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  • Author: Hijab Shah, Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Following the August Beirut port explosion, the Lebanese Armed Forces must rebuild trust with the civilian population. The LAF can serve as a critical pillar in Lebanese government efforts to strengthen national security and identity in the midst of the crisis, in light of security sector assistance from the United States and other Western partners. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and Lebanon more broadly, is one of the largest recipients of foreign assistance in the Middle East. The United States and allied governments have sought to build the capabilities and professionalism of the LAF since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, focusing primarily on counterterrorism and border security. The LAF stood in stark contrast to other Lebanese security services in their restraint vis-à-vis the civilian population during the 2019 protests. However, recent reported violent incidents against civilians, ambiguity of the role of police forces, and concerns about both recovery efforts following the August 2020 port explosion in Beirut and extended powers under the state of emergency established by the Lebanese parliament have raised international concerns about the role of Lebanon’s security services, including the LAF. The LAF has a critical role to play in stabilizing Lebanon through a multi-faceted crisis, but will need to take concrete steps to bolster its professionalism. Lebanon’s modern politics have long been defined by confessionalism, a reality that persists even as the country is engulfed in crisis. International assistance to the LAF over the last fourteen years had intended to support the LAF as a legitimate national institution transcending confessions and supporting a broader sense of Lebanese security and identity. In the midst of the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, political turmoil at the helm of the country, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there is an important opportunity for the international community to support a new path for governance in the country—as shaped and envisioned by its populace. This opportunity hinges upon leveraging existing channels of support to the LAF and building in conditionality mechanisms that hold the LAF accountable for its actions, while continuing to promote a clear articulation of priorities for the LAF and a plan to improve military effectiveness through policy and doctrine; training and equipment, education, and exercises; operations; and institutional capacity building.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics, International Security, Military Affairs, Identity
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Ayşe İrem Aycan Özer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This analysis is about the change in Israel’s security understanding. Israel is a country located in the Middle East surrounded by Arab regimes which were historically hostile to its very existence in the region. The unification of the Arab countries against Israel and the lack of an ally in the region created a constant fear in Israel. When it started having better relations with Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey, Israel ended its isolation and found partners in its immediate geography. Even when relations between Turkey and Israel took a turn for the worse, Israel continued to have Egypt and Jordan on its side.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Joseph Braude
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A new opportunity has emerged to roll back generations of antisemitic and rejectionist messaging in Arab media, mosques, and schools. It stems from the convergence of interests between Israel and Arab powers, a youthful Arab grassroots trend in favor of a “peace between peoples,” and new Israeli and American Jewish capacities to engage Arab public discussions from the outside in. But prospects for change remain severely constrained: In addition to the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, the legacy of antisemitic brainwashing endures in many Arab institutions and draws further energy from Iranian and jihadist information operations. Meanwhile, proponents of a positive shift lack coordination, planning, and adequate support. In Reclamation: A Cultural Policy for Arab-Israeli Partnership, Joseph Braude documents the opportunity as well as the obstacles, and then proposes a strategy to accelerate progress. He explains how to engage Arab allies in a coordinated communications reform effort, support independent Arab champions of civil relations with Israel and Jews, expand the “outside-in” capacities, and degrade Iranian and jihadist channels of indoctrination within the region.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Darawshe
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: For the Arab voter, there weren’t compelling reasons to vote in the 2019 Knesset elections. In fact, a number of reasons motivated them not to. Quarrels around the issue of seat rotation plagued the Joint List and clarified for the Arab voter that the hope for unity had been lost. The Arab public therefore decided to punish the parties, taking from them the privilege it had given, returning them to their natural size in order to school them in the laws of modesty.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Arik Rudnitzky
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: This article reviews the results of the elections for the 21st Knesset in Arab and Druze communities. It also examines voting patterns in these localities by demographic characteristics (by ethnic group and geographical area) and voting patterns of Arab residents in mixed cities. The discussion then deals with two issues: (a) the question of the renewed connection between the Arab voter and Jewish parties; (b) the voting patterns of Christian voters. All data presented here were taken from the conclusions of Central Elections Committee
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Recently, two trends became apparent in global oil markets. First, prices rose: the OPEC basket price reached $73.14 a barrel on 24 April 2019, a 40 percent rise over the price at the beginning of January, and 13 percent higher than the average for the year of 2018. According to the International Energy Agency, the reasons for higher prices included tighter global supplies that have prevailed due to strong compliance with OPEC’s decision in December 2018 to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day (mb/d), as well as sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, and conflict in Libya. These developments, along with the second trend of the rising US share in the global oil market discussed below, offset bearish factors including concern over the health of the global economy
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Houssem Ben Lazreg, Phil Gursky
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated unprecedented capabilities in attracting foreign fighters, particularly from Western countries. Between 2011 and 2015, Western foreign fighters coming from North America, Europe, and Australia traveled to Iraq and Syria in order to join IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra. As IS has been significantly weakened, authorities in many western countries are increasingly worried that returning fighters will come back to their home countries radicalized, battle hardened, and eager to commit terrorist attacks. This concern is clearly manifested in Phil Gursky’s book cover which features a striking image of a Belgian returnee from Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who has been named by security officials as one of the architects of the attacks in Paris in 2015. ​ In Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security, Phil Gursky, a former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, elaborates on the phenomenon of ‘Western Foreign Fighters.’ This book aims at addressing two fundamental issues: “why people leave their homeland to join terrorist groups?” and “do they pose a threat upon their prospective return?”[1] To answer those questions, Gurski relies not only on a detailed analysis of the excerpts and statements by the fighters recently engaged in violent extremism at home and overseas, but also on accounts that delineate historical parallels and differences with previous conflicts sharing similar dynamics. ​ Gurski divides his analysis into eight substantive chapters, an appendix, a glossary and a suggested reading list, using accessible, non-academic prose. He conducts the majority of his historical analysis in chapter three. His discussion of western volunteers—mainly Canadians and Americans—and their involvement in previous conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War and the Boers Wars provides informative and engaging insights, mostly for a general readership.[2] It also sets the stage for shedding light on why Westerners join terrorist groups like IS, and what threat they pose to homeland/international security. Obviously, these issues will be of most interest to intelligence officers, policy makers, scholars, and practitioners...
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Homeland Security, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s projection of its military presence in the Middle East has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Otte
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The Middle East is once again going through a period of war and upheaval, including mass murder of civilians, state failure, transnational terrorism, sectarian wars, physical and societal destruction, massive arms purchases, use of nonconventional weapons (notably chemical) and a permanent risk of proliferation of WMD. These developments are a threat to the region, but also to the rest of the world and to Europe in particular. The current turmoil should not be underestimated for its potential to trigger an even bigger hot war that could involve other players, if only because of miscalculations by some of the parties involved.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Shmuel Even
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: According to the state budget for 2019, approved by the Knesset on March 15, 2018, the Defense Ministry budget will stand at NIS 72.9 billion gross and NIS 55.3 billion net (11.5 percent of the state budget). The Defense Ministry’s budget for 2019 represents the fourth year in the IDF’s five-year plan (the Gideon Plan for 2016-2020), during which it must start to formulate a new five-year plan
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Maha Yahya
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanon’s and Iraq’s political systems are based on sectarian and ethnic power-sharing. In summer 2015, both countries faced popular protests demanding better governance. These protests began over poor service provision but escalated into opposition to the countries’ overarching power-sharing systems. These demonstrations were framed as nonsectarian, civic responses to deteriorating conditions and corrupt leadership. While protestors raised hopes that change was possible, their curtailment by the sectarian leadership underlined the challenges of political transformation in divided societies.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, discusses his company’s annual top political risks for 2017 and their ethical implications. Topics include the potential challenges from a Trump administration, the moral legacy of President Obama’s foreign policy, human rights in the Middle East, the fate of liberalism in Europe and the world, and the dangers of populism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Paola Sartori, Alessandra Scalia
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The research that forms the basis of this study aims to address women’s roles within peace operations, as well as their contribution to security and peace-building. Based on Italy’s contribution to the NATO-led missions – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and, currently, Resolute Support (RS) – the subject of the analysis is Afghanistan, and particularly Herat Province. The research e ort is speci cally aimed at assessing the impact of the civil–military cooperation (CIMIC) initiatives implemented by Italian troops in Herat, with a speci c focus on gender and Afghan women. The rst part of this paper addresses the theoretical framework on women’s participation in stabilization and reconstruction e orts. It introduces concepts such as gender analysis and gender mainstreaming, and, consequently, the bene ts of focusing on gender when carrying out CIMIC initiatives within peace operations. The second part focuses on the CIMIC activities implemented by the Italian contingent in Herat Province. The concluding section of the paper provides some “food for thought”, aimed at contributing to further enhancing the e ectiveness of the CIMIC projects carried out by the Italian military and their related e ects.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the Middle East, the new administration will need to devote particular care and urgency to understanding the essence of America's interests in the region, and applying clear principles in pursuing them. This is the advice offered by two U.S. diplomats with a distinguished record of defending those interests under various administrations. As Trump and his team take office, they face a regional state system that is under assault by proxy wars that reflect geopolitical rivalries and conflicts over basic identity. Rarely has it been more important for a new administration to articulate clear goals and principles, and Ambassadors James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross outline both in this transition paper. With 30 percent of the world's hydrocarbons still flowing from the Middle East, safeguarding that supply remains a critical U.S. national security interest, along with preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, and preserving stability. In their view, the best way to pursue these interests is to emphasize a coherent set of guiding principles, namely:
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The conflict in Syria, the war on ISIS, Israeli settlements, relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iranian regional influence -- all contentious issues at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. During this January 30 policy forum, Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi -- a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Itamar Rabinovich offer their perspectives on these challenges and others confronting President Trump in the region. Tzachi Hanegbi has just been named Israel's cabinet minister for regional cooperation. A close confidant of Prime Minister Netanyahu, he has held a variety of cabinet portfolios in the past, and served most recently as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Itamar Rabinovich is a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and founding president of the Israel Institute. A renowned expert on Syria, he once headed Israeli peace talks with Damascus. He has also served as president of Tel Aviv University, where he is now a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history. David Makovsky is the Institute's Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and Director of its Project on the Middle East Peace Process, and the Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Jessa Rose Dury-Agri, Omer Kassim, Patrick Martin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The liberation of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sh­am’s (ISIS) urban holdings in Iraq was necessary but not sufficient to secure America’s vital national interests. ISIS has lost neither the will nor the capability to fight, even as it withdraws into desert hideouts and sleeper cell formations in November 2017. Rather, dispersed ISIS militants have begun an insurgent campaign in northern and western Iraq as some of its foreign fighters have returned to their home countries to serve in ISIS’s external operations network.
  • Topic: Islam, War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: By now the world knows that U.S. military forces for the first time since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 have attacked regime targets. Plenty of the basic facts are known about what transpired about 18 hours ago, but a few important ones are not—at least not in the public domain. For example, we have only a very general Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) report. This matters because Tomahawk cruise missiles are very accurate if “lite” weapons. Knowing what the four dozen or so missiles hit and missed, deliberately and otherwise, could tell us a lot about why the President, presumably with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ guidance and concurrence, chose the lesser of three options presented at what has been described as a meeting of considerable length. That, in turn, could tell us if the intention ultimately is to coerce the Russians into coercing the Syrians to stop doing monstrous things to their own people, and possibly coercing them to support a compromise political settlement to the war; or if it’s just an Eff-You gesture designed only to relieve the sudden pressure of moral unction that unexpectedly came upon our new Commander-in Chief—who seemed to lurch from coldblooded Randian to “Godtalk” invoker of the American Civil Religion in the wink of an eye. In other words, knowing more about the target set would tell us whether there is any political strategy attached to the use of force, or not. Probably not.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • 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 Heras
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and trans-Sahara regions are undergoing a period of instability and state collapse, with active civil wars raging in four of the most important countries in the region: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. As witnessed during the Arab uprisings of 2010–2011, the MENA region has begun to grapple with the once and future challenges of instability as the regional population grows and skews younger, economies stagnate and start to collapse, and resources become scarcer. U.S. national security policy toward the MENA and trans-Sahara regions is at a point of high uncertainty, with a new administration developing strategies to address the security threats to the United States and its partner nations being caused by the region’s civil wars.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East