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  • Author: Robert McNally
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: As OPEC has loosened its grip over the past ten years, the oil market has been rocked by wild price swings, the likes of which haven't been seen for eight decades. Crafting an engrossing journey from the gushing Pennsylvania oil fields of the 1860s to today's fraught and fractious Middle East, Crude Volatility explains how past periods of stability and volatility in oil prices help us understand the new boom-bust era. Oil's notorious volatility has always been considered a scourge afflicting not only the oil industry but also the broader economy and geopolitical landscape; Robert McNally makes sense of how oil became so central to our world and why it is subject to such extreme price fluctuations. Tracing a history marked by conflict, intrigue, and extreme uncertainty, McNally shows how—even from the oil industry's first years—wild and harmful price volatility prompted industry leaders and officials to undertake extraordinary efforts to stabilize oil prices by controlling production. Herculean market interventions—first, by Rockefeller's Standard Oil, then, by U.S. state regulators in partnership with major international oil companies, and, finally, by OPEC—succeeded to varying degrees in taming the beast. McNally, a veteran oil market and policy expert, explains the consequences of the ebbing of OPEC's power, debunking myths and offering recommendations—including mistakes to avoid—as we confront the unwelcome return of boom and bust oil prices.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil, OPEC
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231543682
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Asaad Al-Saleh
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Narrated by dozens of activists and everyday individuals, this book documents the unprecedented events that led to the collapse of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Beginning in 2011, these stories offer unique access to the message that inspired citizens to act, their experiences during revolt, and the lessons they learned from some of the most dramatic changes and appalling events to occur in the history of the Arab world. The riveting, revealing, and sometimes heartbreaking stories in this volume also include voices from Syria. Featuring participants from a variety of social and educational backgrounds and political commitments, these personal stories of action represent the Arab Spring's united and broad social movements, collective identities, and youthful character. For years, the volume's participants lived under regimes that brutally suppressed free expression and protest. Their testimony speaks to the multifaceted emotional, psychological, and cultural factors that motivated citizens to join together to struggle against their oppressors.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Insurgency, Authoritarianism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231163194
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Nanna Hvidt, Hans Mouritzen (eds.)
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Danish Foreign Policy and the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2013 were marked by the continuing economic and political diffusion of power on the global stage – a development that generates dynamism and new opportunities in the globalised world, but also challenges the position of Europe. The Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs describes the political and economic developments in the world – which have led to a far-reaching reorganisation of Danish diplomatic representations abroad – and analyses the most important Danish foreign policy priorities of 2013. The article emphasizes trends in the EU, in international security, and regarding the Arctic and the transatlantic dimensions, as well as developments in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and finally global development trends.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Elazar Barkan
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: This anthology explores the dynamics of shared religious sites in Turkey, the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, and Algeria, indicating where local and national stakeholders maneuver between competition and cooperation, coexistence and conflict. Contributors probe the notion of coexistence and the logic that underlies centuries of "sharing," exploring when and why sharing gets interrupted--or not--by conflict, and the policy consequences. These essays map the choreographies of shared sacred spaces within the framework of state-society relations, juxtaposing a site's political and religious features and exploring whether sharing or contestation is primarily religious or politically motivated. Although religion and politics are intertwined phenomena, the contributors to this volume understand the category of "religion" and the "political" as devices meant to distinguish between the theological and confessional aspects of religion and the political goals of groups. Their comparative approach better represents the transition in some cases of sites into places of hatred and violence, while in other instances they remain noncontroversial. The essays clearly delineate the religious and political factors that contribute to the context and causality of conflict at these sites and draw on history and anthropology to shed light on the often rapid switch from relative tolerance to distress to peace and calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Religion, International Affairs, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231169943
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Why did Tunisian protests following the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi lead to a massive wave of uprisings across the entire Arab world? Who participated in those protests, and what did they hope to achieve? Why did some leaders fall in the face of popular mobilization while others found ways to survive? And what have been the lasting results of the contentious politics of 2011 and 2012? The Arab uprisings pose stark challenges to the political science of the Middle East, which for decades had focused upon the resilience of entrenched authoritarianism, the relative weakness of civil society, and what seemed to be the largely contained diffusion of new norms and ideas through new information technologies. In this volume, leading scholars in the field take a sharp look at the causes, dynamics, and effects of the Arab uprisings. Compiled by one of the foremost experts on Middle East politics and society, The Arab Uprisings Explained offers a fresh rethinking of established theories and presents a new framework through which scholars and general readers can better grasp the fast-developing events remaking the region. These essays not only advance the study of political science in the Middle East but also integrate the subject seamlessly into the wider political science literature. Deeply committed to the study of this region and working out the kinks of the discipline, the contributors to this volume help scholars and policymakers across the world approach this unprecedented historical period smartly and effectively.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231158848
