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  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek, Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This paper argues that the future political stability of Nineveh depends on a two-level normalisation. A potential agreement between competing local actors, such as Baghdad and Erbil, is not the only necessary condition to stabilise the area. It also requires that Turkey and Iran decide to desecuritise Nineveh to the extent that it ceases to play the role of a buffer zone in the Middle East regional security complex. This argument is underpinned by the close examination of Turkey’s and Iran’s involvement together with their respective local allies in Nineveh in the post-2014 period. Developments referring to the cases of Bashiqa, Shingal, Tal Afar, as well as activities in favour or against Mosul leaders’ post-Islamic State (IS) vision illustrate that Nineveh’s securitisation has transcended Iraq’s borders. All in all, Turkey and Iran are vying for greater influence in Nineveh, or at least attempting to ensure that it will not become a satellite area of a competing power. Partly through their direct diplomatic and military engagement, but most importantly through their military and economic support to their local allies, the two regional powers pursue their security and diplomatic goals. At the same time, their involvement in the area has compounded the friction between local actors. Accordingly, the paper argues that in order to avoid greater polarisation in Nineveh and prepare the ground for constructive negotiations in the post-IS environment, Turkey and Iran should work on institutionalising their relationship beyond trade. Working together on issues of security between them, but also specifically in Nineveh, would improve trust and confidence in their relationship and help overcome the catch-22.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey
  • Author: Hawraman Ali
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iran and its opposition Kurdish groups have been involved in intermittent armed conflict for decades. Considering the new political realities of the region and the domination of US politics by the Republicans after the recent election, Iran should engage in dialogue with its Kurdish opposition parties.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Kurdistan
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Turkey is experiencing a crisis of orientation in its internal and external affairs as a result of a transition between a dying and an emerging vision. The end of the current transitional period will not necessarily mark the end of the country’s crisis, but most probably its entrenchment or deepening.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Nearly two years since the north side of Shingal was liberated from the Islamic State, most of the Yazidi population is still displaced. Yazidis are trapped between millstones of the competition of exogenous actors, such as the KDP, the PKK-linked forces, and Baghdad, over the control of the strategically important disputed territory of Shingal.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Dylan O’Driscoll, Dave van Zoonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This paper lays out three administrative options for the post-Islamic State governance of Nineveh and analyses the benefits and drawbacks related to each option. Despite minorities and international lobbying groups tied to the minorities favouring separate minority provinces, this paper argues against the formation of a Nineveh Plain province. A separate province would prevent efforts for reconciliation, is likely to induce new conflicts, and will ultimately not benefit minorities in the ways proponents of the plan claim. Similarly, the paper highlights that although decentralisation to the province through Law 21 could address a number of important issues, it would leave minorities in Nineveh too vulnerable to being marginalised and politically dominated by Sunnis. The main argument, and thus recommendation, of the paper is that the best available option for all components of Nineveh is the creation of a Nineveh federal region with entrenched power sharing and decentralisation within the region. This will provide the components of Nineveh with a political arena in which to address and overcome differences, while protecting minorities as well as Sunnis from being marginalised. Moreover, the creation of a region for Nineveh will have a stabilising effect on the wider Iraqi political system.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This report is a contribution to the public debate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) about crucial aspects of the current economic crisis and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) immediate response. In addition, it looks at the impact of four different policy options, such as a.) independence b.) rapprochement with Baghdad c.) macro-financing from International Stakeholders and d.) macro-financial assistance from Regional Stakeholders, may have in averting an economic meltdown in the short-term, on the assumption that the oil prices will remain suppressed for the foreseeable future. This report argues that it is only when the economic meltdown is averted in the short-term that the KRG will be able to proceed with deep structural reforms in the public sector and start working on the diversification of the economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Aram Mahmood
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The current policy of salary reductions might have been the only available emergency measure for the KRG to counter its empty treasury. However, continuing the current policy, focusing on a single sector of the economy is an unsuitable response to the on-going financial crisis and is likely to significantly dampen and delay recovery.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Predrag Petrovic
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Before the special Law on Private Security was adopted in November 2013, the private security industry had been operating in a legal vacuum for 20 years. The analysis of the implementation of this Law was conducted by the BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrovic.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Adam Baron
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: After years of conflict Yemen is on the verge of absolute collapse. Institutions across the country are falling apart, while a plethora of armed groups have taken advantage of the power vacuum to claim leadership over key territories, leading to even greater fragmentation of the country. The conflict, and the accompanying Saudi-led intervention, has brought about the Middle East's most severe humanitarian crisis, with 86 percent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. Yemen is facing a lost generation, as hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children grow up without an education or enough food to eat. The EU and its member states have a moral and strategic interest in ending the conflict. Failure to act could result in Yemen becoming a new hub for globally oriented terror groups, and could spur a new wave of refugees into Europe. The EU should make the most of its comparatively neutral position in Yemen to pave the way for post-conflict stabilisation and reach out to groups that have, to date, been marginalised in the ongoing peace process. The EU can complement UN efforts and may be faced with the responsibility of filling in for an increasingly isolationist United States.
  • Topic: War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Yemen
  • Author: Asli Aydıntaşbaş
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: With the European Parliament decision to “freeze” accession talks, Turkey’s decades-long engagement with Europe is in crisis. In 2016 Turkey-EU relations took a step forward, with a historic deal on refugee resettlement, but also a step back, with a sweeping crackdown in the wake of the failed 15 July coup and global criticism of Turkey’s human rights situation. Instead of populism and resentment, both Europe and Turkey need to develop “strategic patience” to anchor Turkey to Europe. Turkey’s history has been an ebb and flow between Westernisation and nativist reaction. It is important for the EU to think long-term about Turkey. One way to bypass the current impasse might be to offer Ankara an upgraded customs union, with political benchmarks for market access. Despite tensions, Turkey and the European Council should think about their shared interests and high degree of integration to avert a “train-wreck”.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey