuries of global flows of people and ideas, connecting the region not just with the Arab heartlands of Islam and Europe but South Asia and China. What is relatively new, however, is the presence of transnational Islamist and fundamentalist movements, which weakened the established nation-wide Muslim organisations (Muhammadiyah, NU) that had been providing religious guidance for most of the 20th century. The perceived threat of transnational radical Islam has led to renewed reflection on, and efforts to rejuvenate, indigenous Muslim traditions.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, transnationalism, Secularism
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Pakistani militants of various stripes collectively won just under ten per cent of the vote in the July 2018 parliamentary elections. Some represented long-standing legal Islamist parties, others newly established groups or fronts for organisations that have been banned as terrorists by Pakistan and/or the United Nations and the United States. The militants failed to secure a single seat in the national assembly but have maintained, if not increased, their ability to shape national debate and mainstream politics and societal attitudes. Their ability to field candidates in almost all constituencies, and, in many cases, their performance as debutants enhanced their legitimacy. The militants’ performance has fueled debate about the Pakistani military’s effort to expand its long- standing support for militants that serve its regional and domestic goals to nudge them into mainstream politics. It also raises the question of who benefits most, mainstream politics or the militants. Political parties help mainstream militants, but militants with deep societal roots and significant following are frequently key to a mainstream candidate’s electoral success. Perceptions that the militants may stand to gain the most are enhanced by the fact that decades of successive military and civilian governments, abetted and aided by Saudi Arabia, have deeply embedded ultra-conservative, intolerant, anti-pluralist, and supremacist strands of Sunni Islam in significant segments of Pakistani society. Former international cricket player Imran Khan’s electoral victory may constitute a break with the country’s corrupt dynastic policies that ensured that civilian power alternated between two clans, the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. However, his alignment with ultra-conservatism’s social and religious views, as well as with militant groups, offers little hope for Pakistan becoming a more tolerant, pluralistic society, and moving away from a social environment that breeds extremism and militancy. On the contrary, policies enacted by Khan and his ministers since taking office suggest that ultra- conservatism and intolerance are the name of the game. If anything, Khan’s political history, his 2018 election campaign, and his actions since coming to office reflect the degree to which aspects of militancy, intolerance, anti-pluralism, and supremacist ultra- conservative Sunni Muslim Islam have, over decades, been woven into the fabric of segments of society and elements of the state. The roots of Pakistan’s extremism problem date to the immediate wake of the 1947 partition of British India when using militants as proxies was a way to compensate for Pakistan’s economic and military weakness. They were entrenched by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s and General Zia ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistani society in the 1980s. The rise of Islamist militants in the US-Saudi supported war against Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan and opportunistic policies by politicians and rulers since then have shaped contemporary Pakistan.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, United Nations, Violent Extremism, Secularism, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: This report analyzes how far-right Islamophobic discourse has been mainstreamed with the election of President Donald J. Trump. Through qualitative research examining the rhetoric employed by the Trump campaign and subsequent administration, the report finds that senior Trump administration appointments share a common belief that Islam and Muslims are a danger to the United States. This view has been present in the far-right world of bloggers and pundits and ballooned following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, but is now represented in the White House by key members of the Trump administration. Further, the Trump administration has already begun to enact its anti-Muslim and anti-Islam policies. The study finds that the 45th President and his administration’s rhetoric and guidelines normalize Islamophobia thus creating an environment in which discriminatory policies targeting Muslims are legal.
  • Topic: Islam, Trump, Islamophobia, Far Right
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Catherine Powell
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The significant gains that Afghan women and girls have made since the 2001 U.S.-led military invasion and overthrow of the Taliban are endangered. Presidential elections and possible peace efforts with the Taliban raise uncertainties about whether the future leadership in Afghanistan will protect gender equality. Further, President Barack Obama's plan to completely draw down U.S. troops in the country by the end of 2016 risks withdrawing critical security protection, which has provided Afghan women and girls with increased safety and opportunities to participate in education, employment, the health system, politics, and civil society. With these political and security transitions underway, the United States should act now, in coordination with Afghanistan and its partners, to cement and extend the gains and prevent reversal.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Human Rights, Islam, Culture, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Obama has addressed the need to deal with Ukraine and the Islamic State in speeches and at the NATO Ministerial meeting Afghanistan, however, has become the forgotten war at a time when the Taliban is making steady gains, civilian casualties are rising there is still no effective Afghan government the Afghan economy is in crisis, and there still are no clear plans for any post 2014 aspect of transition.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica D. Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world due to its location, resources, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality compared to other al Qaeda-like groups. In Syria, the Assad regime has lost control of the majority of the state, and the regime's atrocities and sectarianism have fueled violent Islamists, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). In Iraq, the government has lost control over large portions of territory that the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga are incapable of retaking without significant foreign support. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria are the decisive human terrain. Al-Qaeda and similar groups can only flourish in distressed Sunni communities. Any strategy to counter al-Qaeda requires working with these communities, as the U.S. and the Iraqi government did during the Awakening in 2007. Having neglected Iraq and Syria, the U.S. currently lacks the basic intelligence and contextual understanding to build a strategy. The U.S. must adopt an iterative approach that tests assumptions, enriches understanding, builds partnerships with willing Sunni Arabs, and sets conditions for more decisive operations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Until a few years ago, the relationship between Washington, DC, and Ankara, Turkey, was perennially troubled and occasionally terrible. Turks strongly opposed the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq and have subsequently complained that the Pentagon was allowing Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, leading to deteriorating security along the Iraq-Turkey border. Disagreements over how to respond to Iran's nuclear program, U.S. suspicions regarding Turkey's outreach efforts to Iran and Syria, and differences over Armenia, Palestinians, and the Black Sea further strained ties and contributed to further anti Americanism in Turkey. Now Turkey is seen as responding to its local challenges by moving closer to the West, leading to the advent of a “Golden Era” in Turkish U.S. relations. Barack Obama has called the U.S.-Turkish relationship a “model partnership” and Turkey “a critical ally.” Explanations abound as to why U.S.-Turkey ties have improved during the last few years. The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq removed a source of tension and gave Turkey a greater incentive to cooperate with Washington to influence developments in Iraq. Furthermore, the Arab Awakening led both countries to partner in support of the positive agenda of promoting democracy and security in the Middle East. Americans and Turks both want to see democratic secular governments in the region rather than religiously sanctioned authoritarian ones. Setbacks in Turkey's reconciliation efforts with Syria, Iran, and other countries led Ankara to realize that having good relations with the United States helps it achieve core goals in the Middle East and beyond. Even though Turkey's role as a provider of security and stability in the region is weakened as a result of the recent developments in Syria and the ensuing negative consequences in its relations to other countries, Turkey has the capacity to recover and resume its position. Partnering with the United States is not always ideal, but recent setbacks have persuaded Turkey's leaders that they need to backstop their new economic strength and cultural attractiveness with the kind of hard power that is most readily available to the United States. For a partnership between Turkey and the United States to endure, however, Turkey must adopt more of a collective transatlantic perspective, crack down harder on terrorist activities, and resolve a domestic democratic deficit. At the same time, Europeans should show more flexibility meeting Turkey's security concerns regarding the European Union, while the United States should adopt a more proactive policy toward resolving potential sources of tensions between Ankara and Washington that could significantly worsen at any time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Paul Kamolnick
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al-Qaeda-based, affiliated, and inspired terrorism is the declared policy of the U.S. Government (USG). Despite noteworthy success in attacking the al-Qaeda (AQ) terrorist network and securing the homeland from terrorist attack, the United States has yet to execute an effective methodology for countering radicalization and recruitment to AQ. This monograph proposes a distinct War of Deeds methodology for accomplishing this.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The April 2014 kidnapping of more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok in northern Nigeria by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram—and the lethargic response of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's government— provoked outrage. But the kidnapping is only one of many challenges Nigeria faces. The splintering of political elites, Boko Haram's revolt in the north, persistent ethnic and religious conflict in the country's Middle Belt, the deterioration of the Nigerian army, a weak federal government, unprecedented corruption, and likely divisive national elections in February 2015 with a potential resumption of an insurrection in the oil patch together test Nigeria in ways unprecedented since the 1966–70 civil war.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Çağla Gül Çağla Gül
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: This study examines the Collective Security Treaty Organization and its effects on cooperation and unification processes among Central Asian states. It argues that cooperation and unification among Central Asian States are mainly affected by the international environment that has changed after 9/11 and the Afghanistan Operation. Regional Powers have cooperated with both the US and the Russian Federation in fighting against terrorism. Central Asian States have been considering their new path through independent foreign policy or inter-state cooperation and even unification.