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Joel S. Migdal
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Joel S. Migdal revisits the approach U.S. officials have adopted toward the Middle East since World War II, which paid scant attention to tectonic shifts in the region. After the war, the United States did not restrict its strategic model to the Middle East. Beginning with Harry S. Truman, American presidents applied a uniform strategy rooted in the country's Cold War experience in Europe to regions across the globe, designed to project America into nearly every corner of the world while limiting costs and overreach. The approach was simple: find a local power that could play Great Britain's role in Europe after the war, sharing the burden of exercising power, and establish a security alliance along the lines of NATO. Yet regional changes following the creation of Israel, the Free Officers Coup in Egypt, the rise of Arab nationalism from 1948 to 1952, and, later, the Iranian Revolution and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 complicated this project. Migdal shows how insufficient attention to these key transformations led to a series of missteps and misconceptions in the twentieth century. With the Arab uprisings of 2009 through 2011 prompting another major shift, Migdal sees an opportunity for the United States to deploy a new, more workable strategy, and he concludes with a plan for gaining a stable foothold in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231536349
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Rashid Khalidi
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Under Siege is Rashid Khalidi's firsthand account of the 1982 Lebanon War and the complex negotiations for the evacuation of the P.L.O. from Beirut. Utilizing unconventional sources and interviews with key officials and diplomats, Khalidi paints a detailed portrait of the siege and ensuing massacres, providing insight into the military pressure experienced by the P.L.O., the war's impact on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, and diplomatic efforts by the United States. A new preface by Khalidi considers developments across the Middle East in the thirty years since the conflict. The preface also cites recently declassified Israeli documents to offer surprising new revelations about the roles and responsibilities of both Israeli leaders and American diplomats in the tragic coda to the war, the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231061865
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Wael B. Hallaq
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Wael B. Hallaq boldly argues that the "Islamic state," judged by any standard definition of what the modern state represents, is both impossible and inherently self-contradictory. Comparing the legal, political, moral, and constitutional histories of premodern Islam and Euro-America, he finds the adoption and practice of the modern state to be highly problematic for modern Muslims. He also critiques more expansively modernity's moral predicament, which renders impossible any project resting solely on ethical foundations. The modern state not only suffers from serious legal, political, and constitutional issues, Hallaq argues, but also, by its very nature, fashions a subject inconsistent with what it means to be, or to live as, a Muslim. By Islamic standards, the state's technologies of the self are severely lacking in moral substance, and today's Islamic state, as Hallaq shows, has done little to advance an acceptable form of genuine Shari'a governance. The Islamists' constitutional battles in Egypt and Pakistan, the Islamic legal and political failures of the Iranian Revolution, and similar disappointments underscore this fact. Nevertheless, the state remains the favored template of the Islamists and the ulama (Muslim clergymen). Providing Muslims with a path toward realizing the good life, Hallaq turns to the rich moral resources of Islamic history. Along the way, he proves political and other "crises of Islam" are not unique to the Islamic world nor to the Muslim religion. These crises are integral to the modern condition of both East and West, and by acknowledging these parallels, Muslims can engage more productively with their Western counterparts.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231162579
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Jonathan Lyons
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens any prospect for East-West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox News and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in a dangerous, dead-end politics that it cannot afford. In Islam Through Western Eyes, Jonathan Lyons unpacks Western habits of thinking and writing about Islam, conducting a careful analysis of the West's grand totalizing narrative across one thousand years of history. He observes the discourse's corrosive effects on the social sciences, including sociology, politics, philosophy, theology, international relations, security studies, and human rights scholarship. He follows its influence on research, speeches, political strategy, and government policy, preventing the West from responding effectively to its most significant twenty-first-century challenges: the rise of Islamic power, the emergence of religious violence, and the growing tension between established social values and multicultural rights among Muslim immigrant populations. Through the intellectual "archaeology" of Michel Foucault, Lyons reveals the workings of this discourse and its underlying impact on our social, intellectual, and political lives. He then addresses issues of deep concern to Western readers--Islam and modernity, Islam and violence, and Islam and women--and proposes new ways of thinking about the Western relationship to the Islamic world.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Political Theory, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231158954
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Joseph Cirincione
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: There is a high risk that someone will use, by accident or design, one or more of the 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. Many thought such threats ended with the Cold War or that current policies can prevent or contain nuclear disaster. They are dead wrong--these weapons, possessed by states large and small, stable and unstable, remain an ongoing nightmare. Joseph Cirincione surveys the best thinking and worst fears of experts specializing in nuclear warfare and assesses the efforts to reduce or eliminate these nuclear dangers. His book offers hope: in the 1960s, twenty-three states had nuclear weapons and research programs; today, only nine states have weapons. More countries have abandoned nuclear weapon programs than have developed them, and global arsenals are just one-quarter of what they were during the Cold War. Yet can these trends continue, or are we on the brink of a new arms race--or worse, nuclear war? A former member of Senator Obama's nuclear policy team, Cirincione helped shape the policies unveiled in Prague in 2009, and, as president of an organization intent on reducing nuclear threats, he operates at the center of debates on nuclear terrorism, new nuclear nations, and the risks of existing arsenals.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, East Asia
