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  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis is rapidly turning into a humanitarian and security nightmare with regional and possibly global implications. The conflict is now firmly entrenched in a military stalemate. While "stalemate" conveys a sense of stasis, the impasse translates into the deepening deterioration of conditions on the ground. Meanwhile, the supercharged sectarian dynamic emanating from Syria is severely threatening regional stability, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon, which have both witnessed significant increases in sectarian violence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iran is attempting to link greater cooperation against the so-called Islamic State (IS) organization to concessions by the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program Iran and the P5+1 remain far apart on the core issue of Iran's uranium enrichment program, increasing the likelihood that the talks will be extended beyond the current deadline of November 24 Iran requires a nuclear deal to satisfy public expectations and to increase its influence on regional events, including the US-led effort against IS A key Iranian goal is to dissuade the coalition from expanding the anti-IS campaign to include destabilizing the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom, Iran, Middle East, France, Germany, Syria
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanon's outreach to Syria is motivated by significant shifts in the regional political landscape, particularly Syria's renewed regional and global influence. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri appears to have made a strategic decision that rapprochement with Syria is in Lebanon's best interest, offering the greatest chance for stability and resolution of a number of outstanding bilateral issues including greater guarantees for Lebanese sovereignty. Syria's renewed influence in Lebanon comes in a variety of forms, but its alliance with Hezbollah is the most potent trajectory of its power and influence. It is too early to determine whether this shift in relations marks a return of Syrian predominance in Lebanon, or signals a new page in the bilateral relationship. Much will depend on how Syria and Lebanon as well as external players—especially the U.S. and France—contend with the inherent challenges and opportunities that accompany evolving Syrian-Lebanese ties. The establishment of Lebanese-Syrian diplomatic ties presents the United States with an important opportunity to help foster normal relations between the neighboring countries, particularly the long-sought goal of protecting Lebanese sovereignty. Washington should move forward with dispatching an ambassador to Damascus as part of a broader engagement with Syria. Establishment of high-level diplomatic channels in Syria will allow the United States to leverage its influence more directly and effectively to ensure that Syria moves forward on border demarcation with Lebanon and other measures to help bolster Lebanese sovereignty.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With rumors in the air of a U.S.-brokered, mid-September meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, various regional actors are busy positioning themselves for the coming round of diplomacy. Analysis of these dynamics provides some useful perspective on the road ahead, beyond the usual focus on the minutiae of settlement construction, prisoner exchanges, or other immediate concerns.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The current reconciliation process between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) is a continuation of their struggle through other means. The goals pursued by the two movements are domestic and regional legitimacy, together with consolidation of territorial control – not national unity. This is understandable. At this stage, both parties see greater cost than reward in a compromise that would entail loss of Gaza for one and an uncomfortable partnership coupled with an Islamist foothold in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the other. Regionally, Syria – still under pressure from Washington and others in the Arab world – has little incentive today to press Hamas to compromise, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are tilting more pointedly toward Fatah. It will take significant shifts in domestic, regional and international attitudes for this to change. Palestine's political-territorial division, now over a year old, is set to endure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli bombing of a presumed North Korean-supplied nuclear weapons facility in Syria highlights the ongoing policy challenge posed by Damascus. More than three years after President Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA), Syria continues to support terrorism, destabilize Iraq, meddle in Lebanon, and develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems. This week's headlines tell the story: on September 19, yet another anti-Syrian parliamentarian was assassinated in Lebanon; the same day, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that a July 2007 chemical weapons accident in Syria -- involving mustard gas and VX and sarin nerve agents -- killed fifteen Syrian officers and dozens of Iranian engineers.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Ephraim Sneh
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, four factors have combined to make the situation in the Middle East far more combustible than it is has been for a long time. These elements are: Iraq has managed to break out of the boundaries imposed by the UN sanctions regime and to evade weapons inspections. Saddam Husayn is now stronger than ever and ready to play a role in the region. He has signaled this intention by his deployment of troops on the western borders of Iraq just before the Arab summit in Egypt. Although he has since pulled them back, this maneuver was intended to send the message that Saddam Husayn is a force to be reckoned with from now on. Iran has enhanced its efforts to use a consortium of terrorist groups against the remnants of the peace process. Intelligence information shows that Iran has deployed long-range Katyusha missiles in Lebanon and that it is encouraging Hizballah activities against Israel. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has disappointed most analysts, who hoped that he would focus on addressing Syria's economy and other domestic concerns. Instead, his speeches both at the Arab summit in Egypt and at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Qatar have been extremely bellicose. In addition, it is clear that the recent kidnappings by Hizballah and a Palestinian group's attempt to infiltrate Israel through Lebanon could not have taken place without at the least a green light from Damascus, even if Bashar himself did not authorize them specifically. Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat has evidently changed course from negotiation to confrontation. So far, the Palestinian cause has proven to be uniting force in the Arab world; under certain circumstances, it might also serve as a good pretext for resumption of full-scale hostilities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Nicole Brackman
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the issues being discussed at Camp David between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat, and President Clinton is one matter that directly affects several other states in the region not represented at the talks, namely, the situation of the Palestinian refugees, especially those in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Yasir Arafat meets President Bill Clinton today strengthened by the death of Syria's Hafiz al-Asad, whose funeral Arafat attended Tuesday. An Arafat buoyed and more confident by the death of his longtime nemesis adds a new wrinkle to an already complex game of brinkmanship that constitutes the Israeli-Palestinian dual-track negotiations on interim issues and permanent status.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks getting underway in Eilat this weekend, the Middle East seems to be switching peace tracks yet again. After President Bill Clinton held separate White House meetings with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat earlier this month, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "In our judgment, the next six to eight weeks could well be a decisive phase in the pursuit of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. . . . That phase obviously is now including a more intensive American involvement." This shift—after several months of focusing on Syria talks—does not necessarily mean that the Syrian track can be considered dead and buried (and indeed Arab leaders such as Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah are said to be quietly seeking to revive that track). Yet, operationally, it means that the United States and Israel will no longer wait for Syria as they revive the Palestinian track and plan for Israel's pullback from Lebanon in July.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria