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  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's murder of Jordanian hostage Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was both a message to the group's fighters that it can counter the coalition's relentless airstrikes as well as an offensive move designed to provoke a high-profile overreaction The air campaign against the Islamic State has been relentless while at the same time has receded from the headlines-a double blow to the group in that it suffers the losses but doesn't benefit from the attendant spectacle The drawn-out 'negotiations' over this past month-while the hostage was already dead-were likely intended to sow division and tension in Jordan, and draw attention to the issue as long as possible before the gruesome finale While Jordan is understandably enraged and will have to strike back, the most effective response might be an escalation that continues to kill the group's fighters away from the headlines.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Nearly two years have passed since the end of Colonel Qaddafi's dictatorship, but all is not well in Libya. What began as a popular uprising - that later gained international support through UN Security Council Resolution 1973 - has now turned into a potentially toxic security vacuum, culminating in the resignation of Chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush on 10 June and repeated clashes between civilians and a legalised militia in Benghazi which have left at least 35 people dead.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Crime, Islam, Regime Change, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Patrick Nopens
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Three major geopolitical events are putting the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean at risk. Most of the region is in a deep monetary and economic crisis. The Arab Spring is causing turmoil in the Levant and the Maghreb. Gas and oil discoveries, if not well managed, could further destabilise the region. At the same time, Russia and Turkey are staging a comeback. In the face of these challenges, the EU approaches the Greek sovereign debt crisis nearly exclusively from a financial and economic viewpoint. This brief argues that the EU has to develop a comprehensive strategy for the region, complementing its existing multilateral regional framework with bilateral agreements in order to secure its interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Topic: Security, Debt, Oil, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Arabia
  • Author: Derek Lutterbeck
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Tunisia under Ben Ali was a police state par excellence and reforming the country's internal security apparatus has thus been one of the major challenges since the long-standing autocrat's fall. This policy brief examines the various efforts to reform Tunisia's internal security system in the post-Ben Ali period and the challenges this process faces. It argues that reforms in this area have been limited so far, focusing mainly on purges rather than on broader structural or institutional reform of the country's police force. Moreover, not only have human rights violations committed by the police – despite important improvements – continued on a significant scale, but there are also concerns that the police will once again be instrumentalised for political purposes, this time by the Ennahda-led government. Indications to this effect have included in particular the seeming complacency of the police vis-à-vis the growth in religiously inspired violence. The recent killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid in the first political assassination in Tunisia since Ben Ali's fall has further underscored the need to reform the country's internal security system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Human Rights, Regime Change, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In 2011, Arab security forces, long suspected to be inextricably linked to their respective regimes, once again became decisive political agents in their own right: agents of change, agents of repression and, in some cases, both. Their facilitation or suppression of democratic transitions has sparked a long-overdue debate on security sector reform in the Arab world. What are the main features of security sectors in the region? What are the main obstacles to reform? And why is this debate taking place only now?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Persian Gulf states of Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have largely been immune to the rising tide of sectarianism that has rocked the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. The three monarchies have successfully integrated their Shi'ite minority populations into their countries' sociopolitical and economic spheres, giving those populations little reason to engage in violence or seek political guidance from Iran or Iraq. Omani, Qatari, and Emirati Shi'ites strongly identify themselves as citizens of their respective countries and remain loyal to their ruling regimes. However, the spillover effects of the Syrian civil war—a sectarian conflict between the Shi'ite Iran-Hezbollah-Assad axis and the opposition groups backed by regional Sunni governments—are threatening Sunni-Shi'ite stability in the UAE, Qatar, and to a lesser degree, Oman. The United States should help maintain harmony in these states by reaching out to independent Shi'ite business communities and by working with regional leaders to ensure equal citizenship, political rights, and religious freedom among minority populations.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Post Colonialism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: For decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, and the ­Kingdom's stability remains vital for US strategic interests in the region. While antigovernment protests in the Kingdom's Sunni-majority regions have been small and sporadic in the wake of Arab Spring, there has been an unremitting unrest in the strategic Eastern Province, home to Saudi Arabia's marginalized Shi'ite minority and major oil fields. As in the 1980s, if government repression and discrimination push the Shi'ites to extremes, some may resort to violence and terrorism, jeopardizing American interests in the region, benefitting Iran and ­al-Qaeda, disrupting the equilibrium of global oil markets, and adversely affecting economic recovery in the West. To ensure lasting stability in the Kingdom, the United States must work with the Saudi government to achieve gradual but meaningful reforms that include integrating the Shi'ites into the Kingdom's sociopolitical system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Fatemah Aman
