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  • Author: Mohsin Khan, Karim Merzan
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a civil society group comprising the Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, 2015 "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia." In a new Atlantic Council Issue Brief, "Tunisia: The Last Arab Spring Country," Atlantic Council Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Senior Fellows Mohsin Khan and Karim Mezran survey the successes of Tunisia's consensus-based transition and the challenges that lie ahead. "The decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet is an extremely important recognition of the efforts made by Tunisian civil society and Tunisia's political elite to reach a consensus on keeping the country firmly on the path to democratization and transition to a pluralist system," says Mezran. With the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia embarked on a process of democratization widely regarded as an example for transitions in the region. The National Dialogue Conference facilitated by the Quartet helped Tunisia avert the risk of plunging into civil war and paved the way for a consensus agreement on Tunisia's new constitution, adopted in January 2014. In the brief, the authors warn that despite political successes, Tunisia is hampered by the absence of economic reforms. Facing the loss of tourism and investment following two terror attacks, Tunisia's economy risks collapse, endangering all of the painstaking political progress gained thus far. Unless the Tunisian government moves rapidly to turn the economy around, Tunisia risks unraveling its fragile transition.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, Tunisia
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Three years into Egypt's post-Mubarak transition, the near-term prospects for democratization are bleak. The military-security alliance that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, in July 2013 is consolidating power. Government repression against the Islamist opposition, and more recently against secular dissenters, is harsher and society is more polarized than in any point in recent memory.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Duncan Pickard, Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Among the many problems facing Libya's troubled transition to democracy is the challenge of constructing a state in a country with a legacy of weak institutions. Muammar al-Qaddafi's brutal forty-two-year dictatorship employed a policy of de-institutionalization, leaving the presence of the state feeble throughout the country. Those organs that were powerful, including the secret security apparatus, lost their leader with Qaddafi's fall in 2011, leaving a power vacuum that nonstate actors have scrambled to fill. Some of the most influential political groups in Libya today are militias formed during and after the revolution. Although some are loosely affiliated with the ministries of interior or defense, most, if not all, do not demonstrate any particular loyalty to the government. Militias have kidnapped the prime minister (the militia responsible called it an “arrest”), assassinated judges and police officers, physically occupied the office of the justice minister, and engaged in an urban battle in Tripoli. They also seek to advance their political interests—which vary, but include influence over officials, rent seeking, and some Islamist agendas—with threats against ministries or officials. And yet the state relies on militias to provide essential security services such as running checkpoints and protecting the airport because no ministry force is up to the task. The ascendancy of these militias points to two troubling realities: the state lacks a monopoly over the use of force and the country faces an ongoing deterioration of the rule of law.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011 passed Algeria by. While there were sporadic street demonstrations calling for political change, principally in the country's capital Algiers, they quickly petered out due to lack of support from the general public. Unlike in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the political power system in Algeria remained intact. The autocratic government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been the president since 1999, retained complete control, culminating in his reelection on April 17 for a fourth term despite his obviously failing health.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance, Social Movement, Popular Revolt, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Richard LeBaron
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two important issues are testing relations between the United States and its allies in the Gulf: democratic transitions in the Arab world and regional security. Their outcome will either strengthen or disrupt what has been a long-term partnership. The United States and its Gulf allies are well into their second year of reacting to, and attempting to influence, the rapid political change in the Middle East and North Africa, but their efforts are informed by differing motivations. Meanwhile the looming threat of Iran attaining nuclear weapons has brought greater urgency to efforts to enhance Gulf security, but also some disquiet in the Gulf about any possible US deal with Iran that would serve global non-proliferation interests but threaten their vital regional security interests.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Africa, North America
  • Author: Mahmoud Hamad
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Egypt's judiciary has played a central role in the country's transition since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. The political forces that led the uprising agreed on almost nothing except their profound rejection of dictatorship, corruption, and injustice. The military generals who took over from Mubarak lacked the imagination or the will to set out a clear roadmap to democracy. Ultimately, it fell to the judiciary to shape many aspects of the transition. In the legally murky climate of the past two years, judges drew fire from forces across the political spectrum, issuing decisions affecting the public perception of their objectivity.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Fadel Laman, Eric Knecht
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Piecing together the nascent political picture in Libya is essential to understanding the current roadblocks to democracy. Unlike Egypt, no single party, force, or personality anchors the political scene. Unlike Tunisia, no coalition provides a gauge of the relative strength of political groups. In Libya, where parties were banned even before the reign of Muammar al-Qaddafi, post-revolution politics remain fluid, loyalties fleeting, and ideological fault lines less defined than in its North African neighbors. Nevertheless, ten months after the country's first free elections, an early snapshot of the contemporary political scene is coming into focus.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Yasmin Alem
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iran has never had what the West would regard as free, fair, and competitive elections. Some would point to the brief periods following the 1906 Constitutional Revolution and between the end of World War II and 1953, when a CIA-backed coup re-installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as possible exceptions to this rule. The upcoming presidential elections this June will be no such exception, with candidates restricted to eight proven loyalists to the regime. Nevertheless, the vote will be an important barometer of the stability and durability of an embattled regime that is increasingly unpopular domestically and isolated internationally. The elections will also produce a new turn of the kaleidoscope within Iran's shrinking political elite, as existing factions break apart and regroup. The next president is likely to be more moderate in tone, if not in policy, and more competent and less divisive than the outgoing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This could have important implications not just for the country's domestic course but for Iran's confrontation with the United States and the international community over the nuclear question.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tunisians are waiting for a new constitution to cement a democratic order after decades of dictatorship. The constitution-making process has dominated politics since the January 2011 revolution; what can be expected when the constitution is complete? How will presidential and parliamentary elections proceed under this new constitution, expected early next year? Although the constitution will initiate a form of legal stability, party politics and new institutional arrangements could converge to complicate decision-making and obscure consensus.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Governance