  • Topic: Islam, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II, Omar Mohamed
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen is the most troubled state in the Arabian Peninsula. It remains in a low - level state of civil war, and is deeply divided on a sectarian, tribal, and regional level. A largely Shi'ite Houthi rebellion still affects much of the northwest border area and has serious influence in the capital of Sana and along parts of the Red Sea coast. Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) poses a threat in central Yemen, along with other elements of violent Sunni extremism, there are serious tensions between the northern and southern parts of Yemen, and power struggles continue between key elements of the military ruling elite in the capital and outside it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US is already at least six months behind in shaping an effective Transition in Afghanistan. It has not laid credible plans for the security, governance, and economic aspects of Transition. It has not made its level of future commitment clear to its allies or the Afghans, and it has failed dismally to convince the Congress and the American people that there is a credible reason to support Transition beyond the end of 2014.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Islam, War, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University
  • Abstract: This testimony explores the future of jihadism, in part because the past and present are already quite well described in the literature and partly because there has been considerable debate among experts in recent years about al-Qaida's future. Peter Bergen has literally declared the group “defeated”, while a book by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross sets out to explain “why we are still losing the war on terror.” Earlier this year, former CIA officials Paul Pillar and Bruce Riedel published op-eds on the very same day making diametrically opposing arguments about the future of al-Qaida. With this testimony I weigh in on this debate and deliberately engage in some qualified speculation about al-Qaida's future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: Seth G. Jones, Keith Crane
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Afghanistan will undergo three major transitions in 2014: from a Hamid Karzai–led government to one presumably headed by another president following the 2014 election; from a U.S.-led to an Afghan-led counterinsurgency; and from an economy driven by foreign expenditures on military support and assistance to one more reliant on domestic sources of growth, as the United States and other countries reduce their presence. The United States and its allies will need to shape each of these transitions in ways that safeguard their interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Eyüp Ersoy, Mehmet Yegin
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: Unlike other studies on Turkey-U.S. relations, this report examines the key actors influential on U.S. policy and their perspectives about Turkey, theoretically discusses the regional aspects in Turkey-U.S. relations, and finally emphasizes the economic and social dimensions of the bilateral relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, India
  • Author: Ebru Oğurlu
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasingly fraught with growing competition between regional players, most notably Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, signalling an apparent return of power politics in regional relations. Of all actors involved, Turkey stands out for being both an ever more influential power and a source of serious concern to other countries in the region due to its greater assertiveness and perceived hegemonic ambitions. Against the backdrop of recent regional developments and their international implications, including the dispute over drilling rights off Cyprus' coasts, Turkey's image as a constructive and dialogue-oriented country, a critical achievement pursued by a generation of Turkish politicians, diplomats and officials, risks being replaced by one of an antagonistic/assertive power. Facing the first serious challenge to its claim to embody a benign model as a secular Muslim democracy and a responsible international actor, Turkey should not indulge in emotional reactions. It should opt instead for a more moderate and balanced approach based on the assumption that only cooperation and constructive dialogue, even with rival countries, can help it realize its ambition of being the regional pivot.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Asia, Colombia, Cyprus
  • Author: C. Christine Fair
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The utility of the Pakistani army's domination over nearly all aspects of the state in Pakistan was brought into question following the US Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Ladens hideout on May 2, 2011. Pakistanis wondered how these events could have occurred right under the military's nose. This issue paper examines the prospects for security sector governance in Pakistan and identifies the reforms that are necessary for Pakistan's government to make meaningful strides in this area. It begins by explaining the hegemonic role of the armed forces in the history of the state of Pakistan and the unique challenges of its contemporary security terrain before surveying security sector governance in several key areas: the security of Pakistan's growing nuclear arsenal; the all powerful intelligence agencies; disaster management; law enforcement; the criminal justice system and support to jihadist groups. While the report elucidates persistent shortcomings of security governance in all areas, it also highlights key areas of recent improvement, including disaster management and control of nuclear arms.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Anouar Boukhars
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory annexed by Morocco despite Algerian objections, is a critical region that could quickly become part of the criminal and terrorist networks threatening North Africa and the Sahel. The undergoverned areas abutting the territory are becoming major hubs for drug trafficking, contraband smuggling, and weapons circulation. And Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is extending its reach in the region. The potential for destabilization is real.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Terrorism, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States
  • Author: Alex Thurston
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamists have become an important political force in Mauritania since formal Islamist associations first emerged in the 1970s. Islamist activism has contributed to the ongoing Islamization of Mauritanian society, as is evident from the proliferation of mosques and Islamic associations in the capital, Nouakchott, and elsewhere. In the 1990s, political liberalization allowed Islamists to participate in elections as independents, and since its legalization in 2007, Tewassoul, the strongest Islamist party in Mauritania today, has become a significant minority voice in the country's politics and has built ties with Islamists elsewhere in the Arab world. These moderate Islamists who participate in elections hold different beliefs and goals from Mauritania's jihadist fringe. Overall, Mauritanian Islamism does not currently pose a threat to the United States. The mainstream of the movement appears committed to democracy and, even so, is unlikely to take power. Islamist parties like Tewassoul have never captured a large share of the vote in elections, and moderate Islamist leaders have explicitly rejected using violence to take over the state. Indeed, the United States may even find an upside to the Islamists' rise: Mainstream Islamist leaders publicly condemn the Muslim terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which the Mauritanian government has been combating since 2005.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since it assumed power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been, at times, head-scratching. Extolled in the wake of the uprising as the revolution's protector, many have come to view it as an agent of the counter-revolution. It often has been obstinate, before abruptly yielding to pressure. It values its long ties with Washington, from which it receives much assistance, but seemed willing to jeopardise them by targeting U.S.-funded NGOs. Suspected by Islamists of seeking to deprive them of opportunity to govern and by non-Islamists of entering a secret pact with the Muslim Brotherhood, it finds itself in the worst of both worlds: an angry tug-of-war with liberal protesters and a high-wire contest with Islamists. It displays little interest in governing, wishing instead to protect privileges, but erratic behaviour threatens even that. On the eve of presidential elections that have become a high-stakes free-for-all, the SCAF should take a step back and, with the full range of political actors, agree on principles for a genuine and safe political transition.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nelly Lahoud
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: “I should write a history of the jihadis in my time as I witnessed it and not as it is perceived by the West or those who disagree with us,” explains Fadil Harun regarding his motivation to publish his two-volume manuscript al-Harb `ala al-Islam: Qissat Fadil Harun (The War against Islam: the Story of Fadil Harun). Posted on the jihadi website Shabakat Ansar al-Mujahidin on 26 February 2009, the manuscript constitutes Harun's autobiography, in which he presents an intimate account of his life in the context of his career with al-Qa`ida. Harun (also known as Fazul `Abdallah Muhammad) was an al- Qa`ida operative who was killed in June 2011 by Somali government forces. Among the operations in which he played a key role are the 1998 East Africa bombings that targeted U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, following which he claims to have been appointed al-Qa`ida's “Confidential Secretary” (amin sirr al-qa`ida).
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Somalia, Nairobi, East Africa
  • Author: Ally Pregulman, Emily Burke
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Incidents of “homegrown terrorism”—extremist violence perpetrated by U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents, and linked to or inspired by al Qaeda's brand of radical Sunni Islamism—have increased in the aggregate since 9/11. Homegrown extremists, as defined in the CSIS report A Threat Transformed: Al Qaeda and Associated Movements in 2011, are “radicalized groups and individuals that are not regularly affiliated with, but draw clear inspiration and occasional guidance from, al Qaeda core or affiliated movements.” A growing number of Muslims—both naturalized citizens and American-born—have communicated with extremists who are linked to al Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM), have sought terrorist training, or have attempted to carry out attacks either inside the United States or abroad. While not official members of al Qaeda or its affiliates, these individuals and small groups have been influenced by and have sought to involve themselves in AQAM's global war against the West.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • 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: Ross Eventon
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: At its core, the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan is an attempt to establish a client regime supported by a military operation to pacify resistance. In May 2012, the Obama administration took a major step towards consolidating its war aims and signed the Enduring Partnership Agreement with President Karzai, which ensures a U.S. military presence for at least a decade after 2014. It is clear from this agreement, the previous memorandums on detention and night raids, and the continuing development of U.S. mega-bases in the country that 2014 is far from a “withdrawal” date.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Gilles Dorronsoro
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan will leave the country worse than it was before 2001 in some respects. There is no clear plan for the future. Washington will progressively lose its influence over Kabul, and drone operations in Pakistan are not a credible way to fight jihadist groups on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The situation will only worsen after 2014, when most U.S. troops are out of the country and aid going to the Afghan government steeply declines.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Terrorism, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Asia
  • Author: Wolfram Lacher
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For the past decade, increasing instability in the Sahel and Sahara region has been a source of growing concern in Europe and the United States. Western governments have worried that the weakness of state control in the area would allow al-Qaeda in the Islamist Maghreb (AQIM) and other jihadist organizations to expand their influence and establish safe havens in areas outside government control. Such fears appear to have been vindicated by the recent takeover of northern Mali by AQIM and organizations closely associated with it.
  • Topic: Crime, Development, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: The possibility of Israeli military action against the Iranian nuclear program has existed since at least 2002. However, beginning in the fall of 2011, Israeli rhetoric and international concerns about military action against Iran have reached unprecedented levels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak began to proclaim that Iran was nearing a “zone of immunity” to Israeli attack and therefore Israel would have to act soon. In contrast, former heads of Israel's foreign and domestic intelligence services question the utility of such an attack.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: KUIK Cheng-Chwee
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper adopts a neoclassical realist perspective to explain Malaysia's evolving policy towards the United States under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. It argues that to the extent that there is a “shift” in Malaysia's U.S. policy under the current leadership, the substance and symbolism in Najib's U.S. policy has been driven and limited by the needs of the ruling elite to strike a balance between a variety of structural imperatives and domestic considerations. Structurally, in the face of a fast rising China (with whom Malaysia has come to develop an increasingly productive relation in both economic and diplomatic domains, but with whom it has unresolved territorial issues), the leader of the smaller state is increasingly confronted with the geostrategic need to keep a more balanced relationship with all the major players. This is especially so with the United States, which, under the Obama administration's “pivot” to Asia policy, has demonstrated a renewed and enhanced commitment to engage countries in the Asia-Pacific, including Malaysia. This structural push, however, has been counteracted by the smaller state's desire of not wanting to be entrapped in any big power rivalry, and by its concern about the uncertainties of great power commitments. Domestically, there is a strong economic need to further enhance two-way trade and increase the flow of American capital and technology into Malaysia, deemed vital to Najib's Economic Transformation Program. Perhaps more importantly, there is also a political calculation by the governing elite to capitalize on the increasingly warm and close bilateral ties as a leverage to reduce – if not neutralize – Washington's support for the Anwar Ibrahim-led opposition and civil society movements, which have presented a growing challenge to the ruling BN coalition. This calculation, however, has been counteracted by UMNO's domestic concern of not wanting to appear too closely aligned with America, in order not to alienate the country's Muslim majority voters who have been critical of U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These structural and domestic determinants together explain Malaysia's evolving policy toward the superpower under the current leadership.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Political Economy, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Malaysia, Israel, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Matthieu Aikins
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: As Afghanistan approaches the 2014 deadline for assuming responsibility for its own security, and the international community becomes preoccupied with the challenge of reducing its vast entanglement with the country's politics, economy, and society, the critical question is whether NATO's transition will succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan—or whether it will result in further destabilization, as seen following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, which eventually led to the collapse of the central government, large-scale civil war, and the country's development into a haven for international terrorism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Crime, Islam, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Frank Lin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The 2012 American presidential election features two candidates, incumbent President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, with contrasting foreign policy visions for the United States, particularly with regards to the Middle East. How could these differences between the two candidates affect bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey, which—aside from Israel—is generally seen by the United States as its most stalwart ally in the Middle East? This paper will examine the recent history of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States, from the George W. Bush administration to the Obama administration, as well as current issues surrounding relations between the two countries. It will also explore how the predicted policies of each candidate could impact the future course of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: In 2012 Western sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran's oil and gas industry, aimed at putting economic pressure on it to change its nuclear policy, have reached an unprecedented level. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran has been in a state of hostility with the US, and has had cool relations, at best, with most European states. Sanctions against official Iranian financial institutions, individuals associated with the Islamic Republic and organisations suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation activities have been mounting for some time. However, it is only recently that Iran's oil and gas sector has been specifically targeted by both the US and the EU in such a co-ordinated manner. Importantly, this marks the first time since the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the EU member states have collectively put in place sanctions on the export of Iranian crude oil—until now an action that, with a few exceptions, had only been taken by the US. The stakes have therefore been raised in Iran's confrontation with Western powers over the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam, Oil, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Bulent