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: When compared to its often rocky relations with Arab countries to the west, the Islamic Republic of Iran has managed to retain largely cordial ties with its neighbors to the east. Historic linguistic, religious, and cultural connections have helped Iran keep its influence in South Asia and become a key trading partner despite US-led sanctions. Because of its strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, Iran provides India with access to Afghanistan and Central Asia that does not require transit through Pakistan. However, Iran and its neighbors, including Pakistan, face acute challenges such as scarce and poorly managed water resources, ethnic insurgencies, energy imbalances, and drug trafficking that require regional solutions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iran, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Arabia, North America, Persia
  • Author: Karim Emile Bitar
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Writing in September 2011, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley pointed out that the Arab awakening was "a tale of three battles rolled into one: people against regimes; people against people and regimes against other regimes." Nowhere is this more evident than in Syria where all three dimensions are forcefully present, simultaneously making Syria arguably the most complex of all Arab revolutions. The Syrian revolution started in March 2011 as an inevitable, spontaneous, legitimate and overwhelmingly non-violent movement, much akin to the Arab Spring revolutions that had taken place in Tunisia and Egypt. While the underlying political, economic and demographic causes of the Syrian uprising were quite similar to those which triggered the earlier revolutions, the regime's brutal reaction, Syria's geostrategic positioning and its sectarian heterogeneity, as well as the political agendas of regional and international powers led the revolution to morph into a bloody civil war.
  • Topic: Security, Demographics, Economics, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sumathy Permal
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Maritime Institute of Malaysia
  • Abstract: The Indian Ocean (IO) is the world’s third largest ocean with an area of 73.5 million sq. km or 28.5 million sq. miles. It is strategically located adjacent to Asia in the North, Australia to the East, Antarctica to the South, and Africa to the West. IO forms two large indentations in South Asia, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The ocean can be accessed through several chokepoints i.e., from the West via Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Madagascar, from the North via the Bab el-Mandeb at the end of the Red Sea; the Sunda and Lombok-Straits and the Ombai-Wetar-Straits and the Straits of Hormuz at the exit of the Persian Gulf, from the East via the Straits of Malacca and, by way of geographical extension, to the South China Sea.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, International Trade and Finance, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Malaysia, Asia, Arabia, Kobani
  • Author: Daniel Seidemann
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: What are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's real intentions vis-à-vis Israeli–Palestinian negotiations and the two-state solution? What does he really want? Speculation aside, a great deal can be gleaned about both Netanyahu's core beliefs and his intentions by examining his words and his actions with respect to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is universally recognised as a key permanent status issue, which, for any peace agreement, will require the reconciling of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims as well as recognition and protection of Jewish, Muslim and Christian equities. In the context of the current political stalemate, however, it has become much more than that. Today, Jerusalem is both the volcanic core of the conflict – the place where religion and nationalism meet and combine in a potentially volatile mix – and a microcosm of the conflict and the imbalance of power that characterises developments on the ground.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Judy Barsalou
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The dominance of neo-patriarchal, semi-authoritarian regimes with little interest in justice, accountability or other values associated with democratic governance has meant that, until recently, the Arab region has had limited experience with transitional justice (TJ). Several states have started down the TJ path since the emergence of the “Arab Spring”, but their progress is uneven. In Egypt, much depends on the nature and speed of the transition, whose outcomes remain uncertain. Whether and how Arab transitional states embrace TJ – especially how they manage the fates of their deposed rulers and essential institutional reforms – will indicate whether they intend to break with the past and build public institutions that inspire civic trust.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Lara El-Jazairi, Fionna Smyth
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The Jordan Valley, located in the eastern part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), makes up 30 per cent of the West Bank (see Map 1 on page 7). Requisitions and expropriations of Palestinian land by the Israeli authorities continue to destroy the livelihoods of Palestinians living in the area and, unless action is taken, there are strong indications that the situation will only get worse. The Israeli government recently announced proposals and policies for the expansion of settlements, which, if implemented, will further threaten the living conditions and human rights of Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, undermining efforts to bring peace and prosperity to the OPT and Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Agriculture, Development, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Martin Hartberg
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreed between the Government of Israel and Hamas on 21 November 2012, following the recent military escalation in Gaza and southern Israel, provides an unprecedented opportunity to end the cycle of violence that has affected too many innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians. In the ceasefire understanding, the parties agreed to negotiate 'opening the crossings' into the Gaza Strip and to put an end to 'restricting residents' free movement and targeting residents in border areas'. It is therefore also a unique chance to once and for all lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of Gaza's civilian population and on Palestinian development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Islam, War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This overview paper examines the challenges facing regional security co-operation in the five smaller Gulf States. It demonstrates the resilience and durability of intra-regional differences, particularly scepticism of Saudi Arabia's greater size and regional objectives. With the notable exception of Bahrain, differences of outlook have continued into the post-Arab Spring period as Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman hold significant reservations about moving toward a closer Gulf union. The Arab Spring has injected urgent new domestic considerations into a regional security complex hitherto marked by external instability. Yet the bold political action and longer-term planning that is needed to address these issues is lacking, because ruling elites prioritise short-term policies designed to ensure regime security in a narrower sense. This means that security remains defined in hard, “traditional” terms and has not evolved to include the security of individuals and communities rather than rulers and states. The future of regional security co-operation is therefore uncertain and bleak, and the closing of ranks may yet herald a closer Gulf union as rulers come together to deal with the pressures generated by the Arab Spring.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The current wave of protests in Egypt has pitted thousands of demonstrators against the police and Central Security Forces (CSF). The performance of these forces is key to the outcome of the crisis. If they can contain the demonstrations without excessive violence, the protests will likely burn themselves out over time. But if the demonstrations continue or escalate into greater violence, the police and CSF could break down, either dissolving entirely or engaging in undisciplined violence that further exacerbates the situation. Such a scenario, or even the likelihood of it, would probably spur the government to deploy army personnel to support the security forces, deter further demonstrations, and, if necessary, put down the protests through force. That would be a true crisis for the government, one with an uncertain outcome.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt caught Israel by surprise. Awe-inspiring as they are to Israel's government and people, these revolutions and the ongoing troubles in Bahrain and Libya are also of immense concern to Israel because of their potential strategic ramifications. Going forward, developments in Egypt will be particularly important given Cairo's traditional role in the region and the special nature of its diplomatic, security, and economic relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sean Kane, William Taylor
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With U.S. military forces scheduled to depart Iraq in December of this year, the State Department and other civilian agencies are being asked to assume a scale of operational and programmatic responsibilities far beyond any other embassy in recent memory. The capacity of the U.S. civilian agencies to assume these responsibilities does not now fully exist. Notably, securing and moving U.S. civilians will require more than 5,000 security contractors. A limited U.S. military contingent post-2011 may well be more cost-effective than private security guards and could also relieve State and other civilian agencies of logistical and security responsibilities. This would enable them to focus on their comparative advantages: diplomacy and development assistance. Planning for the post-2011 U.S. mission in Iraq, however, remains hampered by uncertainty as to whether the Iraqi government will request an extension of the American military presence in the country. A small follow-on U.S. military force would appear to safeguard Iraqi stability and make the achievement of U.S. strategic objectives in Iraq more likely, but cannot be counted on. Should such a request not be received from the Iraqi government, the U.S. may need to reduce the planned scale and scope of its operations and goals in Iraq.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Cédric Jourde
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Until recently, the Sahel (as-Sahil), literally the “shore” of the Saharan “sea,” rarely made headlines. Nevertheless, the expanding nexus of illicit trafficking and transnational Islamist terrorism—and the increasingly serious risk this poses to stability in the region and to international security—is attracting growing attention. These concerns will likely mount as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attempts to use the window of opportunity presented by the Arab Spring to reestablish itself in North Africa while transitional governments there devote much of their energy to rebuilding state institutions. In turn, an unstable North Africa, especially Libya, could further exacerbate insecurity in the Sahel as unsecured weapons and trained mercenaries filter their way into the region.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya, Arabia, Mauritania
  • Author: Edward W. Gnehm Jr
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Government of Jordan is deeply concerned about the turmoil in Syria, fearing the spillover effect and knowing Syria's historic capacity to undermine Jordanian internal stability. Initial official Jordanian reaction has been cautious, to avoid antagonizing Syria and provoking retaliation. There is great anxiety over what may follow the collapse of the Assad regime. Jordan is under increased pressure from both internal elements and external powers to toughen its public posture toward Damascus. Ultimately, Amman will react carefully to events in Syria, taking actions that best ensure the security of the state and the survival of the monarchy.
  • Topic: Security, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis may or may not have entered its final phase, but it undoubtedly has entered its most dangerous one to date. The current stage is defined by an explosive mix of heightened strategic stakes tying into a regional and wider international competition on the one hand and emotionally charged attitudes, communal polarisation and political wishful thinking on the other. As dynamics in both Syria and the broader international arena turn squarely against the regime, reactions are ranging from hysterical defiance on the part of its supporters, optimism among protesters that a bloody stalemate finally might end and fears of sectarian retribution or even civil war shared by many, through to triumphalism among those who view the crisis as an historic opportunity to decisively tilt the regional balance of power.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Claire Spencer
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: North Africa may not be as stable as it looks: socio-economic and political pressures are fracturing the consensus between governments and governed and may overtake terrorism and criminality as the region's main destabilizing forces. With political leadership in the region effectively a lifelong position, the growth of authoritarianism is undermining the prospects for achieving political and economic liberalization. Despite the worsening global economic climate, a window of opportunity exists to accelerate socially sensitive and productive domestic investment and open space for greater autonomous political and economic development. Success depends on renegotiating the social contracts on which North Africa's states are based. A broadening of participation, above all through the extension of legal employment, targeted investment on education, health and skills, and the establishment of independent legal and regulatory frameworks, will go some way towards addressing socio-economic stresses. A change in the political environment, however, requires a re-evaluation of how the region's security climate is seen from outside, with adjustments in the kind of support given to regional governments by its key international partners, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Islam, International Security
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Perito, Madeline Kristoff
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's Ministry of the Interior (MOI) is responsible for the supervision, training and administrative support for Iraq's non-military security forces. These include: the Iraqi Police Service, the Iraq National Police, the Iraqi Border Enforcement Service and the Facilities Protection Service. In total, MOI is responsible for nearly 600,000 men under arms or a force that is three times the size of the new Iraqi Army, Navy and Air Force combined.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The government's decision to withdraw Australian combat elements from southern Iraq by the middle of 2008 has the potential to consign the Arabian Gulf region 1 to the periphery of Australian policy interests. There is a consequent temptation to focus our security policy on Australia's immediate region, or within West Asia only on Afghanistan where our combat forces will likely be operating for some time to come. To do so, however, flies in the face of our substantial, diverse and growing economic interests in the Gulf (including an upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade agreement), our interests in counterterrorism and counter-proliferation, and our record of regularly deploying Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements into the region over the last 20 years. These factors, along with the government's recognition that '...the challenges (that) Australia faces will require us to be more internationally active, not less' 2 mean that, in an uncertain world where our strategic horizon extends beyond Southeast Asia, it is prudent to maintain and consider enhancing the diplomatic and security connections we have built up in the Gulf, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, over nearly two decades.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Australia, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: David Schenker, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Jordan's minister of information publicly confirmed that senior Jordanian officials have been meeting with Hamas in an effort to "solve pending security issues." These talks represent a significant shift for Amman, since relations between Jordan and the Palestinian group had been frozen for two years, following the arrest of three Hamas members in the kingdom on terrorism and weapons charges. Although the decision to renew contacts with Hamas suggests that Amman remains concerned with Hamas-related activities in the kingdom, the timing also highlights domestic and regional pressures on King Abdullah and the Jordanian government.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the coming weeks, Syria will participate in two important regional conferences. On March 10, it will join Iraq's other neighbors and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Baghdad. On March 28-29, it will participate in the Arab League summit in Riyadh. Syria's detractors continue to criticize Damascus for failing to seal the border with Iraq and for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701. Of equal importance is the downturn in Syria's relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Last week's Saudi-Iranian summit has Damascus worried about its role in Lebanon and the possibility of an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a crime for which Syria is widely believed to be responsible. Will the upcoming conferences give Syria a chance to improve its regional standing, or will its isolation continue?