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231164054
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Michael W. S. Ryan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: By consulting the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda theoreticians, Michael W. S. Ryan finds jihadist terrorism strategy has more in common with the principles of Maoist guerrilla warfare than mainstream Islam. Encouraging strategists and researchers to devote greater attention to jihadi ideas rather than jihadist military operations, Ryan builds an effective framework for analyzing al-Qaeda's plans against America and constructs a compelling counternarrative to the West's supposed "war on Islam." Ryan examines the Salafist roots of al-Qaeda ideology and the contributions of its most famous founders, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a political-military context. He also reads the Arabic-language works of lesser known theoreticians who have played an instrumental role in framing al-Qaeda's so-called war of the oppressed. These authors readily cite the guerrilla strategies of Mao, Che Guevara, and the mastermind of the Vietnam War, General Giap. They also incorporate the arguments of American theorists writing on "fourth-generation warfare." Through these texts, readers experience events as insiders see them, and by concentrating on the activities and pronouncements of al-Qaeda's thought leaders, especially in Yemen, they discern the direct link between al-Qaeda's tactics and trends in anti-U.S. terrorism. Ryan shows al-Qaeda's political-military strategy to be a revolutionary and largely secular departure from the classic Muslim conception of jihad, adding invaluable dimensions to the operational, psychological, and informational strategies already deployed by America's military in the region.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231533270
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements - the most organized movements in the Arab world - became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology - even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form - remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Islam, Self Determination, Political Activism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Hans Mouritzen (ed), Nanna Hvidt (ed)
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs analyses Danish foreign-policy priorities in 2011. The troublesome situation for the global econ-omy, including an uncertain outlook for the future, was the most impor-tant backdrop for Danish foreign policy in that year. Low growth prospects, combined with high levels of public debt, had wide foreign-policy implica-tions, amongst other things for the agenda of the EU and as a result also for the preparations for the Danish EU Presidency in the first half of 2012. This article therefore takes its point of departure in the state of the global economy, the state of the European economies and the challenges that this presented to the EU. It then goes on to discuss the emerging world powers, the Arab Spring, the world's conflict areas, security policy, Denmark's north-ern neighbours and various global issues, such as development cooperation, green growth and human rights. Finally, some reflections are offered on the core tasks of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time when there is increased pressure on Denmark's public finances and the world influence of Denmark's traditional partners and allies is waning.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Arab Countries, Denmark, North Africa
  • Author: Samuel Musa, John Morgan, Matt Keegan
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: At the time of this writing, the United States and the other members of the International Security Assistance Forces are completing nearly a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. What started as more conventional or traditional fights has degenerated over time into insurgency warfare, something U.S. Forces have had to re-learn and re-build to fight. Re-learn and re-build are key elements as U.S. Forces have fought insurgencies in the past, but consistently maintained forces to fight more conventional warfare. Counterinsurgency (COIN) is very different from armored vehicles rolling through the Fulda Gap, or the race to Baghdad. It is a fight not against a Government as much as it is a fight for control of the mind-set of the population by non-state actors in a race to gain popular support. It is a grassroots battle that not only requires military force, but security established at the local level through everyday police presence that represents the Rule of Law, the national Government, and safety and stability locally. It is against this backdrop that the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) and the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) came together to look at Policing and COIN and the ways, methods, and techniques that could be shared to help overcome the insurgencies Coalition forces face. The efforts of the CTNSP at the National Defense University (NDU) and the CTTSO culminated in a one-day workshop held on September 29, 2010, on Policing and COIN Operations: Lessons Learned, Strategies, and Future Directions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Mark Kukis
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Featuring the testimony of close to seventy Iraqis from all walks of life, Voices from Iraq builds a riveting chronological history unmatched for its insight and revelations. Here is a history of the war in Iraq as told entirely by Iraqis living through the U.S. invasion and occupation. Beginning in 2003, this intimate narrative includes the experiential accounts of civilians, politicians, former dissidents, insurgents, and militiamen. Iraqis offering firsthand stories range from onetime Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to resistance fighters speaking on the condition of anonymity. Divided into five parts, these interviews recount the 2003 invasion; Iraq's gradual slide into chaos from 2004 to 2005; the start of a new order in 2006; the rise of open sectarian violence over the next two years; and the effort since 2008 to reconstruct a society from relative calm. Each section includes interviews grouped into themes, with brief epilogues for the participants. Not since Studs Terkel's The Good War has a book captured so acutely the human consequences of a conflict we are still struggling to understand. Voices from Iraq makes utterly vivid the meaning and legacy of America's campaign in Iraq.
  • Topic: War, Reconstruction, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231527569
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Abdallah Shalaby, Salah al-Din al-Jurshi, Mostafa El-Nabaraway, Moheb Zaki, Qays Jawad Azzawi, Antoine Nasri Messarra
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The situation in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries concerning the state of the democracy has been on top of the agendas of not only political entities, but also civil society organizations, academia and the international media, with an intensifying frequency for the past decade. While the citizens of respective MENA countries deserve and demand better political, social, and economic conditions, the current state of affairs in many MENA countries is unfortunately far from ideal in terms of civic rights, freedoms, and other socio-political conditions.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Steven R. Ward
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Georgetown University Press
  • Abstract: In 1978 Iran And Its Armed Forces seemed to stand at the peak of their power and prestige in the modern era. Bountiful oil revenues and a strategic position overlooking the vital Persian Gulf oil export routes boosted Iran's standing in the world. Cold War competition made Iran a recipient of Western and Soviet arms and attention. Iran had just passed Egypt, a far more populous country, in having the largest armed forces in the Middle East. In fact, the Iranian military was outpacing some large European countries in the quantity and sophistication of its equipment. Iran was the only country other than the United States to possess the state- of- the- art F- 14 Tomcat fighter. Iran's military also was funding the development of the advanced British Challenger tank with its then revolutionary Chobham composite armor. These programs rep- resented only the middle stages of an extravagant rearmament process, with numerous sophisticated ground, air, and naval systems on order. In addition, the Iranian armed forces, the Artesh, had polished their reputation by gaining combat experience battling rebels in neighboring Oman and by participating in a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Ami Pedahsur
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: While Mossad is known as one of the world's most successful terrorist-fighting organizations, the state of Israel has, more than once and on many levels, risked the lives of its agents and soldiers through unwise intelligence-based intervention. An expert on terror and political extremism, Ami Pedahzur argues that Israel's strict reliance on the elite units of its intelligence community is fundamentally flawed. A unique synthesis of memoir, academic research, and information gathered from print and online sources, Pedahzur's complex study explores this issue through Israel's past encounters with terrorists, specifically, hostage rescue missions, the first and second wars in Lebanon, the challenges of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Hezbollah. He brings a rare transparency to Israel's counterterrorist activities, highlighting their successes and failures and the factors that have contributed to these results. From the foundations of this analysis, Pedahzur ultimately builds a strategy for future confrontation that has relevance not only for Israel but also for other countries that have adopted Israel's intelligence-based model.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231511612
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Ami Pedahsur, Arie Perlinger
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Two world experts on the study of terror and security propose a theory of violence that contextualizes not only recent acts of terror but also instances of terrorism that stretch back centuries. Beginning with ancient Palestine and its encounters with Jewish terrorism, the authors analyze the social, political, and cultural factors sponsoring extreme violence, proving that religious terrorism is not the fault of one faith, but flourishes within any counterculture adhering to a totalistic ideology. Conducting interviews with former Jewish terrorists, political and spiritual leaders, and law-enforcement officials, and culling information from rare documents and surveys of terrorist networks, Pedahzur and Perliger construct an extensive portrait of terrorist aggression while also describing the conditions behind the modern rise of zealotry.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231520751
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Wolfgang Danspeckgruber
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Afghanistan represents one of the most unique combinations a country and its society may offer. It is a country with a challenging and unforgiving but majestic geography which favors independence both to the central authorities in the capital but also to potential intruders from the outside. It holds a unique geopolitical location south and east of the Hindukush connecting Central Asia to South Asia, and the Middle East to each of them. It is home to a proud, independent people with a history of ages-old religions and diverse cultures, but also of conflict and war. The Afghans and their country stand out in terms of drama, disadvantages and sometimes even simple suffering, witnessing nearly three decades – an entire generation – of warfare and civil strife. Afghanistan too is home to one of the most archaic societies north of the Indian Ocean. It has very little transportation or energy infrastructure, one of the world's highest rates of poverty, and some of the lowest levels of literacy, health care and GDP per capita. However, Afghanistan is today the world's most important opium producer and is centrally located in a region marked by high population and poverty with tendencies toward fundamentalist religious expression. Afghanistan itself became a base of Islamic militancy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East