Aliriza, Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The partnership between the United States and Turkey, which traces its origins to the Cold War, has gone through constant adjustment since the beginning of the post–Cold War era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the presence of jihadist groups within Syria, explains where various Syrian rebel groups and foreign elements operating in Syria fall along the spectrum of religious ideology, and considers their aggregate effect upon the Islamification of the Syrian opposition. The Syrian conflict began as a secular revolt against autocracy. Yet as the conflict protracts, a radical Islamist dynamic has emerged within the opposition. There is a small but growing jihadist presence inside Syria, and this presence within the opposition galvanizes Assad's support base and complicates U.S. involvement in the conflict. Internally, Assad has used the threat of jihadists within the opposition to build support for the regime among the Alawite and Christian communities. It has also served to discourage middle and upper class Sunnis from joining the opposition. Externally, Russian and Iranian leadership have consistently pointed to the presence of radical Islamists as a critical rationale for their support of the Assad regime. Compared to uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the opposition in Syria faces a much greater threat of jihadist infiltration. Many jihadi elements now operating in Syria are already familiar with the terrain, having been sponsored by the Assad regime for over three decades. These jihadi elements turned against their former regime allies in 2011 and are now cooperating with local jihadists. Moderate political Islam is not incompatible with democratic governance. However, ultraconservative Sunni Islamists, known as Salafists, envision a new world order modeled on early Islam that poses a significant threat to both democracy and the notion of statehood. Salafi-jihadists are those who commit to violent means to bring about the Salafi vision. It is difficult to distinguish between moderate Islamists and Salafi-jihadists in the context of the Syrian civil war. Assad's security solution transformed the largely peaceful uprising into an open civil war, and now even political Islamists and Syrian nationalists are engaged in violent means. Additionally, the mainstream use of jihadi iconography by non-Salafist rebel groups distorts perceptions about their ideologies and end-goals. It is significant to draw the distinction in order to understand which Islamist opposition groups are willing to work within a state system. hh The vast majority of Syrians opposing the regime are local revolutionaries still fighting against autocracy; while they are not Islamists, in the sense that their political visions do not depend upon Islamic principles, they espouse varying degrees of personal religious fervor. There are also moderate Islamists operating within the Syrian opposition, including those who comprise rebel groups like Suquor al-Sham and the Umma Brigade, who are typified by a commitment to political Islam that is compatible with democracy. hh On the more extreme end of the spectrum are groups like Ahrar al-Sham, which is comprised of conservative Islamist, and often Salafist, member units. Ahrar al-Sham's leadership espouses a political Islamist ideology, though it is clear that the group has attracted more radical and extreme elements of the opposition including many Salafi-jihadists. The brigade also has notable ties to Syria's indigenous jihadist organization, Jabhat Nusra. Al-Qaeda's direct involvement in Syria has been exaggerated in the media. However, small al-Qaeda affiliated networks are operating in the country, including elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Fatah al-Islam and Jordanian Salafi-jihadists. Rather than sending large numbers of operatives, these networks are providing operational support, including trainers and bomb makers, in order to capitalize on the instability in Syria and expand their influence in the region. Jabhat Nusra, Syria's homegrown Salafi-jihadist group, has important links to al-Qaeda affiliates and demonstrates a higher level of effectiveness than many other rebel groups. Jabhat Nusra has demonstrated sensitivity to popular perception and they are gaining support within Syria. The emergence of indigenous Salafi-jihadist groups such as Jabhat Nusra is far more dangerous to the long-term stability of the Syrian state than foreign jihadist groups because it represents a metamorphosis of a Salafi-jihadist ideology into a domestic platform that is able to achieve popular resonance. The U.S. cannot afford to support groups that will endanger Syria's future stability. However, if the U.S. chooses to limit its contact with Islamist groups altogether, it may alienate a majority of the opposition. Identifying the end goals of opposition groups will be the key to determining whether their visions for Syrian governance are compatible with U.S. interests. The U.S. Government has cited concern over arming jihadists as a reason for limiting support to the Syrian opposition. However, U.S. allies are already providing material support to the Syrian opposition, and competing sources of funding threaten Syria's future stability by enhancing the influence of more radical elements. The confluence of jihadist interest with that of the Gulf states raises the possibility that these states may leverage jihadists for their own strategic purposes, while simultaneously limiting Western influence. In order to counter this effect, the U.S. should seek to channel this support in a way that bolsters responsible groups and players while ensuring that Salafi-jihadist organizations such as Jabhat Nusra are unable to hijack the opposition movement. If the U.S. hopes to counter this threat and stem the growing popularity of more radical groups, it must clearly identify secular and moderate Islamist opposition groups and encourage the international community to focus resources in support of those groups alone. Such focused support would increase the influence of moderate opposition groups and undercut the appeal of Salafism in Syria.
  • Topic: Islam, International Security, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the political, religious, and military resurgence of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, identifying the group's key actors, their present disposition and strategy, and their regional expansion. AAH is an Iranian-backed Shi'a militant group that split from Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in 2006. Since that time, AAH has conducted thousands of lethal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, targeted kidnappings of Westerners, rocket and mortar attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the murder of American soldiers, and the assassination of Iraqi officials.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq in December 2011, the rate and lethality of attacks against civilian targets have steadily risen. Most notably, there have been seven major attack waves, defined here as a series of simultaneous and coordinated attacks that target at least 10 cities within one day. The attacks targeted a combination of security posts, government facilities, and Shi'ite shrines and neighborhoods. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella organization formed in 2006 for many Sunni insurgency groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), has claimed credit for a large majority of these attacks.3 This summer has seen a further alarming development with the announcement of ISI's "Destroying the Walls" campaign.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The attacks of September 11, 2001 spawned a decade of al Qaeda inspired radicalization of disaffected Middle Eastern and North African youth and a handful of young Western men. Ten years later, foreign fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other jihadi battlefields appear to be declining while in contrast analysts have pointed to an uptick in United States (U.S.) based “homegrown extremism” - terrorism advocated or committed by U.S. residents or citizens.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Scott Helfstein, Dominick Wright
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 represents the culmination of a decade long fight to bring the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks to justice. Sustaining the effort needed to arrive at this point is a testament to the resilience of the counterterrorism community and nation, but it subsequently raises a series of questions regarding the future of al‐Qa'ida and the violent social movement spawned by bin Laden and fellow entrepreneurial jihadis. It is tempting to view his death as the end of a long struggle, but the violent extremists radicalized and mobilized by al‐Qa'ida's global jihadi narrative regard this as the end of the opening act. The terrorist threat that the United States and its allies face today has evolved in the years since September 11. Over that time, experts have engaged in heated debates over al‐Qa'ida's strategic center of gravity, with some stressing the importance of central leadership while others emphasize the threat from radicalized individuals unconnected with any formal organization. This seemingly academic debate about the nature of al‐Qa'ida is crucial to understanding the possible manifestations of the threat following bin Laden's death, as well as guiding the way forward for policymakers, practitioners, and the general public. The attached article tries to assess the threat al‐Qa'ida poses by looking across the different operational levels: the core, periphery, and movement. The core represents those in a hierarchical organization, marked by a leadership cadre tied to their followers. Those connected to the al‐Qa'ida network, but outside the control of core leadership, are the peripheral actors. For al‐Qa'ida, this is often best represented by affiliated or associated groups such as al‐Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or al‐ Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The final level is made up of those who are unconnected from the larger network, but motivated to action through the principles espoused by the ideological leaders. These individuals are part of a broader social movement that adheres to the narrative and perpetrates violent action, but remains distinct from the core or connected affiliates.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Brandon Fite
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The various states that comprise the EU and non-EU Europe collectively and individually influence US-Iranian competition in a number of ways. The EU, and particularly the EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany), are the United States' most consistent allies in seeking to roll back Iran's nuclear efforts. Though the European approach has not always paralleled that of the US, unlike China and Russia, European disagreements with the US serve to moderate rather than to weaken or spoil American efforts.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Iran
  • 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: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: There is arguably no more unlikely U.S. ally than Saudi Arabia: monarchical, deeply conservative socially, promoter of an austere and intolerant version of Islam, birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Consequently, there is no U.S. ally less well understood. Many U.S. policymakers assume that the Saudi regime is fragile, despite its remarkable record of domestic stability in the turbulent Middle East. “It is an unstable country in an unstable region,” one congressional staffer said in July 2011. Yet it is the Arab country least affected in its domestic politics by the Arab upheavals of 2011. Many who think it is unstable domestically also paradoxically attribute enormous power to it, to the extent that they depict it as leading a “counterrevolution” against those upheavals throughout the region. 2 One wonders just how “counterrevolutionary” the Saudis are when they have supported the NATO campaign against Muammar al-Qaddafi, successfully negotiated the transfer of power from Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and condemned the crackdown on protestors by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and how powerful they are when they could do little to help their ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Oil, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Daniel Markey
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: India faces the real prospect of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations in the near future. Unlike the aftermath of the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, in which 166 people died, Indian military restraint cannot be taken for granted if terrorists strike again. An Indian retaliatory strike against terrorist targets on Pakistani soil would raise Indo-Pakistani tensions and could even set off a spiral of violent escalation between the nuclear-armed rivals. Given Washington's effort to intensify pressure on al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated militants operating from Pakistani territory, increased tensions between India and Pakistan would harm U.S. interests even if New Delhi and Islamabad stop well short of the nuclear threshold because it would distract Pakistan from counterterror and counterinsurgency operations, jeopardize the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and place new, extreme stresses on Islamabad.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Washington, India, New Delhi, Mumbai
  • Author: Lisa Wedeen
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The issue of state fragility and the presence of radical religious movements in Yemen have occasioned misperceptions and confusions in recent debates about the country. This report argues that the language of “failed states” arises nearly exclusively in relation to countries deemed threatening to US security interests. Moreover, this language obscures rather than reveals how regime incentives to build state institutions can be incompatible with regime interests in survival. The result is that a seemingly neutral analytical category misrepresents local realities even while it is used as a warrant for policy initiatives that are likely to be counterproductive.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Katherine J. Almquist
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Sudan faces the prospect of renewed violence between north and south over the next twelve to eighteen months. Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan's bloody civil war, which claimed two million lives and displaced four million more, a referendum in southern Sudan must be held by January 2011 to determine whether it remains united with the north or secedes from it. Given that popular sentiment in the south overwhelmingly favors secession, two basic scenarios are conceivable: the south secedes peacefully through a credible referendum process, or the CPA collapses and the south fights for independence. There is no scenario in which the south remains peacefully united with the north beyond 2011. Further complicating prospects for averting renewed violence are the ongoing conflict in Darfur and potential conflicts in other marginalized areas of the north. The violent secession of the south would hinder efforts to resolve these conflicts, as well as increase the prospect for greater internecine fighting among historic rivals in the south. The resulting significant loss of life and widespread political unrest would threaten regional stability and challenge U.S. interests in Africa.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Turkey is launching initiative after ambitious initiative aimed at stabilising the Middle East. Building on the successes of its normalisation with Syria and Iraq, it is facilitating efforts to reduce conflicts, expanding visafree travel, ramping up trade, integrating infrastructure, forging strategic relationships and engaging in multilateral regional platforms. For some, this new activism is evidence that Turkey is turning from its traditional allies in Europe and the United States. In fact, its increased role in the Middle East is a complement to and even dependent on its ties to the West.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Sarah Phillips
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: News that the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. passenger jet was tied to al-Qaeda elements in Yemen prompted questions of whether the fractious Arab state might give rise to a Taliban-style regime. For its part, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stated its intent to achieve “our great Islamic project: establishing an Islamic Caliphate” but it is vulnerable to the threat that Yemen's tribes may ultimately find its presence a liability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Taliban, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Irfan Shahid
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: The tragic events of Black September, 2001, the year that opened the twenty-first century and the third millennium, more popularly called 9/11, is now a landmark in American history that is deeply carved in the psyche of the American people and is annually perpetuated by commemorative anniversaries. It practically destroyed the bridges that had been constructed between America and the Arab-Muslim world. What had been America's main adversary in the Cold War, namely Communism, has now become the Arabs and the Islamic world, which, ironically, had been America's allies against Communism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jonathan N. C. Hill
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In light of the ongoing threats issued by Al Qaeda against the United States and its allies, the need to prevent the radicalization of young Muslim men and women remains as pressing as ever. Perhaps nowhere is this task more urgent than in the countries of West Africa. The global expanse of the ongoing war on terror places these territories in the frontline. With large Muslim populations that have hitherto remained mostly impervious to the advances of Islamism, the challenge now confronting the Nigerian government and the international community is ensuring that this remains the case. But in recent years, Islamist groups have been highly active in the region. The aim of this monograph is to assess the potential of Nigeria's Sufi Brotherhoods to act, both individually and collectively, as a force for counter-radicalization, to prevent young people from joining Islamist groups.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, West Africa, Nigeria