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: David Schenker, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 19, 2006, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Schenker, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Schenker, a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Institute, served until 2005 as Levant country director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier today, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal held a press conference in Damascus broadcast live on al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, and Syrian state television. During the broadcast, Mashal described kidnapped Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit as a “prisoner of war,” said that prisoner exchange was the only solution to the crisis, and appeared to recommend direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The press conference was significant, not only for its content, but because it was held in a Damascus hotel: typically in the past, when Syria-based terrorist organizations took responsibility for operations, they did so from Beirut. The high profile Mashal statement from Damascus suggests that the Asad regime has changed its rules of engagement from tacit to explicit support for Hamas. The shift highlights Syria's emboldened foreign policy a year and a half after the assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Syria
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: IN PALESTINE, CITIZENS HAVE RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH and free assembly. The most independent judiciary in the Arab world adjudicates their disputes. Palestinians select their leaders freely in competitive elections overseen by an independent electoral commission. A representative assembly monitors the executive, granting and withholding confidence from ministers and reviewing the state budget in detailed public discussions. Elected councils manage local governments that are fiscally autonomous of the center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire announced on February 8 in Sharm al-Sheikh created a window of opportunity that will slam shut quickly if terrorists resume attacks against Israel. After four-and-half years of incessant terrorist activity, Israeli tolerance for negotiating peace in the face of ongoing attacks is nil. The entire project, therefore, is premised on the assumption that the ceasefire will hold. But will it? Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have so far dismissed it, and previously negotiated ceasefires have all failed. Moreover, Iran and Hizballah are more proactively involved in recruiting, training, and financing Palestinian suicide bombers than ever before.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Khalil Shikaki, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If new Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is to succeed, he must deal with the issue of violence. Over the past year, positive changes have emerged in all areas of Palestinian public opinion except one: the role of violence. In the eyes of the public, violence pays. Three-fourths of Palestinians perceive the disengagement as a victory for violence. To be sure, more than two-thirds of Palestinians believe that Abbas should negotiate with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Yet, the public views Israel's unilateral moves as a threat, not an asset. They see only settlements, closures, checkpoints, and humiliation. These perceptions are responsible for their anger. Abbas must help remove dynamics that encourage the public to believe in the utility of violence; otherwise, the issue will continue to impede his ability to govern effectively.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The newly announced ceasefire provides an opportunity for progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, especially with the newly elected Palestinian leadership and the new Israeli coalition government. The time has come for both Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) to roll up their sleeves and, with international support, get down to the formidable tasks facing them in the coming months: stabilization of the security situation, Palestinian institution-building, Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank, and Israeli-Palestinian reengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky, Kenneth Stein
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is widely expected to win the presidential elections scheduled for January 9. The media has focused on statements he has made on the campaign trail; below is a survey of his statements on a variety of policy issues over the past several years.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Loretta Bondi
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: We discuss initiatives that the League of Arab States and US allies and partners have put on the table to foster reform, change, and security in the Middle East. These initiatives have met both support and skepticism before and after they were formally launched at the summit of the League (Tunis, May 2004), and during the summits of the G8, US/EU, and NATO taking place the following month. We assess these developments with the League of Arab States Secretary General Amre Moussa, and Marina Ottaway, Senior Associate and Co-Director of the Rule of Law and Democracy Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The CTR conducted these two interviews separately by telephone from The Hague, and in Washington, DC, in July 2004.
  • Topic: Security, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Irshad Manji
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 7, 2004, Irshad Manji addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ms. Manji is host of the Canadian public television program Big Ideas and author of the bestselling book The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in her Faith (2004). She is currently launching "Operation Ijtihad," an initiative to revive Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking. The following is a rapporteur's summary of her remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent years, especially since September 11, 2001, several Middle Eastern terrorist groups have shown growing interest in waging mega-terror -- attacks that would kill hundreds, even thousands, of innocent victims, cause mass disruption, and profoundly affect the psychology of the targeted society. While not the first incidents of mega-terror, the September 11 attacks were the most successful. As such, they have been a source of inspiration for these groups, showing that it is possible to inflict mass casualties through the imaginative employment of means available to most terrorist organizations.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Christopher Kojm, C. Michael Hurley, Thomas Dowling
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 18, 2004, three staff members from the 9-11 Commission—Christopher Kojm, C. Michael Hurley, and Thomas Dowling—addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Kojm was the commission's deputy executive director. From 1998 until February 2003, he served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence policy and coordination in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Mr. Dowling was a professional staff member with the commission. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2002 after a thirty-year career in which he served in several Middle Eastern countries. In his last assignment, he was the deputy director and acting director of the Office of Near East and South Asian Analysis in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Mr. Hurley was senior counsel on the commission and head of its counterterrorism team. A career CIA officer, he served as National Security Council director for the Balkans from 1998 to 1999. He also led CIA and military Special Forces teams in Afghanistan in the months after the September 11 attacks. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Eyal Zisser
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the face of international criticism, Syria strong-armed Lebanon into accepting a constitutional amendment last week that would extend the term of the sitting Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud. Yet, far from being a sign of Damascus's strength against foreign intrusion, this episode should be viewed as further confirmation of the immature leadership of Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The 2004 Republican Party platform, "A Safer World and a More Hopeful America," devotes a third of its ninety pages to foreign policy under the heading "Winning the War on Terror." The platform represents a comprehensive summary of the Bush administration's accomplishments and details the philosophy and principles behind the party's foreign policy. Explaining why "the American people are safer" now than they were three years ago, the platform points to gains in combating terrorists and tyrants, curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), promoting democracy, improving homeland security, and strengthening relationships with key allies via counterterrorism efforts. According to the platform, the administration's approach is "marked by a determination to challenge new threats, not ignore them, or simply wait for future tragedy -- and by a renewed commitment to building a hopeful future in hopeless places, instead of allowing troubled regions to remain in despair and explode in violence."