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Although it appears Jordan has survived the Arab uprisings thus far, all is not well in the Hashemite Kingdom. Over the past twenty years, its political economy has changed profoundly, putting pressure on the foundations of regime stability. The state in Jordan has been retreating from many citizens' economic lives, shrinking its circle of privilege and patronage, and leaving the population to fend for itself in a dysfunctional economy. Worryingly, the segment of the population most affected is the monarchy's base, which sees the Palestinian-Jordanian population as benefiting from the new status quo. Today, Jordan is also coping with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom may remain in the country long term. Yet the real danger to the monarchy's stability is not the immediate cost of refugee care but the alienation of its traditional power base.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Sean R. Roberts
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In looking at twenty years of independence in the former Soviet region of Central Asia, Kazakhstan stands out in most respects as a stable oasis in a desert of uncertainty. It is the wealthiest country in Central Asia. It has not suffered any serious conflict since gaining independence, and the development of its economy, financial sector, and private sector has been steadily moving forward as has its engagement with the global economy. It is little wonder, therefore, that the most stable and fruitful bilateral partnership for the United States in the region over the past twenty years has been with the Republic of Kazakhstan. US-Kazakhstan relations have never experienced a significant crisis, and there has been ongoing cooperation between the two countries in a variety of areas, including nuclear non-proliferation, economic development, and energy extraction.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kazakhstan
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With Egypt in the midst of a political transition, this is a crucial time to rethink the US's relationship with Egypt, argues Atlantic Council Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Michele Dunne in this policy brief for the Project on Middle East Democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey Lightfoot, Simona Kordosova
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Imagine for a moment if in the autumn of 1945 the great leaders of the transatlantic community had let the ravages and cynicism of war strip them of their vision, ambition, and hope for a better future for mankind. Who could have blamed Jean Monnet, Harry Truman, Robert Schumann, George Marshall, and others if they had decided that the idea of forging an enduring Atlantic community of shared security, prosperity, and values was just too difficult to achieve and too hard to explain to their embittered and weary citizens? Yet without their sheer will to overcome Europe's history of chauvinistic bloodshed and America's instincts for insularity, the world would be far less safe and free.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Democratization, Globalization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Fadel Lamen
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fragile progress towards a more pluralistic, if not yet democratic, Libya is threatened by several serious security problems. Car bombings, political assassinations of high ranking officials, attacks on foreign diplomatic staff and NGOs, and violent quarrels between armed militiamen have become daily events. It is in the interests of the United States and other members of the international community to aid Libya's nascent government in achieving national reconciliation to avoid an otherwise inevitable descent into anarchy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Diplomacy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Mara Revkin, Yussef Auf
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: All eyes are on the ballot box as Egypt prepares for the second round of the first post-Mubarak presidential election on June 16-17, a controversial run-off between the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP, the party founded by the Muslim Brotherhood) candidate Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, two of the most polarizing candidates in the race who together won only 49 percent of the votes cast in the first stage of polling on May 23-24. Egyptians are now faced with a choice between Islamists—who already hold a parliamentary majority and now stand to gain control of two out of the three branches of government—and a symbol of the former regime and military establishment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: On October 28, 2012, Ukraine will hold parliamentary elections—the country's sixth since gaining independence in 1991 and first since presidential and local elections that took place in January-February and October 2010, respectively.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since October 2011, the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia has been negotiating and drafting the republic's new constitution, which is intended to institutionalize a new democratic system in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled the dictatorship in January. While the Assembly is still several months away from completing its work and some major issues, notably the system of government, have yet to be resolved, some important lessons have nonetheless emerged that might prove useful for other constitution-making processes worldwide, especially in neighboring Libya.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As Egypt prepares to hold its first post-Tahrir elections, the transitional military government is trying to turn de facto influence into de jure powers written into the new constitution, such as freedom from civilian control over senior appointments and budgetary oversight. While most political parties have agreed not to challenge the extensive influence and economic perquisites of the military for now—understanding that full civilian oversight might take years to achieve—allowing the military to formalize such powers would create enormous new obstacles to eventual democratization. Egypt is now in danger of producing a post-revolutionary system similar to that of Pakistan, where elected civilian institutions are relatively powerless while unelected and unaccountable military and intelligence services actually run the country, fanning the flames of sectarianism and terrorism.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East
  • Author: Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: While ownership of the transition belongs to those who initiated and drove the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the West has a great stake in the outcome. A failure of these revolutions would likely lead to a rise in radicalism across the Arab world, increased threats to the security and stability of the Mediterranean region, potential disruption in energy flows to Europe and beyond, and enhanced pressures on migration to Europe, both legal and illegal.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Lincoln A. Mitchell, David L. Phillips
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Research Project on Enhancing Democracy Assistance is undertaken by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and the Atlantic Council of the United States. This report recognizes that democracy assistance is essential to the promotion of US foreign policy and global interests, and offers political and technical recommendations in order to enhance democracy assistance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Globalization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Adrian Karatnycky, Jan Neutze
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Ukraine is facing a considerable challenge from corruption, which our research showed is present in nearly all levels of government and politics, the judiciary, and business. It is the view of the Task Force that corruption has become so severe that it has the potential to threaten Ukraine's political and economic stability as well as the country's European Union membership aspirations. While Ukraine has made progress since the Orange Revolution in areas such as developing an independent media and a more active civil society, its political leaders have failed to fulfi ll the core promise of the Revolution by effectively addressing corruption. Instead, our research revealed that public suspicions about corruption at the highest reaches of political power are widespread in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Eastern Europe