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  • Author: Fabio Petito, Fadi Daou, Michael Driessen, Elie Al-Hindy, Georges Fahmi, Nejja Al-Ourimi, Silvio Ferrari, Mohammed Hashas, Scott M. Thomas, Pasquale Ferrara, R. Scott Appleby, Miguel Angel Moratinos, Alberto Melloni, Azza Karam, Paul Gallagher, Nayla Tabbara, Mohamed Abdel-Salam, Andre Azoulay, Jean-Marc Aveline
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Polarization and discrimination linked to religion have been increasing in many parts of the world, including on the two shores of the Mediterranean. Against this background, however, seeds of hope have emerged from a number of religious leaders who have called for a new narrative of human fraternity and inclusive citizenship. This report analyzes the opportunities which human fraternity and inclusive citizenship offer for government-religious partnerships aimed at building more inclusive and peaceful societies across both shores of the Mediterranean and puts forward interreligious engagement as a new policy framework that recognizes and amplifies these novel dynamics. Can the interreligious narrative of human fraternity help to create new inclusive forms of citizenship? How can governments and international organizations better partner with religious leaders and communities to concretely build inclusive societies from the MENA region to Europe?
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Refugees, Citizenship, Pluralism , Inclusion
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa, Mediterranean
  • Author: Elizabeth R. Nugent
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The economic decline of the Muslim world and the rise of Western Europe has long captured the attention of scholars across disciplines. Explanations largely focus either on Islam, whether its financial institutions or the essence of its teachings, or on Western colonialism as the culprit. In Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment, Ahmet T. Kuru puts forward a new explanation rooted in class relations. He takes issue with existing approaches, convincingly demonstrating the intellectual and economic vibrancy of the Muslim world between the eighth and twelfth centuries, undermining arguments about Islam’s incompatibility with progress, and asserting that colonialism occurred too late to explain multiple political and socioeconomic crises. Instead, Kuru identifies the eleventh century as a critical juncture when the Muslim world witnessed the emergence of alliances between Islamic scholars (ulema; singular alim) and the military. These alliances persisted through path dependence and gradually hindered intellectual and economic creativity by marginalizing independent intellectual and bourgeois classes in the Muslim world. In turn, the absence of these classes led to the persistence of authoritarianism and the well-documented underdevelopment in the contemporary period.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, History, Authoritarianism, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By the time IS came to the fore in Iraq and Syria, many of its themes and activities were already second nature to Tunisian jihadis who had heard similar messaging at home. There are a number of reasons why Tunisians joined the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. One underappreciated aspect of this is the way Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s (AST) messaging primed members of the group and others in society that were exposed to, attended, or followed online AST activities and events. In my new book, Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad, I describe this process, which I will examine in brief here. In particular, I will explore AST’s motivational framing, which “functions as prods to action.” The major themes AST crafted in its narrative were related to brotherhood, the defense of Islam, the creation of an Islamic state, and “remaining” as an entity.
  • Topic: Islam, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In 2016, Islamist political party Ennahda decided to abandon preaching and focus on politics, precipitating an identity crisis within the party. It faced new challenges, including rethinking the role of Islam, addressing its own neutralization as a driver of socioeconomic change, and managing its core supporters while appealing to a broader electorate. Ennahda’s shift to politics has forced it to rethink its ideological framework and rebuild its legitimacy based on arguments other than religion.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Legitimacy, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: When Pope Francis I visited Egypt in 2017 to stimulate interfaith dialogue he walked into a religious and geopolitical minefield at the heart of which was Al-Azhar, one of the world’s oldest and foremost seats of Islamic learning. The pope’s visit took on added significance with Al-Azhar standing accused of promoting the kind of ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim Islam that potentially creates an environment conducive to breeding extremism.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Violent Extremism, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Kathrin Thomas
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arab Barometer
  • Abstract: Eight years after the Arab Spring, MENA publics believe that the degree to which their freedoms are guaranteed has declined. Arab Barometer observes a drop in perceived freedom of expression, right to protest peacefully, and to join associations since 2012-14. • While electoral participation is low in many contexts, it appears that many MENA publics frequently take political issues to the streets. Youth are especially likely to protest, but few say they also used force for a political cause. • The principle of charity is core to many religions, including Islam. Even though Arab Barometer has observed declining rates of charitable giving, overall a high percentage donate to the less fortunate across most countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Public Opinion, Freedom of Expression, Protests, Civil Liberties, Civic Engagement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Meagan Torello, Rafael Leal-Arcas, Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia, Carmel Davis, Ziad Al Achkar, Ang Zhao, Buddhika Jayamaha, Jahara "Franky" Matisek, William Reno, Molly Jahn, Therese Adam, Peter J. Schraeder, Juan Macias-Amoretti, Karim Bejjit
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University
  • Abstract: In the first issue of our 20th volume, the cooperative and conflictual nature of climate change in international relations is explored. Rafael Leal-Arcas analyzes the necessity of a symbiotic relationship between bottom-up and top-down negotiations to implement clean energy consumption. Following, Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia begin this issue's dialogue on climate change and security. Carmel Davis discusses the effects of climate change on Sub-Saharan Africa's ability to develop and subsequently mitigate conflict. Similarly, Ziad Al Achkar outlines the economic, environmental, and security threats in the Arctic as its ice continues to melt. Zhao Ang then discusses China's ability and incentives to pursuing a greener economy. Following, Buddikha Jayamaha, Jahara Matisek, William Reno, and Molly Jahn discuss the security and development of climate change implications in the Sahel region. The main portion of this issue proudly concludes with the Journal's interview with former Swiss Ambassador Therese Adam on climate change negotiations and the great potential for civil society engagement. Following the climate change portion of this issue, we feature a special sup-topic: Africa Rising. Here, Peter Schraeder discusses the effects of President Donald Trump's foreign policy in Africa. Juan Macías-Amoretti analyzes the role of Islam in Moroccan politics, while Karim Bejjit concludes with a discussion on Morocco's growing relationship with the AU.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Environment, Islam, Regional Cooperation, Conflict, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Europe, Asia, North Africa, Switzerland, Morocco, Sahel, Global Focus
  • Author: Mohamed Sahbi Khalfaoui
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: How can we understand the relation of political Islam in Tunisia with the human rights system in its indivisibility and universality? Since the establishment of the Tunisian Islamic Movement in the early seventies, it has worked extensively to articulate public positions addressing issues of human rights and freedoms. This relationship sprang from a dual position which juxtaposed full hostility to personal freedoms such as sexual rights and a relatively positive interaction with public freedoms. Then came the deliberations and process of ratification of the 2014 Constitution which was special in its emphasis on equality between women and men, freedom of belief, and criminalization of accusation of blasphemy. The repression of Islamists in Tunisia in the 1980s and 1990s was the most important factor that defined their position, views, and engagement with human rights principles. After the fall of former Tunisian President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, the return of the Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance) Movement to public activity was one of the most important features of the new political phase in the country. The Tunisian society was split between supporters and opponents of such a development. With the return of Ennahda and the emergence of other Islamist groups, especially the Salafis, the debate resumed over the position of Islamists towards human rights. While they attempted to include Islamic law (Sharia) as the main source of legislation in the constitution, Islamists continued to declare their belief in human rights principles. Some analysts were optimistic concerning a transformation in the Islamist ideology, while others insisted that Islamists were duplicitous, waiting until they are empowered enough to impose their project, which is inherently hostile to human rights. This paper is an attempt to review the Islamists’ positions on human rights and how they changed over time.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Islam, Constitution, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Mediterranean, Tunis
  • Author: Heba Raoul Ezzat
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Animosity has been the keyword in the relationship between Islamists and rights advocates for most of the past few years in Egypt. Islamists turned a blind eye to many crimes committed by the regime and its security agencies between 25 January 2011 and mid-2013. On the other hand, some rights advocates took part in mobilizing and supporting the opposition movement that led to the June 2013 demonstrations and the military seizing power. However, the killings, executions, and other egregious rights violations, then the direct confrontation between the regime and rights groups culminating in a more restrictive NGO law, led rights defenders to take a firmer position, by condemning the regime, and monitoring and documenting its violations. More Islamists are expected to see an opportunity in resorting to human rights advocacy. As such, this would mean accepting more cooperation, especially in terms of monitoring and documentation through various initiatives and institutions established after 2013. Led by a new generation of actors, will this cooperation be free from ideological conflicts? The paper seeks to review, in broad brushstrokes, the contours and important turning points of the relationship between the two groups of actors and outline a possible future trajectory.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, Islam, NGOs, Repression
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations, North Africa, Egypt, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ed Erickson, Christian H. Heller, T. J. Linzy, Mallory Needleman, Michael Auten, Anthony N. Celso, Keith D. Dickson, Jamie Shea, Ivan Falasca, Steven A. Yeadon, Joshua Tallis, Ian Klaus
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Advanced Military Studies
  • Institution: Marine Corps University Press, National Defense University
  • Abstract: There are a variety of reasons to study geopolitical rivalries, and analysts, officers, and politicians are rediscovering such reasons amid the tensions of the last several years. The best reason to study geopolitical rivalries is the simplest: our need to better understand how power works globally. Power not only recurs in human and state affairs but it is also at their very core. Today’s new lexicon—superpower, hyperpower, and great power—is only another reminder of the reality of the various ways that power manifests itself. Power protects and preserves, but a polity without it may be lost within mere decades. Keith D. Dickson’s article in this issue of MCU Journal, “The Challenge of the Sole Superpower in the Postmodern World Order,” illuminates how fuzzy some readers may be in their understanding of this problem; his article on postmodernism calls us to the labor of understanding and reasoning through the hard realities. Ed Erickson’s survey of modern power is replete with cases in which a grand state simply fell, as from a pedestal in a crash upon a stone floor. Modern Japan, always richly talented, rose suddenly as a world actor in the late nineteenth century, but the Japanese Empire fell much more quickly in the mid-twentieth century. A state’s power—or lack thereof—is an unforgiving reality. This issue of MCU Journal, with its focus on rivalries and competition between states, is refreshingly broad in its selection of factors—from competing for or generating power. Dr. Erickson recalls that Alfred Thayer Mahan settled on six conditions for sea power, all still vital. Other authors writing for this issue emphasize, by turns, sea power (Steven Yeadon, Joshua Tallis, and Ian Klaus); cyberpower (Jamie Shea); alliances (T. J. Linzy and Ivan Falasca); information (Dickson); and proxies (Michael Auten, Anthony N. Celso, and others).
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Islam, Terrorism, War, History, Power Politics, Military Affairs, European Union, Seapower, Cities, Ottoman Empire, Hybrid Warfare , Cyberspace, Soviet Union, Safavid Empire
  • Political Geography: Britain, Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Lithuania, Georgia, North Africa, Syria, North America, United States of America