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Anna Solomon-Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Muqtada al-Sadr has placed the Interim Iraqi Government in a difficult position, forcing it to demonstrate both strength and skill. His challenge exploits the political and military seams between the interim government and the coalition, and within the Iraqi political system. He has also exploited popular hostility toward the coalition and, in some quarters, the suspect legitimacy of the interim government.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Anna Solomon-Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The fractious and dangerous Iraqi Shi'i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is once again attempting to foment a rebellion. In scenes virtually identical to those of his April-May 2004 uprising, his militia is in the streets, Shi'is are demonstrating en masse, and he is alternately talking peace and vowing to fight to the death. Iraq has changed since the April rebellion, however, with al-Sadr now pitted against the coalition as well as the new Interim Iraqi Government and its expanding security forces.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Yonatan Levy
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The 9-11 Commission has received much media attention for its findings on the al-Qaeda threat. The commission's documents detail information on Middle Eastern states and terrorist groups. Below is a summary of some of the report's findings on the roles key regional actors played in the growth, setbacks, and evolution of al-Qaeda.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Morocco is a nation of nearly 30 million people, part Arab, part Berber, and overwhelmingly Muslim, yet distant enough from Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian arena so that those issues, while relevant, are not all-consuming. Hence, it provides an excellent vantage point from which to assess the ideological battle between radical Islamists, on the one hand, and non- and anti-Islamists on the other.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Morocco
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Jonathan Schanzer, Thomas Lippman
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 21, 2004, Jonathan Schanzer, Thomas Lippman, and Simon Henderson addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Schanzer is a Soref fellow at the Institute and author of the monograph Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror. Mr. Lippman is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute, specializing in U.S. foreign policy and Middle Eastern affairs. Simon Henderson, a London-based associate of The Washington Institute, currently heads Saudi Strategies, a group that advises governments and corporations on regional developments. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ali Koknar
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 1, 2004, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) -- an organization that appears on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and whose attacks caused more than 30,000 deaths in Turkey during the 1980s and 1990s -- declared that it had rescinded its unilateral "ceasefire" of February 2000. This declaration was quickly followed by an escalation of violence in southeastern Turkey. This development poses a threat to Turkey's internal security and to the European Union reform process that began after Ankara apprehended PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999. Ocalan's capture led to a drop in PKK violence and a relaxation in the country's political environment, catalyzing reforms on the Kurdish issue that had previously been deemed impossible (see PolicyWatch no. 786).
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 22, 2004, Philip Gordon, Simon Serfaty, and Soner Cagaptay addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Dr. Gordon is a senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. He has also served as director for European affairs on the National Security Council. Dr. Serfaty is the director of the Europe Program and the Zbigniew Brzezinski chair in global security and geostrategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is also a senior professor of U.S. foreign policy at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Cagaptay is coordinator of The Washington Institute's Turkish Research Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Ryan Phillips
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During late May and early June 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr's revolt was challenged by continuing coalition military action and mounting Shi'i political and religious pressure. His militia was increasingly on the defensive, clinging tightly to defensive positions near key holy sites and disappearing from the streets whenever coalition military operations became too overwhelming. In response, Sadr initiated a combination of political and militant actions designed to deflect political pressure, expand his influence, and impede coalition military progress against his forces.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia